Written by Frank Li
Among Americaâ€™s Founding Fathers, no one has seen his fortune rise dramatically over the past three years more than Alexander Hamilton. Two highlights:
- “Hell” in 2015: Woman to replace Alexander Hamilton on $10 bill.
- “Heaven” in 2018: Behind the Broadway Smash “Hamilton”.
But I think he deserves much more attention and recognition, particularly in terms of having an enduring vision for America, even when compared with Thomas Jefferson.
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I will make the case logically as follows:
- Who is Alexander Hamilton?
- Who is Thomas Jefferson?
- More on Alexander Hamilton
- More on Thomas Jefferson
- Hamilton vs. Jefferson
- America today
- America tomorrow
Let me present each …
1. Who is Alexander Hamilton?
Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia – Alexander Hamilton.
Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757 – July 12, 1804) was an American statesman and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was an influential interpreter and promoter of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the founder of the nation’s financial system, the Federalist Party, the United States Coast Guard, and The New York Post newspaper. As the first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton was the main author of the economic policies of the George Washington administration. He took the lead in the funding of the states’ debts by the Federal government, as well as the establishment of a national bank, a system of tariffs, and friendly trade relations with Britain. His vision included a strong central government led by a vigorous executive branch, a strong commercial economy, with a national bank and support for manufacturing, plus a strong military. Thomas Jefferson was his leading opponent, arguing for agrarianism and smaller government.
2. Who is Thomas Jefferson?
Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia – Thomas Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson (April 13 [O.S. April 2] 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American Founding Father who was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and later served as the third President of the United States from 1801 to 1809. Previously, he had been elected the second Vice President of the United States, serving under John Adams from 1797 to 1801. He was a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights motivating American colonists to break from Great Britain and form a new nation; he produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national level.
3. More on Alexander Hamilton
The video below is worth more than 100,000 words.
4. More on Thomas Jefferson
The video below is worth more than 100,000 words.
5. Hamilton vs. Jefferson
Both had a vision for America, but they were diametrically different.
Hamilton’s vision could be highlighted in three points as follows:
- Government: A tight union with a strong Federal government.
- Economy: A strong economy with industry, commerce, and finance (e.g. money, banking, and debt control).
- Military: A standing army.
Jefferson’s vision could be highlighted in three points as follows:
- Government: A loose union with a small Federal government, leaving the people, including state and local governments, alone (i.e. liberty).
- Economy: A strong economy with agriculture.
- Military: No standing army, but armed militia groups all over the country.
Superficially, Jefferson’s vision worked better for America for the first 200 years, largely because it â€œlookedâ€ and “sounded” better for most Americans, especially the part on liberty.
Eventually, however, Hamilton’s vision will prove to be more enduring, on top of the fact that America would not have grown as spectacularly as it did for the first 200 years, had there not been the solid financial foundation laid by Hamilton, our country’s first Secretary of the Treasury.
Now, how long is “eventually”?
Today and tomorrow!
6. America today
America is deeply in trouble. One prominent example: Donald Trump!
Specifically, Americans were so disgusted with the political establishment that we were willing to try something, anything, different â€“ Can anybody possibly be more different than Donald Trump?
In other words, Americans gambled on Donald Trump in 2016.
Unfortunately for America, the outcome of this gamble is likely to be no different from that of other gambles: the odds of us winning are almost zero! For more, read: Is Donald Trump a God?
More specifically, here are Americaâ€™s four big problems:
- Democratic Imperialism: War is perpetual, with the worst example being the Iraq War.
- Democratic Socialism: Work is optional for many Americans, with the worst being public-sector unions.
- National debt: It is more than $20 trillion, growing.
- Gun violence: Our government has failed in its job #1: protecting the lives of its citizens. For more, read: America: Guns vs. Slavery.
In short, it’s the worst nightmare for Hamilton! Specifically, here is the reality against Hamiltonâ€™s vision:
- Government: A loose union with a big but non-functional Federal government.
- Economy: A huge national debt.
- Military: A huge standing army that constantly requires enemies to justify its existence. For more, read: The Evil Military-Industrial Complex.
It’s also the worst nightmare for Jefferson, especially the parts on government and military.
Why such a nightmare? Two main reasons:
- America has been developing more along the vision of Jefferson than of Hamilton.
- We, America, have failed to adapt, thanks to democracy! For more, read: End of Democracy?
7. America tomorrow
Adapt or continue to fail, starting with political reforms, as I have suggested in my last book: American Democracy – Why is it failing & how to fix it?
Time is the best judge for everything.
Below is a rumored conversation between an American and China’s Premier Zhou Enlai during President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972.
American: What do you think of the French Revolution?
Zhou (who studied in France as a student): It’s too soon to say.
Maybe the same thing can be said about the American Revolution?
Two strong propositions:
- No country has ever endured, without getting its system right, which takes constant adaptation. For more, read: Built to Last: Structure & Conscience.
- No country can possibly be great, without a great government with great leaders.
Hamilton regarded a strong Federal government as a must for a strong and enduring America, while Jefferson viewed the Federal government as the necessary evil, if not the enemy!
America was patently great for the first 200 years. But that was an exception, not the rule, thanks, mostly, to Americaâ€™s natural resourcefulness as well as â€œfreedoms,â€ from free land to free labor (i.e. slavery), despite a weak Federal government based on a loose union. As America matures into adolescence, it is failing to meet the new challenges of adulthood, largely as Hamilton envisioned.
So, itâ€™s time for America to understand and adjust to Hamiltonâ€™s vision, before itâ€™s too late!
Itâ€™s also time for America to revisit Jeffersonâ€™s vision, from his view of the Federal government as the necessary evil to this most famous quote: â€œall men are created equal,â€ in stark contrast with Hamiltonâ€™s strong preference of meritocracy. For more, read: Not All Men Are Created Equal!
Finally, itâ€™s time for America to learn from China, which is arguably the greatest country in human history! For more, read: The Greatest Countries in Human History.
Two images below speak a lot about China, especially its philosophy and governance.
Two informative readings:
In short, Hamiltonâ€™s vision is more in line with the essence behind Chinaâ€™s greatness, particularly on the parts of a strong Federal (or Central) government and meritocracy.
Time will ultimately prove that Alexander Hamilton had a more enduring vision for the United States of America than Thomas Jefferson did!
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