Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Alexander Hamilton’

Alexander Hamilton: Centralist and Nationalist | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on September 22, 2020

Similarly, Hamilton’s twisting of the General Welfare Clause has been the excuse for much of the federal activity we see today. His version of it has been continuously expanded, and since the 1930s it has been a blank slate for the federal government to tax and spend on anything it wants. It’s cited so much that many people today actually believe that the General Welfare Clause permits government action “so long as it provides for the general welfare.”

Listen to the Audio Mises Wire version of this article.

The September 11, 2001, terror attacks shocked the world, leaving ramifications still felt nineteen years later. Few are familiar with the Republic’s first 9/11 tragedy, September 11, 1789, the day Alexander Hamilton was appointed secretary of the Treasury.

Hamilton is glorified as a hero in popular culture, even the subject of a hit Broadway musical bearing his name. He’s the darling of both mainstream progressives and conservatives—usually a telltale sign that someone is one of the worst of the worst. Part of the adoration for Hamilton comes from his rags-to-riches story. Born fatherless in the Caribbean and soon orphaned, it can’t be denied that getting an education in New York, serving as General Washington’s chief aide, and becoming a leading political figure is an impressive turn of events. Progressives love pointing to Hamilton for their “nation of immigrants” narrative, which doesn’t make sense since Hamilton was born in the British Empire. Hamilton, the übernationalist, is also cited by the neocons as their missing link from the founding to their “one nation” and “America as a propositional nation” mythologies. Getting beyond the romanticization, Hamilton’s agenda set the table to give the federal government the tools to erode liberty over the next 230 years.

Hamilton has, perhaps, done more damage to the United States than any other American figure, even Woodrow Wilson and Abraham Lincoln, two more beloved icons of the mainstream. Hamilton was an opportunist, liar, and duplicitous. His vision paved the way to create a nearly unlimited central authority with no checks on its power, contrary to the principles of limited and self-government that many believed they had put in place for the new republic in 1788.

The Bait and Switch

Hamilton knew how to play the crowd. When it was time to ratify the Constitution, the republican Antifederalists feared a strong, central authority. He assured them only the powers expressly delegated to the federal government would be the ones it would have. The second the Constitution was in effect, Hamilton flipped the script.

One such example is in Federalist essay no. 21, Hamilton said that tariffs were better for the economy than direct taxes. Just three years later, he changed his tune and advocated for a laundry list of direct taxes, which played a part in leading to insurrections such as the Whiskey Rebellion.

In Federalist 33, Hamilton said that the Necessary and Proper Clause was harmless and wouldn’t confer any powers to the federal government not expressly delegated to it. He once again flipped the script in office, citing the exact same clause to take federal action not delegated, such as establishing the First National Bank.

When it came to the General Welfare Clause, Richard Henry Lee was concerned that it would be used for “every possible object of human legislation.” Hamilton retorted that Lee’s fears were “absurd.” In office, Hamilton again pulled the bait and switch, relying on this clause as an excuse to do anything and everything, saying the clause allowed for “a vast variety of particulars neither of specification nor definition.”

Hamilton also claimed the Supreme Court would be the weakest part of the government, unable to do anything against the other two branches. Later on, he helped organize the judiciary to become superior to both the Congress and the states.

Hamilton’s Contributions: Taxes, Central Banking, and Cronyism

As first secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton had President Washington’s ear, using this influence to set his nationalist agenda. His list of “accomplishments”—or should I say “abominations”—includes: centralizing power, high taxes, and crony capitalism, just to name a few.

Hamilton’s pet project was establishing the First National Bank in 1791, a central banking system that was a precursor to the Federal Reserve the US now has, which is responsible for so much economic instability. The federal government didn’t have the money for the bank; Hamilton suggested the bank just borrow from itself. He even went as far as to say the public debt “was a public blessing.”

He had proposed the idea of a central bank in 1787, but it was immediately shot down in Philadelphia. With the idea being this unpopular, it was quite a surprise to many of that generation that one was established just a few years later. James Madison saw no constitutional authority for it, Attorney General Edmund Randolph opposed it, and Thomas Jefferson said the Necessary and Proper clause didn’t permit it. Hamilton’s response was that “necessary” meant “no more than needful, requisite, useful, and conducive to.”

