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tv   Alexander Hamiltons Economic Plan  CSPAN  April 9, 2021 9:05am-9:57am EDT

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c-span's long-running series "book notes" is back as a podcast. hear compelling interviews with authors and historians, new episodes are available every tuesday. this week on the inaugural episode of book notes plus, find out which u.s. presidents were caught in context scandals. eleanor herman joins us to discuss her book. get information about all the c-span podcasts at c-span.org/podcasts. selected by president george washington in 1789, alexander hamilton served as the first secretary of the treasury until january 1795.
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up next on american history tv, historian and author william hogeland talks about alexander hamilton's financial ideas. this discussion is about 50 minutes. >> while the museum -- the gallery of the museum is closed because of a flood we sustained, our robust programming continues as evidenced by today. and our author who is speaking is william hogeland. he's written multiple books on early u.s. history, including "autumn of the black snake," "declaration" and "founding finance." he's a contributor to a recent publication, "historians on hamilton." he's penned many articles and essays that you can read in places like the atlantic monthly, the "new york times,"
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"boston review," ""huffington post"." you can find the magazine at moaf.org for museum of american finance. it should be no surprise that the topic of william's next book is alexander hamilton. it's my pleasure to introduce him, william hogeland. [ applause ] >> thanks a lot. i know the acoustics in here boom a little bit. can everyone hear me? 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. my first talk on alexander hamilton and other related issues was sponsored by the museum.
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for my first book, that was back in 2006. so it's a -- i think some of you already know that my -- it's celebrate hamilton time right now and celebrate is not exactly what i do, generally speaking. you 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 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 some of my approaches. here we are in the federal building and here we are on wall street. we 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
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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. i feel like a lot of people duelled. i think you know that. some of you have looked into this. i think you've read about it, hopefully, in "affairs of honor" you can find out a lot about the dueling culture and a lot of people have family relationships and up brings and all of the things that people have. i'm 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'm looking very specifically
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at what i would call -- 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 1795. you could date it a little differently. i'm just going to pick that period and say something happened there where, of course, with all of the things that went into his life before he arrived in the continental congress, he 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 that 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 also the nuts and bolts on a level that literally, i think, no one else saw how to bring those dreams about. and then there are the lengths
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that 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 "a," and, "b," how we think about money and government today are what ere really fascinate me about hamilton. for me, it's almost like he gets born in 1782. the phenomenon that i'm talking about, the creative force that 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 is, 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.
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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, of course, as secretary of the treasury, first ever secretary of the treasury. there have been a lot of biographies of hamilton, and yet they do get left out because people -- i mean, not here. museum of american finance, 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 would say, you know, the financial -- he would 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 buzzer goes off when i happen to say the word. no, it's not finance.
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to hamilton, of course, he would use the word, but no, 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 dominance. making the nation into america, the empire. that's a word he would use. so would many of his contemporaries in this area. making it into the great thing that he envisioned very early that it could be. so when you say economic nation, to him, you know, that's the nation. that's the nation in a lot of ways. 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 in all the other things about his life. i called it for the purposes of
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this talk, anyway, something we could describe as the hamilton scheme. the hamilton scheme. i think i have water somewhere. yes, i do. scheme is obviously a loaded term. it can mean a plan, any kind of plot of something, es we also use it to mean a scheme, he's scheming in the back room. my nefarious plans. when we talk about amount, we have to talk about that he did have a major plan. to build a country that could do the dynamic, explosive things he wanted to see it do. of course, there were other people who saw it as a scheme of corruption, a scheme designed to destroy democracy.
