How would Jefferson and Hamilton have reacted to the economic changes in the 1840s and 1850s?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In general, Alexander Hamilton would have liked these changes while Thomas Jefferson would have thought they were bad for the United States.

Thomas Jefferson was dedicated to the idea of an America made up of independent small farms.  He felt that only small farmers could be truly independent and equal to one another.  This was because they could grow most of what they needed and were therefore not beholden to someone else for their jobs or for their daily needs.  Hamilton, by contrast, wanted a more modern economy.  He felt that an industrial economy would lead to more economic growth.  He thought it was much more important to have a rich country than to have one in which everyone was equal.

In the 1840s and 1850s, the United States was moving much more towards the Hamiltonian ideal.  This was a time when the country was becoming much more industrialized.  Even those who lived on farms were increasingly growing crops to sell for cash, not to feed themselves.  This meant that people were depending on one another more and more.  This was very much against what Jefferson wanted and much more in line with Hamilton’s desires.