Well, it's nice to see that the Federalist/Anti-Federalist, Hamilton/Jefferson debate continues on after >225 years. However, the point the author of the article was attempting to make was the lesson Hamilton taught about fiscal responsibility, and the need for a new nation to pay off its debts (otherwise, other nations would not be willing to loan money in times of national emergency, for one good reason).
Before I continue, please note that I do not like Jefferson; there are many reasons for this, but the one that put the tin hat on it for me was his having started the rumor that President Washington was suffering from age-related dementia. Although TJ had always been a rumor-monger (he took notes during dinners of what people were saying), this was over the line. Washington confronted him in 1796 about this, and Jefferson denied it (lied). Washington knew the truth, and never spoke to TJ again after this.
Hamilton was, as Adams said, '...the bastard son of a Scottish peddler..." and maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. He was running an import-export business on his own in St. Croix at the age of 14. His background was in business...he was weaned on it.
Hamilton was not only brilliant, but incredibly brave. As a gallant NY Artillery officer and former chief of staff for Gen. Washington (although there was no such term then), he was rewarded by the General with the most dangerous command and assignment at Yorktown. Jefferson's record during the RevWar was--how shall we say it--a bit less valiant.
And to those posters who try to portray Hamilton as the 18th century equivalent of big government Barack Obama, I say, with all due respect, bollocks. The Whiskey Tax was ill-conceived and a msitake, to be sure, (it put much too much burden on the farmers west of the Appalachians) but Hamilton thought it was the best measure at the time since he felt he could not raise import taxes any more.
"Assumption" of the national debt by the new federal government had been a contentious issue for some time, and early in Washington's first term he told Hamilton and Jefferson to compromise and get it done. They had dinner together on Maiden Lane in NYC (Jefferson's apartment), and I believe Madison was in attendance. Jefferson may have had many reasons for being against assumption, but one was surely the fact that Virginia was one of the few nascent states that had paid off a good deal of its debt, and he felt the other states should do the same.
Ultimately, assumption won, and Hamilton had to allow Jefferson's demand that the capitol of the new country be moved south--first to Philadelphia and then to a new place on the Potomac.
With all this being said, big gummint back then was very different from the behemoth that we have now. Hamilton AND Jefferson would be aghast at what is going on now.
Hamilton's vision for this country was a forward-looking one of dynamic trade and economic growth; Jefferson's was backward-looking and agrarian. Jefferson was born into the landed gentry of Virginia; Hamilton was an orphan who worked his way up via his brains and bravery.The RevWar/Colonial History/General Washington ping list...
Wow! Thanks for the history lesson. Please add me to your ping list on American History. I love that stuff, and it doesn’t hurt to read it over and over again.
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Thanks Pharmboy.It's worth remembering that in 1801, when Jefferson became president, the US national debt was around $100 million, about 10 times annual federal revenues. This was literally "the cost of freedom," and would correspond today to a national debt around $30 trillion. Since our actual national debt is $13+ trillion, the government is in better financial shape today than it was in Jefferson's time. And at the time, Jefferson's number one priority was paying down the national debt. So, how did he do it? How does ANY wise government ever increase its revenues? Yes, that's right! JEFFERSON REDUCED GOVERNMENT SPENDING AND CUT TAXES.-- BroJoeKJust adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.
And I neglected to say, well said!
Actually Jefferson's interest was in liberty and freedom to pursue one’s own avenue to life and happiness. Hamilton's was to use the government, central banking, debt, and trade restrictions to aid some at the expense of others.
Who would think this? None other than the most well recognized economist of the time.
In 1776, Adam Smith, writing in his work Wealth of Nations discussed comparative costs of production of various social systems. Smith insisted that,
“The mercantile system's (that system proposed by Hamilton and his party) ultimate object, however, it pretends, is always the same, to enrich the country by an advantageous balance of trade.
“It cannot be very difficult to determine who have been the contrivers of this whole mercantile system; not the consumers, we may believe, whose interest has been entirely neglected; but the producers, whose interest has been so carefully attended to.”
“And among this latter class our merchants and manufacturers have been by far the principal architects.”
“In the mercantile regulations,...the interest of our manufacturers has been most peculiarly attended to; and the interest, not so much of the consumers, as that of some other sets of producers, has been sacrificed to it.”
Northern manufacturing benefited from the system at the expense of the exporting South.
And Hamilton supported the loss of liberty of the producers of raw materials as well as the consumers to the benefit of the manufacturing owners.
thanks for posting this
Thanks for that ping Pharmboy!!