Thomas Jefferson's Presidency Questions and Answers

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How did Hamilton and Jefferson interpret the Constitution differently to arrive at their positions on the creation of a Bank of the United States?

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Hamilton and Jefferson's differences in relation to constitutional interpretation were ultimately grounded in their competing visions of what kind of country they wished to see the United States become. Jefferson conceived of America as an agrarian republic consisting of independent, self-reliant farmers whose intimate connection to the soil would give them a stake in the wise governance of the new nation.

Hamilton, on the contrary, saw the United States as a mercantile nation whose future prosperity depended very much on international trade. Over time, Hamilton became an eloquent spokesman for commerce and industry, while Jefferson became equally renowned for articulating the cause of rural interests. The differences between the two men prefigured those that would lead to the Civil War.

It is against this background that we can best understand the respective attitudes of Hamilton and Jefferson towards the Constitution in relation to the establishment of a central federal bank.


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