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and so the various uses of the word scheme, i throw in here just because i think in this very room, no doubt. if you go around talking to other people outside this room about hamilton, you will 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 to tell you about today, how the scheme worked and we can think -- you can all think about. you all probably have before. what kind of scheme you think it is. i think when i set up the invitation to this talk and the description about what i was going to be doing, i promised an efficient 45-minute trip through every single thing you would need to know about the hamilton scheme. i now realized as i began to approach this talk that that was a slight exaggeration or more like, maybe a bold-faced lie, because there's no way in the time that we have here today to
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go do a deep dive on any one of these topics. what i am going to do now that i've lured you in here with my sales pitch, i'm going to give you a superficial jumping, glancing sense of what the various topics are. on any one of them, you know, at other times, maybe, we could do a deeper dive and look more closely at how it all worked and then i can back up some of the things i'm saying instead of just saying them, which is really what i'm going to do today. so realize that the sales pitch was a sales pitch and that 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 is that since he became treasury secretary under washington and put his scheme in effect in the first half of the 1790s, i'm going to focus much more on the 1780 ts because that's when he developed the scheme and that's
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when the issues that drove him and the opposition to it also began to form. and this tension that we still have today in our society about money and government began to form. so while there's a lot to say about what he did in the 1790s, to get at what he was really trying to do in the 1790s, you actually have to go back to his first efforts in politics in the 1780s, i think, and see him develop it and figure out what really should be going on, if he could ever get himself into power and into a position to bring it about. somewhat, surprisingly, maybe, i will be focusing largely on what he did in the 1780s to develop the scheme. so in -- he comes to the continental congress right after his service in the war, the revolutionary war, the war of independence, and, again, here is something i don't really talk too much about, yorktown. everyone knows about it now. and the redoubt and the defense of the redoubt.
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to me, that's all pre -- now he comes to do what he's really going to do that other people couldn't do and didn't do. he comes to the continental congress which at that time was meeting again in philadelphia. interesting because the war is coming -- 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, what we might think, oh, and out of this, great victory, comes this fantastic building of nationhood. the country is going to emerge from independence fully unified, ready to take on the world. what's actually happening as he arrives at the continental congress, the country is about to fall apart. what's holding this country together, these various states, these various entities, they're confederated. they're not a nation. what's holding them together is
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this war, has been this war, what the unity of the country is really around this war so what hamilton sees when he comes to congress is it's all about to crash and burn and there's such incredible potential to do something different, to actually pull it all together and create an amazing new phenomenon, a growing, expanding imperial phenomenon. that's an outlandish thing to envision, actually, for a 20-something-year-old man arriving with his elders and superiors. 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 that is -- while it's known, i believe, at the museum of american finance, is not actually widely known by people who see the show or read many of the bios. morris is a problematic character for a lot of reasons. he becomes hamilton's most
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important mentor in this area i'm interested in. 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. while he was the financier of the revolution, spending his own vast wealth on financing, the revolution some people say also financed him. he didn't have any problem with mingling private and public funds. he was a shipper, a merchant and probably the richest man in america. causally 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 and to whom hamilton gravitated. they're looking at the issue on how to keep the country together. and what we're really talking
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about here is how to keep the country together as a political force but the way they saw it, and this was the genius, the way they saw that had to do with keeping the country together as a kind of -- 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 -- it's an incredible complicated topic and when i've studied it, like smoke comes out of my ears as i try to get a handle on all the aspects of this debt. the country needed money to fight the war. the part of that 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. remember, there was no tax on that at the time. that's a nice rate of return.
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and that was what was supposed to finance the war and this was an interstate investing class, an internet lending class. these were the merchants, people with actual money, gold and silver, or the equivalent in their possession. so the war debt -- 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 far as the people who envision a future for the country. because you have all the richest people in the country -- or many of them -- invested in this, 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 and he had to wrestle with this and try to
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get it paid off because they had run up all this money. that is exactly the opposite of what happened in the 1780s. he's also famous for funding the debt and assuming in that debt the federal obligation all of the state debts. funding assumption. everybody knows that. funding a debt and paying off a debt are not the same thing. they're actually in some ways opposites. we know this when we make payments on our credit cards. so this is a funny thing that's happened to hamilton's legacy. it's not just that most people don't get it or whatever, i'll read you something very quickly from the worldwide web, the internet. if you 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
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netherlands to pay for the true. that's true. but that's where it stops on the war debt. the foreign debt is not the critically important part of the debt. the domestic debt to the rich americans i was talking about is what drives the -- all the issues we still deal with today. it was substantially larger in numbers and overwhelming more important. but the fact that some website gets this wrong should not surprise anybody, right? except that this website is called treasury direct kids. it's supposed to educate kids about the debt and fiscal matters. it's the bureau of the fiscal service which is part of the u.s. treasury which is the department that hamilton founded. it's describing his approach to debt in wrong terms. what fascinated him, what got him up in the morning was to us might sound boring, public debt, was a thrilling opportunity and it was the domestic debt, that means the debt to rich americans, that was the driver
