Selected Writings and Speeches of Alexander Hamilton

Selected Writings and Speeches of Alexander Hamilton

Selected Writings and Speeches of Alexander Hamilton

Selected Writings and Speeches of Alexander Hamilton

Excerpt

Alexander Hamilton, though never president himself, was one of the most important and influential statesmen of the American founding period. He is famous for having presented with great force and clarity the case for having a strong presidency. Moreover, as Washington's secretary of the Treasury, he did much to establish a presidency that accorded with the activist view of that office, which he so forcefully articulated in The Federalist Papers. Hamilton had no visionary expectations from politics but was essentially a man of affairs involved in the actual day-to-day working of the political system. He was principally concerned with the prosperity or financial well-being of the nation, for that was his job as secretary of the Treasury. He was not a theoretical politician who stressed principles to the detriment of experience, though he believed firmly in political principles. His view of the good society did not take the form of an imagined model. Instead, Hamilton took his bearings from American society as it existed and sought to make more reasonable the principles and possibilities imbedded in that society, with a view to what could be learned from English institutions and practices and from the English Constitution.

James Madison, Jefferson's antiadministration leader in the House until 1798, is reported to have said:

I deserted Colonel Hamilton, or rather Colonel H. deserted me; in a word, the divergence between us took place--from his wishing to administration, or rather to administer the Government (these were Mr. M's very words), into what he thought it ought to be; while, on my part, I endeavored to make it conform to the Constitution as understood by the Convention that produced and recommended it, and particularly by the State conventions that adopted it.

Hamilton became an administrator in the new American regime and, as secretary of the Treasury, was required to submit the principles of . . .

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