Skip to main content

tv   Alexander Hamiltons Economic Plan  CSPAN  August 3, 2021 1:24pm-2:14pm EDT

1:24 pm
>> selected by president george washington in 1789 alexander hamilton serve as the first secretary of the treasury until 1785. up next the hamilton scheme, enemies an allies, historian and author discusses alexander hamilton's financial ideas. he's the author of several books about the founding period including the wisconsiny rebellion, founding finance and declaration. it's about 50 minutes. >> now while the museum, the gallery of the museum is closed because of a flood that we sustained, our robust programming continues as evidenced by today.
1:25 pm
and our author who's speaking is william hoglin. he's written multiple books including autumn of the black snake, declaration, the history of the rebellion. he's a contributor to a recent publications on hamilton. he's also penned many essays and articles that you can read in places like the atlantic monthly, salone, "the new york times," boston are review, huffington post but nup more important than our own financial magazine history. so it should be no surprise that the topic of william's next book is alexander hamilton. it's my pleasure to introduce him, william hoglin.
1:26 pm
[ applause ] >> thanks a lot. i know the acoustics in here boom a little bit. can anyone hear me? okay, thank you. that's good to know. i think some of you know that maybe it's a little bit -- i'm a little bit of a fish out of water here. i would like to point out that the museum of american finance has had me speak, this is the third time. in fact, my very first ever talk on alexander hamilton and other related issues was sponsored by the museum. for my very first book and that was back in 2006. so i think some of you already know that my -- you know, it's celebrate hamilton time right now. and celebrate is not exactly what i do, generally speaking. those of you who know my work know that i think critically and i write critically. i write and think critically about everything because that's just how i think. people sometimes think because i'm not celebrating that i'm
1:27 pm
filled with hatred for these people that i write about. you don't spend your life in the company of these people because you hate them. but nonetheless for those of you who don't know my stuff you'll note the irony of my approaches. here we are at the federal building and here we are on wall street. you could say we're conveniently located right now at the corner of money and government. and what i want to talk about is how hamilton began to form those connections between money and the united states government. and so i don't talk so much about some of the things that have sparked such great interest lately for the obvious reason of the phenomenal cultural event that is the musical. i don't talk about dueling. i don't talk about his relationships with his family members. i don't talk about his
1:28 pm
infidelity. i feel like a lot of people dual. i think you know that. i think you've read about it hopefully. you can find out a lot about the dueling culture. and of course a lot of people have family relationships and up bringings and all the things people have. i'm interested in what made hamilton the dynamic force that was, that was not like what everyone else if you know what i mean. so i'm looking very specifically at what i goes i would call and i'm not alone in calling it this, the great sort of creative phenomenon that he was, that occurred at a certain time. i'm going to date it 1782 to 1785. you could date it differently. i'm just going to pick that period and say something happened there where, of course, with all the things that went into his life before he arrived in the continental congress, he
1:29 pm
brought all that baggage and all that inspiration and everything that made him. but something happened there that was different from what everyone else was doing, things that he saw that others -- he was not alone in this, but things he saw that others did not necessarily see, dreams that he had, visions that he had that others did not necessarily have and some were very moech opposed to. he saw also the nuts and bolts on how to bring those dreams about. and there are the lengths he went to in action, sometimes quite unsettling lengths i think to bring those dreams about. so the decisive effect that he had on the founding, "a." and "b," how we think about money and government today are what really fascinate me about hamilton. and so for me, it's almost like he gets born in 1782.
