Alexander Hamilton Political Views
What were Alexander Hamilton's political views?
In the day, Hamilton was considered to be a Federalist, who sought to expand national governmental power, whereas Jefferson and his followers were considered Anti-Federalist, who sought to keep political power local and individual. Hamilton, in attempting to demonstrate federal power to pioneers at the edge of the frontier, got Congress to pass a levy tax on distilled whiskey, not to raise revenue, but to anger frontiersmen. They of course revolted in the Whiskey Rebellion, when they refused to pay the tax, and which the federal government then put down with its troops. On a more positive note, he believed in the Freedom of the Press when he argued the Zenger case (1735) and a National bank to stabilize United States Currency. He also promoted the full payment of government debt, and Protective Tariffs which allowed American business to grow, but which caused higher prices for imported goods. Overall, his ideology tended to severely constrain through higher prices and taxes the small farmers whom Jefferson represented, and tended to benefit the already wealthy.
Rise of the American Nation, 1972
Hamilton understood that the government set up under The Articles of Confederation had serious flaws which would undermine the stability of the new nation. As a result he was instrumental in the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Constitution advocated federalism, which divided power between the federal and state governments. It gave specific powers to the federal government, and certain powers reserved for state authority. Known as a 'Federalist' Hamilton along with John Jay and James Madison wrote a series of articles under the pen name of 'Publius' to argue their political position. These essays are now recognized collectively as The Federalist Papers and are considered the finest example of Hamilton's political views on ratification of the Constitution, as well as, a comprehensive overview on his politics.
Hamilton was a constitutional reformer and federalist. His philosophy rested, in true colonialist fashion, on the notion of "the public good" and the superiority of a government which derived its power from the consent of the governed: the essence of republicanism. Where Hamilton differed from his contemporaries was, first, in believing that only a "talented few" -- understood to mean men drawn from the wealthy and aristocratic strata of society -- had the wisdom and dispassionate foresight to implement the measures necessary for the public good. The great majority of people, in Hamilton's eyes, operated primarily out of self-interest and could not be trusted to think or act judiciously in matters of state power. Hence, a proposal such as seating the President for life, so that he would not be subject to the whims of a fickle electorate.
The second major distinguishing feature of Hamilton's political philosophy was its emphasis on energetic government. He believed that the government should be proactive in economic and military affairs, have the power the supersede lower governments (as at the state level), and be able to exercise authority directly on the people. Only an energetic government would be able to provide the stability and order necessary to secure the blessings of liberty for the people, especially over such a large geographical area as the United States.