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… epudiation. His Report on a National Bank,
Dec. 13, 1790, advocated a private bank with
semipublic functions and was patterned after the
Bank of England. His Report on Manufacturers,
1791, itself entitles Hamilton to a position as an
epoch economist. It was the first great revolt
from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776).

It, in
part, argued for a system of moderate protective
duties associated with a deliberate policy of
promoting national interests.

The inspirations
from this work became England’s official economic
policy and remain the primary foundation of the
German economic system. His masterly opinion on
the implied powers of the Constitution persuaded
Washington of the Constitutionality of the bank.
Hamilton’s views were adopted almost word for word
in McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316, 4 L.Ed.
579, 4 Hamilton sometimes overstepped the limits
of his office in interfering with other
departments. For instance, serious differences
between Jefferson and Hamilton developed in the
field of foreign affairs.

Hamilton Essays

When the French
Revolution turned into war against all of Europe,
and the French Republic sought to involve the
United States, Hamilton advocated strict
neutrality, which Washington proclaimed on April
22, 1793. Hamilton defended the proclamation in
his “Pacifist” letters and attacked two succeeding
French prime ministers for their interference in
American domestic affairs. The United States has
retained this policy of neutrality in foreign
affairs to this day. Hamilton also became the
esteemed leader of one of the two great political
parties of the time, the Federalists.

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Once after a
political victory achieved through a series of
letters known as the “Camillus essays,” (1795-96)
Jefferson wrote despairingly about Hamilton to
Madison saying that Hamilton was “really a
colossus to the anti-republican party.” On January
31, 1795 Hamilton resigned from his position of
Secretary of the Treasury and returned to the
practice of law in New York. Despite his
resignation, Hamilton remained Washington’s chief
advisor through a continual interchange of letters
between the two men.

Typical of the relationship,
Hamilton wrote Washington’s Farewell Address in
1796. Two years later, Hamilton returned to
military service at the age of forty-three. Here,
he served as active head of the army under
Washington that was organized for the impending
war with France. Washington himself insisted that
Hamilton serve in that position as a condition of
accepting the position. Hamilton served from July
25, 1798 to June 2, 1800. After the death of
George Washington, the leadership of the
Federalist Party became divided between John Adams
and Hamilton.

John Adams had the prestige from his
varied and great career and from his great
strength with the people. Conversely, Hamilton
controlled practically all of the leaders of
lesser rank and the greater part of the most
distinguished men in the country. Hamilton, by
himself, was not a leader for the population.
Hamilton himself once said that his heart was ever
the master of his judgment. He was indiscreet in
utterance, impolitic in management, opinionated,
self-confident, and uncompromising in nature and
methods. Three times Hamilton used the political
fortunes of John Adams in presidential elections
as a mere hazard in his maneuvers. After Adams
became President Hamilton constantly advised the
members of the cabinet and endeavored to control
Adams’s policy.

On the eve of the presidential
election of 1800, Hamilton wrote a bitter personal
attack on the president that contained much
confidential cabinet information. Although this
pamphlet was intended for private circulation, the
document was secured and published by Aaron Burr,
Hamilton’s Hamilton seems to have read Burr’s
character correctly from the beginning. Based on
his opinion of Burr, Hamilton deemed it his
patriotic duty to thwart Burr’s ambitions. First,
Hamilton defeated Burr’s hopes of successfully
completing a foreign mission. Later, Hamilton
ended Burr’s goal of attaining the presidency. In
the election, Burr was tied in votes for the
presidency with Jefferson.

Thus, the final vote
was thrown onto the lame-duck House of
Representatives, which was strongly Federalist.
Hamilton urged the House to side with Jefferson,
who consequently won the election. Last, Burr
wished to attain the governorship of New York.
Failing to get the Republican nomination, Burr
solicited the aide of the Federalists. Hamilton
denounced Burr as “a man of irregular and
unsatiable ambition who ought not to be trusted
with the reins of government.” The denunciations
seem to have been largely ignored by Burr until
this last defeat. After that, Burr forced a
quarrel between the two stating that Hamilton said
he had a “despicable” opinion of Burr. Burr
challenged Hamilton to a duel. Before going to
this confrontation, Hamilton wrote a letter
stating that a compliance with the dueling
prejudices of the time was inseparable from the
ability to be in future useful in public affairs.
The duel was fought at Weehawken on the New Jersey
shore of the Hudson River opposite New York City.
At forty-nine, Hamilton was shot, fell mortally
wounded, and died the following day, July 12th,

It is unanimously reported that Hamilton
himself did not intend to fire, his pistol going
off involuntarily as he fell. Hamilton was
apparently opposed to dueling following the fatal
shooting of his son Philip in a duel in 1801.
Further, Hamilton told the minister who attended
him as he laid dying, “I have no ill-will against
Col. Burr. I met him with a fixed resolution to do
him no harm. I forgive all that happened.”
Hamilton’s death was very generally deplored as a
national calamity. A summary of his beliefs
Hamilton’s mind was eminently legal.

His writings
are distinguished by their clarity, vigor and
rigid reasoning rather than any show of
scholarship. In his earliest writings of 1774-75,
he started out with the ordinary pre-Revolutionary
War Whig doctrines of natural rights and liberty.
After the War’s conclusion, his experiences of
semi-archaic states’ rights and individualism
ended his earlier fervor. Hamilton saw the feeble
inadequacies of conception, the infirmity of
power, factional jealousy, disintegrating
particularism, and vicious finances that marred
the Confederation. No other author saw more
clearly the concrete nationalistic remedies for
these concrete ills or pursued remedial ends so
constantly and consistently as Hamilton. He wanted
a strong union and energetic government that
should “rest as much as possible on the shoulders
of the people and as little as possible on those
of the state legislatures.” As early as 1776, he
urged the direct collection of federal taxes by
federal agents. In 1781 he created the idea that a
non-excessive public debt would be a blessing.

conceived the constitutional doctrines of liberal
construction, “implied powers,” and the “general
welfare,” which were later embodied in the
decisions of John Marshall. Liberty, he reminded
his fellows, in the New York Convention of 1788,
seemed to be the only consideration for the new
government. Hamilton pointed out another thing of
equal importance; “a principal of strength and
stability in the organization and of vigour in
its operation.” Hamilton’s notion of a strong
national government did err on the side of
oppression at times. This is best evidenced by his
warm support for the final form of the Alien and
Sedition Laws of 1798. Hamilton did not agree with
Jefferson that the general public should control
government. “Men,” he said, “are reasoning rather
than reasonable animals.” His last letter on
politics, written two days before his death,
illustrates the two sides of his thinking already
emphasized; in this letter he warns his New
England friends against dismemberment of the union
as “a clear sacrifice of great positive
advantages, without any counterbalancing good;
administering no relief to our real disease, which
is democracy, the poison of which, by a
subdivision, will only be more concentrated in
each part, and consequently the more virulent.” No
judgment of Hamilton is more justly measured than
James Madison’s written in 1831.

“That he
possessed intellectual powers of the first order,
and the moral qualities of integrity and honor in
a captivating degree, has been awarded him by a
suffrage now universal. If his theory of
government deviated from the republican standard
he had the candour to avow it, and the greater
merit of co-operating faithfully in maturing and
supporting a system which was not his choice.”
Bibliography COLLIER’S ENCYCLOPEDIAvol. 11, 608
Jack Hitt, America’s First Lecher: Sex romps?
Cover-ups? Questions of character? Public
confessions? You’d think Bill Clinton would have
learned something from Alexander Hamilton,

WORKS (New York, 9 vols. 1885-86, and 12 vols.,
1904). Bibliography:.

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