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  • Hamilton or Jefferson?

    1790's...

    The United States...

    Poor old George Washington, serving in his second term as President of this still very young nation, is torn between the political friction between two of his good friends:


    The Secretary of Treasury and Federalist Alexander Hamilton




    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Hamilton

    AND

    The Secretary of State and Republican Thomas Jefferson



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson

    Who would you support and why????

    Do you also believe that in the friction between these two politicians one can already see the early causes of the American Civil War 70 years later???



    Greets,
    Stratego
    67
    Alexander Hamilton
    53.73%
    36
    Thomas Jefferson
    46.27%
    31
    Last edited by Stratego; 29 May 10, 18:50.
    Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.- Napoleon

    It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.- Herman Melville

    Aut viam inveniam aut faciam

    BORG

  • #2
    I voted for Thomas Jefferson...

    Although I admire Hamilton prior to the outbreak of the French Revolution, afterwards I consider him a "backstabber".

    When the French Revolution broke out and the Revolutionary government in Paris - attacked by almost all major nations of Europe - appealed to the US for help, they received no help whatsoever. Hamilton was against interference in the French affairs, Jefferson wanted the US to give support.

    However, it's not a simple as that unfortunately. The Young US was bordered to Spain in the south and the British up north. They also had a large number of native tribes to recon with in the middle if war against Spain or Britain broke out. The US still had a large amount of organising work to do and missed the money for a war on her borders.
    I can understand that in the end a war on all fronts would be very difficult to manage for the young US and could have ended very unfavourably IF the nation has supported France...yet, the French DID help them with their Revolution and were their best and most trustworthy allies on the European continent.

    Yet, does one let go of friendship and loyalty so quickly ????



    Greets,
    Stratego
    Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.- Napoleon

    It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.- Herman Melville

    Aut viam inveniam aut faciam

    BORG

    Comment


    • #3
      Here is a good website & a good discussion of the differences:
      http://answersinhistory.wordpress.co...-vs-jefferson/
      1) How did the political philosophies of these men differ?

      Most clear thinking Americans could probably tell you at least the rudimentary facts of who Thomas Jefferson was. Far fewer would likely have a definite idea of who Alexander Hamilton was and what his contributions as a Founding Father were. Yet his conception of an American government was just as important as that of Jefferson. Both founders foresaw the new nation as a great future power, and both had very different maps of how to get it there.

      Jefferson believed the nation’s strength lay in its agricultural roots. He favored an agrarian nation with most powers reserved for the states. He was very opposed to a strong central authority and believed that the people were the final authority in government. Jefferson also encouraged active support for the French Revolution

      Hamilton favored a strong central authority. He believed a strong government was necessary to provide order so that business and industry could grow. He envisioned America becoming an industrial power. To this end he sought to establish a national bank and fund the national debt in order to establish firm base for national credit. Hamilton believed that the government should be run by those who were educated and wealthy rather than by “the mob.” He opposed involvement in the French Revolution and worried Jeffersonians by appearing, and maybe even being, too cozy with Britain.

      2) How was the conflict between Jefferson and Hamilton a significant factor in the emergence of political parties?

      The Jefferson/Hamilton conflict helped give rise to political parties by polarizing factions on opposite political sides. Those who backed Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans supported states rights, a strict reading of the Constitution, and support for the French Revolution. Those who back Hamilton’s Federalists preferred a much stronger central government, an “elastic” reading of the Constitution, and a hands-off approach to the French Revolution.

      3) Which view do you think was best for the US – Hamilton’s or Jefferson’s – and why? [This part should be several paragraphs long]

      I don’t know if either view could be considered better or worse for America. Forced to choose, I would probably lean toward Hamiltonian ideas, but I believe both served a vital and necessary role in forming the government. Hamilton was a visionary and saw the potential of a great industrial power. His support of a strong central authority was a key reason the young nation was able to sustain itself in the early days, especially in such crises like Shayes Rebellion. One reason he may have felt as strongly as he did was his service in the Revolutionary War. Being one of Washington’s staff, he experienced first hand the difficulty the Continental army had with an ineffectual congress to keep it fed and supplied. The weak congress was not able to raise funds to pay for supplies because it had no real power.

      For all his vision and innovation, Hamilton’s ambition may have carried him too far if left unchecked. The federal government may have become too powerful and curbed the rights of citizens, which in fact did happen to a degree during the Adams administration. Jefferson and his policies provided an important counter balance to Hamilton. Jefferson’s support of states’ rights and agriculture helped to offset the influence of the Hamilton-supporting merchants and manufacturers. However, without Hamilton’s counter-balance Jefferson’s policies may have left the government weak and ineffectual to deal with major crises both at home and abroad.