1:30 pm
the phenomenon that i'm talking about, the creative force i'm talking about starts about there. and i'm looking at the arc of an action not just thinking, not just ideas but an action that has some very compelling drama to it some of which as we say today frequently highly problematic but nonetheless without which we might not be here as the nation that we are. in a sense hamilton created the nation. in an economic sense. but the thing is that story, the details of that story get left out. you wouldn't think they get left out since it's the reason he's famous, first ever secretary of the treasury. you wouldn't think they get left out because there's been a lot of biographies of hamilton and yet they do get left out because people -- i mean not here, the museum of american finance
1:31 pm
necessarily, but people don't like to hear necessarily the word, the economic nation or the word finance. i am writing a book on this subject, and my agent said to me when i was sort of pitching it to him, i'd say, you know, the finance -- he'd say don't say finance. we're trying to pitch a book here that people might want to read. don't say finance, and i'm like, right, i got you. and then every so often a little buzzer goes off when i happen to say the word. no, it's not finance because it's really to hamilton of course he would use the word but our connotations with that are not his. to hamilton this is money, power, wealth, greatness, size, scope, expansion, things that are actually highly active and dramatic, greatness. i guess i just used that word, dominance, making the nation
1:32 pm
into america, the empire. and that's a word he would use. and so would many of his contemporaries in this area. making it into a great thing that he envisioned very early it could be. so when you say economic nation, to him that's the nation. that's the nation in a lot of ways. and in a lot of ways i think he was right about that. so what gets left out when people say, oh, then he did all these things but it kind of gets buried like all the other things of his life. i call it something we could describe the hamilton scheme. okay, the hamilton scheme. scheme is obviously a loaded term. it can mean a plan, any sort of plot or something, a schema. just it could be kind of value neutral, but of course we also can use it to mean a scheme,
1:33 pm
like he's scheming in the pack room, my nefarious plans, that kind of thing. when we talk about hamilton we do have to talk about the fact he did have a major plan, goes beyond even plan. an incredible sort of vision and nuts and bolts engineering kind of thing going onto build a country that could do the dynamic explosive things he wanted to see it do. but of course there were other people who saw it as a scheme of corruption, a scheme designed to destroy democracy. and so the various uses of the word scheme i throw in here just because i think in this very room no doubt, and if you go around talking to other people outside this room about hamilton, you'll get a wide variety of views on this, whether it was a scheme in a good sense or a scheme in a bad sense. so that's what i want to try and tell you about today, how the scheme worked. and you can all think about. you all probably have before whether you think -- what kind
1:34 pm
of scheme you think it is. i think when i setup the kind of invitation to this talk and description about what i was going to be doing i promised a kind of efficient 45-minute trip through everything, every single thing you would need to know about the hamilton scheme. i now realize as i began to approach this talk that that was a slight exaggeration or maybe a bold faced lie because there's no way in the time we have here today to go do a deep dive on any one of these topics. what i'm really going to do now i've lured you all in here with my sales pitch, what i'm really going to do is give you a kind of superficial glancing sense of what the various topics are. and on any one of theme at other times maybe we could do a deeper dive and look more closely at how it all worked and then i can actually back up some of the things i'm saying instead of
1:35 pm
just saying them which is what i'm really going to do today. so realize the sales pitch was a sales pitch and we're actually going to get a kind of more general view of what i think the hamilton scheme involves. one thing that's funny since he became treasury secretary under washington and put his scheme into effect in the first half of the 1790s and i'm going to focus much more on the 1780s because that's when he developed the scheme and the opposition gaap to form and the tension we still have today in our society about money and government began to form. so while there's a lot to say what he did in the 1780s, you have to go back to the and see him develop and figure out what
1:36 pm
really should be going on, if he could ever get himself into a power of position to bring it about. so somewhat surprisingly maybe i'll be focusing on largely what he did in the 1780s to develop the scheme. he comes to the continental congress right after his service in the war, the revolutionary war, the war of independence. and again, here's something i don't really talk much about or think much about, york town. everyone knows about it now. to me that's all pre -- that's all juvenile or mg. now he comes to do something other people couldn't do and wouldn't do. he comes to the continental congress which at that time was meeting in philadelphia. interesting because the war is going to be over quite soon. and so with the war almost over, the revolution almost over, victory in a sense on the
1:37 pm
