It’s the fall of 1787 and citizens of New York are unsure about this new U.S. Constitution they keep hearing about. Many were probably thinking, “I don’t get it, what’s wrong with the Articles of Confederation” and “what’s the rush, just chill, we already won the war – #AmIRite?”
Our founders didn’t have the Among Us “Emergency Meeting” button, but if they did, you can bet Alexander Hamilton would trigger that toggle switch. How do you try to persuade customers that your new product (The U.S. Constitution) is better than the existing 1.0 version (the Articles of Confederation)? It wasn’t called “marketing” or even “influencer marketing” at the time, but that’s exactly what happened next. By the way, if you haven’t played Among Us – it’s the COVID-19 game we all need to get through this pandemic!
Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison didn’t need Instagram, TikToc, and the Kardashians to make a difference. Although a History Channel series called “Keeping up with the Hamiltons” would grab my attention. All three began writing and influencing the public through a series of writings in New York newspapers. The Federalist Papers are a collection of 85 essays that appeared in newspapers in our young country. They were originally published in New York, but later other publications added them. Of the 85 essays, Alexander Hamilton wrote 51!
A Pseudonym Before Samuel Clemens
Since Hamilton was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, he needed his marketing efforts to be under a different name. He chose “Philo Publius” meaning “Friend of Publius.” Why is that significant? Publius Publicola is considered one of the most influential people during the founding of the Roman Republic. Maybe Alexander Hamilton was channeling Publius during his own republic marketing efforts?
Publius/Hamilton used the writings to detail reasons why the Articles of Confederation were not strong enough for our new country. Using the medium most accessible to the public (newspapers), the Federalist Papers made a case for the new Constitution. They tried to convince and influence the public. Federalist #10, authored by James Madison, “became the most influential of all the essays, Madison argued against the French political philosopher Montesquieu’s assertion that true democracy—including Montesquieu’s concept of the separation of powers—was feasible only for small states. A larger republic, Madison suggested, could more easily balance the competing interests of the different groups (or “factions”) within it.”*
Talking to a Real Hamilton
As I mentioned in a previous post, since I couldn’t ask Alexander Hamilton about his influencer marketing skills, I was able to locate one of his descendants – Doug Hamilton. Doug Hamilton is the 5x great grandson of Alexander Hamilton and lives in Columbus, OH. I recorded a Zoom call (with Doug’s permission) where I asked him about Alexander Hamilton’s marketing skills. As you can tell, Doug is really informed with great, great, great, great, great granddad’s writing and his history. Ironically, I was talking to Doug Hamilton on “Constitution Day” (Sept. 17) – a holiday we may not have ever had if not for Alexander Hamilton’s writing and marketing skills.
I found Doug Hamilton by doing several searches on google and LinkedIn. Doug was really generous with his time and allowed me to ask questions about Hamilton’s writing and his vision for our financial system. He and I are Facebook friends now and I definitely owe him a cup of coffee for accepting my cold LinkedIn request!