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Publick Occurrences 2.0

June 1, 2012

Droppin’ Hamiltons like Aaron Burr

Before I say anything, I want to make sure I’m not stepping on Jeff’s post about university presses and state and local history. I hesitate to even click “post” before everyone in this profession reads what he has to say.

And following that, I should say hello again. I haven’t posted since 2010, about a week after my wife and I learned we were expecting a child. What followed was a rush to “finish” a manuscript, a bathroom renovation, a semester of teaching, and a bunch of the usual things. Blogging fell by the wayside in this fanatical effort to manage time and maximize productivity before the bambino arrived, and the last 10 months have been an exercise in seeing what I still care about now that I feel like an adult. Suddenly, the ‘blog it’ bar got harder to clear, and the ‘do I have time to read this?’ question became far more urgent.

But here I am, thanks to David Brooks.

I know it’s a bit of a parlor game to bash Brooks, the New York Times in-house conservative columnist. In general, Brooks strikes me as a guy trying to do a good job in a tough situation: the cheese slid off the cracker in the conservative movement, to the point where we’ve got a birther-curious GOP nominee who will say anything and a House Republican caucus that looks like a circus (did you ever watch special orders speeches at night on CSPAN? Oh my.) The kinds of Republicans Brooks really wants to respect are dead, retired, or Democrats. And yet he has this grating habit of embracing false equivalency, following in the vapid tradition of David Broder of proposing superior ‘centrist’ policies that equate and dismiss the ideological commitments and organized constituencies of both major political parties.

If you read his May 28 column, “The Role of Uncle Sam,” you know exactly what I mean.

But what interested – and irked – me was that the centrism Brooks proposes for the country he’s rebranded as “Hamiltonian.” As in Alexander Hamilton. Yes, the bank guy.

Brooks thinks the U.S. government has gotten way too big. He doesn’t specify what that means exactly, but his opening line is that “Government promoted industrial development in the 18th century, transportation in the 19th, communications in the 20th and biotechnology today.” Within that frame, “the federal role has historically been sharply limited” and our guy Hamilton was “the man who initiated that role” He was “a nationalist” whose  “primary goal was to enhance national power and eminence, not to make individuals rich or equal.”

You should read the column yourself and not take my word for it, but in short, Brooks posits that:

  • *The Hamiltonian tradition has been followed by “Whigs, early Republicans, and early progressives”
  • *People in the Hamiltonian tradition “reject efforts to divide the country between haves and have-nots”
  • *“generations of leaders [in this tradtion] assume that there is a rough harmony of interests between capital and labor”
  • *Everything was going great until progressives, the New Deal, and LBJ came along
  • *The so-called Tea Party was a culminating outcome of a decades-long festering revulsion among conservatives who were becoming anti-government

And finally Brooks’ conclusion asks:

 Does government encourage long-term innovation or leave behind long-term debt for short-term expenditure? Does government nurture an enterprising citizenry, or a secure but less energetic one?

Never mind the shoddy history of political parties in the 20th century, or the false choices and false equivalencies posed in those last two sentences.

(By the way, can someone explain why secure people aren’t enterprising? Would we all be more productive if we were being chased by lions or sleep better if we took the batteries out of smoke detectors?)

I’ve been reading Hamilton in a serious this-is-my-career way for the last 10 years, and what’s striking about the Brooksian verision of the “Hamiltonian tradition” is how utterly ahistorical these claims are. That’s not surprising from a pundit, but David Brooks is no ordinary pundit. He’s a Very Serious Person – a public intellectual. Yet he seems to be profoundly unfamiliar with the contours of Hamilton’s career in government and politics – one that was, need I remind you, very short and very learnable.

Look, I’m intrigued by Hamilton. I hope to make a career and sell literally dozens of books by writing about Hamilton and some of the institutions he guided. But once you know anything about Hamilton’s politics, you know that’s why he should not be looked to as a guide to anything you want to describe as centrist or moderating. Hamilton was not representative of majority opinions at the Convention in 1787, and by the time he was through Washington and Adams, he was – with complete sincerity – regarded as a monarchist by many of the Republicans of 1800.

I could spend 2000 words rebutting David Brooks’ claims one-by-one, but I find it utterly perplexing that in an age when you can find many of Hamilton’s papers on Google Books for free, that you would say that Hamilton’s goal wasn’t to make people “rich or equal, that he rejected a politics of “haves” vs. “have-nots,” and that Hamiltonians think of capital and labor as equally-weighted forces in political life.