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of everything i've been trying to talk about. it's really kind of amazing. here's some liberal scholars writing a piece about something unrelated but they're trying to fill you in on the background to hamilton and debt. and they say the most pressing issue was what to do about the new nation's debt. both the continental congress and the individual states had accumulated massive debts during the revolutionary war. close to $80 million. an enormous amount in those days. true. hamilton now secretary of the treasury wanted the new federal government to assume the state's debts, yeah, and pay them back in full. that's not funding, no. he wanted to keep it going for the obvious reason that you have all of the richest people in the country invested in the country. he came into office, oh, my god, we've run up so much debt, we got to pay it off, i don't know where that comes from. if he heard we were saying things like that, wow, all these years later and they still don't get the brilliance of what i was
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trying to bring about. 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 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 manner an entire program based on this very idea. that's weird. now the risk to all this visionary stuff that he and morris are working on, a central bank, federal bonds, getting the state debts 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 meeting of -- supposedly they think they're
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sovereign entities. they're not going to make good on these bonds. they might just ignore them or cancel the debt. this is -- peace is definitely a problem. to the extent that robert morris' assistant wrote a letter to general washington asking him if he could keep the war going a little longer so we could continue the unity of the country a little longer around this debt, the idea frequently with robert morris is when he was able to get requisitions and get money, pay the bondholders. it was about paying the soldiers and the troops. pay the bondholders. and this might sound somewhat familiar. if you don't pay the bondholders, if you force the bondholders to take too big of a haircut, anarchy will prevail, stability will falter. first you pay the bondholders. that's how you keep things together. this idea isn't new. the idea was to get a tax going, a national tax, there was no
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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 on imported goods. and morris told hamilton and others, this impost is just the beginning. if we can get them to do that, we can have other kinds of domestic taxes as well. this is the vision for forming nationhood. 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 an american unified nation. but to morris and hamilton, brilliantly enough, that's what they thought would gather up all of this economic force, all of this wealth, all of this power and make it grow and become dynamic. so let's see now. that's a really skeletal idea of the things they began to develop in the 1780s which hamilton in a
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far more nuanced way, i believe than morris ever could have, probably, put into effect in the 1790s. i'm going to check the watch to see how we're doing and what else we can talk about here about how this went and sip some water while i cogitate. in 1783 -- this is hamilton, to my mind. of course, i see him being born in 1782, which is my conceit about this whole thing. his first formative political action on the countrywide stage was to involve himself in a conspiracy, maybe that's ten dennous, to threaten the continental congress, threaten the states with a military coup in order to bring about the very
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scheme i've just described. and this came -- this was fortuitous 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 the effect of creating this interstate unification of the country around the bonds. they seize on this opportunity that's presented by the angry officer class to suggest to the officer class that they should also become bondholders. 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, now you have the strongest lobby -- literally strongest -- that there is because now you have an armed force behind this. this was a very dangerous thing to try to do as washington told
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hamilton a little later. 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 audacity, the incredible fearlessness, the incredible ability to take risks with his future reputation, maybe even with his life. his relationships -- now we'll go to his relationships for a second. his relationship with his father-in-law, if this had come to light in the way that it could have, think of the incredible high wire act this was and hamilton goes so far as to try to get washington involved and try to get him to lead this effort. washington demurs and yet fascinatingly when this whole thing -- what happened is, by the way, people say the newburgh crisis was a failure. the system continued, the army
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happily continued under civilian command. all of that was good. but really what happened partly also was that the officer class did get added to the bond-holding class. that was the compromise in the end. and washington supported that. now you have the other component of the scheme, which is you have the armed forces -- the officer class of the armed forces involved in this very same economic dynamic relationship. so you can see the newberg conspiracy is a failure. but in terms of bringing forth the hamilton scheme, you can see it as a success. coming out of the newberg conspiracy, he sets the table in a way for what he's going to do in the 1790s. he has a new relationship with george washington and you might think because washington counseled hamilton, you would think that washington had thought, well, this hamilton is crazy. i got to stay away from him. actually, their correspondence
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is just a fascinating study in the dynamics of their always-fascinating tense, but also all-important relationship. they actually get closer after the newberg conspiracy and washington makes it clear to hamilton that he is 100% in favor of being sure that the country is put in a position -- this is, again, leading toward nationhood, nationalism, they're in a position to pay the public creditors by which he means those same bondholders that we're talking about. this was a vision that washington shared. so coming out of newberg we have this sort of picture of the hamilton scheme. the concentration and growth of american wealth in a federal -- in a bonded government debt to the rich, an obligation to the rich, all in federal rather than state hands, which is what they were trying to do. it was hard and they weren't -- they felt they weren't getting anywhere sometimes. an interstate mutual obligation to align with the interests of the rich, the interest in the sense of interest payments on the bonds but also the financial
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interests in general and the social interests. and now you've got the -- if it's a puzzle you're trying to put together in this system and make it perfect or complete, is what perfect would have meant. you have the final click piece is like the concentration of military power in this same bonded debt. so this combines wealth with government, with force, actual literally force. and this leads sort of to the idea of tax collection, kind of pulling the country together and actually tax enforcement, pulling the country together. and there you have kind of the basis, i would say, 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.
