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Jeffersonian vs. Hamiltonian Thought in Practice - A Special Election Article

Today's the end of another Election cycle (yay!). I don't care who voted for whom. I haven't for a while. What I care about is why anyone voted for whichever candidate. It used to be that people knew why they voted. Perhaps I'm idealizing the past a touch too much, but in the past our election cycles weren't based upon the catchiest jingle, the most profound 20 second sound-byte, the sharpest clothing, or the greatest stage presence. They were based upon principle.


As early as the 1796 one can see two dominating principles contending with one another. The Jeffersonians wanted smaller, state/local government. The Hamiltonians wanted larger, centralized/federal government. (Granted the term "Federal" has changed much over time). 

For the most part until 1861, the Jeffersonians won the debate. State/local, it was reasoned, is the best way to keep tyranny, the type of tyranny that the English imposed upon the colonies, the type that the founders fought/died to rid us of, at bay.

Hamilton, though he was arguably a solid patriot, wanted to return the newly founded nation to a British-styled system. The young nation understood what that entailed, and repudiated his attempts. Sadly, one man, Aaron Burr, took that too far and murdered his political opponent. Regardless, Hamilton's day was not realized during his life-time, but it would come.

Regional and Sectional conflicts dominated early American history. This is most evident in the fact that secession was bandied about frequently, not just by the south, but by the north. Neither side, at the time, wanted a centralized commander telling them what to do. That all changed, however, with the election of a newly styled Hamiltonian, Abraham Lincoln. 

Lincoln was not for the Jeffersonian ideals in that those ideals kept power largely away from Washington DC. His ideals could only be put into motion through top-down federal mandate, the south, and many in the north understood this. They understood this, because they understood the principles at war with each other. They knew the facts, because Lincoln's words and ideals were in print for decades.

Those words were well read, and rejected, for most of Lincoln's career. They continued to be rejected after his election in 1860. Thus the schism leading to America's bloodiest conflict. It was fought over principle. Some would like to say it was the principle of slavery, it was in part, a somewhat small part, especially before 1862.

Lincoln mobilized the army without congressional approval. He then commanded it to invade another nation, again unconstitutionally. He had to fund it, by imposing an income tax for the first time, unconstitutionally. Then he stocked it by imposing a mandatory conscription policy, also unconstitutionally. Anyone remaining in the north at the time who spoke against Lincoln's actions had their First Amendment right of Free Speech revoked, by Presidential order, and punished without the right of a trial by jury... unconstitutionally, as Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus.

In other words, Lincoln embodied everything that the Founders fought against. The South was rebelling in the same way that those very founders rebelled in the 1770s. This time, however, the rebels lost. Jeffersonian ideals were crushed at the point of a gun. Hamilton's day had come. It's still with us.

The full expression of those Hamiltonian ideals didn't come all at once. Lincoln never had the chance to implement his full plan, because of John Wilkes Booth's fatal bullet. But his plan, as well as many variations of that plan would be carried out by successive administrations. Slowly the Constitutional Amendments came, some legally, others less legally so. 

1913 was a key year in that process. Sure other issues set up 1913, but I'm not writing a book here, just a brief summary. Three events built upon Lincoln's foundation. First, the 16th Amendment was passed, which gave Congress Federal Power to impose the income tax. The very same type of tax that the founders repudiated. They did argue its use during the many state/local/national conventions, but the Jeffersonians won the day, and the tax was never accepted pre-1861.

But this was post 1861. The income tax became law. The new strand of Hamiltonians, now known as "Progressives", were in power. Now the Federal Government's power had life-blood as it had latched onto the backs of working Americans. Now it had the power to start spending that money at an exponentially increasing rate.

Where would that increasing money supply come from; however, because the power to create money by fiat was needed in order to tax and spend at the rate desired? Enter the Federal Reserve. I won't reinvent the wheel here, the best research on the Federal Reserve was done by G.Edward Griffin, check it out here.

Suffice to say, the Federal Reserve's creation was quite corrupt and very dark. Officially, the institution is not part of the Federal Government, though it has enormous influence with the Government as well as much more broadly with the economy. They do this by printing money and tampering with interest rates. (Bubbles anyone? It's interesting to note that America's worst financial crises have all come post 1913, and each crisis is worse than the previous one). All of it was done unconstitutionally by top-down control.

Finally, in an effort to stem State/Local push-back, the 17th Amendment was passed. it may seem innocuous at first glance, but this Amendment shattered the largest voice that American's had. State power since that time has been slowly bled dry. Consider the August 2015 Supreme Court decision to force States' against their will to pay for the Affordable Care Act, even if the State voted to defund the Act. That is an outgrowth of the 17th Amendment's passage.

The Founders understood the pitfalls of direct Senatorial election, which is why they championed a two house "bicameral" system. The House of Representatives was to be directly voted for by citizenry. The Senate was to be chosen by State Legislature. In other words, there was no direct vote for Senators before 1913. Perhaps not a perfect system, the bicameral system was agreed upon in order to protect States against other States by trying to keep them equal in at least one house. Today, that no longer exists, and it has had dire State/Local (ie. personal/individual) consequences.

From 1913 came the progressive Utopia. World War One allowed them to realize their top-down planning dreamworld. The artificially created Depression saw it revived once again. When their planning failed, the centralized planners best-friend, World War Two, came along to supposedly bail them out. (Fixing the economy by going to war is a fallacy. War destroys. It does not produce. Economies are based upon production, not destruction).

With each successive crisis came more top-down control. More government, less liberty. More command, less choice. Hamilton is winning.

The thing is, though Hamilton is winning, his principles are untenable. They rob people of livelihood. They bankrupt nations. They ultimately fail in the end. 

Hamilton's principles on parade have a horrendous track record. They have brought Americans $20 trillion dollars of national debt. They also have unfunded liability debt topping another $100 trillion. They have created the largest military known to man, and that military is in more than 170 countries world wide (not by invitation mind you). Hamilton would have loved that! They have created an unconstitutional national bank that tampers with our money. They have controlled how information is disseminated. They have absconded decision making power from the people, and handed it over to a massively unbalanced Federal "Representative" system that no longer has individual interest at heart.

And on top of it all, the American citizen largely believes that their "benevolent" dictator has our best interest at heart. Thus, the citizenry keeps playing Hamilton's game during every election cycle. When will the players leave the playing field?

For more information to consider before you play the game once again, I have composed a short, unexhausted list of materials. I hope that they are as useful to you the reader, as they were to me when I first read them.


This post first appeared on Clio's Lessons, please read the originial post: here

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Jeffersonian vs. Hamiltonian Thought in Practice - A Special Election Article

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