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Mike Geddes

Mr. Rodman

U.S History 1

16 December 2008

2 n d quarter paper

Hamilton vs. Jefferson

Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and Aaron Burr. These

three men were extremely important in the election of 1800. Jefferson and

Burr were running mates in the Democratic - Republican Party. Although

not in the election Hamilton played a decisive role in its outcome.

Hamilton was a strong federalist and a strict constructionist. Hamilton

detested both men but would prefer Jefferson more as president than Burr.

Jefferson and Hamilton were almost complete opposites but when the

election went to the House of Representatives and most federalists voted

for Burr, Hamilton intervened for Jefferson which let Jefferson attain the

presidency. Hamilton and Jefferson had very different political views and

somewhat similar economic views. Hamilton was a strict constructionist

where Jefferson wanted to reform Virginia’s government as the states

house delegate, the fact that both men opposed British ways of economy,

and both men had different views on the idea of a national Bank.

After the Constitution was written political figures divided two

ways: loose constructionists and strict constructionists. A strict


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constructionist was someone who followed exactly what they Constitution

said and didn’t make any changes, whereas loose constructionists would

follow the Constitution they also would make changes outside of the

Constitution. This made the two’s political views very different. In fact

Jefferson said this about Hamilton and his views on the American

Republic: “I mentioned to [Alexander] Hamilton a letter received from

John Adams, disavowing “Publicola, and denying that he ever entertained

a wish to bring this country under a hereditary Executive, or introduce an

hereditary branch of legislature, &c. Hamilton, condemning Mr. Adams's

writings and most particularly “Davila”, as having a tendency to weaken

the present government” (Jefferson, Thomas. The Anas. August 1791).

Jefferson highlighted that Hamilton had gone against a powerful political

figures ways. Hamilton’s response to Jefferson’s statement was: “I own it

is my opinion, though I do not publish it in Dan or Beersheba, that the

present government is not that which will answer the ends of society, by

giving stability and protection to its rights, and that it will probably be

found expedient to go into the British form. However, since we have

undertaken the experiment, I am for giving it a fair course…” (Hamilton,

Alexander said to Thomas Jefferson. The Anas. August 1791.) Hamilton

was just saying all the right things he didn’t want to give it a try. Also it

is said that when Jefferson was elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates

he wanted to reform their set of laws. If Hamilton was in Jefferson’s

position he only would have followed the Constitution exactly. History


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shows this made Jefferson a better politician because he understood that

you should follow the Constitution but you still should look for an

alternative from it time to time to make your home a better place to live

in.

Both men liked France more than they did Britain. Although when

Hamilton was chosen as George Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury,

Forrest McDonald said Hamilton saw his office as like the British’s

Chancellor of Exchequer, which is almost like a prime minister. Jefferson

was a Minister to France from 1785 until 1789 which meant he missed the

Philadelphia convention “editing the articles of Confederation”. He was

not too upset though because he mostly agreed with what was decided

upon at the convention. Even though Jefferson was a French Minister he

did have this to say about Napoleon Bonaparte: “Bonaparte's restless

spirit leaves no hope of peace to the world” (Jefferson, Thomas. To

Thomas Leiper. 1813.) Hamilton spoke out against the British in his

speech at the ratifying convention in New York. “Here sir, the people

govern” (Hamilton, Alexander. Speech to the New York Ratifying

Convention, June 17, 1788). Hamilton is saying that over in Britain you

might want one person to decide everything for you, but here we let the

people decide what the country needs. This shows that both men were not

afraid to speak out against other foreign powers to try and get the truth

across to the people in the United States of America.


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The idea of the National Bank was a topic of great discussion

between Jefferson and Hamilton. Hamilton came up with the idea while he

was in the Secretary of the Treasury in 1789. Hamilton also felt that the

U.S needed to immediately pay off all their debts from the Revolutionary

War and other ideas such as using Adam Smith’s idea of capitalism and

establishing policies that helped industry to help the young nation.

Jefferson was completely against the thought of a National Bank. He felt

it was unconstitutional. “The idea of creating a national bank, I do not

concur in, because it seems now decided that Congress has not that

power (although I sincerely wish they had it exclusively), and because I

think there is already a vast redundancy, rather than a scarcity of paper

medium. The rapid rise in the nominal price of land and labor (while war

and blockade should produce a fall) proves the progressive state of the

depreciation of our medium .” (Jefferson, Thomas. To Thomas Law

Monticello 1813). On the idea of a National Bank Hamilton said

“Industry is increased, commodities are multiplied, agriculture and

manufacturers flourish: and herein consists the true wealth and

prosperity of a state.” (Hamilton, Alexander. Report on a National Bank,

December 13, 1790). Both men were very adamant on their thoughts

about the National Bank. Hamilton thought it was extremely necessary for

the country to adapt. Whereas Jefferson felt it was hostile to the U.S. by

saying: “This institution is one of the most deadly hostility existing,

against the principles and form of our Constitution. The nation is, at this
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time, so strong and united in its sentiments, that it cannot be shaken at

this moment. But suppose a series of untoward events should occur,

sufficient to bring into doubt the competency of a republican government

to meet a crisis of great danger, or to unhinge the confidence of the

people in the public functionaries...I deem no government safe which is

under the vassalage of any self-constituted authorities, or any other

authority than that of the nation, or its regular functionaries.” (Jefferson,

Thomas. To Albert Gallatin. Washington, December 1803). This is just

Jefferson saying that suppose when the country’s running just well and

fine something involved with the bank happens and throws the country

into turmoil, he also says he won’t follow any government built around

man made establishments. Just like many other matters Hamilton and

Jefferson had very different opinions on the idea of a National Bank

Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton. Both men despised each

other and said terrible things about each other and each other’s ideas.

Jefferson said this about Hamilton: “Hamilton was honest as a man, but,

as a politician, believing in the necessity of either force or corruption to

govern men.” (Jefferson, Thomas. To Dr. Benjamin Rush, Monticello

1813). But in essence if we look at both these men clearly we may find

that they are in fact quite similar men. Both men were politicians who

wanted to do whatever was necessary to better their country for their

fellow Americans. However closely we may examine these two men we


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will see that they both had very different views on politics and the

economy.