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Those who stand for nothing fall for anything
This adage is attributed to Alexander Hamilton, Peter Marshall, and others. Could you explore this topic?
An interesting precursor for the saying appeared in a Methodist church announcement in an Iowa newspaper from 1926. The word order and meaning were distinct, but the keywords were the same. In 1927 the same precursor was printed as a “Sermonogram” in an Ohio newspaper:
It is easier to fall for anything than to stand for something.
The earliest evidence of close match known was published in the January 1945 issue of a journal called “Mental Hygiene”. At the time of publication World War II was still being fought. The adage appeared in an article by the medical doctor Gordon A. Eadie titled “The Over-All Mental-Health Needs of the Industrial Plant, with Special Reference to War Veterans”. Boldface has been added to excerpts:
We are trying to show him not only what we are fighting against, but what we are fighting for. So many of these boys have only a very hazy idea of the real issues of the war. About all they see is “going back to the good old days.” This is a dangerous state. If they don’t stand for something, they will fall for anything. They need to realize that we are fighting two wars—the war of arms and the war of ideas—that other war of which the war of arms is one phase.
Did Alexander Hamilton say those who stand for nothing fall for anything?
What does this quote mean a man who stands for nothing will fall for anything?
If one does not have strong personal beliefs, they are apt to be easily swayed by others, often for nefarious reasons.
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What does it mean to stand for nothing?
What does it mean to fall for anything?
Who Was Alexander Hamilton?
Alexander Hamilton was born in the British West Indies, and later became General George Washington’s assistant.
In 1788, as one of America’s Founding Fathers, he convinced New Yorkers to agree to
ratify the U.S Constitution. Hamilton — an avowed Federalist — then served as the nation’s first secretary of the treasury, from 1789 to 1795.
Hamilton was born on the island of Nevis in the British West Indies,
on January 11, 1755 or 1757 (the exact date is unknown). Hamilton’s parents were Rachel Fawcett Lavien,
who was of British and French Huguenot descent, and James Hamilton, a Scottish trader.
At the time of Hamilton’s birth, Rachel was married to John Lavien,
a much older merchant whom she had been pressured to wed by her parents when she was a teenager.
They had a son, Peter together.
Lavien was abusive to Rachel and had spent nearly all the money she had inherited when her father died in 1745. During their tumultuous relationship, by Danish law, he even had her imprisoned for several months for adultery.
When she was released, instead of returning to her husband and son, the independent-minded Rachel fled the troubled marriage and moved to St. Kitts. It was there she met and moved in with James Hamilton, with whom she had another son, James (Alexander’s older brother), who was born in 1753.
After moving back to St. Croix, James Sr. abandoned the family when Hamilton was a boy, leaving Rachel and her sons impoverished. John Adams would one day come to characterize Hamilton’s rise from humble beginnings by describing the young Hamilton as “the bastard brat of a Scottish peddler.”
Determined to improve his lot in life, Hamilton took his first job at the tender age of 11, not long after his father left. But the family was soon dealt another sad blow. After working tirelessly to make ends meet, his mother became ill and died in 1768 at the age of 38.
Working as an accounting clerk in a mercantile in St. Croix, the bright and ambitious young lad quickly impressed his employer. Through this early experience, Hamilton was first exposed to international commerce — including the importing of enslaved people — and learned about the business of money and trade.