About Alexander Hamilton

History I

Pick a side: Hamilton v. Jefferson CT Take Home

Alexander Hamilton was one of the most influential of the United States' founding fathers. As the first secretary of the treasury, Hamilton placed the new nation on a firm financial footing, and although his advocacy of strong national government brought him into bitter conflict with Thomas Jefferson and others, his political philosophy was ultimately to prevail in governmental development. Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of Treasury, and Thomas Jefferson, the Secretary of State were both in George Washington's cabinet. Hamilton and Jefferson had differing views on the economy, the Constitution and the Bank of the United States. Both men sought the best for the nation, but each saw a unique route to the finish.

Primarily, Jefferson and Hamilton disputed upon the requirement for a Bank of the United States. Hamilton, a Federalist, saw the Constitution as guidelines not rules, and saw the Bank to take care the government's monetary requests. In other words, Jefferson, a Democratic Republican and firm devotee of the Constitution perceived the bank as expediency and not an essential need. Jefferson believed that the government did not have the power to form a Bank of the United States because this power was not clearly written in the Constitution. This separation caused "the first great debate on constitutional interpretation according to George B. Tindall. Furthermore, when George Washington signed the bill into law he change the way the constitution can be interpreted forever. Hamilton believed that the Bank would control the financial needs and necessities of the central government of the newly created United States, which had formerly been thirteen private colonies with their own banks, legal tenders, in addition to financial organizations and guidelines. Moreover, the bank would set up financial stability, precision, and precedence in the newly shaped United States as well as establish credit for the new nation. Nevertheless, Jefferson believed that "the bank may be a convenience to Congress in collecting taxes and regulating currency, but it was not a necessity. However, the Constitution sanctioned the national government to impose and gather taxes, pay debts and borrow capital. A national bank would significantly aid in performing these tasks competently. Congress, therefore, was permitted, under its implied powers, to create a national bank. Additionally, the First Bank of the United States was necessary since the U.S. government was in debt due to the Revolutionary War, as well as each state had a different form of money. Alexander Hamilton envisioned a bank that would handle the immense war debt and would create a standard form of currency, thereby insuring stability, propriety, and guidance for the new nation.

Another one of Hamilton's views that were effective in the new nation was the belief that the common people were ignorant and incapable of self-government. In other words, an uneducated farmer should not have a say so in government issues and/or decisions. According to Hamilton, those decisions should be left up to congress and the wealthy. However, Thomas Jefferson stated, "I have so much confidence in the good sense of man, and his qualifications for self-government, that I am never afraid of the issue where reason is left free to exert her force" illustrating his disagreement with Hamilton. Hamilton desired a strong central authority. He alleged a strong government was essential to supply order so that big business and production could grow since he visualized America becoming an industrial power. Hamilton believed that those who are knowledgeable and well off rather than by "the mob should run the government. This was a problem since Jefferson believed that every man should have a voice in the way the government should be run. However, if all government decisions were left up to the common person then many errors would occur because the common person does not know the possible outcomes for their decisions. In other words, the common person might make a decision based on immediate financial gain and might not realize that this decision will cause a rise in taxes in the coming years. Hamilton's views were necessary in ensuring stability and guidance for the new nation and to some extent these views are still practiced. For instance, when the United States votes for the president it is not direct and the people cannot impeach the president, this can only be done by Congressa group of educated, wealthy people. The United States needed a strong central government like Hamilton suggested and therefore the United States government is as strong as an ox in comparison to other neighboring countries.

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