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tv   Alexander Hamiltons Economic Plan  CSPAN  August 3, 2021 6:46pm-7:36pm EDT

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selected by president george washington in 1789, alexander hamilton served as the first secretary of the treasury until january 1795. next on american history tv, in a talk titled "the hamilton scheme," enemies and allies in the creation of an american economy, author and scholar william hoagland discusses alexander hamilton's financial ideas. he is the author of several books about the founding period. the alexander hamilton awareness society and the museum of american finance co-hosted this event. it is about 50 minutes. 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.
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and our author who is speaking is william hoagland, he has written multiple books on early u.s. history, including autumn of the black snake, declaration, the whisky rebellion, and founding finance. he is also the author of a recent publication -- a contributor, i should say, of a recent publication of historians on hamilton. he has also penned many essays and articles you can read in places like the atlantic monthly, salon, the new york times, boston review, huffington post, but none more important than our own magazine, financial history. you can find that magazine on our website. 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 hoagland.
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[ 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 am 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. my first talk on alexander hamilton and other related issues was sponsored by the museum. that was for my first book in 2006. so i think some of you already know, it is 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 is just how i think. people sometimes think because i am not celebrating that i am filled with hatred for these people that i write about.
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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 will note the irony of some of my approaches. here we are in the federal building, and here we are on wall street. we could say we are 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 infidelity.
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i feel like a lot of people dueled, i think you know that, i figure you have read about it, hopefully, in joanne friedman's book. a lot of people have family relationships and upbringings and all of the things that people have. i am interested in what made hamilton the dynamic force that he was, that was not like what everyone else did, if you know what i mean. so i am looking very specifically at what i guess i would call the great sort of creative phenomenon that he was, that occurred at a certain time. i will date it, 1782 to 1795. you could date it a little differently. i'm going to take that period. you could say something happened there, of course with everything that went into his life before he arrived in the continental congress, he brought all of that
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baggage and all that inspiration and everything that made him, but something happened there that was different from what everyone else was doing. 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 much opposed to. he saw the nuts and bolts on a level i don't think anyone else saw. and then there were the lengths he went to in action. sometimes quite unsettling lengths, i think, to bring those things about. so the decisive effects that he had on the founding, and on how we think about money and government today are what fascinates me about hamilton. to me, it's almost like he gets born in 1782, the phenomenon i am talking about, the creative
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force that i'm talking about starts about there. and i'm looking at the arc of an action, not just thinking and not just ideas, but an action that has some very compelling drama to it. some of which is, as we say today, is 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, the details of that story get left out. you wouldn't think they get left out, since it is the reason he is famous, as the first ever secretary of the treasury. you would not think they would get left out, because there have 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, necessarily,
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but people don't necessarily like to hear the words 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 would say, the financial -- he would say, don't say finance. we are trying to pitch a book here that people might want to read. don't say finance. i'm like, right, i've got you. every once in a while, a buzzer goes off when i say the word. hamilton would use the word, that 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. i mean, like, dominance. making the nation into america, the empire, and that is a word
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he and many of his contemporaries would use. making it into the great thing that he envisioned early it could be. so when you say economic nation, to him, that is the nation. that is 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, he did all of these things, but it kind of gets buried in all of the other things about his life, i've called it for the purposes of this talk, something we could describe as the hamilton scheme. the hamilton scheme. i think i have water here somewhere, yes, i do. okay, the hamilton scheme. scheme is obviously a loaded term. it can mean a plan, any sort of plot of something, a schema, it can be value neutral. we also use it to mean a scheme, he is scheming in the backroom,
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aha, my nefarious plans. you know, that kind of thing. when we talk about hamilton, we have to talk about that he had a major plan, it goes beyond a plan, a vision and a nuts and bolts means of building the country so that it could do the things he wanted it to do. but of course other people 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 room, no doubt, and if you talk to people outside of this room about hamilton, you will get a wide variety of views on this. whether it was a scheme in a good sense or bad sense. so that is what i want to try to tell you about today, how the scheme worked. and you can all think about, you all probably have before, what kind of scheme you think it is.
