Sunday, November 25, 2012

The immigrant financiers who helped secure our Republic

That's the topic of this interesting article posted over at The American Conservative: Founding Financiers. As the author Michael Lind points out, the long-term sustainability of the United States was ensured, in no small part, to the work of the first Treasury secretaries -- Alexander Hamilton under George Washington and later Albert Gallitin under Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton worked to create a unified economic system for the young Republic, and Gallitin had the good sense not to capitulate to the ideological fervor of Jefferson who wanted to tear Hamilton's work asunder. Thanks to their combined efforts, the early United States had the stability and economic vitality necessary to begin the work of building the country and expanding its borders. And as Lind points out, both men were immigrants to this country -- men who came here because of the promise of opportunity that the United States offered.

And no, Alexander Hamilton never said that "a national debt is a blessing." His actual quote is as follows: "A national debt, if it is not excessive, will be to us a national blessing." You can't honestly lay the current debt-cursed state of American national finance at Hamilton's feet. Hamilton knew the benefits of a modest national debt -- but the out of control borrowing and spending that currently vexes our government is something alien to his thought. In his financing theory as in his politics for the most part, Hamilton was a champion of prudential reasoning.

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