Why did Thomas Jefferson oppose Alexander Hamilton's plan for a national bank?

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dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton were on the same 'side' to absolve colonial ties with Great Britain. Once independence was documented at the Treaty of Paris the business of creating a new nation was at hand. It became clear that those who were on the same 'side' during the revolution would find themselves at odds with each other upon its end. This was the case regarding a 'National Bank' for the United States.  Alexander Hamilton understood that if the new nation were going to recognized as a nation it must present itself as one.  He argued that the nation's financial weaknesses would make the nation vulnerable to nations that had the financial power to destroy the new nation. Hamilton's plan for a National Bank was to take the debt accumulated by the individual states to foreign nations, especially France, during the war and using it to create a line of credit with these nations. Jefferson's opposed the plan for several reasons:

1. He believed a 'National Bank' would only give more power to the new federal government. Jefferson detested centralized authority, for him the 'National Bank' represented the concentration of power in the hands of the few.

2. By the time Hamilton's plan was issued all of the southern states had already paid off their debts to foreign nations...Jefferson was from Virginia.

3. Jefferson simply did not agree with Hamilton when it came to the nations' future. This was the beginning of politics in the United States. Jefferson's was more comfortable with decentralized government power, similar to what we associate local and state authority with.  His philosophy regarding the future of the United States was one where the citizens cultivated the land, read books, and enjoyed their 'freedom'. Hamilton saw the future of the United States as that of major player on the global stage. His vision required a strong federal government, as well as the financial prowess it gave the new nation.

barrett44 | Student

I simply need to disagree with the prior "point#2"

ALL the southern states had not payed off their depts... In whole, they had made stronger attempts to do so...therefore, most were further along than many of the northern sates.

BUT the prior "point #2" was wrong to state that ALL had payed off their depts...this is simply not true.

...and to add to the previous post (which is full of correct info) ... We live in a "Hamilton" nation... one that would make Jefferson sick.