      Each viewpoint needed the other to create a government that would be strong enough to protect itself and it’s people from internal and external strife, but not so strong that it would infringe on the rights of the people as enumerated in the Bill of Rights and in the Revolutionary spirit. These issues, of course, weren’t resolved or ceased to be relevant after Hamilton and Jefferson left the scene. These are still very much the issues we deal with even now, over 200 years later. As much as we might dislike, or even hate, the position of the “other” party, without some balance both sides would undoubtedly abuse their power…more than they already do.
      Both men brought good ideas to the table. There were aspects from both sides that I would agree with.....I like Hamilton's better overall though, & especially for that time period in American History. We had ridden ourselves of the state-centric Articles of Confederation & gone to the more government-centric Constitution. Personally, I think that both viewpoints were needed to "balance" the other side-much like today.
      The muffled drums sad roll has beat the soldier's last tatoo. No more on life's parade shall meet that brave and fallen few.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Stratego View Post
        When the French Revolution broke out and the Revolutionary government in Paris - attacked by almost all major nations of Europe - appealed to the US for help, they received no help whatsoever. Hamilton was against interference in the French affairs, Jefferson wanted the US to give support.
        Though technically wouldn't the proper response have been to support the Bourbons since they were the 'government' that had been overthrown by the Republicans? The United States had done their own suppression of 'rebellions' in the early years of our republic and neither Jefferson or Hamilton were not the same as the Parisian mobs.

        We did not want to get involved in European affairs and we did not want to get involved in the mob tactics of the French Revolution. While there are acts from the American Revolution which we should not be especially proud of for the most part it was a clean war. The US Congress and the British government never got into the wholesale execution of enemies of the people and leaders on both sides were generally treated decently. While if the US had lost England would not have been as brutal in repression as Robespierre and the Jacobins were in France
        Legate Postumius Valerius Oceanus, Legio VI Italia

        Napoleonic Wars
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        • #5
          I would have supported Jefferson, I think, but clearly Hamilton's viewpoint won out - it probably could not have been any other way. It would be pretty hard to be a nation of 300,000,000 living off the land as yeoman farmers. Also, if the US had not industrialized, it would have been easy pickings for the European Colonial powers, or at least what became the Western US would have been.

          Of course, Jefferson did violate his own supposed beliefs through the Louisiana Purchase, which was of course the right thing to do.

          Comment


          • #6
            Aside from supporting the French Revolution, I'm far more sympathetic to Jeffersonian ideals.
            "To be defeated and not submit, is victory; to be victorious and rest on one's laurels, is defeat."
            --Marshal Józef Piłsudski

            Comment


            • #7
              Jefferson wins my favor.
              "The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made."
              — Groucho Marx

              Comment


              • #8
                Jefferson was past his prime by 1801; his greatest accomplishments lay behind him, and he (IMO) didn't do as much as Hamilton to shape political and economic theory in the young republic. Hamilton was smarter, a better financier, and a better political thinker, though he lacked the "gentleman farmer and natural philosopher" image we associate with Jefferson. While it meant little to the U.S., Hamiton was also braver.

                Jefferson's connection with France set the stage for "Mr. Madison's War," a disastrous conflict with Britain, and some of his private musings as president (e.g., a "wall of separation" between church and state) still haunt us today.

                During their colorful lives, both were great men.

                Chernow's biography of Hamilton is EXCELLENT, one of the better bios of the Founding Fathers I've read.
                "There are only two professions in the world in which the amateur excels the professional. One, military strategy, and, two, prostitution."
                -- Maj. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

                (Avatar: Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, Republic of Texas Navy)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Stratego View Post
                  1790's...

                  The United States...

                  Poor old George Washington, serving in his second term as President of this still very young nation, is torn between the political friction between two of his good friends:


                  The Secretary of Treasury and Federalist Alexander Hamilton

                  [...]


                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Hamilton

                  AND

                  The Secretary of State and Republican Thomas Jefferson

                  [...]

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson

                  Who would you support and why????

                  Do you also believe that in the friction between these two politicians one can already see the early causes of the American Civil War 70 years later???



                  Greets,
                  Stratego
                  Great thread!!!

                  The Federalist-Republican "feud" very nearly led to the onset of a civil war in 1800 during the Nullification Crisis. It was a root cause of the ACW.

                  Many political upheavals in this nation's history trace their roots to the philosophical divide between Jefferson & Hamilton... Hamiltonian philosophy won out from the 1930's through the 1970's. The Reagan Revolution in the 1980's, Contract With America in the 1990's and today's Tea Party movement are all examples of Jeffersonian philosophy.

                  The "funny" thing is that the modern Democrat Party traces its roots to Jefferson's Republicans and the modern GOP traces its roots to Hamilton's Federalists... Yet somewhere along the way, there was a philosophical polar reversal.
                  Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hamilton, I consider myself a true conservative; I strongly believe in a strong central government and no more "state's rights" than is absolutely necessary. Jefferson was a great guy, but in my opinion he was a doe eyed idealist that could not balance his own budget and died broke as a result!
                    Give me a fast ship and the wind at my back for I intend to sail in harms way! (John Paul Jones)

                    Initiated Chief Petty Officer
                    Hard core! Old School! Deal with it!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by The Doctor View Post
                      The "funny" thing is that the modern Democrat Party traces its roots to Jefferson's Republicans and the modern GOP traces its roots to Hamilton's Federalists... Yet somewhere along the way, there was a philosophical polar reversal.
                      Ironically I think (IIRC) the son of the only Federalist president, John Quincy Adams, effectively started the modern Democratic party.