Let’s be clear.

Banking politics was contentious precisely because it was about winners and losers, the exclusivity of membership in networks of credit, and the privileging of capital over labor. The aggregation of political power within banks was what Hamilton’s opponents understood to be their most powerful argument against the multiplication of banks in general and the existence of the Bank of the United States in particular.

Yes, “nationalists” cared about roads, bridges, and schools. But so did Hamilton’s opponents, who we also have to call “nationalists,” too. And contrary to Brooks’ claim, Hamilton and his successors cared a great deal about jobs, employment, and security – it was why the U.S. had a tariff. In fact, the early American tariff is often cited in modern macroeconomic textbooks as a case where a tariff is justified – you’re protecting infant industries in your domestic economy that would wither under the pressure of competitive disadvantages if left unprotected.

And those long-term infrastructure projects that the “Hamiltonians” loved? At some point, they had to have been the near-term projects that Brooks detests. Glaciers and laser cannons didn’t carve out the Erie Canal – it was a debt-financed state project that paid workers for their hard labor over many years. Wizards didn’t lay train tracks or build bridges and maintain roads. You only get to do long-term projects by engaging in near-term planning, execution, and financing. At some point, the question is called, votes are cast, and the nasty business of politicking begins to become public policy.

I guess what’s surprising about Brooks’ columns – this one and others preceding it – is that the man seems so insistent on dismissing 21st century liberalism as little more than a basket of blind demands for spending and regulation that he has to carve out this absurd definition of Hamilton’s politics. It’s why he can write a column about Hamilton without mentioning the word “bank” (yes, really).

I’m not sure how useful Hamilton is to 21st century political thought. He was only in power for 12 years (unofficially) and killed in 1804. He never saw the Erie Canal. Never saw the steamboat Clermont, or the telegraph, or the steam locomotive, or had time to contemplate the effects of the cotton gin, or Louisiana land, California gold, and the industrial revolution. He never even got to savor Aaron Burr’s downfall, let alone think about the needs of modern powers.

My guess, though, is that Brooks might not be so keen on Hamilton if he knew that he hated speculators, was in favor of highly-regulated banks, state-supported industry, a tariff, and a sweeping definition of the Commerce Clause. The real Hamilton would have laughed someone out of the room who claimed a corporation was entitled to free speech rights as a “person.”

And the real Hamilton, I suspect, would find David Brooks’ “Hamiltonian” politics utterly unrecognizable.

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January 12, 2012

I Missed Alexander Hamilton’s Birthday

Filed under: Conservatives,Founders,Religion — Jeffrey L. Pasley @ 5:27 am

This makes sad, given how he is the Founder of American Conservatism and all, with his boy Mitt Romney doing so well. Anyway, here is Hamilton explaining to fellow Federalists how they could better take advantage of Christianity to give their party a popular appeal and an emotional charge that it sorely lacked:

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November 10, 2011

No Countryman for Old Founders

Filed under: Founders,Historians — Jeffrey L. Pasley @ 9:22 am

Please tell me I did not read a great historian whose work I love dropping aggressive ignoramus Rick Perry on Thomas Jefferson’s head. Excessive exposure to hair-care products or animal waste seems like a better explanation of the ideological origins of this guy.

Watch The Excruciating Agony As Rick Perry Gets Confused, Forgets His Own Plan Mid-Sentence

Here is what Edward Countryman has to say in an interview with History News Network:

In the larger context of American political history, what is most noteworthy to you about Governor Perry’s candidacy?

One way to see the whole current impasse is as a rerun of the city and country opposition that runs right back to the respective visions of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson for America’s future.  Hamilton’s vision turned on the presumption that the power established by the Constitution was there to use and presumed an active government, and it continued through Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Lyndon Johnson and, now, Barack Obama.  Jefferson regarded that power as something to fear . . . . It’s no accident that Ronald Reagan had Jefferson prominently on display in his Oval Office.

And yet, Jefferson did not promote dumb-ass generalized fear of government activities he can’t even name.  His unfortunate fling with the idea of state “nullification,” the Kentucky Resolution of 1798, was aimed at blocking a flagrantly unconstitutional federal effort to suppress an opposition party — not a bad shot to pick. 1798 was a time when some fear of government was not unjustified, just like the fears many of us had when George W. Bush was in power and John Yoo was writing his memos developing a “unitary executive” that could do whatever it wanted to anybody anywhere in the world.

