What were the differences between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton's visions of the future of America?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two main differences between the visions of these two men. One is economic and the other is political.

Economically speaking, Jefferson envisioned a society that was based mainly on the presence of many small farmers.  He particularly did not want a great deal of manufacturing to be done in the US.  He argued that manufactured goods could be imported from Europe while the US could remain agrarian.  Hamilton disagreed and wanted a US economy that would have a great deal of manufacturing.

This was related to their political points of view.  Jefferson wanted an egalitarian country.  He felt that all small farmers would be equal to one another and true democracy could result.  Hamilton, by contrast, felt that a more stratified society would be acceptable.  He did not mind if the owners of factories were politically more powerful than the people that worked for them.

Jefferson wanted farms and more egalitarianism.  Hamilton wanted a manufacturing society and was willing to accept more inequality in order to get it.

dhamilt1 | Student

Thomas Jefferson & Alexander Hamilton ©
                                                                                              By Rand Scholet

Jefferson:  The Poetry of America
Hamilton:  The Prose of America

Jefferson:  His Words Inspire
Hamilton:  His Results Inspire

Jefferson:  Saw the Ideal of Man
Hamilton:  Saw the Reality of Man

Jefferson:  Saw People as the Solution
Hamilton:  Saw Systems & Order as the Solution

Jefferson:  Inherit
Hamilton:  Merit

Jefferson:  Science, Philosophy, and Agriculture
Hamilton:  Government and Financial Systems, Military, and Manufacturing

Jefferson:  Development Focused on Individual as the Highest Unit of Governance
Hamilton:  Development Focused on Society as the Highest Unit of Governance

Jefferson:  No Government Needed
Hamilton:  Strong National Government Needed

Jefferson:  Military Averse
Hamilton:  Military Valued

Jefferson:  Cities would be the dredges of society 
Hamilton:  Cities could leverage commercial opportunities

Jefferson:  Abhorred money men, banks, and stock investments
Hamilton:  Created the banks, stock markets, and leveraged money men

Jefferson:  Abhorred any national debt
Hamilton:  Leveraged national debt to rebuild a nation

Jefferson:  Inconsistent and Amorphous Over Time
Hamilton:  Consistent and Solid Over Time

Jefferson:  States
Hamilton:  United States

Jefferson:  Agricultural Society
Hamilton:  Agricultural, Trade, Commerce & Manufacturing Society

Jefferson:  Demagogue
Hamilton:  Statesman

Jefferson:  Politically Savvy
Hamilton:  Politically Averse

Jefferson:  Favored Developing French Systems
Hamilton:  Favored Traditional British Systems

Jefferson:   Favored Democratic Form of Government
Hamilton:  Favored Representative Constitutional Form of Government

Jefferson:   Undermined GW’s Administration
Hamilton:  Strengthened GW’s Administration

Jefferson:   Government/Financial Ideas Proven Inferior
Hamilton:  Government/Financial Ideas Proven Superior

Jefferson:   Abhorred Hamilton’s Programs, but used them during his Presidency
Hamilton:  Created the nation’s governmental and economic systems

Jefferson:  Political Party Leader – Republican (Democrat-Republican; Jeffersonian Dem)
Hamilton:  Political Party Leader – Federalist   (GW’s Party)

Jefferson:  $50k in debt due to out-of-control personal spending
Hamilton:  $50k in debt due to neglecting his law practice for public service
George Washington Added to the Contrasts:
Jefferson:       Favored a Preferred Relationship with France
Hamilton:       Favored Neutrality with European Countries
Washington:  Favored Neutrality with European Countries

Hamilton:       Developed U.S. Credit Plans
Washington:  Supported Hamilton’s Credit Plans
Jefferson:       Opposed Hamilton’s Credit Plans

Hamilton:       Developed U.S. Bank Plans
Washington: Supported Hamilton’s Bank Plans
Jefferson:       Opposed Hamilton’s Bank Plans

Hamilton:       Developed U.S. Mint Plans
Washington:  Supported Hamilton’s Mint Plans
Jefferson:        Supported Hamilton’s Mint Plans

Hamilton:       Developed U.S. Manufacturing Plans
Washington:  Supported Hamilton’s Manufacturing Plans
Jefferson:       Opposed Hamilton’s Manufacturing Plans