ALEXANDER HAMILTON’S AMERICAN ECONOMIC SYSTEM- PART 3
Portrait of Alexander Hamilton by artist John Trumbull 1806
In the first and second arrticle about Alexander Hamilton, his life and record as a soldier of the
American Revolution revealed him to be a true patriot. His valor in battle will always be a testimony of his true devotion to America.
In the years following the end of the Revolution, Hamilton was influential in founding the Order of Cincinnatus with Major General Henry Knox and other veterans of the War.
In this article we move on to the years immediately following the defeat of the British by the newly formed United States of America. During the seven years of the War, the Congress had drawn up
the Articles of Confederation under which the Thirteen original colonies would now be known as the United States of America. For Colonel Alexander Hamilton and General George Washington, the
weakness of the Articles of Confederation was an obvious fact. The idea of a weak central
government and a loose confederation of states created a logistical nightmare for the Continental Army. Washington could not get the supplies and reinforcements from the Thirteen States that he
needed at critical points of the war.
During the Winter of 1780, the Continental Army went into winter quarters in Morristown, New
Jersey. Historians acknowledge that the winter of 1780 was the worst in the memory of those living at that time. The Continental Line actually verged on mutiny due to the lack of food and
provisions. They had not been paid in many months. The troops were at the point of desertion and mutiny. Washington, through his Aide Alexander Hamilton, wrote repeatedly to Congress with
pleas for assistance. The sad fact was that the members of the United States Congress did not have the power to tax the member States and therefore had no way to provide Washington’s Army with
the supplies that they needed. The Articles of Confederation was a weak form of a central
government. These hardships would burn in the memories of both General Washington and Colonel Alexander Hamiliton.
With the end of the War, the liberty that patriots had won with their blood and young
years would be sorely tested by the loose Confederation of the United States of America. The Congress of the United States had little or no statutory power to raise
revenues for the new government. Trade between the new Nation and foreign powers was not regulated nor could the central government control commerce between the
various States. The Continental Army had disbanded, there was no National Navy to speak of nor were there any national courts to enforce contracts between parties
in the various States. The debt that the various States had incurred during the seven years of the war was crippling the economies of some of them.
During those severe winters in Morristown, Colonel Hamilton had met and courted Elizabeth Schuyler, daughter of General Philip Schuyler. General Schuyler was a very wealthy and influential New Yorker. So now, Hamilton had two powerful men
as mentors who would enable him to influence others in political power. With the end of hostilities, Hamilton was elected to the Continental Congress as
representative from New York and he saw firsthand the weak central government under the Articles of Confederation.
After the War, Hamilton would particpate in the adoption of the United States Constitution. The Constitution would be the basis for the establishment of Federalism. The Federal Government
would be a strong central government that would be enabled to form a “more perfect Union” of the 13
States. Hamilton’s role in the adoption of the United States Constitution cannot be overstated. Under the nom de plume “Publius” , which was a common literary device in the 17th Century,
Hamilton wrote a series of papers that have become known as the “Federalist Papers”. He, as well
as James Madison and John Jay, wrote these papers that have served as the apologies for the adoption of the Constitution. They present the arguments and rational for ratification. The
importance of the Federalist Papers can be realized when one considers the fact that the United States Supreme Court still uses them in rendering many of their decisions based on Constitutional issues.
To read more about the Federalist Papers, click on this link.
It is an interesting observation that most successful people owe their good fortunes to those in positions of power and influence. It is a rare person who rises to power solely on
their own abilities. Alexander Hamilton was fortunate to have become closely associated with the most powerful person in the United States of America. He and General George
Washington had campaigned in the Continental Army of the United States for seven years. As Washington’s Aide-de-Camp, Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton had been the person
through whom Washington had communicated with the Congress of the United States and who had been oftentimes acted as a liaison between between high-ranking officers of both
the Continental Army and the various State Militias. Washington had grown to know just how intelligent and skilled his Aide was during those trying years. He had witnessed the
valor of Hamilton at the Battles of Trenton and Princeton, and again during the Assault on Redoubt 10 at the Battle of Yorktown. He and his wife, Martha had great affection for
Hamilton. The fierce winters at Valley Forge and Morristown had forged a bond between Washington and Hamilton that would endure for the rest of their lives. Neither could have
imagined just how important that bond would be to the founding of the economic and political foundation of the United States of America. When George Washington died an
untimely death in 1799, Alexander Hamilton lost a true friend and mentor.
