Capitalism is born and the stage becomes set for an insidious contest among ordinary citizens to accumulate the trappings of material wealth, as a symbol of success and status for other ordinary citizens. Was it implemented simply to fulfill a numbers game? Or, does this system make the majority of people the most happy? You decide.
Discussed previously and summarized briefly here,
represented a class of citizens whose prosperity was derived from a farming
economy. As such, he objected
strenuously to Hamilton’s
plan, since it created an artificial
class of wealth with certain inherent privileges to certain of its benefactors,
which were not the privileges of all citizens.
As such, it clashed with and violated Jefferson’s
ideals, which were in direct conflict.
Specifically, in Jefferson’s opinion, Hamilton’s
system flowed from principles adverse to liberty, and was calculated to undermine and demolish the republic, by creating an influence of his department (i.e.: Treasury, within the executive branch) over members of the legislature (i.e.: Congress).
well knew, the “influence” to which Jefferson was referring, and which Hamilton’s banking system
created, was inherently susceptible to corruption, according to the laws of
human nature. In permitting some to hold
for life, some hereditary, an influence by patronage or corruption over the popular
legislative branch, the free election of the people would be reduced to a
minimum. The government would
consequently be narrowed into fewer hands and approximated to a hereditary
Economically, according to Jefferson,
Hamilton’s plan meant the
need for a paradigm shift to restore simple republican principles. In this context, a traditional, “real”
economy had to be restored, where a bushel of wheat was worth whatever a bushel
of wheat was worth at the particular time it was brought to market. This was opposed to a contrived, artificial,
futures trading economy of corrupt Wall Street money speculators that Hamilton’s plan created,
attracted and nurtured. Once unleashed,
the ominous, dark side of human nature was unfortunately showcased in full
And so here was President Washington’s dilemma in full view. In the end, the president endorsed
plan, based on a balancing of interests.
On the one hand, the idea was that the plan would do the greatest amount
of good for the greatest number of people (on the “happiness” scale!). On the other hand, the plan would invariably
cause collateral damage to the system, however small it would likely be
portrayed. Yes, in the end it was simply
a numbers game.
As early as July 4, 1792, in the time period immediately preceding
re-election to a second Presidential term, a proponent of Thomas Jefferson
published a provocative article. A set
of rules were set forth “‘for changing a limited republican government into an
unlimited hereditary one’, the most important of these being to increase the
national debt and establish a bank.”
However, by the time he had his turn as chief executive, and with the
popular support to do as he wished, Thomas Jefferson performed an interesting
about face. Although he viewed the
national bank as both an unnecessary and corruptive influence, he chose to
extend its charter, on the evolving theory, simply, that “the ends be
The stage had thus been set, and would be intensified later by the material progress of the Industrial Revolution, for the
to become the greatest and most wealthy goods producing machine in the
world. Well, one where wars
would no longer be fought, at least internally, over God, thanks to the 1st
Amendment’s expression of freedom of religion.
This was the positive aspect. We know the negative ramifications. And, consider this inevitable clash: When capitalism is intermingled with the principles of Jefferson’s separation of church and state, the new standard of worship for American society is no longer God, but money. Understanding this, is the US, in 2012, indeed "happy" with President Washington’s dilemma decision?