I enjoyed a night of dinner, drinks, and heated discussion with two of America's founding fathers. I sat and listened to Alexander Hamilton argue his plan for a manufacturing society fueled by a strong national government. On the other hand, Thomas Jefferson defended states' rights and the preservation of agrarian life. Both men spoke passionately and proved in the end they were more alike than different. Government was our first topic of the night. Hamilton took center stage with a moving plea for a strong federal government.
Hamilton expressed a government ran by the elite, since they were not as easily swayed. He spoke of a government that would not be weak to invasion or internal conflicts. A nation without power leads to anarchy. The government should make laws with penalties (consequences) enforced by the military or courts.
One Government, One Power! He went on to say, when several states come together, like in the Articles of Confederation, the struggle for ultimate power becomes a major problem. He strongly believed that this problem would lead to failure. Before I could say Amen and Hallelujah, Jefferson had started his rebuttal. He didn't believe in emulating the British like Hamilton, especially after the Revolutionary War.
Each state should have its own power. He disagreed with leaving the elites in power even though he, himself, was an elite. Jefferson felt that the nation's interest would not be first priority compared to the interest of the elite's. Since, Jefferson was a strict constructionist, he believed the government could only enforce the Constitution, nothing more and nothing less.
It was clear to me. It would not be easy choosing a side. The Economy was next on my list of questions. Alexander Hamilton wanted to turn America into an industrialized society from an agricultural one. A society that would rival or even emulate that of Great Britain's. He was greatly influenced by a Scottish economist, who originally came up with the idea.
Achieving this goal would mean implementing tariffs. Funding of commercial and manufacturing growth would come not only from the government, but private investors too. Hamilton believed the economy would benefit tremendously by the added industry. His plan would allow for an increase in jobs and an increase in income for the growing population. Jefferson argued, America needed to preserve agrarian ideals. Being a Virginia planter native to America, unlike Alexander Hamilton, he valued a society based on agriculture.
His argument stressed free trade. He objected to trade with tariffs. Without the tariffs he felt costs to the consumer would stay down. Government funding of new manufacturing would strengthen the government's influence, and Jefferson would not hear of it. Jefferson embraced industry as long as it was used to advance agriculture.
There was no danger of people being exploited if the purpose for industry was to benefit agriculture. Hamilton and Jefferson believed strongly in their own dreams and defended them to the fullest, which in turn, made them very much alike. At the nights end, I felt a greater understanding for our nation today. Our nation, is what it is today because of their dreams. Hamilton's dream of a government that is involved in every aspect of life from making the laws to funding new enterprise, has become a reality. People having a say in how the government is ran would make Jefferson proud.
In a way, we the United States of America, are living their dreams.