horizon, we might think out of this scrapes victory, comes this fantastic building of nation hood. the country is going to emerge from independence, fully unified ready to take on the world. what's actually happening as he arrives in the continental congress is because of the war is about end, the country is about to fall apart. because what's holding this country together, these various states, entities, they're not a nation. what's holding them together is this war, has been this war. so what hamilton sees when he comes to congress is it's actually going to crash and burn. and there's such incredible potential to do something different, to pull it all together and create an amazing new phenomenon of growing, expanding, even an imperial phenomenon. that's a pretty outlandish thing to envision actually for a 20
1:38 pm
something-year-old man arriving with his elders and superiors, many committed to completely different visions from that at that time. but he did begin to see it. he was not alone in that. he had a mentor in that whole vision, robert morris. a name while it's known i believe at the museum of american finance is not widely known by the people who see the show or read the bios because morris is a problematic character for a lot of reasons. he becomes hamilton's i think most important mentor in this area i'm trred because of course there are other areas of hamilton's life, the area of his creative period. but morris is a difficult character sometimes for us to deal with because while he was the financier as the revolution -- that's how he's known and he certainly was that spending his own vast welt on financing the revolution out of his own pocket, the revolution
1:39 pm
some people say financed him. he did not have any problem with mingling private and public funds. he was a shipping and casually corrupt, obese, witty, charming and quite a character. and really the first major banker the country had, and this was someone who hamilton -- who saw the brilliance of hamilton, the young hamilton and to whom hamilton gravitated. they're looking at the issue how to keep the country together, and what we're really talking about here is how to keep the country together as a political force. but the way they saw it, and this was the genius -- and they they saw that had to do with keeping the country together as an economic phenomenon, a financial phenomenon. what they were talking about here is what is known as the revolutionary war debt, which is to say in very simple -- i mean it's an incredibly complicated
1:40 pm
topic. and when i studied it like smoke comes out of my ears as i try to get a handle on all the aspects of this debt. but the country needed money to fight the war. the part of that morris and hamilton were interested in took the form of bonds paid bonds issued to a small number of very wealthy people of the robert morris type who were expecting, hoping to get paid 6% interest on their bonds. remembertrophist no tax on that at the time, so that's a pretty nice rate of return, and that was was supposed to finance the war, and this was an interstate investing class, interstate lending class. these are the merchants, people with actual money, gold and silver or the equivalent in their possession. so the war debt, and this is what's fascinating when people talk about debt now and about hamilton, the war debt is what's pulling the country together as
1:41 pm
far as people envision a future or many of them invested in these bonds. so it's funny to think about national unity being equated with, you know, war and public debt. but that is the way they looked at it for obvious and cogent reasons. and what people say about hamilton frequently is, oh, he was confronted with all this debt after the revolutionary war as treasury secretary. he had to wrestle with this and try to get it paid off because oh, my god, they'd run up all this money. that is exactly the opposite of what happened in the 1780s. as you actually also know probably hamilton is famous for funding the debt and assuming in that debt the federal obligation, all of the state debt, funding assumption. hamilton funding assumption. everybody knows that. funding a debt and paying off a debt are not the same thing. they're in some ways opposites
1:42 pm
and we know this and make payments on our credit cards, so this is a funny thing that's happened to hamilton's legacy. and it's not just that most people don't get it or whatever -- i'll read you something quickly from the worldwide web, the internet if you just put in a few search terms around hamilton, debt, et cetera, you can get this. paying for the american revolutionary war was the start of the country's debt, true. some of the founding fathers formed a group and borrowed money from france and the netherlands to pay for the war, well, that is also true but that's where that particular entry stops on the war debt. we know john adams went over there and negotiated blah-blah blah. the domestic debt to the rich americans i was just talking about is what drives all the issues we still deal with today. it was substantially larger in numbers and overwhelmingly more important. but the fact some website gets
1:43 pm
this wrong should not surprise anybody, right? except this website is called treasury direct kids. it's supposed to educate kids about debt and fiscal platters. it's the bureau of fiscal service which is a department of the u.s. treasury, which is the department hamilton founded, and it's describing his approach to debt in terms, what fascinated him, what got him up in the morning which to us might sound boring was a public opportunity and that means domestic debt, the debt to rich americans that was the driver to everything i've been talking about. it's amazing. here's some liberal scholars writing a piece about something unrelated, but they're trying to authoritatively fill you in on the background and they say the most pressing issue is what to do about the nation's debt. both the continental congress and individual states accumulated debt, close to $80 million, an enormous amount in those days.
