The conflict ideas between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton
The United States government, as well as the political system of the American political, would not be in their current state without the two vital figures in United States history. The two individuals are; Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. Although Jefferson’s and Hamilton’s political beliefs and views clashed on many occasions, both were able to influence American society and government. Both Jefferson and Hamilton were major participants in the creation and ratification of the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution, as well as in the push for American independence from Great Britain. George Washington well aware of the different views of both Jefferson and Hamilton still chose each of them to become part of his cabinet, and were two of Washington’s closest advisors (Cunningham Jr. p. 34). The following essay will contain information on both Jefferson’s and Hamilton’s lives and political views. It will briefly dissect the past of each individual as well as their political views and beliefs. The essay will then proceed to dissect conflicts in Jefferson’s and Hamilton’s belief, and how their views have shaped the government and politics known in today’s American society.
Thomas Jefferson was born into money in Virginia in 1743. Jefferson was a very intellectual man and attended college at William and Mary. After graduating from college Jefferson then becomes a successful lawyer, and is also able to maintain and run the family plantation. Due to his intellect, Jefferson was also a successful inventor; he invented the first copier as well as other things. Jefferson was also a strong supporter of the French, this support of the French will be one of the major conflicts in foreign policy between Jefferson and Hamilton which will be discussed later in the essay. Jefferson’s support of the French would lead him to be the first United States ambassador to France. Another major topic of conflict between Jefferson and Hamilton was that of the idea of a national bank. This idea was greatly opposed by Jefferson. He argued that the idea of a national bank and said it would be unconstitutional. Jefferson believed that banking should remain private. Jefferson had also believed in a very strict interpretation of the United States Constitution. Jefferson was also in favor of westward expansion to obtain new land to grow cotton. Jefferson’s followers became known as the “democratic-republicans, ” and this can be foreseen as the beginning of the development of political parties. It should also be noted that in George Washington‘s cabinet, Jefferson was appointed the Secretary of State.
Alexander Hamilton was born in January 1755 in Nevis Island, West Indies (Cunningham Jr. p 4). Being born outside the United States would prevent Hamilton from every running for president, but would not affect his influence in the American government. Hamilton attended what is present day Columbia University and became a lawyer in New York City. Hamilton was George Washington’s Chief of Staff during the Revolutionary War and continued to be a close advisor to Washington after the war. Washington named Hamilton the Secretary of the Treasury in the first presidential cabinet. Unlike Jefferson, Hamilton remained respectful to the British Empire when it came to foreign affairs. Hamilton also started pushing legislation through Congress that impacted American society. In 1789 Congress proposed the Tariff Act which Congress passed. The Tariff Act allowed the United States to raise money and also set the grounds for American industry to begin. Hamilton also wanted to begin paying off the national debt which at the time was twelve million dollars. Money raised by the Tariff Act provided the basis for paying off the debt. In relation to paying off the national debt, Hamilton said;” that to have the capacity to borrow upon good terms, it is fundamental that the credit of a country ought to be well established” (Cunningham Jr. p 31). Hamilton also supported and proposed the idea of a national bank. Hamilton proposed that it could develop a national currency because at this time each state had its own currency. Hamilton also supported a broader interpretation of the United States Constitution. Hamilton died on July 11th, 1804 by Aaron Burr (Cunningham Jr. p. 166). Burr had challenged Hamilton to a duel when Hamilton played a major role in Burr’s loss in the election for New York State governor.
Major Points In Which Hamilton and Jefferson Clashed
Two of the major areas in which the two clashed was in their views on the creating of a national bank and on foreign policy. The debate over to create or not to create a national bank system in the United States was a major conflict between Jefferson and Hamilton. As it has already been stated, Jefferson supported the idea that banking in America should remain private and that creating a national bank would be unconstitutional. On the other hand, Hamilton was in support of creating a national bank. In Jefferson vs. Hamilton Confrontations That Shaped a Nation it states the following; “Hamilton proposed the foundation of national bank, contending that such an establishment would be ‘of essential significance of the prosperous organization of the Finances, and would be of the more prominent utility in the operations associated with the help of the Public Credit'” (Cunningham Jr. p 45). In this quote, Hamilton is basically stating that instituting a national bank would benefit the welfare of the nation and the people. In Hamilton’s Report on a National Bank, he lays out three principal advantages to the establishment of a national bank. The first being “the augmentation of the active or productive capital of a country” which Hamilton expresses as the country being able to circulate paper money and allowed people to either deposit or invest money. The second point was “greater facility to the Government in obtaining pecuniary aids, especially in sudden emergencies.” This point basically summed up that the Government would have access to the proper funds needed in times of emergency through the form of credit Hamilton’s third point was “the facilitating of the payment of taxes.”
