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Two of the most influential Founding Fathers are Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton argued for a stronger federal government that subsidized industrial growth through a strong central bank. “Industry is our future,” he argued. Jefferson argued for less central authority and greater power in the hands of the states. Jefferson also saw our country’s future as an agrarian one. To be sure Hamilton’s view of an industrial future won out. Only about 1.5% of the American population farms today. Nevertheless, the debate about the states rights vs. a stronger federal government still goes on. They also had differences in other areas as well.
In sum, HAMILTON FAVORED A STRONGER CENTRAL GOVERNMENT WHEREAS JEFFERSON FAVORED GREATER POWER AND CONTROL IN THE STATES OVER THEIR OWN AFFAIRS.
FOR THIS ACTIVITY YOU WILL READ THE FOLLOWING AND WRITE A THOROUGH RESPONSE TO NUMBERS 1-5 COMPARING THE VIEWS OF HAMILTON AND JEFFERSON
1.READ THE SECTION “HAMILTON’S VISION OF A PROSPEROUS AMERICA” FROM CHAPTER 6 AND STUDY THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES.
2.Then BASED ON THE PASSAGES BELOW HIGHLIGHT THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HAMILTON AND JEFFERSON. NUMBER YOUR RESPONSES 1-5 AS PER THE ISSUES BELOW.
HAMILTON FAVORED A STRONGER CENTRAL GOVERNMENT WHEREAS JEFFERSON FAVORED GREATER POWER AND CONTROL IN THE STATES OVER THEIR OWN AFFAIRS.
- The Economy
- Military Power
- A national bank
- Foreign relations
- Who should rule the country?
1) Issue/Topic: ECONOMY
From: Report on Manufactures written to the Second Congress (December 5, 1791), by Alexander Hamilton
“This is not among the least valuable of the means, by which manufacturing institutions contribute to augment the general stock of industry and production. In places where those institutions prevail, besides the persons regularly engaged in them, they afford occasional and extra employment to industrious individuals and families, who are willing to devote the leisure resulting from the intermissions of their ordinary pursuits to collateral labours, as a resource of multiplying their acquisitions or [their] enjoyments. The husbandman himself experiences a new source of profit and support from the encreased industry of his wife and daughters; invited and stimulated by the demands of the neighboring manufactories.
“Besides this advantage of occasional employment to classes having different occupations, there is another of a nature allied to it [and] of a similar tendency. This is – the employment of a persons who would otherwise be idle (and in many cases a burthen on the community), either from the byass of temper, habit, infirmity of body, or some other cause, indisposing, or disqualifying them for the toils of the Country.”
From: Notes on the State of Virginia (1785), by Thomas Jefferson
“Lands in Europe were either cultivated or ‘locked up against the cultivator,’ and manufacturing was resorted to in order to support the surplus of people. On the other hand, in America there was ‘an immensity of land courting the industry of the husbandman.’ Jefferson continued, ‘Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for the substantial and genuine virtue… While we have land to labour then, let us never wish to see our citizens occupied at a work-bench. Or twirling a distaff. Carpenters, masons, smiths, are wanting in husbandry: but, for the general operations of manufacture, let our work-shops remain in Europe. …The mobs of great cities add just so much to the support of pure government, as sores do the strength of the human body. It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigour.’ “
#2 Issue/Topic: MILITARY POWER
From: Letter to Jonathan Dayton (November 1799), by Alexander Hamilton
“Our naval force ought to be completed to six Ships of the line Twelve frigates and twenty four sloops of War. More at this juncture would be disproportioned to our resources. Less would be inadequate to the end to be accomplished.
“Our Military force should for the present be kept upon its actual footing; making provision for a reenlistment of the men for five years in the event of a settlement of differences with France—with this condition that in case of peace between Great Britain France and Spain, the U. States being then also at peace, all the Privates of twelve additional Regiments of Infantry and of the Regiments of Dragoons exceeding Twenty to a Company shall be disbanded. The corps of Artillerists may be left to retain the numbers which it shall happen to have; but without being recruited until the number of privates shall fall below the standard of the Infantry & Dragoons. A power ought to be given to the President to augment the four Old Regiments to their War Establishmnt…
“The Institution of a Military Academy will be an auxiliary of great importance.
“Manufactories of every article, the woolen parts of cloathing included, which are essential to the supply of the army ought to be established.”