1:44 pm
hamilton now secretary of the treasury wanted the new federal government to assume the states debts and pay them back in full. that's not funding. no, he wanted to keep it going for the obvious reason, you have all the richest people in the country invested in the country. so this sort of general sense of he came into office, oh, my god we've run up so much debt or we've got to pay it off, i don't know exactly where that comes from, but if he heard we were saying things like that, he'd be like, wow, all these years later and they still don't get the brilliance of what i was trying to bring about. and i don't know how he would feel about that, but i find it fascinating we don't really want to know about his real relationship to the debt because he didn't try to hide it. it was not scheming like that, haha, they'll never know what i'm doing. he put forth in the most brilliant and cogent matter an entire program based on this very idea. so that's weird.
1:45 pm
now the risk to all this visionary stuff that he and morris are working on, a central bank, federal bonds, getting the state debt into federal hands as well, coalescing this massive economic force through government, the threat to all this in the 1780s, early 1780s is guess what? peace, the absence of war. because this -- what is the congress going to do? this is a meter supposedly they think they're sovereign entity. they're not going to make good on these bonds. they're not going to ignore them our just cancel the debt. peace is definitely a problem, and to the extent that robert morris' assistant wrote a letter to general washington explicitly asking him if he could keep the work going a little longer so we could continue the unity of the country a little longer around this debt, the idea frequently
1:46 pm
around robert morris is when he was actually able to get requisitions and get money, pay the bond holders. and this might sound somewhat familiar. i mean, if you don't pay the bond holders, if you force the bond holders to take too big of a cut anarchy will prevail, civility will falter. this is an idea that robert morris had. the idea was to get a tax going, a national tax. there was no nation, but a national-style tax. get the states to agree to go beyond the powers they had granted in the articles of confederation and put -- impose an impost they called on imported goods. and morris told hamilton and others this is just the beginning. if we can get them to do that, we can have other kinds of taxes, too, other kinds of domestic taxes as well.
1:47 pm
this is the vision for forming nation hood. you can tie the country together by collecting in an interstate manner taxes earmarked for federal bonds. now, that doesn't sound exactly like what we think of when we think of a unified american nation, but to morris and hamilton brilliantly enough that is what they thought would gather up all these economic force, all this wealth and power and make it grow and become dynamic. so let's see now, that's like a really skeletal idea of the things they began to develop in the 1780s which hamilton sought in a far more nuanced way than i believe harris ever could have probably. put into effect in the 1790s, and now i'm going to check and watch what we're doing.
1:48 pm
in 1783 they -- this is hamilton to my mind because of course i see him being born in 1782 which is my conseat about this whole thing. his first formative political action on the country wide stage was to involve himself in a conspiracy. maybe that's contentious, could argue about that. to threaten the continental congress, threaten the states with a military coup in order to bring about the very scheme i've just described. and this came -- this is fortuitous, prov deferential in some ways because the officer class had not been paid and they were very, very fed up about that. they sent officers to philadelphia to demand payment. well, hamilton and morris and their crew are finding it very difficult to get this tax passed that will have to effect of creating this interstate sort of
1:49 pm
unification of the country around bonds. they seize on this opportunity that's presented by the angry officer class to suggest to the officer class they should also become bond holders. they should join in the fight to get the bonds funded via the tax. if the officer class of the army were to refuse to lay down its arms with the coming of peace, well now you have the strongest lobby -- literally strongest that there is because now you've got an armed force behind this. that this was a very dangerous thing to try to do as washington told hamilton a little later. this was -- this was a threat potentially to the republican nature of the country that was being -- supposedly being formed to the states. they did it, though. they tried. and again, think of the incredible like audacity, the incredible fearlessness, the credible ability to take risks with his future reputation maybe even with his life. his relationships -- now we'll
1:50 pm
go to his relationships for a second. his relationships with his father-in-law, if this had come to light in the way it could have, think of the inyebl high wire act this was, and hamilton goes so far as to get washington involved and get him to lead this effort. washington demurs, and yet fascinatingly when this whole a fascinatingly, what happened, people say the newburgh crisis was a failure of a conspiracy. in many ways it was. washington wasn't deposed by angry officers. the system continued. the army happily continued under civilian command. really what happened partly was the officer class did get added to the bond holding class. that was the compromise and washington supported that. so now you have the other forces involved in this same dynamic
1:51 pm
relationship. so you can see it is a failure. you can also see it as a success. because coming out of newburgh conspiracy, he kind of sets the table in a way for what he will do in the 1790s. he has a new relationship with george washington and you might think because washington counselled hamilton, an army is a great thing on play with. i don't think that quite right. you would think he would say, hamilton is crazy. i have to stay away from him. after the correspondence is a fascinating study in the dynamics of their always fascinating tenets but all important relationship. they get closer and washington makes it clear to hamilton that he is 100% in favor of being sure that the country is put in a position, and this is again leading toward nascar nationalism. the public is in a position to pay the public creditors, he
1:52 pm
mean those same bond holders. this was a vision that washington shared. so coming out of newburgh, we have this picture of the hamilton scheme. the concentration and growth of american wealth in a federal, in a bond government debt to the rich, an obligation to the rich. all in federal rather than state hands. it was hard and they felt they were not getting anywhere. an interstate mutual obligation to align with the interests of the rich. in the sense of interest payments with those bonds but also the financial interests in general and the social interests. if it is a puzzle you're trying to put together in the system and make it perfect or complete, is what perfect would have meant in the 18th century, you have the final click piece. the concentration of military power in the same bonded debt. so this combines with forces.