                      I think the role reversal began with the New Deal in the 1930's, when Roosevelt ballooned the federal government to deal with the Depression. By the 1960's, when civil rights legislation was unpopular in the South, Republicans found new support in the "Solid South" (and over the next couple of decades, in the West) under the banner of states rights. During the eighties, as New Deal/Great Society programs became outdated (at least arguably), Republican "small government" platforms gained ground in the industrial Northwest and even parts of the Northeast.
                      "There are only two professions in the world in which the amateur excels the professional. One, military strategy, and, two, prostitution."
                      -- Maj. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

                      (Avatar: Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, Republic of Texas Navy)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think when we talk about Hamilton versus Jefferson, it is useful to separate out their views on two different aspects of American Society, on the way they each differently thought it should develop. These are:

                        Jefferson's view of a nation of yeoman farmers (or really a nation based around the yeoman farmer) versus Hamilton's view of a nation that would continue to advance technically, and needed the infrastructure such as an adequate financial system to do this.

                        And,

                        Jefferson's view that government should be based on the common people making the decisions through their votes, versus Hamilton's view that the elites have to be in charge, and in fact it is in the common person's interest if the rich are for example invested in gov't bonds, as they have an interest in a stable government.


                        I feel that Hamilton was right about having for example a strong unified financial system - if infrastructure such as this did not develop it would have retarded US development relative, to, for example Great Britain and Germany.

                        I definitely agree with Jefferson's and Jackson's viewpoint that the common people should rule through their election. We may not be able to all be yeoman farmers, but we can make sure all kids have nutrition, good education, are safe, that we help adults in need, etc. I don't think these were Hamilton's priorities.

                        Hamilton's priorities were shown (and Washington's) when he convinced Washington to move against the Western Pennsylvania farmers in "The Whiskey Rebellion".

                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiskey_Rebellion

                        I have seen the question raised: would these farmer's, or these farmers parents, have supported the revolution if they knew this was going to happen?

                        He was already dead, but I wonder what Franklin would have thought of the conflict of these viewpoints?
                        Last edited by lakechampainer; 08 Jun 10, 14:47.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by lakechampainer View Post
                          I feel that Hamilton was right about having for example a strong unified financial system - if infrastructure such as this did not develop it would have retarded US development relative, to, for example Great Britain and Germany.

                          I definitely agree with Jefferson's and Jackson's viewpoint that the common people should rule through their election. We may not be able to all be yeoman farmers, but we can make sure all kids have nutrition, good education, are safe, that we help adults in need, etc. I don't think these were Hamilton's priorities.
                          Hamilton's background in the West Indies and New York undoubtedly influenced his view of mercantile systems and the importance of emulating the British credit-based system. He saw how England proved that "a national debt is a national blessing."
                          "There are only two professions in the world in which the amateur excels the professional. One, military strategy, and, two, prostitution."
                          -- Maj. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

                          (Avatar: Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, Republic of Texas Navy)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hamilton was an incredibly intelligent, practical, and logical man who combined those attributes with an energetic personality. As such he achieved some great things for the nation. He got the economy going while building the Department of the Treasury. Without his bank and assumption victories the nation could easily have floundered. We owe him big time.

                            Unfortunately, Alexander Hamilton was also a zealot for his ideas and allowed his zeal to outweigh his best interests. He showed this side a number of times. With the famous speech at the Constitutional Convention where he let his enthusiasm get away and had AH arguing for Monarchy. His work with the Federalist Papers also shows some of that zeal in places. AH can get pretty excited about centralizing power and granting the Fed pretty much unlimited powers of taxation, etc. It might be noted he also drew up his Report on Manufacture which was essentially a centralized plan where the government held power to control manufacturing.

                            The relationship AH had with Thomas Jefferson while in the cabinet together is often considered petty and childish. It seemed the two often framed their opinions by opposing whatever the other was selling. Later AH had a definite hand in the creation of our first serious political attacks. He led the way in accusing Jefferson of being an athiest and also of having affairs with Sally. Certainly a case of the pot calling the kettle black in light of AH's own tawdry affair. Some authors believe his guilt at spreading lies about Aaron Burr may have led to him allowing Burr a free shot at the duel.

                            I don't see much need in choosing between Jefferson and Hamilton as I believe very strongly that both men add much to our country's founding. However, if I must, it would be Jefferson. I just don't trust zealots.

                            I'll come back and add some positives and negatives to Jefferson in another post.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Ohhhhh, good thread!

                              Alot of BEEF between these two gentlemen.

                              I would go for Jefferson when it came to politics, he was a Republican and his thoughts were very liberal in nature. Which helped fuel the French Revolution.

                              As far as the military is concerned, I think Hamiliton would make a great dictator, in fact he almost was. He couldn't become President because he wasn't born in the States but he sure wanted to lead an army.

                              So it goes both ways here, if you want a peaceful democracy, liberal, with states rights choose Jefferson. But if you want a strong federal government and a dictator with conquering ambitions then choose the Federalist Hamilton.

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