Everything has been figured out, except how to live.
Like other men, I have sought honours and preferment, and often have obtained them beyond my wishes or hopes. Yet never have I found in them that content which I had figured beforehand in my mind. A strong reason, if we well consider it, why we should disencumber ourselves of vain desires.
The American world had – seemingly, at least – become a Jeffersonian world by the election of 1800, which placed Thomas Jefferson in the presidency. Jefferson had been Hamilton’s rival in the new government’s early years, and Hamilton has figured in the public memory almost as much for that rivalry as for his positive achievements.
I was just sitting on my bed in a dormitory room, and I started writing. The thing that was magic about it was that once you put down one word, you could cross it out. I figured that out right away. I put down ‘mountain,’ and then I’d go, ‘No – ‘valley.’ That’s better.’