Issue/Topic: MILITARY POWER
From: Letter to Elbridge Gerry (January 26, 1799), by Thomas Jefferson
“I am for a government rigorously frugal & simple, applying all the possible savings of the public revenue to the discharge of the national debt; and not for a multiplication of officers & salaries merely to male partisans, & for increasing, by every device, the public debt, on the principle of it’s being a public blessing. I am for relying, for internal defence, on our militia solely, till actual invasion, and for such a naval force only as may protect our coasts and harbors from such depredations as we have experienced; and not for a standing army in time of peace, which may overawe the public sentiment; nor for a navy, which, by it’s own expenses and the eternal wars in which it will implicate us with public burthens, & sink us under them.”
#3 Issue/Topic: NATIONAL BANK
From: Report on a National Bank (to Congress on December 14, 1790), by Alexander Hamilton
“It is a fact well understood, that public Banks have found admission and patronage among the principal and most enlightened commercial nations. They have successively obtained in Italy, Germany, Holland, England, and France, as well as the United States. And it is a circumstance, which cannot but have considerable weight, in a candid estimate of their tendency, that after an experience of centuries, there exists not a question about their util[ity] in the countries in which they have been so long established…
“The following are among the principal advantages of a Bank.
First. The augmentation of the active or productive capital of a country. Gold and Silver, when they are employed merely as the instruments of exchange and alienation, have been not improperly denominated dead Stock; but when deposited in Banks, to become the basis of a paper circulation, which takes their character and place, as the signs or representatives of value, they then acquire life, or, in other words, an active and productive quality.”
Issue/Topic: NATIONAL BANK
From: Opinion on the Constutionality of Establishing a National Bank (February 15, 1791), by Thomas Jefferson
“… I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that ‘all powers not delegated to the U.S. by the Constitution, not prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people’ [Xth. Amendmt.]. To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the power of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.
“The incorporation of a bank, and other powers assumed by this bill have not, it my opinion, been delegated to the U.S. by the Constitution.
- They are not among the powers specially enumerated, for these are:
- A power to lay taxes for the purpose of paying the debts of the U.S. But no debt is paid by this bill, nor any tax laid. Were it a bill to raise money, it’s origination in the Senate would condemn it by the constitution.
#4 Issue/Topic: FOREIGN RELATIONS/FOREIGN POLICY
From: Letter to Edward Harrington (May 20, 1792), by Alexander Hamilton
“In respect to our foreign politics the views of these Gentlemen are in my judgment equally unsound & dangerous. They have a womanish attachment to France and a womanish resentment against Great Britain. They would draw us into the closest embrace of the former and involve us in all the consequences of her politics, and they would risk the peace of the country in their endeavors to keep us at the greatest possible distance from the latter. This disposition goes to a length particularly in Mr. Jefferson of which, till lately, I had no adequate Idea. Various circumstances prove to me that if these Gentlemen were left to pursue their own course there would be in less than six months an open War between the U States and Great Britain.”
Issue/Topic: FOREIGN RELATIONS/FOREIGN POLICY
From: Letter to George Mason (February 4, 1791), by Jefferson
“I look with great anxiety for the firm establishment of the new government in France, being perfectly convinced that if it takes place there, it would spread sooner or later all over Europe. On the contrary a check there would retard the revival of liberty in other countries. I consider the establishment and success of their government as necessary to stay up our own and to prevent it from falling back to that kind of Half-way house, the English constitution.”
#5 Topic/Issue: WHO SHOULD RULE?
From: Hamilton’s Speech to the Constitutional Convention (June 18, 1787), by Alexander Hamilton
“All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and well-born, the other the mass of the people. The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore the first class a distinct, permanent share in the government. They will check the unsteadiness of the second, and as they cannot receive any advantage by a change they therefore will ever maintain good government. Can a democratic assembly, who annually revolve in the mass of the people be supposed steadily to pursue the public good? Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy. Their turbulent and uncontrouling disposition requires checks.
Topic/Issue: WHO SHOULD RULE?
From: Letter to James Madison (December 20, 1787 after returning from several years in France) by Thomas Jefferson
“After all, it is my principle that the will of the Majority should always prevail. If they approve the proposed Convention in all its parts I shall concur in a cheerfully, in hopes that they will amend it whenever they shall find it work wrong. I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt, as in Europe. Above all things I hope the education of the common people will be attended to; convinced that on their good sense we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty.”
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