Alexander Hamilton: Youth to Maturity, 1755-1788

Alexander Hamilton: Youth to Maturity, 1755-1788

Alexander Hamilton: Youth to Maturity, 1755-1788

Alexander Hamilton: Youth to Maturity, 1755-1788

Excerpt

FEW IN American history have been so creative as Alexander Hamilton. His passion was the construction of a well knit, prosperous nation. He furnished not only purposes, but means for carrying these into effect. He was in many ways foremost in fashioning in this new country a firm, representative republic. His economic insight and skill are not to be separated from his political and legal objects, for each was the vehicle of the other. He was quick to understand that national wealth and well-being consist not merely in material resources, but in social organization.

Hamilton has been typed in the minds of too many as the brilliant strategist of a privileged class and, in the same behalf, as the deft technician of the Treasury. Both estimates diminish his true greatness. The first notion makes him the foil of Thomas Jefferson, taken as the evangel of democracy. In this view Hamilton, the advocate of partisan policy, has been put in opposition to a more generous and enduring philosophy. These talented leaders were surely hostile to each other in the formation of the United States, but they emerge, in a just rehearsal of their lives, as complementary protagonists. Hamilton's preachment was so blended with his practice that his contribution to the American achievement does not stand out with the purity of Jefferson's signal idea. Actually, each partook of the other, and succeeding generations may be thankful to both. If a contrast we must have, then Jefferson stood for rights, Hamilton for responsibility.

As to the second contracted conception of Hamilton, his distinction among finance ministers rests upon more than fiscal competence, for his Treasury measures were but instruments in an imaginative national program. The particulars of funding and taxes with which he dealt in office, unfamiliar to most then and since, have tended to put him beyond ready understanding, and to make him, accordingly, the object of undiscriminating enthu-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.