My plea to all historians who feel the easy Alexander-Hamilton-as-Modern-Liberal meme coming on: check Mike Wallace’s “Business-Class Hero” first, a brilliant early take-down of the ongoing Hamilton revival.  It is an artifact of the financialization of our whole political culture that liberals can so easily conflate the use of government power to protect and enrich investors and banks with the sort of  public regulations and government-led social improvements they value. Hamilton never dealt with any of the latter, and his idea of social improvement was kind that trickled down from the wealthy in the wake of economic development, maybe. Perhaps Reagan had the wrong guy on display. Vindicating or fearing of government in general is not the only dimension in these long-term debates in American politics. Another one — it makes me so sad that historians cannot seem to remember — is the question of whether or not to deed over the government to moneyed interests. No one with any feeling for Occupy Wall Street should be celebrating Hamilton, who would have cleaned those parks out with mounted troops long ago.

Really there is no need to ancestor-worship any Founder, or demonize them either. At some point, academic Jefferson-bashing just becomes a snarky form of reverse culture warfare. It seems obvious to me that different aspects of both modern liberalism and conservatism can be traced back to both Hamilton and Jefferson, and other aspects to neither. What modern liberals actually support is deploying government power (Hamilton) in the name of democracy (Jefferson). The social aspects of democracy that tend to concern us most now were of little concern to any of the Founders, so nothing to see there in any case.

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June 10, 2009

Our Summer Vacation So Far, part 2: There Will Be Lead

Filed under: Business History,Labor history,Missouri,Pasley Brothers — Jeffrey L. Pasley @ 1:19 am

After seeing my Dad receive his Golden Alumni regalia last Wednesday morning, Isaac and I set out for the serious driving part of the trip, a couple of hundred miles back and forth across the Ozarks. Isaac just likes roads he has never been on before, but I was on mission to take in some lead mines.

I have long been fascinated by the Lead Rush that took place in the mid-Mississippi Valley in the early 19th century. I gather there were actually several of these, and what interested me about them (besides the fact that such a thing could exist) was their total lack of Gold Rush-style romance. The early lead mines, which were worked by the French and Indians before the Usonians (U.S. Americans) came along, were known as “diggings” because they involved scraping around the surface for chunks of promising earth and then heating them to melt and extract the lead. Lead was valued for ammunition-making and various other industrial purposes, but it does not seem to have been valued all that much. Lead mines were more a case of scratching out some moderate prosperity than striking it rich.

The Lead Rushes brought out a rather eclectic set of hard-up entrepreneurs. Alexander Hamilton’s son William ended up out in Wisconsin Territory; they called him “Uncle Billy” in the squalid encampment where he and his rather dodgy crew of workers lived. Somehow I don’t think anyone who worked for William Hamilton’s father was in the habit of calling him “Cousin Al,” but I guess you never know. [See Juliette Kinzie's memoir of life as an Indian agent's wife on the Wisconsin frontier for a sad vignette of the downwardly mobile life of the upwardly mobile Founder's son.]

Moses Austin statue not found anywhere in MissouriThe Missouri lead belt attracted a Connecticut Yankee named Moses Austin whose previous bid for moderate success had been roofing the state capitol and mining the lead for it in Virginia. When the Virginia venture faltered, Moses initiated a family tradition of entrepreneurial expatriation, gaining the lead-mining concession in Spanish Louisiana and heading out for foreign territory where relatively few Anglo-Americans had yet ventured, at least with anything other than hunting or the Indian trade in mind. Austin did well enough to build himself a short-lived lead-mining empire, including a mansion called Durham Hall and the ambitiously named town of Potosi, after the silver mines that funded the Spanish Empire. Henry R. Schoolcraft’s View of the Lead Mines of Missouri will fill you in on the all the opportunities Austin was trying to seize.

