Alexander Hamilton is one of the most infamous Founding Fathers of our country

Alexander Hamilton is one of the most infamous Founding Fathers of our country. Some say he is often overlooked in what he actually did, while others are living to tell his story. Hamilton has a rich history and background. He was born in the West Indies to a single mother and then was orphaned. He was taken in by a prosperous merchant as a child who was able to send Hamilton to New York to study. Alexander quickly took a part in the militia as the American Revolution was beginning. In 1777, he became the senior aide to George Washington in the Continental Army. After the war, he was elected as the representative of New York and became the first Secretary of Treasury under President George Washington. Hamilton proposed a financial plan after the Revolution that would assume state debts from the war. The federal government was to pay off all state debts in full. Many were against this but somehow he managed to get the national government to adopt it. Alexander Hamilton was able to convince the federal government to adopt his financial plan with the Compromise of 1790, his modern economic vision based on investment, industry, and expanded commerce, and his ability to put his financial plan into the self-interest of those who opposed it.
When Hamilton first proposed his financial plan, the anti-Federalists were not very happy. His plan was going to create a strong central government and help industrialize the colonies. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia were Hamilton’s greatest opposers. They felt that states that had little to no debt should not have to bear the debt of states with millions of dollars of debt. They strongly opposed the idea to create a national debt. Alexander’s plan ran totally contrary to Jefferson and the self-interest of others. Hamilton needed the votes of the quite a few southerners to be able to pass his assumption bill. In order to get his plan to pass, the Compromise of 1790 was created. Within the Compromise, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison arranged terms in which we got the Residence Act and the Funding Act. They also came to the agreement that Hamilton would get the votes of the south if he agreed to help get Congress to pass a bill that located the nation capital in the South on the Potomac River Residing Act). This was the most important thing for Hamilton when it came to getting his financial plan adopted. He needed all the votes he could get and with the Compromise, he was able to get them. The assumption was one of the hardest parts of his financial plan to get adopted because so many people were against a national debt.
The Compromise was just the visible part of their agreement. There was a lot of corresponding and talk behind closed doors that no one really knew about and that we still don’t know about. We all know about the great “Dinner Table Bargain” and Thomas Jefferson’s account of what happened. This may be all we get to know about what happened that June night. It is said that Hamilton needed the votes of Madison and Jefferson to get the assumption bill passed, but in reality, Jefferson had just gotten back from being abroad for five years and Madison was simply opposing Hamilton’s financial plan publicly. Keep in mind that James Madison helped Alexander write the Federalist Papers. The article “The Dinner Table Bargain, June 1790,” states that prior to June 20, there had been several meetings negotiating the compromise. These meetings were “held between various interested parties, and Jefferson himself had participated in at least one of them” (Dinner Table Bargain). Hamilton did not just need the votes of Jefferson and Madison, but also the votes of Mr. Lee and Mr. White. Madison also needed these gentlemens’ votes for the moving of the federal capital to the Potomac; their districts laid on the Potomac. While Madison was able to change these mens’ mind, Hamilton was in charge of getting Pennsylvania onboard with the moving of the capital. He was able to get the vote through the help of Robert Morris. The Residing Act was passed on June 9 and the Funding Act was passed on the August 4 of 1790. Clearly there had been some secret meetings going on between interested parties for the Residing Act to have passed before the Compromise was even done. This is crucial information that needs to be known. Alexander was at work even before the dinner that made the Compromise. He knew what he needed to do to put his plan in the self-interest of others and he did just that.
Alexander was able to make his assumption become in self-interest with the southern states by not only agreeing to “move New York down the river” (Hamilton the Musical), but by lowering the Virginia’s tax obligations under the assumption plan by $1.5 million. At the time, this was a very hefty sum and Virgina must’ve been happy. This information though is from Jefferson’s account of that night but it was something Alexander would have been happy to do. In doing this, Hamilton was able to win the bigger assumption battle.
Jefferson eventually renounced his account of that night saying Alexander duped him into it. Just like Hamilton, Jefferson really got something out of all of this. In 1801, he became the first president to take the presidential oath of office at the new capital location.