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when i say the whole thing, i mean the american revolution, the war of independence. i mean what's about to happen which is the forming of the nation itself as a mechanism for enriching the rich at the expense of the poor. and the ordinary. you could see how some people might take that position given everything i've just described. hamilton had enemies. and i think you know that he had enemies because we know about the division in american culture that we're told is sort of the fundamental division which is jefferson versus hamilton basically or jefferson and madison versus hamilton. but in the final few minutes that i'm going to be able to talk, i want to tell you -- i just want to complicate that story a little bit. there are other enemies that come first. if we're still talking about the 1780s, jefferson and hamilton were not enemies in the 1780s. they really didn't have anything to do with each other. jefferson comes into the cabinet and hamilton comes into the
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cabinet and they're going to work together in the 1790s. they didn't know they were -- you meet people in a new job. you're like, hi, nice to meet you. excited to work with you, help the ball team, blah, blah, then you realize this person is like my enemy and you begin to realize this person is going to ruin everything. none of that happened yesterday. madison is a more effective enemy in the legislature, madison and hamilton were close allies in everything i've just told you about except maybe the newberg thing. i'm pretty sure madison was not in on that part. but madison was very committed to all of the things we've just talked about. they were the two kind of young hot shot lawyers in the continental congress pouring over the articles of the confederation to find ways to spread the federal power. only later did the differences between hamilton and madison become so overwhelming. the enemies that hamilton had in
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the 1780s are a group of people whose names are not superwell known, but they represent a movement, a populist movement which had its own ideas about finance, if i may use that word, about money, about american wealth, about accountability to the people and they then the themselves, the ordinary people. these are people frequently without the vote because, of course, you had to have proper to have the vote and to run for office you had to have even more property. they wanted the vote. they wanted the vote for white men, i'm talking about. but they wanted the vote for white men without property. they didn't want to have the property qualification. what they wanted to do was to break up things like government monopolies, fix prices, stop the foreclosures, enable small-scale credit for ordinary people, in that sense, build their own financial system in a more democratic way.
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without the vote, they rioted, they rescued people from debtor's prison, they did all kinds of illegal things. and so we get this torches and pitch forks idea of the mob at the time. and they tore down people's houses. there was violence involved in this. along with the torches and pitch fork image, they wrote resolutions, petitions, organized and said what they wanted. they said what they wanted. and what they wanted, actually, was democracy and of course this is anathema to the founding generation of people. if you think about what that really meant at the time, what the populists wanted to do was break the connection between property and participation, citizenship in that sense, not -- people were considered citizens even if they couldn't vote. they wanted to break the property connection between property and rights. property and liberty. that is an ancient connection as
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far as the famous founders are concerned and breaking it is sort of like a horror show. then you have -- you have mob rule, anarchy. these people's names are not names that have gone down in history the way the names of the famous founders are. but i'm going to tell you some of them anyway just to get them on the record right here for this moment. thomas young, a doctor and a professional activist, troublemaker. james cannon, a math teacher, christopher marshall, a pharmacist, william finley, a weaver who became a lawyer and ended up interesting the pennsylvania assembly, robert whitehill, and herbert husband who had a vision of an american society, we wanted to end slavery, stop stealing indian land. he started writing about this in the 1760s and 1770s, he believed in progressive taxation. he believed there should be some
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form of taking care of people when they get too hold to work, which we might call social security. he wanted government credit programs, full employment, and the end to die that'sic wealth, regulation of the power of wealth. the thing about husband, i would like to get this on the record too, he was not alone among the populists of the day, he didn't -- he saw these things like literally he had the kind of mind like, say, maybe a saint joan or something like that where he actually saw those things, he had actual visions. he saw them. he spent his like on the book of daniel. so the populists were not in our terms necessarily -- they were not all modern, secular, rational scientific liberal types. there's a certain ill liberalism about some of their visions. ill liberalism like say you
