Alexander Hamilton: Memoirs and Contributions
If one must remember Alexander Hamilton, it must be for his ideals on man’s natural rights and parity. It is not however a question of nationalism but that of universalism. One could misinterpret his unique ideas on democracy yet what truly is the essence of his views could be known from his early writings.
His conviction as a youth against colonialism and advocacy on democratic principles were known to him in his speeches. His first political writing was entitled the Vindication which he wrote when he was below eighteen years of age, was full of assertions against the parliament for instance he said:
No reason can be advanced why one man should exercise any power or pre-eminence over his fellow creatures more than another, unless they have voluntarily vested him with it. (Cited in Morse, 1890) Also, in his arguments against the Tory opponents he uttered in reference to his human rights advocacies: The fundamental source of your errors, sophisms and false reasoning is a total ignorance of the natural rights of mankind. (Ibid) Hamilton argued that blacks’ natural faculties were as good as those of free whites.
In lieu of his support for equality and argument against slavery, Hamilton attacked his political opponents as demanding freedom for themselves and refusing to allow it to blacks. He was also a member of the committee of the society banning the export of slaves from New York in the form of a bill through the New York Legislature. Who really is this man whose face graces the ten US dollar bill and a lot of monuments and historical museums? Alexander Hamilton was born on January 11, 1755 in Charlestown, Nevis and died on July 12, 1804.
His contributions to the society are mainly political yet far-ranging. Indeed every aspect of our political life could have traces of or are related with Hamilton’s lessons. For example, his Federalist papers have been significant for the interpretations of United States Constitution. The first policies and policy directions during the formative years of the government were also highly influenced by Hamilton being the Secretary of Treasury under George Washington’s administration. His ideal government is one where there is a strong central government.
In line with his support to Federalism he said: A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to the full accomplishment of the objects committed to its care…free from every other control but a regard to the public good and to the sense of the people. (Cited in Magstadt, 2006) In his view, an expeditious democracy is necessary to guard against any excess of checks and balances that might impede or impair the government’s ability to act energetically when circumstances dictate.
Hence, the US Constitution created a strong executive capable of conducting the nation’s foreign affairs, vetoing legislations and appointments of judges. He admired the British system in terms of financial and trade networks and opposed what he viewed as the excesses of French revolution. His contribution to the political party formation is also evident in the founding of his Federalist Party. This is the first American political party which was opposed by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party.
His service as assemblyman of New York County in the New York State Legislature started in 1787. His participation in the Constitutional Convention was limited because of another faction opposing his strong government concept. He made an interesting speech during that time which said that the ideal form of government had represented all the interest groups, but maintained a hereditary monarch to decide policy. To him, the country should imitate this form of government and proposed to have a President and elected Senators for life, with possibility of removal for corruption or abuse.
He also discussed abolition of autonomous state governments. He has remained loyal to the constitution despite some of his reservations against it and worked very hard for its national ratification. Hamilton’s concern for the country extends up to his economic agenda. His active role in the development of US economy is revealed through his efforts as Secretary of the Treasury. His five reports which boosted Financial Revolution in the US economy are as follows: (1. ) First Report on the Public Credit: Communicated to the House of Representatives, January 14, 1790 (2.
) Operations of the Act Laying Duties on Imports: Communicated to the House of Representatives, April 23, 1790 (3. ) Second Report on Public Credit: Report on a National Bank Communicated to the House of Representatives, December 14, 1790 (4. ) Report on the Establishment of a Mint: Communicated to the House of Representatives, January 28, 1791 and (5. ) Report on Manufactures: Communicated to the House of Representatives, December 5, 1791. Hamilton helped create the first National Bank, the United States Mint, also what is known now as the United States Coast Guard and the sophisticated system of tariffs and import duties.
The Hamiltonian program turned the chaotic financial system of the confederation era into a modern mechanism providing financial stability to the new government giving the investors confidence. Alexander Hamilton is considered the “patron-saint” of the American School of economic philosophy as he dominated economic policy after 1861. Hamilton opposed the British ideas of free trade which he believed skewed benefits to colonial/imperial powers, in favor of U. S. protectionism which he believed would help develop the fledgling nation’s emerging economy. In 1801, Hamilton founded the New-York Evening Post.
We now know him therefore as a man with many careers; a writer, politician, economist, was formerly an Army officer, lawyer, Founding Father, leading statesman, financier and political theorist. How did all these professions and colorful life ended? Before that, it must be noted that Alexander Hamilton had on December 14, 1780, married Elizabeth Schuyler, daughter of General Philip Schuyler. Although his married life was marred with a lot of controversies of infidelity, Elizabeth remained loyal to him and in the preservation of his dignified political career.
His death was nearing soon after the gubernatorial election in New York—in which Morgan Lewis, greatly assisted by Hamilton, and defeated Aaron Burr. His confrontations with Burr and attacks on his defeat had caused an arrangement for a duel on July 11, 1804, along the west bank of the Hudson River. Vice President Aaron Burr shot Hamilton, the latter died. Such was the end of a beautiful life for Alexander Hamilton. This paper briefly shared the life and career of Alexander Hamilton. It is not without doubt that the environment in which he had chosen to exist has equally given him fame and struggles.
As a description of his reputation, he is indeed worthy of admiration along with his limitations and weaknesses. No one could object to his influence over our past and current political system. Alexander Hamilton is one personality, who has given us exemplary conceptualizations on democracy, government institutions, economic trade and finance, and equality and human rights. The memoirs of Alexander Hamilton ergo are dominated by reflections on his socio-political and economic contributions.
Works Cited Magstadt, Thomas. Understanding Politics, Ideas, Institutions and Issues, 7th Edition. Wadsworth: California, 2006 Morse, Anderson. “Alexander Hamilton. ” Political Science Quarterly Vol. 5 No. 1. (March, 1890): 1-23. Robert E. Wright. One Nation Under Debt: Hamilton, Jefferson, and the History of What We Owe. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008. Samuel Eliot Morison and Henry Steele Commager. Growth of the American Republic. New York:Oxford University Press, 1969. www. wikipedia. com .