While it’s not clear that Moses Austin was ever truly secure in Missouri, U.S. control of the area brought trouble for him. The Missouri lead business was ironically devastated by the coming of the War of 1812, and Austin’s control of his little empire, and his manhood, were challenged by the vicious competition and just plain bullying of heavily armed migrants from the U.S. South led by one John Smith T (for Tennessee, from which he hailed). Smith T was believed to have killed some 15 men on the field of “honor” and otherwise.  Though intimidation, legal chicanery, and some outright theft and violence, Smith T tried to take Austin’s land titles, frighten off his workers, and seize the Austin holdings for himself. Austin was not precisely defeated by Smith T, but by the end of his life he had largely given up the Missouri venture and turned his attention toward a new expatriation scheme in Mexico’s northernmost provinces, which his son Stephen would be the one to carry out. Moses Austin’s whole Missouri story reads kind of like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance if the John Wayne and Lee Marvin characters had joined forces to wipe out Jimmy Stewart and take the town for themselves, civilization be damned. To put it another way, Moses Austin needed John Wayne for a neighbor and got Lee Marvin instead.

Since Potosi was sadly devoid of overt Moses Austin shrines, we continued east to Missouri Mines State Historic Site in Park Hills, MO. The museum is located in an impressively nasty-looking old lead mill sitting on a top of a mine and amidst some hills that appeared to be giant piles of mine waste.  After a lifetime of consciousness raising on the dangers of lead paint, Isaac handled the omnipresence of the feared substance pretty well, with a lot of discussion on my part about how spending a few hours in an old lead mine as a 15-year-old (on a rainy day) was not the same thing as ingesting refined lead over a long period of time as a toddler. Nevertheless, at one point during our tour, Ike blurted out, “I think can feel the effects [of lead poisoning] already.” Ah, the safety-conscious youth of today.

Unfortunately, Missouri Mines State Historic Site did not really address my lead belt western scenario. I did learn that I did not know much about “modern” lead mining. The diggings of Moses Austin’s day stopped at the bedrock. Around the time of the Civil War, the lead industry turned to deep rock mining, punching thousands of miles of tunnels as much as 400 feet deep into the Earth. By World War II, the main method of getting men in and ore out was an electric railroad system — the main line was 300 miles along at just this one site. Before that, the ore cars were pulled by good-old fashioned Missouri mules. I must say that the only thing worse than eating lead dust all day would be mixing it with the aroma of mule crap, but apparently the work paid well by Ozark standards. The long distances that the miners had to travel underground to reach the ore seems to have led the St. Joseph Lead Co. to create a task-based wage system I had not heard of. Every miner had to dig out a quota or “score” of a certain number of tons of ore each day to earn their pay, after which they could go home or stay and earn extra.

The museum displays and our docent were quite insistent that lead poisoning or other health effects had not been a problem in the area, though they did admit that smelting plants could cause problems. You hope they are right for the sake of the Lead Belt’s population, because lead was and possibly still is literally a part of growing up there.  Check out “Chat Dumps of St. Francois County” for pictures of children playing, Boy Scouts hiking, and town Christmas trees standing on the gigantic piles of mine waste (chat) that once loomed larger over the towns of the Lead Belt than the surrounding Ozark hills.

Finally, coming home from the Lead Belt on U.S. 50, we went through one of Missouri’s many strangely named burgs. The state has a quite a line in misspelled and/or mispronounced foreign capitals, but perhaps more distinctively, there are several towns named after qualities that their founders presumably prized or thought their settlements embodied. Economy and Peculiar are two we had noticed before, but Useful, MO, was new to us. I started laughing and immediately made the comment that I hoped there was a Useful Cemetery. Lo and behold, it immediately appeared. I was driving too fast to stop without needing to use the cemetery ourselves, but I also knew that someone must have put such a sight on the Internet already. I was not wrong. (Click the picture for an even artier one.)

—————-
Now playing: Whiskeytown – Mining Town
via FoxyTunes

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July 10, 2008

Unwelcome Interventions

Filed under: 2008 elections,Early Republic,GOP,Historians,Past campaigns — Jeffrey L. Pasley @ 4:40 pm

In honor of the detestable former Reaganaut and current McCain campaign co-chair Phil Gramm’s too-revealing remark about the country being only in a “mental recession” invented by a “nation of whiners,” I thought I would throw in some links to a couple of other disastrous presidential campaign interventions by political luminaries who had fallen a little out of touch. These are from the early American republic, of course, and come courtesy of Google Books:

  • 1796: Thomas Paine, A Letter to George Washington, in which Paine, writing from Paris and having just published The Age of Reason, managed to cement the Federalist linkage of the Democratic-Republicans with the sort of atheistic French wankery that few Americans of any politics much liked. Criticizing George Washington for his foreign policy was edgy enough without bringing Paine’s notorious religious views into the mix.
  • 1800: A Letter from Alexander Hamilton, in which the Federalists’ preeminent figure unloaded the full measure of his jealousy and arrogance on the head of a Federalist president (John Adams) battling for re-election, and helped put his two other worst enemies (Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr) in power.

