The Goading of AmericanFisher Ames is the Founding Father who draws a blank.nFew people today have heard of him, yet he wrote thenfinal version of the First Amendment, and his speech onnJay’s Treaty, delivered when he was the leader of thenFederalists in the First Congress, was called the finestnexample of American oratory by Daniel Webster andnAbraham Lincoln, both of whom memorized large portionsnof it to train themselves in the art.nWhy then the blackout on Fisher Ames?nHe was born in Dedham, Massachusetts, in 1758,nentered Harvard at 12, and graduated at 16. He wasnmustered, with the rest of the class of 1774, to fight in thenRevolution, but his militia unit saw no action. AfternIndependence he taught himself law and went into practice,nfarming the family lands on the side, until politics called.nThe Ames home seems to have been a cocoon of idyllicnhappiness. His wife evinced none of the nascent feminismnof Abigail Adams. She gave him six sons and a daughter,nwho received large chunks of paternal quality time thanks tonthe pleasure Ames took in inventing and playing educationalngames. He also got along well with his in-laws; his letters tonbrother-in-law Thomas Dwight are as warm as they arenvoluminous.nFisher Ames was called a “sweet” man by his contemporaries.nHis first biographer, writing shortly after his death,nspoke of “the charms of his conversation and manners [that]nwon affection” and “the delicacy, the ardor, and constancynwith which he cherished his friends,” and said: “He had anperfect command of his temper; his anger never proceedednto passion, nor his sense of injury to revenge.”nNo one sounds less like a misanthrope, yet Fisher Amesnhad a bleak opinion of human nature. “Our mistake is innsupposing men better than they are. They are bad, and willnact their character out,” he wrote. He also insured hisnabsence from history textbooks with his condemnation ofnThis article is excerpted from- Florence King’s forthcomingnbook, With Charity Toward None: A MisanthropynPrimer, to be published by St. Martin’s Press early nextnyear.nby Florence Kingngovernment of the people, by the people, and for thenpeople, proclaiming: “Our disease is democracy. Democracynis a troubled spirit, fated never to rest, and whose dreams,nif it sleeps, present only visions of hell.”nAmes’s fellow Federalist and philosophical soulmate,nAlexander Hamilton, held the same views and just asnfrequently aired them. It being impossible, however; tonignore Hamilton in the textbooks, it has been the custom tonsoft-pedal his opinions of mankind and democracy^fornexample, the typical high-school or college text will say,n”Hamilton distrusted the people,” when in actual fact hensaid: “The people! The people, sir, are a great beast!”nBoth Ames and Hamilton, and in a later era HenrynAdams, were sociable men with a wide circle of friends whonnonetheless qualify for conditional membership in the ranksnof misanthropy. As Federalists, Ames and Hamilton believednin a government controlled by “the wise, the rich, and thengood,” the same philosophy held by Henry Adams, who wasnnominally a Democrat. The views of all three men amountednto what we now call elitism. Since the elitist hates thenmasses, and since the masses make up the vast majority ofnthe human race, the elitist conservative is, numericallynspeaking, a practicing misanthrope.nIn Ames’s case, his basic outlook was exacerbated by anpolitical event that goaded him into a bitter hatred ofnmankind. It is no exaggeration to say that he was frightenedninto misanthropy by the French Revolution.nAs word of the excesses of the Terror filtered in —nsummary executions, blood-drinking, cannibalism, massacresnof nuns, the sexual dismemberment of the Princess denLamballe, accusations of incest against Marie Antoinette —nall done in the name of “the People,” Ames coined thenword “mobocracy” and likened France to “a Cerberusngaping with ten thousand throats, all parched and thirstingnfor fresh blood . . . tyranny more vindictive, unfeeling, andnrapacious than that of Tiberius, Nero, or Caligula, or anynsingle despot that ever existed.”nEven after the Terror ended, his sensitive mind andnfastidious nature compelled him to dwell on it: “BeholdnFrance, that open hell, still ringing with agonies andnnnMAY 1991/23n