Alexander Hamilton: Centralist and Nationalist
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The September 11, 2001, terror attacks shocked the world, leaving ramifications still felt nineteen years later. Few are familiar with the Republic’s first 9/11 tragedy, September 11, 1789, the day Alexander Hamilton was appointed secretary of the Treasury.
Hamilton is glorified as a hero in popular culture, even the subject of a hit Broadway musical bearing his name. He’s the darling of both mainstream progressives and conservatives—usually a telltale sign that someone is one of the worst of the worst. Part of the adoration for Hamilton comes from his rags-to-riches story. Born fatherless in the Caribbean and soon orphaned, it can’t be denied that getting an education in New York, serving as General Washington’s chief aide, and becoming a leading political figure is an impressive turn of events. Progressives love pointing to Hamilton for their “nation of immigrants” narrative, which doesn’t make sense since Hamilton was born in the British Empire. Hamilton, the übernationalist, is also cited by the neocons as their missing link from the founding to their “one nation” and “America as a propositional nation” mythologies. Getting beyond the romanticization, Hamilton’s agenda set the table to give the federal government the tools to erode liberty over the next 230 years.
Hamilton has, perhaps, done more damage to the United States than any other American figure, even Woodrow Wilson and Abraham Lincoln, two more beloved icons of the mainstream. Hamilton was an opportunist, liar, and duplicitous. His vision paved the way to create a nearly unlimited central authority with no checks on its power, contrary to the principles of limited and self-government that many believed they had put in place for the new republic in 1788.
The Bait and Switch
Hamilton knew how to play the crowd. When it was time to ratify the Constitution, the republican Antifederalists feared a strong, central authority. He assured them only the powers expressly delegated to the federal government would be the ones it would have. The second the Constitution was in effect, Hamilton flipped the script.
One such example is in Federalist essay no. 21, Hamilton said that tar
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