Sample American Heritage Paper on Jefferson & Hamilton

Jefferson & Hamilton


This paper will analyze the differences between Jefferson and Hamilton, on the different issues that the two leaders failed to agree on. Alexander Hamilton was born in 1755 in the British West Indies. He was one of the most influential people in the history of the United States of America. Hamilton lost his parents when he was young, but his good writing skills helped him get a good education that allowed him to further his career. His writing skills helped him get a job with President Washington. After he was through with his studies, he married into a rich family, which helped him get funds to enter into the world of politics by running for a delegate position to the Constitutional convention. Hamilton held the belief that most people in the society are selfish and they are not afraid or ashamed of trampling on others on their way to the top trying to get wealth and influence at the expense of others. Individuals that held this belief were classified as federalists. The federalists felt that such kind of selfishness could only lead to disarray in government and in the society.

Thomas Jefferson was born in 1743 and he is the one who wrote the Declaration of Independence and at one time served as a US President (1801 – 1809). Jefferson came from a prominent family in the state of Virginia and he was always criticized because his father’s plantation, which he inherited after his father’s death, was a plantation that owned slaves. Hamilton and Jefferson came up against each other based on their political positions. Hamilton represented the Federalists while Jefferson represented the Republicans. The Federalists were popular with manufacturing and trading organizations, which they felt, would take the country’s economy to a higher level. They advocated for a system of government that would follow that of England since it was a successful model that had worked well so far. Hamilton advocated for the setting up of a national central bank that would control minting and come up with public policy. He also advocated for the setting up of tariffs to be given to institutions that wanted to start out new companies so as to encourage as many industries to come up, create employment and grow the economy.

Their upbringing probably affected their beliefs and it was reflected in the principles and type of government that they proposed for the country. While Jefferson felt that the layman could be entrusted with power and could be allowed the benefit of choice to make important decisions, Hamilton disagreed. Hamilton felt that common American nationals could not be trusted to make the right decisions for themselves. Hamilton felt that the ruling of the nation should be left to the elite and educated such as bankers. This is one of the reasons why Hamilton proposed that the voting standards for Americans should be raised so as to exclude illiterate people. Jefferson opposed this idea and he wanted the voting standards and requirements to be lowered so that everyone could participate in the voting process. Since he felt that some people made bad decisions that had a negative effect on the rest of the society, Hamilton felt that there are cases where speech should be regulated. Jefferson opposed this idea and felt that speech should be made free and restricting it would promote impunity.

On the Constitution, Jefferson felt that the constitution’s interpretation should be literal since it was a direct expression of what the government wanted and expected of its people. On the same issue, Hamilton felt that implied authority would be sufficient to administer the government’s wishes and the interpretation of the Constitution did not have to be taken literally.

While Hamilton felt that the government should have the supreme authority over the states, Jefferson felt that the different states should have more power and authority to govern themselves. Jefferson’s view was influenced by his beliefs in self-sufficiency, which had been witnessed in the south in the big farms.

Hamilton believed that more money should be invested in industries, which would serve to strengthen the country’s economy especially when benchmarked against other nations; at that moment, and in the future. Hamilton felt that the government should place a lot of focus and emphasis on a domestic debt so as to encourage individuals to invest in their economy. On the other hand, Jefferson felt that more support should be offered to farmers and for more states to engage in farming as a backbone for the country’s economy. Jefferson felt that the Americans should be enabled to be as self sufficient as possible. He felt that it was wrong for the government and banking policy to allow too much dependence by its people. Jefferson felt that the American government should have a good foreign policy in comparison to get a high domestic debt.

While Jefferson also felt that Hamilton’s vision of a rich industrial and commercial America was a good and achievable idea, he felt that most of the commercial traders, finance experts and bankers were only out to maximize on the effort that had been put in by the farmers and other laborers who were very hard working. Jefferson’s views were enforced by the situation in France where he had spent a considerable amount of time and even take part in the free trade negotiation process.

Jefferson did not like conflict, but he and Hamilton were always in disagreement with each other about an important American government issue. He persevered because he was the secretary of state, and Hamilton was in cabinet and they had to meet regularly since they both represented different sides of the cabinet.

Both Hamilton and Jefferson contributed to a better America through their recommendation on different areas, such as the Constitution, foreign policy, voting rights and the establishment of an American bank controlled by the government, and heavily contributing to fiscal policy. Between Jefferson and Hamilton’s ideas, there is no one individual’s ideas that were implemented. Both individuals’ ideas were used based on what was considered the best for the country at that time, and in the future.

I feel that Hamilton was more reasonable on his proposals. There was need to establish manufacturing firms and other industries that would help to diversify the economy. Although agriculture is an important income generator, sometimes the weather is not favorable and crops fail, or diseases and pests attack plants and animals. In such cases, it is important to have a variety of options that the country can still earn an income from.