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Hamilton vs. Jefferson
When the United States was just a young country, many opinions were heard on how to run the new
nation. Only a few people were actually listened to. Today we remember people like Alexander Hamilton
and Thomas Jefferson as people who set precedents we still follow today. These two men often disagreed
on most issues. They both had many good ideas and helped to pave the way for the United States to
become the world power that it is today.
The first president, George Washington, was an ally of Alexander Hamilton. Washington gave
Hamilton the position of Secretary of the Treasury, which was a very important position. Hamilton tried
many ideas to rid the nation of its debt. Jefferson and the Republicans rejected almost any plan or idea that
was brought up by Hamilton.
One of the biggest issues between Hamilton and Jefferson was the interpretation of the constitution.
Jefferson believed in the idea of strict constitution, meaning that the government can't do anything unless it
is in the constitution. Hamilton was for loose constitution, which meant that the government could do
anything necessary and proper to carry out other parts of the constitution.
Hamilton proposed a new bank, run by the government, which would produce other banks across the
country. This was meant to keep the current of commerce flowing and to keep business leaders happy.
Thomas Jefferson was the national bank's biggest opponent. He and other members of the Republican
Party did not want a country of cities, mines, and mills. They wanted to see farming prosper. Jeffersonians
argued that congress did not have the power to start a bank because that power was not given in the
constitution. Hamilton argued the opposite. He said that congress could start a bank because there was
nothing in the constitution which said they couldn't. Hamilton said that the bank was necessary for the
United States to carry out other parts of the constitution.
After all of the arguing over the national bank, Washington signed the bill. This started the United
States down the path of becoming a business oriented nation.
Hamilton and Jefferson usually disagreed on foreign affairs. Hamilton's party, the Federalists,
usually sided with Great Britain. Jefferson's party, the Republicans, tended to favor the French common
citizens and eventually influenced them to overthrow the French nobility.
The two men also disagreed on the lifestyles of the American people. Jefferson hated big cities like
New York. He thought that man was at his best working in the fields. He believed that problems like crime
would be too large in big cities. He wanted the United States to be a country of people who owned their
own land and were free. Hamilton believed that factories and cities would be much more beneficial to the
country than agriculture.
The differences between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton only grew after John Adams
was elected President in 1796. The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1998 were attempts by the Federalists to
maintain control. The Alien Act was meant to control immigrants by extending the time necessary to
become a citizen. This was because the federalists knew that most of the new citizens would join the
Republicans and would limit the Federalist power. The Sedition Act kept people from criticizing the
government by speech or in writing. This was also favored by the Federalist Party because it would limit
the voice of the common people. Jefferson fought these laws by helping to pass the Kentucky Resolutions,
which let the states rule whether or not a law is unconstitutional. Other acts by Jeffersonians contradicted
acts by the Hamiltonians and almost equalized their power.
Arguments like these continued until Jefferson was elected President. During Jefferson's campaign,
Hamilton actually said that Jefferson was "not such a bad guy after all." Even though Jefferson and
Hamilton argued over many issues, they still respected one another.
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Vice Presidents of the United States, Conservatism in the United States, The Federalist Papers, Thomas Jefferson, Randolph family of Virginia, Federalist Party, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Alien and Sedition Acts, Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, Jeffersonian democracy, Presidency of Thomas Jefferson
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