1:53 pm
literal force. this leads to the idea of tax collection. pulling the country together and tax enforcement, pulling the country together. and there you have the basis of the hamilton scheme. so i think here we might begin to see how some people at the time could consider this whole thing a bit of a scheme. a bit of a scam even. when i say the whole thing, i mean the american revolution. the war of independence. i mean the forming of the nation itself as a mechanism for enriching the rich at the expense of the poor. and the ordinary. you can see how some people might take that position. hamilton had enemies.
1:54 pm
and i think you know he had enemies because of the culture of the fundamental division. jefferson versus hamilton, basically, or jefferson versus madison versus hamilton. but in the final few minutes that i'll be able to talk. i want to complicate that story a little bit. if we're still talking about this, jefferson and hamilton were not enemies in the 1780s. they didn't have anything to work together. they didn't know they would be, you meet people in a new job. nice to help the ball team. then you realize this person is like an enemy. and then you realize, this person will ruin everything. he became more of an effective enemy in the legislature, they
1:55 pm
were close allies in everything i told you about except maybe the newburgh thing. i'm pretty sure he's not in on that part. but madison was very committed to all the things we just talked about. they were two young hot shot lawyers pouring over the articles of confederation to find ways to expand the federal power. only later did the differences between them become so overwhelming. the enemies hamilton had in the 1780s are names not super well known with you they represent a movement. a populist movement about finance about, money, about american wealth, about accountability to the people. and they meant themselves. they are frequently without the vote because of course you had
1:56 pm
to have property to have the vote and to run for office, you had to have even more money. they wanted the vote for white men, i'm talking about, they wanted it for white men without property. they didn't want to have the property qualification. what they wanted to do was break up government monopolies, fix prices, stop the foreclosures, more what they considered a democratic way. without the vote, they rioted, they rescued people from debtor's prison. they did all kinds of illegal things so we get this mob and pitchfork idea. and for sure they tore down people's houses. there was a violence involved. however, along with the torches and pitchfork image, they wrote resolutions, petitions, they organized. and they said what they wanted.
1:57 pm
they said what they wanted. what they wanted was democracy. and of course, this is anathema to the famous founding generation. when you think about what that meant at the time, what the populists wanted to do was break the connection between property and participation. citizenship in that sense. people were considered citizens even if they couldn't vote but they wanted to break the property connection between property and rights. property and liberty. that is an ancient connection as far as the founders are concerned. breaking it is a horror show. then you have mob rule, anarchy. these people's names are not names that have gone down in history the way that the famous founders are. i'll tell you some of them any way to get them on the record. thomas young, a doctor and a professional -- activist,
1:58 pm
troublemaker. james cannon, a math teacher. christopher marshall, a pharmacist. they were both labor organizers. william findley, a weaver who became a lawyer and ended up entering the pennsylvania assembly. a farmer and herman husband who had a vision of an entire egalitarian american society. he wanted, of course, to end slavery, stop stealing indian land, and he started writing about this in the 1760s and 1770s. he believes in progressive taxation. he believed there should be some form of taking care of people when they get too old to work which we might call social security. he wanted government credit programs. full employment. and the end to dynastic wealth. the thing about husband, i would like the get this on the record, too. he was not alone among the populists of the day. he saw these things.