Hamilton also got his way when it came to war debts. The question of how states would pay these came up, Hamilton proposed an assumption scheme where the federal government would take on all the states’ debts. This drew red flags for two reasons. First, taking on these debts would expand the power and scope of what was supposed to be a very limited federal government. Second, Southern states had paid off most of their debt—Virginia had altogether. New England states still had most of their debt unpaid. This policy would have the Southern states foot the bill for the Northern states through increased taxes. Madison and Jefferson opposed this unfair plan at first but eventually conceded in the Compromise of 1790, which put the US capitol in the South in exchange for Hamiltion’s assumption scheme.

Hamilton knew that high taxes would be essential for a central government to do all the meddling he wanted. His list of taxes included the “whiskey tax” which unduly burdened farmers in the west who struggled transporting cumbersome grain over the Appalachian mountains. His crony plan gave unfair tax breaks to large distillers in the east. Those on the western frontier refused to pay. Many of them were veterans of the Revolution who thought the tax went against the very principles they had just fought for. Hamilton kept prodding Washington, who wanted to be a moderate on the issue, to use force to crush the insurrection. Eventually Hamilton got his way and in 1794 thousands of federal troops were sent in to squash the rebellion and show off the might of the federal government.

Hamilton’s Legacy

Hamilton turned the Constitution on its head in office to get away with anything he wanted. This set the precedent for legal scholars and judges alike to read anything into the Constitution that served their political agenda.

Hamilton’s ally John Marshall became the fourth chief justice of the Supreme Court and used Hamilton’s influence to forever change our constitutional order when the ink on the document was barely dry. Marshall’s decision in Marbury v. Madison gave the Supreme Court power of judicial review, allowing it to interpret the Constitution however it wants. He also ruled in McCulloch v. Maryland that federal law was above state law—a complete abomination to the federal system the founders had set in place. These decisions ensured that Hamiltion got his way—a centralized system with an authority that has no checks on it.

Hamilton’s bait and switch on the Necessary and Proper Clause has been used to give the federal government complete control over currency. It has also been used with the Commerce Clause to allow the federal government to regulate anything it wants. This started to take root with New Deal legislation, a prime example being Wickard v. Filburn, in which it was held that the federal government can regulate commerce even when purely intrastate.

Similarly, Hamilton’s twisting of the General Welfare Clause has been the excuse for much of the federal activity we see today. His version of it has been continuously expanded, and since the 1930s it has been a blank slate for the federal government to tax and spend on anything it wants. It’s cited so much that many people today actually believe that the General Welfare Clause permits government action “so long as it provides for the general welfare.”

While Hamilton is glorified by power hungry nationalists, remember that his appointment to the federal government was America’s first 9/11 tragedy. If you like high taxes, crony capitalism, central banking, the states relegated to mere corporations, a central authority that can regulate everything you do, and a judiciary that can do anything it wants, thank Alexander Hamilton.


Daren A. Wiseley

Daren Wiseley has a J.D. from Indiana University. More of his work can be found at

Be seeing you



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why They Despise and Smear Thomas Jefferson – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 28, 2020

Alexander Hamilton, who happens to have been Jefferson’s enemy. Hamilton favored a powerful centralized government that he believed could and should control the economy, enrich the powerful elite, and dominate the states. If this sounds familiar, it is because that is exactly what the establishment and the left want today. Jefferson deeply opposed this, favoring decentralization, states’ rights, and economic freedom. In fact, in 1798, Jefferson wrote the Kentucky Resolution, promulgating the idea that states could nullify unconstitutional federal laws. The thought of this is horrifying to today’s establishment,