In opposition to Hamilton, Jefferson proposed that the creation of a national bank would be unconstitutional. In his Opinion on the Constitutionality of Establishing a National Bank Jefferson says the following; “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’” (Cunningham Jr. p 51). Jefferson believed since the powers to delegate a national bank had not been enumerated in the Constitution that it should not be done. Jefferson also claimed that the bill for a national bank did not warrant the borrowing of money as Hamilton said it would. Jefferson also goes on to say; “to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution of the enumerated powers.’ But they can all be carried into execution without a bank. A bank there for isn’t fundamental, and thus not approved by this expression.” What Jefferson is saying here is that all the laws under the bill for the bank could be carried out without the creation of the bank and therefore the creation of the bank is not necessary.
Hamilton and Jefferson also had a difference of opinion when it came to foreign policy. As it has been already stated, Jefferson was a strong supporter of the French as we an ambassador to France for the U.S. Hamilton, on the other hand, was a supporter of Great Britain. After the French Revolution upon the news of the French monarchy being overthrown Jefferson was very enthusiastic about the win. A large conflict arose during George Washington’s second term as president when conflicts arose between Great Britain and France. When the outbreak of fighting occurred between Great Britain and France occurred both Hamilton and Jefferson agreed on the point that the U.S. should declare neutrality, but their opinions on who should declare the neutrality differed. Jefferson argued that since Congress had the power to declare war that they should have the power not to declare war. Jefferson also argued that the U.S. should not necessarily declare neutrality but use the war as a bargaining agreement (Reyn pg. 175). Hamilton then again contended that the president had the power to announce neutrality. Hamilton contended that the president had powers to conduct foreign affairs and that situation fell under these powers. Washington, in the end, sided with Hamilton and declared neutrality in the affairs between Britain and France.
After Hamilton’s and Jefferson’s death America’s government and politics still feel the effects of the policies of each. Although Hamilton seemed to prevail in the examples shown Jefferson made major impacts and later on became a successful president. The policies instilled by both Jefferson and Hamilton have had a positive impact on American society. Their views have also left questions open in the air like whether or not the Constitution should be interpreted strictly or openly. As well as whether Congress or the President should have certain powers in certain situations. These questions may never be completely answered, but in the end, the American society can thank Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton for shaping American politics and the American government.
In light of ensuing history, Hamilton appears to make a more concurrent argument. Jefferson is ideal in his conviction that the general population has the dominant part of the say, yet his entire reliance on the people does not depict the values as well as measures of subsequent history. Hamilton plainly distinguishes that “the communities at large divide themselves into few and many.” In America, the then present as well as the subsequent history, demonstrate this. By giving them set influence, the procedure is really advantageous in light of the fact that these individuals hold influence in the public arena through affluent and impact, and ought to merit a spot in the majority democratic assembly. At the point when Hamilton goes to the outrageous that relying upon the general population would be totally harmful to the country since they are not dependable and are not savvy enough to run the country. This demonstrates Hamilton’s affection for the improvement of the country more than its people. The reality of the matter is that men are administered by their interests, yet it can likewise be said that the privileged people are represented by ravenousness. Subsequent history appears, however, that the high society does wind up having set the position of power in government. This move is advantageous in light of the fact that the upper class are in power, and merit a say as they have cash and impact over society to back it up. The majority then again do direct the needs of the entire country, in spite of the fact that they might not be the most astute choices over the long haul. Hamilton finds a bridge between the both albeit to some degree inclining towards aristocratic power. Through his suppositions, he is more solid on the grounds that in ensuing history the powerful in the public eye are likewise powerful in government. Despite the fact that his perspectives are inclining towards the side of aristocratic power, the choice to enable the upper class to keep up an offer of power is prudent.
- Cunningham, Noble E. Jefferson Vs. Hamilton: Confrontations That Shaped a Nation. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2000. Print.
- Reyn, Sebastian. Allies or Aliens? George W. Bush and the Transatlantic Crisis in Historical Perspective. The Hague: Netherlands Atlantic Association, 2004. Print.
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