1:59 pm
like he had the kind of mind where he actually saw these things. he had literal visions. he saw them. he spent his life on an exogesis on the book of daniel. the populists were not in our terms necessarily, they were not all modern secular liberal types. in fact, there is a certain ill liberalism about some of their visions. like, say, you might find in the abolitionist movement. like we did a study and we find it is much more effective if you don't have slavery. no. it's a high moral calling from a vision that might seem outside of the end lightenment vision that i would say hamilton represents, among others. so there's an opposition for you and we won't have time to get to
2:00 pm
that. i want to get this other try ang-related piece in. with the hamilton scheme coming on strong, about to get put into place. bees to become the secretary of the treasury. and the opposition is the white working class of the day. in an interesting scope between socialistic ideas and small capitalist ideas. in dire opposition to that. and that's what sets off the explosions that i believe, to owned this note. so we can get some q & a in here are still in many ways, with us today. so i'm going to leave it at that and thank you for your very kind attention today. thanks a lot. as we're about to do the q & a, let me say one more thing. i want to, i'll forget. i want to thank the museum of
2:01 pm
american finance for its multitime tolerance of my eccentric and uproar just approach to the hamilton problem and also the awareness society. i don't know if you are still speaking to me after this. thank you for your liberal approach. thanks a lot. how are we doing this q & a? is there a microphone going around? >> hi. i have a proposal for nancy. i run an american system now blog. on hamilton. the on postal for the credit, since hamilton's work was all devoted to the idea of public credit. i suggest that gives a higher concept to the kind of machinations he was carrying out. because the purpose of the credit, wedding the financial class to the government, was to develop the country.
2:02 pm
he had tremendous support from some working class people, as you know, from the constitutional activities here in new york. the great ship hamilton that was sent down broadway in support of the constitution. because it was going to build the country. that's what i would suggest. >> i think credit is a better word. i'm not sure it will sell copies of my book necessarily but i agree it is the more accurate term. >> was hamilton a bond holder himself? >> i'm glad this came up, actually. people spent a lot of time, jefferson, madison, sorry. was halt himself a bond holder which raises the question about personal corruption. i would like to make the clear. i think it is really interesting that while he hung out with a lot of the people who would very directly benefit. he wanted to hang out with them
2:03 pm
and encourage them and make it better for them. that's how he was building the country. people spent a lot of time trying the prove that hamilton was personally corrupt. that he was personally skimming and would personally benefit from his own projects. i think it is so fascinating that they totally failed to prove that and i think they failed to prove it because his vision was. so -- like robert morris was skimming. and he didn't think there was anything wrong with it. and i don't know if he hadn't, i don't know if we would be here now but he was skimming for sure. hamilton had a much more vaulting vision. he wasn't looking to get a few bucks on the side. i'm glad that came up. when people accuse him of corruption, if they wanted to accuse him of corruption, they should have been arraigning the system, not his personal interest. yes.
2:04 pm
this gentleman is carrying a microphone. thank you. >> thank you for your lovely talk. i went to nevis in st. cooix. i have the greatest esteem for him. i want to know if you can talk about his character. being born out of wedlock, he was denied access to public education. >> i can't give you -- as i was saying, that aspect -- right. there he is. michael? that man, michael, can tell you everything there is to know about that. as i was saying, my interest just doesn't lie in the back story. like even, i talked about his relationship with washington for a second. i could do a long deep dive on
2:05 pm
that. i find it one of the most fascinating relationships there is. i find i'm not interested in how that might relate to his father issues or whatever. not because i don't think that's an interesting subject. again, like, i'm interested in my father issues. if i knew some of you better, i would be interested in yours. but like everybody has got them so i'm always looking for the things about him that make him different. but there are other ways to look at this and he has a lot of information. sorry. the micro phone has been handed away and i don't think we can hear you. >> how did the revolutionary war soldiers, enlisted people, fare under this scheme? tinlds officers became bond holders. how did the enlisted soldiers fare? >> there's a long complicated answer to that which i can't go into so i'll make a short answer. that they did not. at least in their opinion, fare
2:06 pm
very well. they were not made gentlemen. many, many of them wend home unpaid. so they began to get a sense, whether you agree with them or not, this whole long seven years of war had been nothing for them and only for enriching the class of people who are already rich, who they already knew as their local creditors. they were already indebted to, they were already userous so you can see how this would develop. sorry, there is one over there. >> we all passed on the way in the statue of george washington out there. and i can see it from where i'm at. behind him there is this bundle of sticks wrapped up.
