Jefferson and Hamilton: The Battle for the Federal Republic

Posted: September 1, 2009 by elutherian in Uncategorized

Jefferson HamiltonThe American Revolution is properly defined, not as a revolution, but as a War for Independence, a War for the right to Secede from Great Britain’s Empire. The principle of secession is echoed clearly in the rhetoric used by patriots such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Patrick Henry.

The Declaration itself was a proclamation of secession from the British Empire, and as adopted by the various colonies it states: “We, therefore, the representatives of the united states of America – – -solemnly publish and declare that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be fee and independent states – – -and as free and independent states they have the full power – – – to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.” This declaration of independence was for each and every state individually, and not as one nation.

The Treaty with Great Britain in 1794, made after the end of the war (Also known as the Jay Treaty, named for patriot John Jay), in which the Parliament and the Crown accepted the United States as sovereign, and allowed for free navigation, stated clearly that His Majesty would recognize the independent states (not nation) of America.

The Constitution‘s original preamble began with: “We the People of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Maine…” However, not only for the interest of brevity, but because of the impossibility of knowing which State’s would ratify the Constitution and which would not, the simple phrase “We the People of the United States” was adopted. It does not, however, say “We the people of America” or “We the people of the United States of America”.

The phrase “to form a more perfect union” does not refer to an already recognized Union that constituted a single nation, but rather could have been referring to a perfection of the Articles of Confederation, the loose relationships already held de facto between the sovereign states, or as opposed to the union held with Great Britain.

None of the founding documents (The Declaration of Independence, the Jay Treaty, the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers, or the Constitution) recognize any existence of a “Perpetual Union” or a single nation. Instead it is realized, by the founders in their own words, that the state’s are individual sovereign countries unto themselves, and that any compact between them is a voluntary confederation. The Federal Government created in the constitution was subservient to the States.

The tenth amendment is clear in stating: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
This is quite clear in it’s meaning. The States had voluntarily given delegated powers to a Federal body in order to do certain specified and limited duties, one of which is provide for the common defense.

Any State, at any time, could withdrawal from the contract, as it is entirely voluntary in nature. It is especially important to retain the right to secede from the political union between the states if the Federal Government breaks it’s end of the contract, becomes destructive to it’s ends, and threatens the sovereignty of the state and it’s people.

The principle upon which the United States originally seceded from Great Britain was that very sentiment written down by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

This is exactly the reasons by which we raised up arms against the British Empire to begin with. It was the very principle of our independence as a people, and one of the main values supported by liberty. The right to withdrawal from an association is as important as the right to enter into it. An association ceases to be voluntary and free, and becomes despotic and coercive, when the right to withdrawal is taken away.

Jefferson once said, in regard to our own voluntary union, and the system of Federalism set up to preserve freedom: If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated
where reason is left free to combat it.”

Jefferson’s mortal political enemy was Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson believed in the natural rights tradition of John Locke, Voltaire, and Thomas Paine. Hamilton believed in government bestowed rights and privileges. Jefferson believed that government should be small, limited, and feared. Hamilton believed government should be large, intrusive, and was beneficial to society. Jefferson fought for state sovereignty in the union, the right of nullification, and of secession. Hamilton believed in the single American Nation. Jefferson believed the Constitution was precise and specific. Hamilton believed the document to be vague and implied. Jefferson believed in unhindered free markets, social liberty, and private property. Hamilton believed in high tariffs/taxation, industrial subsidies, and a National Bank that would create a national debt and consolidate the Federal Government with the rich and business elites.

Hamilton was truly a man who betrayed the original intent of the American Revolution. He wanted a Federal Empire, and he wanted to run it. He only believed in American Independence, not for the reasons of Liberty, Justice, and Sovereignty (as Jefferson espoused), but so that a National Democracy could be set up for his, and his friends, special interests. Jefferson believed in the Constitutional Republic and confederation of states, a notion Hamilton abhorred.

It was Hamilton that pushed against the Anti-Federalists (led by Jefferson), and sided with Madison (who was a friend of Jefferson’s) to pass and ratify the Constitution during the convention. Hamilton swore he would use force if necessary in order to ensure every state ratified the document. This put fear in Jefferson’s heart. Of course a compromise was reached, and a Bill of Rights (against Hamilton’s wishes) was added by Jefferson to the newly adopted Constitution.

Hamilton, just as soon as his Federal Government was set in motion, took it by the reigns. Washington attempted to stay neutral, but Hamilton held sway over the vast majority of policies under his administration. The draconian reaction to put down the whiskey rebellion (so that Hamilton could receive his taxes) was all of his making, luckily Washington (a dignified statesman) refused to hang the rioters and instead pardoned them. Hamilton also set up the first National Bank, among other pet projects. If it wasn’t for his being born outside of the United States, he might have become President.

Jefferson, on the other hand, fought against Hamilton’s Federalist Party (the party of high tariffs, national banking, and corporate handouts), with his Democratic-Republican party. Eventually the will of the people was heard and the Jeffersonian camp won. Jefferson put the National Bank asunder, and lowered the tariffs (which were raised only to benefit northern industry at the expense of southern agrarians). The Democrat-Republicans held the majority in Washington for years (with Madison and Monroe among them), eventually destroying the Federalist Party and Alexander Hamilton.

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