Not that Phil Gramm deserves to be put on the same plane as Paine or Hamilton, except for being uncontrollable, associated with a former regime, and having a little too much to say. However, John McCain did not need any more public reminders of just how far GOP leaders’ real concerns are from those of suburban and rural voters whose lives are rapidly becoming unfeasible thanks to high gas prices and job losses. The media always needs reminders, however, so tell us more, Phil, tell us more.

Postscript on Google Books: On the one hand, as a lover of physically browseable libraries, I imagine I should not approve of Google Books. On the other hand, as a back pain sufferer and a resident of mid-Missouri, Google Books is life-changingly awesome. It especially tickles me that many of Google’s scanned volumes on the Early Republic come from the Harvard Libraries and thus were quite likely once lugged home in 25-pound bags — on the #77 bus — by yours truly. Don’t knock it until you have carried a pile of tomes such as Wharton’s State Trials of the United States Under the Administrations of Washington and Adams and Scharf and Westcott’s History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884 (in 3 elephantine volumes) up several flights of stairs yourself.

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June 10, 2008

Hamilton’s house on its way to Jeffersonian setting

Filed under: Founders,Historic sites — Jeffrey L. Pasley @ 11:32 am

From a French tourists's Picasa site: I was amused by the  New York Times story last weekend about Alexander Hamilton’s country house, The Grange, getting moved “from its cramped site on Convent Avenue to an appropriately verdant new location a block away in St. Nicholas Park, facing West 141st Street.” Andy Robertson and I visited that lonely site (in terms of tourists) a few years ago. The house was indeed challenging to find, crammed in behind an Episcopal Church and surrounded by other buildings.  (In the picture above, you can see the portico of the Richardsonian-style church on the upper right.) We were the only people there except for one ranger, but we thought that the old site was actually rather appropriate. The Founder most devoted to economic development and high finance got his house completely overshadowed by the growth of exactly the sort of city he sought to foster, with all the sensitivity to the small, rural, and outmoded that such cities usually show. I am sure it is true that the new location will more closely replicate the house’s original setting, back when Harlem was a country village, but the old one sent a more accurate message about the what the historical figure stood for. Of course, the fact that Hamilton’s Monticello-like hilltop shrine will be created at public expense seems pretty Hamiltonian.

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April 10, 2008

Hamilton and the Golden Shield

Filed under: Constitution,Founders — Jeffrey L. Pasley @ 9:16 am

Is this America’s first “Golden Shield” memo? Jefferson thought so. Are the S of M and I being grossly unfair? In fairness, it was George Washington that Hamilton used as his “aegis.”

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March 12, 2008

Eliot Spitzer pop quiz

Filed under: Political culture — Jeffrey L. Pasley @ 6:03 pm

Quick. What other major New York politician was suspected by investigators of profiting from government service, but turned out to be just paying for sex? Here’s a hint. The stories ended a lot differently, in very telling ways.

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February 29, 2008

Seems Like Old Times, I: Nationalizing the state militias

Filed under: "Seems Like Old Times",Founders,Military — Jeffrey L. Pasley @ 5:45 pm

One of the features I have planned for this blog is a series of items highlighting issues from the Early Republic that have come back or never gone away.

One of those issues is the drive to concentrate as much control as possible over the nation’s armed forces in the federal government and its military leadership. A perennial sticking point in this drive has been what used to be called the state militias, known in modern times (speaking broadly) as the Reserves and the National Guard. As both military officers and civilian officials, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton were famously dissatisfied with their dependence on poorly trained and equipped militia troops, questioning the citizen-soldiers’ ability to stand and fight against regular troops, and, just as importantly, doubting their reliability when called upon to apply force to their fellow citizens in times of domestic unrest.

