The Lesson of Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton 

By Jeremy Meister

(Ed. Note: While Hamilton’s views on national debt may be very popular with today’s conservatives, it must be noted that he was one of the founders who favored a strong central government with broad powers to govern the country.)

How many things are in a person’s pocket that they don’t even know about?

We take money for granted — most people can’t tell us which way George Washington is facing on the quarter.  They can tell us that Ben Franklin is on the front of the hundred, but they can’t tell us that Independence Hall (where he helped draft the Constitution) is on the back.

One might think that as denominations get smaller and more common, the pictures on them would become more famous and well-known.  The ten-dollar bill features Alexander Hamilton on the front.  Since he was never a president himself, one wonders how many Americans could explain how he got on the note.  A hint is on the back, where there is a picture of the U.S. Treasury.  In short, Alexander Hamilton was the first secretary of the Treasury.

But it was how he handled that position that garnered him immortality on our money.

A lot of people living in the United States in 1790 believed (as a lot of people do today) that the debts incurred during the American Revolution should just be ignored.  What modern people would think of as the United States didn’t begin until 1789.  The debts run up before that time were under a different government, so why should the new government be responsible for that debt?

Alexander Hamilton argued against this.

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