2:07 pm
the symbol of roman unity. they're called faschis, the root word of fascists. it is not right to call hamilton a fascist. but is this be on the spectrum, so to speak? >> you know, it's not useful to me to use that term, partly because i don't think i know enough technically speaking about fascism to apply it. it is not an 18th century term. i've seen argument where people are saying when you're saying. if you're trig to enrich the richest x number of families and manage the economy in that way from the top down. maybe. i would go with your statement, it is not really useful. because whether it categorizing
2:08 pm
is not what i try to do when i'm writing books about this stuff or talking about it. it kind of throws a damper. what i try to do is make it for my own interpretation, my own engagement with the material. i try to make it feel lying it's coming alive. so because that term wouldn't have existed and it has so many connotations that are so obviously, for obvious reasons, damning. how excited was hamilton when he saw the opportunities? so other people can do that and other people can have these debates and analysis. maybe i'm taking to you places that are quite critical. but i don't like, it's not because i'm scared to use the term because people won't like me or be angry. i've been accused of that, i think. i'm not scared to use it. i don't think it helps bring anything to life.
2:09 pm
i do think it is a good line of thought. and worth pursuing. i have to watch the microphones. i can't just call on people. i'm watching and watching. this gentleman wants a microphone. okay. >> is this working? >> yes. >> i think i don't understand something. what you just explained, i don't know why the hamilton awareness group would hate you for that. what is bad about this? am i just a hopeless capitalist? >> you may be. i was just kidding when i said i don't know if they're speaking to me after this. my take on hamilton is obviously critical. there is nothing necessarily bad about it. some people, this is so interesting. i wrote the whiskey rebellion as
2:10 pm
my first book and hamilton plays a major role. it comes right out of everything i just talked about. i didn't have time to talk about it today. some of them said, i finished the book and i hate that guy. i hate him. i thought, well, that was not my intention. i get why you could find him frightening in some ways and overly intense. i don't hate him. i do think that sometimes major enthusiasts do not, i'm not saying this about the aha people. here i am under their aegis. or sponsorship. i do think some of the big enthusiasts at the moment are touchy when you bring up some of the nuts and bolts reality about
2:11 pm
those who did everything they could do to stop it. i don't think it is necessarily bad. i just think some people think it is. one more. >> not all of us hate you, by the way. >> i'm not saying anybody here hates me. >> that was a joke. when you talk about, when you talk about hamilton, and his effect on the economy, and the dichotomy between soldiers and the upper classes. hamilton actually believed that corporations should be citizens. have the same rights. and the founders, in my understanding, were totally against that. however, the supreme court has just put that into play. and other pro business things deal with the federalist society. and going back to the original intent of the constitution and you've written about that quite a bit.
2:12 pm
what do you think? i don't know if you want to talk that much about it. but you mentioned it. >> how long do we have here? 30 seconds for that one? here's what i want to say. i will say in federalist 78, beloved by many as a great defense of independence of the judiciary, he makes quite explicit that one of the things the judiciary can do is sort of slap down more democratic fiscal time of legislation. since you bring up the supreme court and we're all thinking about that. modern liberalism has placed a lot of faith in the independence of the supreme court and had its way for a number of years on issues. that is not necessarily the way hamilton thought that was supposed to work. it can often make undemocratic decisions.
2:13 pm
in some ways to him that was a lure for getting people to ratify the constitution. so would you say we're wrapped up? all right. thank you again and thank you to everyone who sponsored this. and thank you for coming out. we're bringing you american history tv all this week on c-span3. wednesday morning, starting at 8:00 a.m. eastern, a look into the history of aviation. historians discuss world war i and world war ii fighter pilots. the wright brothers and the first military airplane. watch wednesday. beginning at 8:00 a.m. eastern here on krx span 3. the national council for history education moved their conference online due to the coronavirus outbreak. the session up next features yale university history and american studies professor joanne freeman. letters and other writings.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on