During the French war scare of the late 1790s, the Federalist Congress authorized President John Adams to call out 80,000 militiamen and create a 10,000-man Provisional Army in case of a declaration of war or foreign invasion. Nothing was ever done with this authority except the appointment of a few officers. Instead, Adams, Hamilton, and other Federalists struggled to create (with different agendas) a sizable Additional Army that, along with volunteer units who paid for themselves, would be usable “at the President’s discretion” whether there was a war or invasion or not. [The clearest explanation I have ever found of these matters is: William J. Murphy Jr., "John Adams: The Politics of the Additional Army, 1798-1800," New England Quarterly 52 (1979): 234-249.]

Admittedly I found the story several weeks ago, but I find it interesting, more than two centuries later, when Reserve and National Guard units have been deployed overseas for years at a time, and on regular basis, that the Pentagon feels that it still does not have enough control of state troops and also wants a greater role in policing what I guess we now have to call the “homeland.”

Pentagon control over Reserves, Guard proposed


WASHINGTON — More than six years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the nation’s plans for meeting the threats to the homeland are so thin they could be written “on the back of an envelope,” the chairman of a national military commission said Thursday.While the country has detailed contingency options for military action overseas, the capacity for responding to a terrorist attack or natural disaster within the United States is dangerously low, retired Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro, chairman of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, said Thursday.

“You couldn’t move a Girl Scout unit” with the amount of planning federal officials are doing for domestic contingencies, he said, likening it to a disorganized “sandlot game.”

“You cannot do that in dealing with weapons of mass destruction,” Punaro said.

Among the shortfalls are a lack of equipment for the National Guard, with Missouri and Illinois particularly hard hit in some categories, according to the commission’s report released Thursday.

The panel called for a drastic overhaul of the military structure that would put the National Guard and Reserves under the direct control of the Army and Air Force and essentially integrate the nation’s “citizen-soldiers” into the military structure. The plan would include integrated training, pay, promotions, medical care and retirement — and improved resources and equipment.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon would be put in charge of homeland security, which would be carried out by the Guard and Reserves.

Those changes are necessary both to meet homeland security shortfalls and to allow the over-extended military to focus on overseas missions, commissioners said. Many can be implemented by the Pentagon while some require legislation by Congress.

The Guard’s current status made sense during the Cold War when it was “designed as a reserve force to be dusted off once in a lifetime,” but no longer when reservists are being used as a wing of the military, Punaro said. The current problems are heightened by the personnel limitations of an all-volunteer military, he said.

The commission, which was authorized by Congress, found that the only other alternative for dealing with a stretched-thin military — increasing the size of the active-duty component — is prohibitively expensive.

Adding the 600,000 active-duty soldiers that would be required for current needs would cost more than a trillion dollars, Punaro said. Beyond that, the military couldn’t recruit enough people to meet that target, he said.

Not only are there enough reserve forces to take over homeland security, they are highly skilled and are already in the states and cities, he said.

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February 6, 2008

Alexander Hamilton, Militarist

Filed under: Founders,Historians — Jeffrey L. Pasley @ 4:48 pm

Reader William Hogeland, author of a recent popular history of the Whiskey Rebellion, wrote to alert me of his two-fisted piece on Alexander Hamilton in the Nov./Dec. Boston Review. Hogeland provides a careful account of the Hamilton revival over the past few years, including the shocking news that the Brookings Institution — the liberal think-thank that the Nixon White House wanted to bomb — now has a Hamilton Project dedicated to promoting policies that “will create new opportunities for middle class affluence, bolster economic security, and spur more enduring growth.”

This sounds more like the Hamilton of the op-ed writers than the historical figure who intentionally created a windfall for speculators in government securities and invented the American version of trickle-down economics, but never mind. A look at the Hamilton Project’s web site, with Jack Kemp sitting in on a panel and much emphasis on getting the poor to work harder, makes it seem more authentically Hamiltonian. (Brookings has been drifting right for years anyway, to the point of harboring some of the Iraq War’s key non-GOP ideologists.)

Returning to the Boston Review article, Hogeland follows his account of Hamilton’s modern reputation with a take-down that goes well beyond even what the modern Hamilton cult’s leading critic, Mike Wallace, has argued:

Neo-Hamiltonians of every kind are blotting out a defining feature of his thought, one that Hamilton himself insisted on throughout his turbulent career: the essential relationship between the concentration of national wealth and the obstruction of democracy through military force.

I am not sure I agree with everything argued in the rest of the article, but go Bill! Objectors can post comments on the Boston Review‘s site, or here.

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