Skip to comments.Hamiltonian Welfare
Posted on 04/11/2017 9:37:53 AM PDT by Academiadotorg
How do you justify entitlement spending under the Constitution? Two words: Alexander Hamilton.
Apparently, hes the only politically correct Founding Father. Don't expect any Broadway shows to open any time soon with titles such as "Adams!," "Madison!," "Jefferson!" or "Washington!"
"A Hamiltonian reading of the Constitution is where we're at right now," Greg Weiner of Assumption College said at the annual meeting of the Philadelphia Society in Dallas on April 1, 2017. The Philadelphia Society is a group of conservative intellectuals formed in the wake of the Goldwater defeat in 1964.
Indeed, here's what Hamilton (!) himself had to say about the General Welfare clause of the Constitution in his Report on Manufactures in 1791:
"It is therefore of necessity left to the discretion of the National Legislature, to pronounce, upon the objects, which concern the general Welfare, and for which under that description, an appropriation of money is requisite and proper. And there seems to be no room for a doubt that whatever concerns the general Interests of learning of Agriculture of Manufactures and of Commerce are within the sphere of the national Councils as far as regards an application of Money.
"The only qualification of the generallity of the Phrase in question, which seems to be admissible, is this--That the object to which an appropriation of money is to be made be General and not local; its operation extending in fact, or by possibility, throughout the Union, and not being confined to a particular spot.
"No objection ought to arise to this construction from a supposition that it would imply a power to do whatever else should appear to Congress conducive to the General Welfare. A power to appropriate money with this latitude which is granted too in express terms would not carry a power to do any other thing, not authorised in the constitution, either expressly or by fair implication."
I don’t see how the government has the power to give charity to the needy. Especially when government puts a gun to MY head and takes MY money so that the government can provide “charity” in return for votes.
I prefer Davy Crockett’s speech: “Not Yours to Give”.
They had a different definition of “national welfare” in those days.
Would like to see that quote sourced.
It has the tone of the period’s writing but some of the phraseology seems a bit off.
Check out the Towns of old. If you came to town and tried for handouts...they kicked you out.
Gee, I wonder why the Democratic Party doesn’t celebrate him?
That one was called 1776, and was a big success, too.
The father of debt driven government as well as the instigator of the Whiskey Rebellion.
For Jefferson's wise take on what we today describe as "Welfare," see Jefferson On Welfare.
I suspect that on this point, Jefferson & Hamilton would have agreed.
I remember it well, 40 years ago staged to coincide with the bicentennial. What are the odds that it will get revived on Broadway.
> Would like to see that quote sourced.
I don’t have a simple URL source, but I’ve read a few biographies of him as well as Jefferson, Adams, Washington and others (I try to read at least 2 of anyone since biographers often differ even about the same person/history).
This is very much inline with Hamilton’s thinking from both his biographers and others. Some of the key points that no biographers disagreed on and at least a couple mentioned
* He intentionally had Madison write the state-related Federalist Papers. He wrote the federal-government papers and minimized federal power
* Even at that time in his private journal he thought France’s Secretary of the Treasury was the most powerful position and could do ANYTHING. And that was good. He wanted to be Sec of Treasury because of that.
* He was not personally in favor of the enumerated powers but was ok with including them as long as the general welfare clause was there. He thought he could show supremacy of the general welfare clause. Again, from his personal diary and later communications, not anything he said publicly at the time since he knew the would probably doom ratification.
* He prepared 2 methods of presenting his banking bills to Congress. Knowing Madison would object, he had a complex argument based on the enumerated powers. Hoping to set precedent for the general welfare clause trumping the enumerated powers, he started with that argument. That argument won without presenting his elastic clause argument, even with many in Congress having personally ratified the Constitution and understanding the arguments.
I much prefer Madison’s interpretation but can’t deny that there were a wide range of opinions then just like now. To be fair, other founding fathers weren’t so concerned with the enumerated powers or bill of rights when issues they wanted were in conflict. The placement of DC (Washington), Sedition Act (Adams), and Fifth Embargo Act (Jefferson) just to name out a few.
And the way Adams and Jefferson manipulated the press makes the Clintons, CNN, and the NYT look like amateurs. It was pretty fascinating times and not much like what I learned in school.
The debate over whether or not Federal funds should be expended to build the National Road (now US 40). There was a fierce debate between those who thought building it would “promote the general welfare” by allowing settlement and commerce to the West. Others thought this was not a proper province of government, and all roads in the US should be privately funded.
And I know I’m going to get into trouble here, because I am in a very small minority as one who adores the show Hamilton.
But, the reason it became a show is NOT because Hamilton was politically correct.
It is because his story is so utterly compelling, and his life story is so - how else can you say it? - Shakespearean. It’s not politically correct to note that he was orphaned, survived a hurricane, came to the US with nothing, joined the Revolution, became Washington’s right hand man, then Secretary of Treasury, and so forth and so on. That he had a destructive affair with Maria Reynolds, and that his thirty year rivalry with Burr ended in his death. Burr and Eliza Hamilton (not to mention Angelika) are massive, larger-than-life characters who are (again) really like something out of Shakespeare.
And if anything, the show doesn’t show enough of their sacrifice, their work, their passion, their struggles, their incredible triumphs, their colossal mistakes and so on....and all within the context of birthing our nation...which we sort of take for granted, but which they did not. They knew that it was entirely possible the The United States may not survive.
That said....it is extremely important to history to note that Hamilton was perhaps the earliest serious abolitionist among the Founding Fathers. It’s simply not true to say that the country was founded only by white, rich slaveholders. The show notes that, but not in any heavy-handed way. It merely inserts that fact back into the historical record.
I enjoyed both of your excellent, balanced and factually-based posts.
You advance the conversation in important ways, and civilly. Which is much appreciated.
Not sure on that one (but it happened already :))
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: We've no choice, John. The slavery clause has got to go.
John Adams: [stunned] Franklin, what are you saying?
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: It's a luxury we can't afford.
John Adams: [pause, then] 'Luxury?' A half million souls in chains... and Dr. Franklin calls it a 'luxury!' Maybe you should have walked out with the South!
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: [dangerous] You forget yourself sir. I founded the FIRST anti-slavery society on this continent. John Adams: Oh, don't wave your credentials at me! Maybe it's time you had them renewed!
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: [angrily] The issue here is independence! Maybe you have forgotten that fact, but I have not! How DARE you jeopardize our cause, when we've come so far? These men, no matter how much we may disagree with them, are not ribbon clerks to be ordered about - they are proud, accomplished men, the cream of their colonies. And whether you like them or not, they and the people they represent will be part of this new nation that YOU hope to create. Now, either learn how to live with them, or pack up and go home!
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: In any case, stop acting like a Boston fishwife.
Burr didn’t kill him soon enough...
Thank you! Our strongest argument is always based upon truth (reality demonstrated by the experiences of the ages). The airhead pursuit of fantasy wish lists, is the chosen methodology of the Left.
1776 gets revived every so often. It was also made into a film with the original Broadway director and most of the original cast and is available in a splendid Blu-ray edition. And the score contains no hip-hop!
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.