It is interesting to note that much opposition to the adoption of a strong Federal government came from men like Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. These men were not
proponents of a strong central government. They feared that a strong office of President could lead to a monarchy here in America. Also of equal interest is the opposition of the Governor of New York State, George Clinton who came to be a political opponent of Hamilton. The Federalist
Papers were addressed to “The People of the State of New York”. Fortunately for us all, the Federalists prevailed over the Anti-Federalists and the Contitution was ratified by the 13 United
States of America. It is also interesting to note that among the signers of the United States Constitution the only signer from the State of New York was none other than Alexander Hamilton.
During the Constitutional Convention, one political leader was conspicuous in his absence. Thomas Jefferson, one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence, was the Ambassador to the Court
of King Louis XVI of France. Jefferson was a well-known Anti-Federalist. He was also a Francophile. He was sympathetic to the ideals of the French Revolution that included the current
ideals of rationalism and deism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson remained a Francophile who failed to see the threat posed by the actions of a unrestrained mob. Jefferson, in France, played little role in the argument or ratification of the United
States Contitution. Alexander Hamilton, a student of Classical history, knew full well the record and dangers of mob rule in Roman, Greek, and other civilizations. He knew that a Republican form
of government required checks and balances that would prevent majority factions from dominating the political process. Jefferson distrusted power in a central government. He envisioned a weaker
central government that encouraged an agricultural lifestyle. It is not hard to understand this when one considers that Jefferson was southern plantation owner with over 600 slaves. The life he led in
Virginia was very different from the life led by Hamlton in New York City. Hamilton, a fierce opponent of the institution of slavery, had little in common with Jefferson. They became political
rivals. When Jefferson was elected to the Presidency, his Vice President was none other than Aaron Burr who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel of honor in 1804.
Sad to say, the French Revolution started with ideas similar to the American Revolution, but with leadership from radicals such as Robespierre , the French Revolution led to the much feared “Reign of Terror” during which the nobility and clergy of France were murdered by guillotine. France
underwent a reign of terror that led to the deaths of their monarch and over 40,000 members of the nobility and Roman Catholic Clergy. The French rationalist radicals were influenced greatly by such
philosophical writers as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Diderot.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was desecrated and vandalized and was renamed “The Temple of Reason” as mobs celebrated the fall of Christianity in France.
The radical “rationalists” who hijacked the French Revolution revealed their hatred of Christianity and sought to destroy all vestiges of traditional religion. The abuses by some of the Catholic
Hierarchy and the poverty of the masses of French peasantry helped the anti-clerical radicals. The rationalist concept of “Deism” was to replace Christianity. The Deist concept of the “Creator”
envisioned only a God who created the universe, but then took no part in human history.
This then was the dawn of the new Age of Reason that is the basis of modern secularism today.
Modern Western Europe has become the center of such secularist thinking.
Europe has inherited all the benefits of Classical and Judeo-Christian culture and yet seems to be on the brink of a great cultural disaster. The new Constitution of the European Union has purposefully
omitted any reference to the Christian roots of Europe. However, with events in the Middle East,
millions of Islamic youth are poised to flood into Italy, France, Spain and Germany. News reports of so-called “refugees” from North Africa show large numbers of young males. There is a noticeable
absence of women and children. Our European friends have relied upon American military might to defend their “secular paradise” for more than 60 years. As we withdraw our ground forces from
Europe, the European Union will be forced to spend much of their treasury on defense.
If and when there is a clash of cultures in Europe, there will little appetite for Americans to defend a
Continent that refuses to acknowledge their history and has relied on their “god of reason”.
With the ratification of the United States Constitution by the 13 United States of America, a strong central government was established.
George Washington was elected as the First President of the United States of America. He served for two full terms as President. Alexander Hamilton had written to Washington urging him to serve as
the Nation’s first Executive. Hamilton was appointed as the Secretary of Treasury in the newly formed government. In Part 4, we will explore the record of service of Alexander Hamilton as
Secretary of the Treasury.
The United States National Park Service reports that work on “The Grange”, the home of Alexander
Hamilton and his family in St. Nicholas Park, New York City nears completion.
“The Grange” home of Alexander Hamilton in St. Nicholas Park, NYC
Copyright © 2011 Edward D. Reuss
ALEXANDER HAMILTON’S AMERICAN ECONOMIC SYSTEM - PART 1
ALEXANDER HAMILTON’S AMERICAN ECONOMIC SYSTEM - PART 2
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