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might find in some of the abolitionist movements. we did a study and we find that it's much more effective if you don't have slavery. no, it's a high moral calling from a vision that -- a vision that might seem outside the enlightenment vision that i would say hamilton represents among others. so there's an opposition for you, and, of course, we won't have time to get to the jefferson/madison opposition. but i want to get this other piece in to complicate what was going on there with the hamilton scheme coming on strong, about to get put into place, about to become in the constitution, about to become the secretary of the treasury and this opposition is the white working class of the day. in an interesting scope between socialistic ideas and kind of small capitalist ideas in desire opposition to that. and that's what sets off a lot of the explosions that i believe to end this on this note, so we
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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. [ applause ] thanks a lot. as we're about to do the q&a let me say one more thing. i want to thank the museum of american finance for its multitime tolerance of my excentric and uproarious approach to the whole hamilton problem, and the alexander hamilton awareness society. i don't know if you guys are still speaking to me out there. thank you very much for your liberal approach to these kind of dissenting views. [ applause ] >> i have a proposal for -- nancy, i run an american system
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now 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 credit. and i suggest that that gives a higher concept to the kind of machinations he was carrying out because the purpose of the credit of wedding the financial class to the government was to development the country. 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 the broadway in support of the constitution because it was going to build the country. that's what i would suggest. >> yeah, i think credit is a better woshd. i'm not sure it's going to sell copies of my book, necessarily, but i agree that it's the more accurate term, possibly. >> was hamilton a bondholder
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himself? >> this is a really -- i'm glad this came up, actually. people spent a lot of time, jefferson and madison -- sorry. yeah, was hamilton himself a bondholder which i think raises the question about personal corruption, right? i would like to make this clear, i think it's really interesting that while he young out with a lot of the people who would very directly benefit -- in fact, he wanted to hang out with them, he wanted to encourage them and make things better for them. that's how he thought, that's how he was building the country. people spent a lot of time, jefferson, madison, others, trying to prove that hamilton was personally corrupt, that he was personally skimming and benefit from his own projects. i think it's so fascinating that they totally failed to prove that and i think they failed to prove it because his vision was -- like robert morris was skimming and he didn't think there was anything wrong with it. i don't know if he hasn't. i don't know if we would be here right now.
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he was skimming for sure. he didn't think of it as skimming. hamilton has a much more vaulting vision. we hantd to author an empire. he wasn't looking to get a few bucks on the side. so i'm glad that came up because i -- i think when people accused him of corruption, they should -- if they wanted to accuse him of corruption, they should have been railing the system, not his personal interest. yes. this gentleman is carrying a microphone. there's another microphone, and then you, sir. >> thank you for your lovely talk. i went to st. croix to get some insight into his early formative years. i have the greatest esteem for him. so i wondered if you could give us more information on the development of his character being born out of wedlock, he was denied access to christian education -- >> where is michael? i can't give you -- i can't --
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partly because as i was saying, that aspect of his -- there he is. michael, that man in the back, he's got his hand up briefly, he can tell you everything i would say there is to know about that. and he's working on that now. i guess as i was saying, my interest just doesn't lie in the back story. i talked about his relationship with washington for a second, i could do a long, deep dive on that. 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, it's just that, you know, again, like -- i'm interested in my father issues. if i knew some of you better, i would be interested in yours. but everybody's got them. i'm always looking for the things about him that make him different. but there are obviously whole other ways to look at this, and michael has a lot of that information.
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the microphone has been handed away and i don't think we can hear you. >> how did the revolutionary war soldiers, the enlisted people, fair under this scheme? i understand that the officers became bondholders. how did the revolutionary war enlisted soldiers, how did they fair? >> there's a long complicated answer to that which i can't go into right now. i'll make a short answer which is that they did -- at least in their opinion, they did not fair very well. they were not made gentlemen. many, many, many of them went home unpaid in the end. and so they began to get a sense, whether you will agree with them or not, that this whole long seven years of war had been nothing for them and only for enriching the class of people who were already rich who they already knew as their local creditors who they were already indebted to at rates we would now consider userous and were
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foreclosing their problems and so forth. so you can see how this conflict would develop. is the microphone -- anyone else? there's one over there. >> hi, we all passed on the way in this 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 which is a roman symbol for strength and unify, the root word of fascist. it's not useful to call hamilton a fascist, is what you're talking about, is it not on the spectrum, so to speak? >> yeah, 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.
