McDaniel: Jefferson vs. Hamilton – The Future of Our Republic


Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton were both active in the Revolutionary effort and in the founding of the United States. Later they served under President George Washington, with Jefferson becoming the first Secretary of State and Hamilton as the first Secretary of the Treasury.
But from the republic’s inception, the two harbored opposing visions of the how the young country should mature.
A significant disagreement centered around the manner in which they viewed and applied the role of government. Hamilton distrusted the people, believing that popular will was flawed and that the federal government should, therefore, wield considerable power. Jefferson, however, had a skeptical view of centralized authority and placed his trust in the people to self-govern their own affairs. One feared anarchy and obsessed over components of order; the other feared tyranny and fought for a continuing expansion of liberty.
Both, of course, were patriots and necessary to the American experiment. Their philosophical disagreements resulted in the very first political parties of the Western world.
Particularly as to the role of government in a free society, the people have been divided between their contrasting visions. It is an intellectual debate that continues today.
American history is replete with accepted rules on how our social compact should function. Generally speaking, the people of our republic have always been independent and self-reliant. Whether realizing manifest destiny or defending our unalienable God given rights, there has always been a touch of nonconformity and rebellious independence in the American spirit.
With painful lessons of revolution from Great Britain recollecting the abuses of monarchy, our founding fathers recognized the hazards of unlimited government. So they purposely fashioned a Constitution limiting the federal government’s authority to only delegated areas, dispersing public authority among three branches of government and the respective states in the hope that each would resist unconstitutional aggression by

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