Hamilton and the National Debt

By George Rogers Taylor | Go to book overview

Disaster did not lie ahead. The Federalists' political and fiscal policies had sowed fertile seed for corrective reaction. Under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson, the reaction achieved political solidarity. Organized as the Republican Party, it made steady political gains throughout the 90's. Aided by dissension within the Federalist camp, it was practically assured of victory in 1800. The magnificent over-ambitions of Alexander Hamilton would be corrected by the equally magnificent caution of Albert Gallatin.


Alexander Hamilton:
REPORT ON PUBLIC CREDIT

Treasury Department, Jan. 9, 1790.

THE Secretary of the Treasury, in obedience to the resolution of the House of Representatives, of the twentyfirst day of September last, has, during the recess of Congress, applied himself to the consideration of a proper plan for the support of the Public Credit, with all the attention which was due to the authority of the House, and to the magnitude of the object.

In the discharge of this duty, he has felt, in no small degree, the anxieties which naturally flow from a just estimate of the difficulty of the task, from a wellfounded diffidence of his own qualifications for executing it with success, and from a deep and solemn conviction of the momentous nature of the truth contained in the resolution under which his investigations have been conducted, "That an adequate provision for the support of the Public Credit is a matter of high importance to the honour and prosperity of the United States."

With an ardent desire that his wellmeant endeavours may be conducive to the real advantage of the nation; and with the utmost deference to the superior judgment of the House, he now respectfully submits the result of his inquiries and reflections, to their indulgent construction.

In the opinion of the Secretary, the wisdom of the House, in giving their explicit sanction to the proposition which has been stated, cannot but be applauded by all, who will seriously consider, and trace through their obvious consequences, these plain and undeniable truths:

That exigencies are to be expected to occur, in the affairs of nations, in which there will be a necessity for borrowing:

That loans in times of public danger, especially from foreign war, are found an indispensable resource, even to the wealthiest of them:

And that in a country, which, like this, is possessed of little active wealth, or in other words, little monied capital, the necessity for that resource must, in such emergencies, be proportionably urgent.

And as on the one hand, the necessity for borrowing in particular emergencies

-8-

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Hamilton and the National Debt
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Contents ix
  • The Clash of Issues xi
  • William J. Shultz and M. R. Caine: Federalist Finance 1
  • The Debate in the United States House of Representatives 8
  • Hamilton in His Own Defense 64
  • Suggestions for Additional Reading 107
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