Hamilton had a very impressive mind. He saw things that many people may not have seen. He wanted to create a centralized government, a national bank, and two new tariffs. He was fascinated with the financial and economical situation that our country was in. He wanted to help our nation establish a national line of credit and to see our economy succeed. Hamilton knew so much about economical and financial things that he wanted to lend his hand to the future of our country. George Washington put Alexander Hamilton on the assignment of “directing federal economic policy as the treasury secretary” (Hamilton’s Financial Plan, Washington made this decision because he believed Hamilton would made a difference for the future of our country. Hamilton also had so much knowledge about financials and economics. He not only had the influential connection of Washington when building his financial plan, but he also had that connection in his father-in-law Mr. Schuyler. Alexander’s marriage to Elizabeth Schuyler extended his ties to powerful and rich New York leaders. Alexander first learned of economics and other related things from his mother before he was orphaned. His mom was a shoe keeper and he learned his first economic principles from helping and watching her. He already had a background in the area of economics and even a little financials so he was the perfect candidate to help the Union.
His plan was what the Union needed at the time to help get certain states out of Revolutionary debt. Alexander believed in a strong centralized government and his plan proposed just that. The Democratic Republicans were not fond of this idea due to their ideals. The Articles of Confederacy worked for a short amount of time but ultimately it was failed the Union; Alexander saw that. There needed to be more than one branch of government in order to help the confederacy. According to Joseph Ellis, a disgruntled New York editor had written an explicit article stating” ‘The true reason of the removal of Congress from this city Philadelphia will be explained to the people in the course of a very few days’ “. It is believed that there was a secret bargain made between Jefferson and Hamilton with the sum of ” ‘ twenty-one and one-half million dollars’ “. This sum supposedly purchased the self interest of the Southern voters but we have no actual evidence that this ever happened, just a statement in an article from an upset New York Editor. We know that before the Dinner Table Bargain, that the relocation of the capital had already been passed in Congress, so what did Hamilton say to Madison that night? We may never actually know but he did something that put his assumption bill in the self-interest of those he needed. Madison we know, from Jefferson’s account of the night, said he would vote for it but he also would not withdraw his opposition. He would leave the bill to its own fate.
Due to Hamilton’s ability to put this into the self-interest of others, the federal government was able to assume state debts and in turn create the federal debt. Alexander set in place a long history of federal debt but also created a government that was able to keep each branch in check so one did not have too much power. He created a public line of credit and the Union really needed that to help develop their economy. His idea of the United States adopting a mercantilist economic policy was to protect the American manufacturers through subsidies directly from the government. This part of Hamilton’s plan was not approved due to all the opposition from the South.
Not only was assumption part of Hamilton’s plan he also shared the idea of raising money through taxation. His tariffs proposed taxes on imported goods, as well as whiskey. His idea of taxation on whiskey was not loved by a group of poor farmers from western Pennsylvania. This was known as the Whiskey Rebellion. In a letter written to George Washington regarding the Whiskey Rebellion, Alexander states “The Opposition has continued and matured, till it has at length broke out in Acts which are presumed to amount to Treason . . . have attacked the house of the Inspector of Revenue, burnt and destroyed his Property and Shed the blood of Persons engaged in its defence . . .” The Whiskey Rebellion really had an impact on certain parts of the State of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Not very many people were happy about this taxation and it was so bad that they eventually revoked the act of taxing whiskey and other distilled spirits.
Hamilton saw things that were “wrong”, so to speak, in Congress and he wanted to help that. In a letter written to George Clinton, Hamilton speaks of each state having to promote internal government and prosperity as well as selecting members to be in office. He also speaks on how the fact that the men that are selected are doing things falsely and it’s all in interest of the confederacy. Hamilton states “This is a most pernicious mistake, and must be corrected. However important it is to give form and efficiency to your interior constitutions and police; it is infinitely more important to have wise general council. . .” (Hamilton Writings, 50). Alexander believed that the most important thing for the government was to have a wise counsel rather than just having efficient people working in interior governments.
In conclusion, Alexander Hamilton set way for our current financial and federal status with with his ability to get his financial plan approved by the government. He worked hard and constantly tried to put his assumption plan into the self-interest of others and it eventually worked out for him. His knowledge of economics and financials really set him up to go far in his new spot as Secretary of Treasury and help create the financial system the Union needed at the time.


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