Every few months the American people are treated to new attacks on Thomas Jefferson. Are these new attacks? No, they are just recycled ones that the left, and the establishment in general, continue to exaggerate and use to defame one of the greatest intellectuals who ever lived. Recently, there have been increasing calls to tear down his statues and rename schools named after him. Why? Well they give a few different reasons, all of them being frivolous and deceitful. The main charge, of course, is that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Of course, this was at a time when slavery was widely accepted and most of Jefferson’s contemporaries also participated in the practice. You may hear the left trash Washington for owning slaves, but you’ll never hear the establishment doing so. They only target Jefferson. Why would this be? Jefferson actually personally opposed slavery and took more action than Washington did to end its practice. In Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence, he condemned King George for enslaving people and violating their “sacred rights.” Further, when Jefferson was president, he banned the international slave trade. These actions were far greater anti-slavery steps than George Washington ever took, or any slaveholding founding father for that matter. Yet, we are constantly barraged with seething statements of hatred of Jefferson calling him the worst names in the English language. We get articles from the Smithsonian entitled “The Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson” and Monticello, Jefferson’s own estate, calling him a terrible hypocrite.

Next, in order to worsen the original attack, they tell us that Jefferson actually had many children with one of his slaves. But this is a lie, and the liars who promote it know this. An objective look at the evidence would never lead one to accept the conclusion that Jefferson fathered children with one of his slaves. That is why no actual historian took the assertion seriously until very recently (when the leftist mob began demanding it be stated as historical fact).

Thus, we must ask why they smear Thomas Jefferson? If the charges against him are so clearly fraudulent, there must be a reason why they despise him (and uphold other founders). When we look at who they promote and praise among the founders, we can see what the answer is. So, which founder do they consistently promote? Anyone living in American society today knows the answer: Alexander Hamilton, who happens to have been Jefferson’s enemy. Hamilton favored a powerful centralized government that he believed could and should control the economy, enrich the powerful elite, and dominate the states. If this sounds familiar, it is because that is exactly what the establishment and the left want today. Jefferson deeply opposed this, favoring decentralization, states’ rights, and economic freedom. In fact, in 1798, Jefferson wrote the Kentucky Resolution, promulgating the idea that states could nullify unconstitutional federal laws. The thought of this is horrifying to today’s establishment, as they would lose a lot of power if it were put into practice. Thus, the necessity to demonize the great disciple of liberty becomes clear. Discredit the man, discredit his ideas. Finally, one of the great characteristics of Thomas Jefferson was that, unlike many other advocates of liberty, he was radical and combative. He actually fought for his principles and wasn’t afraid to denounce those who promoted statism. For example, in speaking of Hamilton, he stated that “if history stoops to notice him” it will be as “a person who worked to destroy liberty.” The establishment hates those who tell the truth about powerful elites and expose them in the public square. Thus, the great intellectual must be silenced, and the only way to do this is to assassinate his character.

In conclusion, this is a usual case of mediocre men trying to disparage a great man after his death because it brings them more power. And power is what they crave.

Be seeing you




Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why the Civil War Wasn’t About Slavery – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 15, 2020

By Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr.,

From the 1870s to the late 1950s, there was an unofficial truce between the North and South. Each side recognized and saluted the courage of the other; it was conceded that the North fought to preserve the Union and because Old Glory had been fired on, and the Southerner fought for liberty and to defend his home; the two great heroes of the war were Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee; and the South admitted that slavery was wrong but never conceded that it was cruel.

Around 1960, the Democratic Party—led by Lyndon B. Johnson—advanced the modern incarnation of identity politics. It worked very well for them. In the election of 1956, 75% of African-Americans voted Republican. By 1964, more than 90% of them voted Democrat, and they have been doing so until 2020. As part of their effort to control and manipulate the black vote, the Leftists and their myrmidons advanced the myth that the Civil War was all about slavery. It wasn’t. It was, in my opinion, about money, more than anything else. Now, at this point, I know some of my liberal friends will bristle up and say: “It was too all about slavery!” Well, you are entitled to your opinion, but let me ask you this: What was slavery about?

ANSWER: It was about money.

