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Hamiltons Crusade

Hamilton’s Crusade When the revolutionary war was over, the American colonists found themselves free of British control. Now that they were free, they wanted to create their own system of government where the tyranny and the arbitrariness of the British monarchy of old, would be diminished. Originally, The Articles of Confederation thinly united the thirteen states. This document had given the central government no power to do what was needed. The central government had no power to tax they only had the power to ask the states for money. They also had no money to pay for an army to settle domestic disputes or fight off invaders. These weaknesses and others in The Articles of Confederation caused the people to consider amending the Articles that would correct these wrongs and at the same time protecting the interests of the states.

So in 1787, the states sent delegates to a convention in Philadelphia to amend the Articles. It did not take long for the delegates to scrap the Articles and to start writing a new document, the Constitution. Even this new document created controversy. The American people were divided into two groups: the federalists, with Alexander Hamilton as the leader, and the anti-federalists or Jeffersonians because they were led by Thomas Jefferson. The federalists believed that the Constitution itself was good enough where as the Jeffersonians thought that it would not protect the rights of the people.

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But both however decided that the government should be based on the principles of federalism. The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution, to help the ratification of it and to insure the rights of the people. The Federalist, a series of papers, was written to get support of the Constitution in New York. These papers were written under the pseudonym, Publius. The papers were actually written by three men: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. Hamilton was the leader of these three for he had written 51 of the 85 The Federalist papers. Through their efforts the New York legislature ratified the Constitution. Even after the Constitution was ratified, the two factions remained divided for several reasons.

One reason was the creation of a national bank. Hamilton was very supportive of a national bank and Jefferson was against the idea of a national bank. The descendants of these first two factions are seen today in the Democrats and the Republicans. Alexander Hamilton accomplished many great things for the United States including: calling for a stronger central government, setting up a national bank and a plan for economic growth and inadvertently starting the two-party system. Alexander Hamilton the Revolutionary and the Pater Familias Alexander Hamilton was born on January 11, 1755 (or 1757 according to Hamilton) on the West Indies Island of Nevis in the town Charleston. He was born out of wedlock to Rachel Faucitt Lavien and James Hamilton, who would later abandon the family in 1765. A local clergyman, Reverend Hugh Knox, raised funds to send Alexander away to school in 1773.

He entered Kings College (Columbia University) in 1774. At the age of 19 he wrote a pamphlet, A Full Vindication of the Measures of Congress. This was in response to a Torys pamphlet that called the Continental Congress “..a parcel of upstart lawless Committee-men.”1 Alexander defended in his pamphlet that the Congress was “ august body of men famed for their patriotism and abilities.” In the Revolutionary War, he distinguished himself in the eyes of General Washington, and in 1777, Washington asked him to be one of his six aide-de-camps (secretaries) with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Hamiltons main job was to, as Washington said, “..think for me, as well as execute orders.” He rode beside Washington in the battles at Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth. Alexander married Elizabeth Schuyler in 1780, with whom he had eight children. Hamilton had just wanted to lead a simple life and care for his family or in his words “..retire a simple citizen and good pater familias (father of the family.)” Sometimes Alexander Hamilton would have a hard time in accomplishing this, as he was always away from home fighting for a new cause.

Alexander Hamilton the Lawyer Alexander turned to law at the end of the war to support his new family. The New York Supreme Court passed an order in January of 1782 saying that those who had to cease their studies because of the war did not have to have three years of clerkship. In October of 1782, he was admitted to the bar association. However, since he was a delegate to Congress, he did not start to practice law until November of 1783. At this time he moved his family into a house on Wall Street and opened up his first law office.

In the beginning the majority of cases that Hamilton represented were the ones in which he represented Tories. Hamilton represented Tories because they were experienced businessmen and had money. He believed that if they were to be driven off due to harsh laws, the nation could lose several hundred thousand dollars and their experience, which the young nation badly needed. In February of 1784, he wrote the charter for and became a founding member of the Bank of New York, the states first bank. This experience would later help Hamilton in setting up the nations first bank. The following year, he and his friend, John Jay, founded the Society for Promoting the Manumission (freeing) of Slaves.

The primary purpose of the society was to create a register of freed slaves to make sure that they were not deprived of their liberties. In 1786, the society petitioned the state legislature to put an end to the slave trade. Alexander Hamilton tried to stay out of public issues but this would not happen because of his stance on these issues. Alexander Hamilton at the Constitutional Convention In May of 1786 Alexander Hamilton was elected to the state assembly. He had been asked to run several times before, but the positions did not offer enough money he needed to support his growing family.

He was soon asked to be a delegate to the Annapolis Convention in Maryland. The convention was called to discuss interstate commerce only. The convention itself was viewed as a failure since only five states were there. Hamilton was determined not to leave the convention without accomplishing something. He was a leader to draft a proposal to have another convention in Philadelphia the following year.

He wanted to have the convention to have a broader agenda other than just interstate commerce. Hamilton said that the convention should “..devise such provisions as shall appear necessary to render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union.” The convention was significant to Hamilton in the respect that he was reunited with James Madison. Both were determined to fight for a strong federal government. Shays rebellion was a key factor in the states wanting to have the convention. Many people were still against the convention fearing that they might lose control. One of these people was George Clinton, governor of New York. The New York State assembly granted Hamilton the five man federally minded delegation that he wanted.

Clinton supporters in the senate decide on a three-man delegation: Alexander Hamilton, John Lansing and Robert Yates. Lansing and Yates were two of the biggest Clinton supporters around; the senate did this to keep Hamilton in check. The convention opened with three major propositions: the Virginia Plan, calling for a stronger federal government; the New Jersey Plan, asking to retain states sovereignty: and the Hamilton Plan, which was presented by Alexander Hamilton. He made this presentation in a five hour long speech on June 18, which was the longest of the convention. States practically lost all of their power under his plan.

He believed that the continuance of state governments would always hinder the federal governments progress. He had the idea of getting rid of the Articles totally since state sovereignty was deeply embedded in it. Hamilton wanted the convention to establish a new more powerful central government. He wanted the new government “.. with decisive power, in short with complete sovereignty.” Hamilton went on to say that the British system of government was the best in the world and he wanted Americas system of government to be patterned after the British. His legislative branch resembled the British parliament in many ways. Everybody would vote for the assembly and the rich could only vote for the Senate.

The Senate was modeled after the British House of Lords. For the executive branch, Hamilton proposed what was soon to be termed”an elected king”. Hamilton was against the idea of terms for the “Governor,” because he felt that the incumbent would spend his time in office creating a political machine to ensure his reelection instead of working full-time in his duties. To get rid of this, Hamilton proposed no set limits and that the executive should serve during good behavior. The judiciary would compose of a Supreme Court and such additional United States courts, as the legislature should decide to create.

Hamiltons basic plan of government looked like this: Two legislatures consisting of an assembly, directly elected by the people to a three-year term; and a senate, chosen by electors from senatorial districts to serve during good behavior. A judiciary consisting of twelve justices to serve during good behavior. The judiciary would have to be both original and appellate jurisdictions. An executive “Governor,” whose election is made by electors chosen by the people from the senatorial districts, to serve during good behavior. After his speech, many of …


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