With their gift for ruining everything they touch, American progressives have done incalculable damage to the reputation of Alexander Hamilton. Yet and still, the first Secretary of the Treasury remains perhaps the most problematic of the Founding Fathers.
Teddy Roosevelt and New Republic founder Herbert Croly wholeheartedly embraced what they saw as Hamilton’s vision for a strong national government. Nevertheless, Hamilton vigorously defended the U. S. Constitution in The Federalist Papers, Heritage Foundation scholar Carson Holloway pointed out in a talk that he gave Tuesday at the Foundation’s headquarters here.
“He was not arguing for a national government any stronger than the majority of the Founding generation would accept,” Holloway argues. Holloway is also an associate professor of Political Science at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Nonetheless, Hamilton was a proponent of both a national bank and federal subsidies for manufacturers. Holloway argues that Hamilton’s embrace of both was more pragmatic than progressive.
“Moreover, Hamilton indicated that government support for manufacturing should be temporary” Holloway wrote in a paper that Heritage published on April 20. “’The continuance of bounties on manufactures long established,’ he admonished, ‘must always be of questionable policy,’ since it implies that there are ‘natural and inherent impediments’ to the ‘success’ of the industry.”
“Hamilton evidently did not favor the use of government support to prop up forms of manufacturing that in the long run could not be sustained by the market.”