The “it was all about slavery” argument is an oversimplified and infantile claim that has duped many people. Those who subscribe to this flawed theory ignore one undeniable fact: history is messy. It is almost never as simple as the modern Left would have you believe. Oh, sure, slavery was an issue, but it was certainly not the only issue and not even the dominant one. Listed below are eleven others:

1. The Question of What Kind of Government Would We Have? Would we follow the Alexander Hamilton’s big government/commercial state model, featuring a strong, centralized government, a chief executive with almost royal powers, a Senate elected for life, high tariffs to encourage manufacturing at the expense of agriculture, a strong National Bank to control the currency, and high public land prices to generate income for Washington, D.C., to finance internal improvements (especially canals and roads in the North), selling public lands at high prices would also have the advantage of keeping the new waves of immigrants from Europe in the cities. Because they could not afford to buy land and therefore could not farm, they would have to remain in the cities, providing a ready pool of cheap labor for big business.

The alternative was the small government, “governs best which governs least” philosophy of Thomas Jefferson. This viewpoint was adopted by his intellectual heirs, John C. Calhoun and Jefferson Davis, among others. The Hamiltonian model was adopted by Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln, who embraced Clay’s “America System” ideas as his political North Star.

One never hears about this nowadays because it is largely a dead issue. It was settled at Appomattox. Big government won. And it is still winning. This is why one can say that, when it comes to the Civil War, in a sense, both sides lost.

2. Northern corporate greed. Northern corporations liked high tariffs (taxes) on goods the South imported, because it reduced competition with European manufacturers and allowed them to charge higher prices for often substandard goods. The tax revenue went to Washington, which used it to subsidize Northern industries (both directly and indirectly) at the expense of Southern agriculture. Cotton was especially lucrative. In 1859, the value of exported cotton totaled $161,000,000. The value of all Northern exports combined was just over $70,000,000. By 1860, the Federal budget was $80,000,000. Seventy million of that was paid by the South. One section, which amounted to 29% of the population, was paying more than 82% of the taxes. Of that, four out of five dollars was being used for internal improvements in the North. This was not good enough for Abraham Lincoln. He backed an increase in the tariff from 24% to 47% (and 51% on items containing iron). He got his way. This tariff rate was in effect until 1913.

3. Northern hypocrisy. The North also had slaves. It is an actual fact that Massachusetts had slavery 78 years longer than Mississippi. They freed their slaves by a process called manumission, which was designed so that the Northern master didn’t lose any money. Wall Street continued to finance Southern plantations, and thus slavery, until the Civil War. The Northern bankers wanted slaves as collateral and preferred them to land. Very often, “Massa” used the money he borrowed from Northern banks to purchase more slaves. The Northern bankers thus financed slavery.

Also, it did not escape the attention of the Southern editors that the slave fleets did not headquarter in Southern ports. They operated out of Boston, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island, joined later by New York City. The Lincoln regime did nothing to restrict these Northern shipping interests. Nor did this stop with the war. It continued until 1885, 20 years after Lee surrendered, when Brazil became the last nation in the New World to outlaw the international slave trade. Southern editorial writers hammered home all these points in the 1840s and 1850s, when charges of Northern hypocrisy were quite common in Southern newspapers.

4. Abolitionist terrorism. The greatest fear most Southerners had before 1861 was the slave revolt along the lines of that experienced by Haiti in 1791. Many abolitionists called for them, and some of them financially supported John Brown’s terrorist attack on Harpers Ferry in 1859. Frederick Douglass and W. E. B. DuBois called the shots fired here and the first shots of the Civil War. They were probably right.

5. Republican willingness to protect terrorists. The John Brown terrorists who escaped to the North were incarcerated. The states with Republican governors refused to extradite them and let them go. The South looked upon this as a preview of what they could expect from a Republic president. When John Brown seized Harpers Ferry, Democratic President Buchanan sent in the Marines. The Southern leaders asked if they could expect the same from a Republican president? The answer was no.

6. The Federal budget grossly favored the North (see Number 2 above).

7. Cultural differences. These are too complex to innumerate here, but they still exist. Because of television, they are less pronounced than they were in 1860, but they are still there.

8. Political power. Because of immigration, the demographics caused a power shift in favor of the North. By 1860, the South felt (with considerable justification) that it was doomed to become an economic colony of the North if it remained in the Union, so it did not.

