Defender of the Freedom of the Press
Had Hamilton acted upon the ideas he was expressing in newspapers, speeches and private letters, he no doubt would have sold his property, gathered his wife and children about him and taken ship for England, where, Jefferson always maintained, he properly belonged. Or he might have gone West, where his chances of surviving among the savages would be vastly better than among the "Jacobins."
In actuality, however, Hamilton was in no hurry to put either the Atlantic Ocean or the American wilderness between himself and Jefferson. Indeed, for a man who presumably believed that the country was headed for a smash, Hamilton's behavior was truly extraordinary. He built an expensive house in the country and plunged into speculation on a large scale quite as though he expected prosperity to continue forever.
Early in 1801, to the distress of his friends, who warned him against the expense of maintaining a country house, Hamilton began the construction of a house on Manhattan Island several miles outside New York City. Here, on seventeen acres, Hamilton proposed to live the life of a country gentleman commuting to the city only to conduct his practice. "To men who have been so much harassed in the base world as myself," he remarked, "it is natural to look forward to a comfortable retirement. . . . A garden is a very useful refuge for a disappointed politician.""Experience more and more convinces me," he added, "that true happiness is only to be found in the bosom of one's own family." As befitted a man descended from Scottish lords, he called his country seat "The Grange" after the ancestral home in Scotland. On what is now 144th Street, he built his house, fondly imagining, no doubt, that it would shelter future generations of Hamiltons in rural seclusion. 1
As his friends had predicted, country living proved to be costly beyond all expectations. To his consternation, Hamilton discovered that instead of enjoying the leisure and repose of semiretirement, he had to work harder than ever to keep "The Grange" going. Moreover, he found it necessary to maintain a town house as well: a confirmed theatergoer and man about town, Hamilton was unable to immure himself in the country. At consider-