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also, it's not an 18th century term. i think -- i've seen arguments where people are saying exactly what you're saying. it's on the spectrum. if you're trying to enrich the richest "x" 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 that it's not really useful partly because whether it -- categorizing is not really what i try to do when i'm writing books about this stuff or talking about it. i think it kind of throws a damper on -- what i try to do is make it for my own interpretation, my own engagement with the material, i try to make it feel like it's coming alive because that term wouldn't have existed and it has so many connotations that are just so obviously -- for obvious reasons damning. how excited was hamilton when he saw the opportunities?
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and so other people can do that, and other people can decide -- can have these debates and analyses. this may be ironic because i'm taking you to places that are, of course, quite critical. it's not because i'm scared like me or will be angry. i have been accused of that, i think. no, i'm not scared to use it. i just don't think it helps bring anything to life. but i do think it's a good line of thought and worth pursuing. you know, so thanks for bringing it up. again, the mike -- i have to watch the microphone. i can't just call on people. i'm watching. i'm watching. this gentleman. okay. >> is this working? >> yes. it is now. >> okay. i think i don't understand something, because what you just explained, i don't know why the hamilton awareness group would
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hate you for that. like what is bad about this? >> i don't think they hate me. >> or am i just a hopeless capitalist? >> you may be. i was just kidding when i said i don't know if they are speaking to me after this. my take on hamilton is obviously critical. and so there's nothing necessarily bad about it. but some people -- i mean, this is what's so interesting. i wrote "the whiskey rebellion." it was my first book, and hamilton plays a major role. it comes out of everything i talked about that i didn't have time to talk about today. people read that, they said to me, i finished that 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. you might not subscribe to his vision for the country. a lot of people then didn't. but, you know, i don't hate him. but i do think sometimes that major enthusiasts do not -- i'm
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not saying this about the a-ha people at all, because here i am, under them, i'm happy to say. but i would also say that -- i do think some of the big enthusiasts at the moment are touchy when you bring up some of the nuts and bolts realities of how this stuff actually worked or any way seemed to work to those who did everything they could to stop it. but, no, i don't think it's necessarily bad. i just think some people think it is. one more. >> not all of us hate you, by the way. >> no, i'm not saying anybody here hates me. >> that was a joke. when you talk about -- when you talk about hamilton and his affect on the economy and dichotomy between the soldiers and upper classes, hamilton
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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 in other pro-business things that deal with the federalist society and going back to the original intent of the constitution. and you have written about that quite a bit. what do you think -- i don't know if you want to talk that much about it. you mentioned it. >> how long do we have here? 30 seconds for that one? here is what i want to say about that. i'm not going to delve into the whole corporations people thing. i will say in federalist '78, beloved by many as a great defense of the independence of the judiciary, he makes explicit his belief that one of the things an independent judiciary can do is sort of slap down more
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democratic fiscal type of legislation. since you bring up the supreme court, and since we are 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 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 to ratify the constitution. would you say we're wrapped up? all right. thank you again. thanks to everyone who sponsored this and you all for coming out. thanks a lot. [ applause ] weeknights this month we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available on cspan3. tonight we look at the cherokee nation in the 1830s, under president andrew jackson, the
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cherokees were removed from their lands in what became known as the trail of tears. oklahoma university law professor lindsey robertson discusses the issues by the supreme court in cases involving the cherokee nation, especially the role of chief justice john marshall. watch tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern and enjoy american history tv every weekend on cspan3. american history tv on cspan3. every weekend documenting america's story, funding for american history tv comes from these companies who support cspan3 as a public service. cspan shop.org is the new store, go there to order a copy of the congressional directory,
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a book with contact information for every member of congress. also contact information for state governors and the biden administration cabinet. order yours at cspanshop.org. next on "history bookshelf" former secretary of state condoleezza rice talks about her memoir "no higher honor." she turned from 2005 to 2009 during the george w. bush administration. in this event in 2011 she was interviewed by university of miami president donna shalala and also responded to questions submitted by students. >> thank you. >> madam secretary, welcome. how long have i been inviting you here? >> a few years. a few years.
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