TS 138-163 - Was Alexander Hamilton an Economic Genius? The...

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Was Alexander Hamilton an Economic Genius? The Hamiltonian Creation by John Steele Gordon - Treasury tasks were monumental: tax system had to be created, debt had to be rationalized and funded, customs organized, public credit established, monetary system implemented - Monetary system established under Articles of Confederation, devised by Thomas Jefferson - Inhabitants of colonies “thought” in many different units of money - Jefferson thought dollar should be used, Morris thought otherwise - Jefferson advocated using dollar and making smaller units decimal fractions of the dollar - US first country to adopt such a system - Small units = cent (from Morris’s scheme) - Robert Morris turned down Washington’s offer to name his as secretary of the treasury - Hamilton became Secretary of Treasury - He had made a large fortune on his own and an even larger reputation, grew up in poverty - Worked at a trading house at 11 in St. Croix, now part of US Virgin Islands, managed it by his mid-teens - Came to New York, attended King’s College (Columbia University) - Studied law, practiced in NYC - Wrote articles and pamphlets after Revolution - Founded the Bank of New York - Attended the CC in Philly - Wrote 2/3 of The Federalist Papers - Student of economics
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- Sought to establish a system that would both channel the individual pursuit of self-interest into developing the American economy and protect that economy from the follies that untrammeled self-interest always leads to - Lengthy debate on what imports should be taxed at what rate - Congress passed the Tariff and Tonnage Acts - Hamilton’s most pressing problem was to deal with the federal debt - Hamilton called for redeeming the old debt on generous terms and issuing new bonds to pay for it, backed by the revenue from the tariff - Madison argued that only the original holders should have their paper redeemed at the full priceand the speculators get only what they had paid for it, impractical - Unlike others in the new government, Hamilton grasped fully the power of a national debt - Hamilton wanted to use the national debt to create a larger and more flexible money supply - His program passed Congress - Wanted fed. Gov to assume debts incurred by various states in fighting Rev,
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TS 138-163 - Was Alexander Hamilton an Economic Genius? The...

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