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i think when i set up the invitation to this talk and the description of what i would be doing, i promised an efficient 45-minute trip through everything you would need to know about the hamilton scheme. i realized as i approached the talk, that was a slight exaggeration or maybe a boldfaced lie. because there is no way in the time we have today that we can do a deep dive on any one of these topics. what i am going to do now that i have lured you in here, i'm going to give you a superficial glancing sense of what the various topics are. and on any one of them at other times, maybe we can do a deeper dive and i can back up some of the things i am saying rather than just saying them, which is really what i'm going to do today.
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so realize that the sales pitch was a sales pitch and we are actually going to get a more general view of what i think the hamilton scheme involves. one thing that is funny, since he became treasury secretary under washington and put his scheme into effect in the first half of the 1790s, i'm going to focus today much more on the 1780s because that is when he developed the scheme and that's when the issues that drove him and the opposition to it also began to form, and the tension we still have today in our society about money and government started to form. while there is a lot to say about what he did in the 1790s, to get at what he was trying to do in the 1790s, you have to go back to his first efforts and politics in the 1780s, i think. and see him develop it and figure out what should be going on, if he could ever get himself
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into a position to bring it about. sp somewhat surprisingly, i will be focusing largely on what he did in the 1780s to develop the scheme. so he comes to the continental congress right after his service in the war, the revolutionary war, the war of independence, and here is something and don't really talk too much about, yorktown. everyone knows about it now, and the defense of the redoubt. all that sort of stuff, to me, that is like juvenilia, now he comes to do what he is really going to do what other people could not 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 horizon, we might think, and out of this, this great victory,
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comes this fantastic building of nationhood, the country will emerge fully unified and ready to take on the world. what is actually happening as he arrives in the continental congress is that, because the war is about to end, the country is about to fall apart. that is because what is holding this country together, these various states, various entities, they are confederated, they are not a nation. what is holding them together is this war. has been this war. the unity of the country is really around this war. what hamilton sees when he comes to congress is that it is about to crash and burn. and there is such incredible potential to do something different, to pull it all together and create an amazing, new phenomenon. a growing, expanding, even imperial phenomenon. that is an outlandish thing to envision for a 20-something-year-old man arriving with his elders and
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superiors, many of whom are committed to different visions at that time. but he began to see it. he was not alone in that, he had a mentor in that whole vision, robert morris. a name that, while it is known at the museum of american finance, is not widely known by people who see the show or read. or even read many of the biles. because morris is a problematic character for a lot of reasons. he becomes's most important mentor, in this area i'm interested in. because 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 of the revolution, that is how he is known. he certainly was that. spending his own vast wealth on financing the revolution from his own pocket, the revolution is some people say also financed him. he did not have any problem
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mingling and getting private and public funds. he was a shipper anna merchant and probably the richest man in america. casually corrupt, obese, witty, charming and quite a character. and really the first major banker the country had. and this is someone who hamilton, who saw the brilliance of the young hamilton. and to whom hamilton gravitated. they are looking at the issue of how to keep the country together. what we are talking about here, is how to keep the country together as a political force and the way they saw it, this was the genius. the way they saw that keeping the country together as a economic phenomena or a financial phenomena. what they were talking about here, is known as the revolutionary war of debt. which is to say, very simple it's heading home it's a complicated subject.
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when i tried to get a handle on all the aspects of his debt. but the country needed money to fund the war. but the part that hamilton and morris were interested in took the form of bonds paid an issue to a small number of very wealthy people of the robert morris type. who were expecting and hoping to get paid 6% interest on their bonds. remember there was no tax on that at the time so it's a good rate of return. that was what's was supposed to finance the war. this wasn't interstate lending class. these are the merchants. this is where the people with money gold and silver. or the equivalent in their possession. so the war debt and when people talk about debt now and hamilton. the war debt is what's pulling the country together as far as the people who envision a future for the country.
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because you have all the richest people in the country or many of them invested in these bonds. so it's funny to think about national unity being combined with war and public debt. but that is the way they looked at it for obvious and cogent reasons. what they say about hamilton frequently, he was confronted with all this debt after the revolutionary war. he had to wrestle with this and get it paid off because oh my god they had run up all this money. that is exactly the opposite of what happened at the 17 eighties. as you all so know hamilton is famous for funding the debt and in assuming that debt all the state debts. hamilton funding assumption. funding a debt and paying off debt are not the same thing. there are in some ways opposites. we know this and we make when we make payments on our credit
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cards. we know we're not paying our credit cards often were making payment on them. and this is what happened to hamilton's legacy. it's not just that most people don't get it or whatever, i will read you something quickly from the web the world why web. the internet. if you put in a few search terms for hamilton and debt 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 from france and the netherlands to pay for the war. that is also true. that is where that entry stops on the war debt. we know that john adams negotiated law blah blah. but foreign debt is not the critical important part of the day. the domestic debt is what drives all the issues we still deal with today. potentially it is larger in numbers. but the fact that some website gets it wrong should not surprise anybody.
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except this website is supposed to educate kids about debt and fiscal matters. the bureau of the fiscal service which is a department of the u.s. treasury, which is a department that hamilton founded. it is describing his approach to debt in the wrong terms. what got him up in the morning was maybe to us might sound boring. it was a thrilling opportunity, it was a domestic debt and the debt to rich americans that was the driver of everything he was trying to talk about. it is kind of amazing, here's some political scholars writing about something unrelated but they're trying to fill you in on the background and hamilton and debt. they say the most pressing issue of what to do about the new nations debt. both the congress in the states had accumulated massive debts during the revolutionary war. close to 80 million dollars which is a enormous amount in those days. troop.
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hamilton one of the federal government to assume the states debts and pay them back in full. that is not funding no he wanted to keep it going for the obvious reason. he had all the richest people in the country invested in the country. so this sort of general sense of him coming into office and running so much running up so much debt and having to pay it off, i don't know where that comes from but if he heard that we were saying things like that he would be like wow, all these years later and they still don't get the brilliance of what i was trying to do. and i don't know how he would feel about that but i find it fascinating that we don't really want to know about his real relationship with debt. because he didn't try to hide it. it was not scheming like that you know they'll never know what i'm doing. he put forth the most brilliant and cogent manner a program based on this very idea. so that is weird. now the risk to all of this
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visionary stuff that he and morris are working on, a central bank, federal bonds, getting the state debt into federal hands as well. and coalescing this massive economic forced through government. the threat to all this in the 17 eighties early 17 eighties was guess what, peace. the absence of war. because what is the congress going to do? this is apparently they think their sovereign entities, they will not make good on these bonds. they might just ignore them or cancel the debt. this is you know pieces definitely a problem to the extent that robert morris's assistant wrote a letter to general washington to ask him to keep the war going a bit longer so we could continue the unity of the country a little longer around this debt. the idea frequently that robert morris was able to get
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requisitions that money and you pay the bond holders. it's not about paying the soldiers and troops it was about paying the bond holders. and this might sound familiar if you don't pay the bond holders and you force them to take too big of a haircut, anarchy will prevail. first you pay the bond holders, that's how you hold things together. this idea is not new but this was an idea that robert morris had. the idea was to get a tax going, a national tax. so it was a national style tax and get the states to agree to go beyond the powers they had granted under consideration and impose a post on imported goods. and this in post and he thought if we could get them to do that we can get other taxes as well. and this is the vision for forming nationhood. you can tie the country
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together by collecting and interstate manner taxes earmarked for federal bonds. that does not sound exactly like what we think of when we think of a unified american nation, but to mars and hamilton that is what they thought would gather up all of this economic force, all of this wealth and power and make it grow and become dynamic. so, that's a skeletal idea of things they began to develop in the 17 eighties. and hamilton far more nuanced more than morris ever could've. and i put it into effect in 17 nineties. so what else can we talk about here on how this went. let me sip some water while i cogitate. in the 1783 and this is
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hamilton in my mind, i see him born in 1782. his first formative political action on the country wide stage, was to involve himself in a conspiracy. we could argue about that, to threaten the continental congress, and threatened them with a military coup. ordered to bring about the scheme i just described. this was fortuitous in some ways because the officer class had not been paid and were fed up about that. they sent officers to philadelphia to demand payment. well hamilton and morris, they are finding it very difficult to get this tax passed that will have the effect of creating this interstate and this unification of can the
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country around the bonds. and they seize on this opportunity. to suggest to the officer class that they should also become bond holders. they should join in the fight to get bonds funded via the tax. so if the army which refused to lay down its arms with the coming apiece, now you have the strongest lobby there is. because you have an armed force behind us. this was a very dangerous thing to try to do as washington told hamilton a little later. this was a threat, potentially, to republican nature of the country that was supposedly being formed. they did it though and they tried. and think of the incredible audacity, the fearlessness, the incredible ability to take risks with his future reputation even with his life and his relationships. you know his relationship with
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his father in law, if this had come to light in the way that it could have. think of the high wire act that he would have to do. and hamilton tries to get washington involved and get him to back this effort. but fascinatingly when this whole thing you know what happened is by the way, people say the crisis was a failure but in many ways it was. washington was not deposed by angry officers and the system continued. the army happily continued under civilian command. all that was good. but really, what happened and the officer class did get added to the bond holding class. and washington supported that. so now you have another component of the scheme, which is the office class and the armed forces involved in this dynamic relationship. you can see the new conspiracy is a failure but in terms of
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what we're talking about bringing forth the hamilton scheme you can also see it as a success. because he kind of sets the table in a way for what he is willing to do in the 17 90s. he has a new relationship with george washington, and you might think because washington council hamilton an army is a dangerous thing to play with. i might not have that quote exactly right. you would think that washington would've thought this hamilton's crazy i have to stay away from him. but actually their correspondence after the new bergh conspiracy is a fascinating study. and this all important relationship. they get closer after the new bergh conspiracy. and he is in favor of being sure that the country is put in a position again leading towards nationhood and nationalism. that the country is in the position to pay the public creditors by which he means the same bond holders that we're
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talking about. this was a vision that washington shared. coming out we have this picture of the scheme. concentration and growth of american growth in a bonded government debt to the rich. an obligation to the rich. all in federal rather than state hands, they were trying to do it and it was hard and i felt they weren't getting anywhere sometimes. an interstate mutual obligation to align the rich the interests of the rich. which is payment of those bonds. and the financial interest in general and the social undressed. and if it's a puzzle you're trying to put together, and make it perfect in the system or complete is what perfect would have meant in the 18th century. you have this final piece. it's the concentration of military power in the same bond or debt. and this combines wealth with government, with force. actual literal force. and this leads the idea of tax
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collection. kind of pulling the country together and tax enforcement. and, there you have the basis i would say of the hamilton scheme. so, i think here, we might begin to see how some people, at the time, may consider this whole thing a bit of a scheme. -- [interpreter] i mean the war of independence, i mean things that are gonna happen, like the forming in the nation itself. as a mechanism for enriching the rich at the expense of the poor and the ordinary. given everything that's been -- hamilton had enemies. i think that you know that he had enemies because --
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which is jefferson against hamilton, basically. jefferson and madison, against hamilton. but in the final me -- few minutes that i'll be able to talk, i want to tell you and complicate that story a little bit. there are other enemies that come first, do you know -- if we're still talking at the 17 eighties. jefferson and hamilton were not enemies in the 70 days, they really don't have anything to do with each. other jefferson came into the cabin, and hamilton comes into the cabinet, and they're gonna work together in the 17 nineties, and you know, they did not know they're they're gonna be -- you made people or new job, you like, oh hi, nice to meet you. you're excited to work with each other, the team, blah -- then you realize this person is like, my enemy. and then you begin to realize this person is going to ruin everything. none of that had happened yet. madison, who became hamilton's really, i think in some ways his more effective enemy in the legislature. madison and hamilton who are close ally's to overthrow told
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you about except maybe -- i'm pretty sure madison was not in on that part. but madison was very committed to all of the things that we just talked about. they were the two kind of young hotshot lawyers in the continental congress pouring over the articles of confederation to find ways to expand the power, the federal power. you know madison was committed to federal power, and to nationhood. everyone knows that. only later did the differences between hamilton and madison become so overwhelming. the enemies that hamilton had in the 17 eighties are group of people whose names are not super well-known. but they represent a movement, a populist movement. which had its own ideas about finance, if i may use that word, about money, american wealth, accountability to the people. and they meant themselves, the ordinary people. these are people frequently without the vote, which of course you had to have property to have the vote, and to run for office you had to have even
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more property. they wanted the vote, they wanted the vote for white men were talking about, they want to vote for white men in that property. they didn't have the property qualification, because what they wanted to do was do things like a breakup government monopoly, fix prices, stop the foreclosures. enable small scale credit for normal -- ordinary people. and in their own way bill the financial system in a democratic way. without the vote, they rioted. they rescued people from debtors prison. they did all kinds of illegal things. and so, we get this sort of torches and pitchforks idea of the mob at the time. and for ashore, they tore down peoples houses. there was violence involved in this. however, the pitchfork image, they rode resolutions, they organized, and they said what they wanted. they said what they wanted. and when they wanted actually
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democracy. and of course, this is anathema to the founding generation of famous people, famous founding generations, this is anathema because if you think about what that really meant at the time. what the populist wanted to do was break the connection between property and participation. citizenship in that sense, not -- i mean, citizens were considered citizens even if they cannot, vote they wanted to break the property connection between property and rights, property and liberty. that is an ancient connection as far as the famous founders are concerned, and breaking it is sort of like a horror show because you have just the mob rule. you have anarchy. these peoples names are not names that have gone down in history in the way the names of a famous founders are. but i'm gonna tell you some of them anyway just to get them on the record right here for this moment. thomas young, a doctor, a sort of professional -- not anarchist, just troubled activists. troublemaker really. james cannon, a math teacher.
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christopher marshall, a pharmacist. there were both labor organizers. william finley, a weaver, who became a lawyer and ended up entering the pennsylvania assembly. robert white hill, middling farmer. and herman husband who had vision of an entire egalitarian society, american society. he wanted of course to end slavery, stop stealing indian land. but he also believed, he was started writing about this in the 17 sixties, and 17 seventies, he believed in progressive taxation. he believed that 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 regulation, they actually called it regulation of the power of wealth. the thing about husband, at like to get this on the record to, and he was not alone among the populists of the day, he did not -- he saw these things like literally, he had the kind of
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mine of maybe a saint-jean or something like that, he had a literal visions. everything that i just said that sounds a little bit like a reveal on a great society, he saw them. he spent his life on an exit jesus of the book of daniel. so the populists were not, in our terms, not modern, secular, rational scientific liberal types. in fact, there was a certain's lack of liberalism. illiberalism like say mike finding some of the abolitionist movement. meaning that you're speaking -- it's not like we did a study, you know. we find that it is more and more effective if you don't have slavery. now, it is a high moral calling from a vision that might seem outside the enlightenment vision that i'd say hamilton represents among others. so, there is an opposition for you. and of course, we will have time to get to the jefferson madison opposition but i want to get this other triangulated
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piece in to complicate what was going on there with the hamilton scheme coming on strong. was about to get put into place, he's about to be put in the constitution, about to become a secretary at the treasury. and the opposition is this kind of white working class of the day. in this interesting scope between socialist ideas and small capitalist ideas and dire oppositions to that. and that is what sets off a lot of the explosions that i believe, to end this on this note, so we can get some q&a in here, are still in many ways, with us today. so i will leave it at that. and thank you for your very kind attention today. thanks a lot. [applause] as we are about to do, the khamenei, and months to other things, how might forget, i want to thank the museum of american finance for its multi
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time tolerance of my eccentric and uproarious approach to the whole hamilton problem. and also the alexander hamilton awareness society. i don't know if you guys are still speaking to me after this. but even if you are not, i thank you very much for your liberal -- actually i should say -- approach these consenting. views thanks a lot. how are we doing this qanon? is there a microphone going around? >> i, i have a proposal for nancy spanish, i run an american system blog on hamilton. the proposal for a substitute for the word finance credit since hamilton's work was all devoted to the idea of public a credit, and i suggest that that gives a higher concept to the kinds of machinations that he was carrying out because the purpose of the credit of wedding the financial cross -- class to the government was to develop the country. he had tremendous support from
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some working class peoples, as you know from the constitutional activities in new york here. the great ship hamilton that was sent down the broadway in support of the constitution. because it was going to build the country. that is what i would suggest. >> yeah, i think credit is a better word. i'm not sure there is going to sell accompli of my book necessarily, but i agree that it is the more accurate term. >> was hamilton a bond holder himself? >> you know, this is a really -- i'm glad this came out, actually. people spent a lot of time, jefferson, madison -- oh sorry, yes -- was hamilton himself a bonds holder? which i think raises the question about personal corruption, right. i would like to make this clear, i think it's interesting that while he hung out with a lot of other people who would very directly benefit, in fact, he wanted to hang out with them and encourage them and makes things more sort of better for
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them. that is how he was building the country. people spend a lot of time, jefferson, madison, and others, trying to prove that hamilton was personally corrupt. that he was personally scheming, personally benefiting 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 -- robert maher as it 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 you will be here right now. so, i don't know. but he was skimming for sure. he did not even think of it is skimming. hamilton had a much more vaulting a vision. he wanted to author and empire. he was not looking to getting a few bucks on the side. so, i'm glad that came up, because i think when people accuse him of corruption, if they want to accuse him from corruption, writing the system, not his personal interests. >> yes. >> [inaudible]
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>> sorry, okay -- this gentleman is carrying a microphone. okay, there's another microphone, then you sir. yes, sorry. >> thank you for your lovely top. i went to -- get some insight into his early formative years. i have the greatest seen steam for him. so, i wondered if you could give us more information on the development of his character being borne out of wedlock. he was denied access to -- >> where is michael? i cannot. i can't, because partly as i was saying, that aspect of his, right, there he is. michael. that man in the back, he has his hand up briefly. he can tell you everything that i would say there is to know about that. and he is working on that now. i guess, as i was saying, you know, my interest just does not lie in the back story. you know, i talk about his relationship with washington for a second. i could do a long deep dive on that, i find it one of the most fascinating relationships that
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there is. but i find that i'm not interested in how that mike -- might relate to his father issues, or whatever. not because i don't think that's an interesting subject, but again -- i'm interested in my father issues. if i knew some of you better and be interested in your's. but like everybody is -- we've got him. someone was looking at the things that make him different. but there are obviously a whole other ways to look at this. and michael has a lot of that information. sorry -- the microphone has been handed away. i don't think they can hear you. but we can come back to that. sorry. >> how did the revolutionary war, soldiers, and listed people, fear under the scheme? i understand that the officers who became bond holders, but how did the revolutionary war, and listed shoulders, how did they fare? >> there's a long and complicated answer to that which i cannot go into to that. so, i will make a short answer which is that they did not, at least in their opinion fare very well.
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they did not -- they were not made gentlemen. many many many of them went home on paid in the end. and so, they began to get a sense, whether you will agree with them or not, that this whole long and seven years of war had been nothing for them, and only for enriching of the class of people who are already rich, who they already knew as their local critic or, who they were already indebted to at rates that we now consider use risks, and who are foreclosing their properties and so forth. so, you can see how this conflict would develop. is the microphone -- anyone else? sorry, there is one over there. okay. >> hi. >> hi. >> we all passed on the way in this statue of george washington out there. i can see it for more i am at. behind him there is this bundle of sticks wrapped up, which is a roman symbol for strength and
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unity, and they are called faxai's. you know, the root word of fascism. so, it is not useful of course to call him a fascist, but is what you are talking about the combination of financial power and military power? is it not on the spectrum, so to speak? >> well, yeah. it is not useful to me. to use that term. partly because i don't think that i know enough technically speaking about fascism to apply it. also, it is not an 18th century term. i think that i've seen arguments where people are seeing exactly what you are saying, it was on the spectrum. if you're trying to enrich the number of families, and manage the economy in that way from the top down, maybe. i just -- i guess, i would go with your statement, it is not really useful, partly because, you know, whether -- categorizing. categorizing is not what i try
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to do when i'm talking, writing books about this stuff, or talking about it. i think it kind of throws a damper on -- what i tried to do is make it in my own interpretation, my own imagination, my engagement with the material. i try to make it feel, to me, like it is coming alive. and so, because that term would not have existed, and it has so many connotations that are just so obviously, for obvious reasons, damning. i just wanted to feel more, like what was it like for? them how excited was hamilton when he saw the opportunities? and so, other people can do that. and other people can decide, and can have these debates and analyses. -- maybe it's ironic because i'm taking you to places that are quite critical. but i don't like -- it's not cause i'm scared to use the term because then people like me to be angry or whatever. i've been accused of that, i think. i'm not scared to use it. i just don't think it helps bring anything to life. but i do think it is a good line of thought, and worth
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pursuing. you know, so, thanks for bringing it up. again -- i gotta watch the microphones, i can just call on people. i'm watching, i'm watching. this gentleman wants the mic -- okay, okay, yes. >> is this working? >> yes, it is now. >> i think i don't understand something, because, like you just explained, i don't know why the hamilton awareness group would hate you for that. >> i don't think they hate -- >> and i just a hopeless capitalist? >> you may be. i was just kidding when i say that i don't know if they're speaking to me after this. my take on hamilton is obviously critical. and so, there is nothing necessarily bad about it. let some people, i mean this is what is so interesting. look at about the whiskey rebellion is my first book. and hamilton plays a major role,
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it comes right out of everything that i was just talking about but i did not have time to talk about in detail today. and you know, people who read that, some of them said to me, i really finish that book, and i hate that guy. i hate him. and i thought, well, that was not my intention. i get why you could find him frightening in some ways. and overly intense. you might not subscribe to his vision for the country. a lot of people den did not. but i don't hate him. but i do think sometimes that major enthusiasts do not always -- i'm not saying this about the, law, people. because here i am. under their ages i am here. but i'd also say that, for a sponsorship anyway, i don't know about -- but i do think that some of the big enthusiasts at the moment are touchy. when you bring up some of the nuts and bolts realities on how this stuff actually worked, or anyway, seemed to work to those who did everything that they
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could to stop it. but no, i don't think it is necessarily bad. you know. i just think some people think it is. one more. >> oh, yes. not all of this -- not all of us hate you, by the. way >> i'm not saying that anybody here hates me. >> that was a joke. when you talk about hamilton, and his effect on the economy ... lead economic between the soldiers and the upper classes ... hamilton actually believed that corporations should be citizens. have the same rights. and the founders, in my understanding, we're totally against that. however, the supreme court has just put that into play in other pro business things that deal with federalist societies. and going back to the original intent of the constitution. and you have written about that quite a bit. so, i don't know if you want to talk that much about --
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but you mentioned it. >> how long do we have here? >> [laughs] >> about 30 seconds for that one? >> you know, here's what i want to say about, that i want to listen to the whole corporations people thing. i will say that the federalists and 78, i believe, by many as a great defensive the independence of those judiciary. he makes quite explicit his belief that one of the things that an independent judiciary can do is sort of slap down more democratic fiscal type of legislation. so, since you bring up the supreme court, as we're all thinking about that right now. liberalism, 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 a number of important issues. but that is not necessarily the way that hamilton thought that was supposed to work. the independence of the judiciary can often make undemocratic decisions. and in some ways, to, him that was a lure for getting people
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to ratify the constitution. >> so, would you say that we are wrapped up? all right. thank you again. thanks to everyone who sponsored this. and thank you all for coming out. [laughs] so long. >> due to the coronavirus outbreak, this session up next features yell university history in american studies professor joanne freeman, editor of the essential hamilton, letters and other writings. >> good morning, my nis


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