9. Constitutional Issues. After large sections of New England threatened to secede five times between 1803 and 1860, Lincoln and his cronies suddenly decided that the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (somehow) did not apply to the South in 1861, and that the powers not delegated to the states or the people somehow did not count when it came to secession. But after the war, the Federal government refused to bring Jefferson Davis (or any other Southern leader) to trial, even though he demanded it, because as Senator Sumner (a radical Republican) wrote to Chief Justice Chase: “because by the Constitution, secession is not treason.”

10. Nineteenth-Century Fake News. In 1832, a motion to abolish slavery failed in the Virginia legislature by a vote of 58 to 65. Four years later, the legislature made it a crime even to advocate abolition. The difference? Northern abolitionist propaganda, which was often hateful, salacious, and untruth. It made the slavery issue sectional. In the 1830s, anti-slavery societies in the South outnumbered those in the North 106 to 24. By 1850, there were no anti-slavery societies in the South—zip, zero, nada.

11.Economic Issues After Secession. The Confederacy set its tariff rates at 10%. (If it was good enough for God, it was good enough for them.) There was no way Lincoln’s 47% tariff could compete with that for foreign trade. Lincoln legitimately feared the Northern economy would crash into a recession, if not a depression, and the Federal Government would lose 82% of its tax base, so Washington would be in desperate straits. Because Northern public opinion did not support a war (many Northerners said “Good riddance!” to the South), Lincoln had to walk a political tightrope. He had to instigate a war and make it appear that the South started it by maneuvering Jefferson Davis into firing the first shot. The slick corporate lawyer was up to this as well, but that is a story for another time.

When one has written an entire book about a subject like the causes of the Civil War, it is difficult to condense it into 1,500 words or so. Suffice it to say that the onset of the Civil War was much more complex than the average American today thinks it was. For those astonished by the facts I have mentioned above, I hope you are inspired to do further reading on the subject. To paraphrase Harry Truman: the only thing new is the history you don’t know.


Be seeing you


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

This is How You Nudge The President Toward Crony Deals

Posted by M. C. on February 8, 2020

In the “you can’t make this stuff up” department. It is called rent seeking.

Hamilton was the original Big Government guy.

The National Association of Manufacturers has announced that Ivanka Trump will be the inaugural recipient of the association’s Alexander Hamilton Award.

“Ivanka Trump embodies the collaborative spirit and relentless drive needed to solve manufacturers’ most pressing challenge—the workforce crisis. Like no one in government has ever done, she has provided singular leadership and shown an unwavering commitment to modern manufacturing in America. The Alexander Hamilton Award honors leaders who have made exceptional contributions to growing manufacturing in the United States and to empowering more Americans with high-tech, high-paying modern manufacturing jobs,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “For her work bringing together leaders of industry, government and academia to put in-demand careers within reach for all Americans, Ivanka stands out as the perfect choice for this award.”

From the NAM press release:

“As advances in technology and automation change the national economy, so too must the country’s education and job training systems change to prepare Americans for the emerging industries of the future, including advanced manufacturing,” said Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump. “America is home to the best workforce in the world, but the skills of today do not mirror those of tomorrow. I am committed to ensuring our workforce is equipped with the skills they need to seize the vast opportunities that lie ahead.”

In other words, she has no understanding with regard to how the economics of the labor market work. No Ivanka guidance is needed, the free markets can handle it. She is a playing technocratic role, to interfere with free markets, and the crony elite is happy to use her and abuse her, and “help” her with her shallow interventions.

And then we jump to this from Bloomberg:

Ivanka Trump, will deliver the keynote address at a Dubai summit next week and will meet with Mideast leaders, White House officials said.

Ivanka Trump will speak about opportunities for women in business at the Global Women’s Forum and a regional summit for the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative in Dubai Feb. 14 to 17, the officials said. They said the leaders she’ll meet haven’t been finalized.


Be seeing you

Rent-Seeking, The Progressive Agenda and Cash Transfers at ...

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »