Tea Party-Two Party

Celebrity Barfight: Hamilton v. Jefferson | February 13, 2010

Hamilton v. Jefferson

Showdown! Throwdown! A battle of epic proportions!

This feature was inspired by our beloved AP US History teacher, who often contemplates historical and not-so-historical throwdowns between some very interesting individuals. Thus, we present our first installment: Alexander Hamilton vs. Thomas Jefferson (or, as we like to call them, dear old Hammie and Jeff-o). As writers, we’re going to try to convince you why one might be better than the other.  Sorry about the length this time – we’ll cut it down in the future. As dear readers, you get to vote for which one gets a big, gaudy belt to tote around. Here goes!

FLORIN: Let’s start out with the fact that Hamilton never drove the US into an economic depression, unlike a certain someone who passed a certain Embargo Act of 1807 that basically said American merchant ships couldn’t go trade in foreign ports without presidential authorization. Then later, he “intelligently” said that no exports to foreign nations or trade in foreign ports was allowed. Brilliant idea right there, Jeff-o.  Contrastingly, Hamilton pretty much built the US economy. The U.S. Mint, the first national bank, and more efficient manufacturing standards were all his babies. Also, Jefferson is on the two-dollar bill. Not only is Hamilton worth five times more, no one even uses two-dollar bills. Leaving the money side of things alone, Hammie basically secured the ratification of the Constitution with his work on the Federalist Papers. Finally, he was a total gentleman, willing to put aside little differences with Jefferson to take on Aaron Burr (which, coincidentally, he did in an epic duel of epic proportions that sadly ended in Hammie’s untimely demise). It so happens that Jefferson was never really man enough to go and duel – clearly he would lose in a deathmatch. As the ultimate example of federalism, Hamilton built this country and built it well.  Guilder is going to try to convince you that he was a tyrant, but our first Secretary of the Treasury was a Founding Father who knew the direction that the US should take. Instead of a splintered nation of violently objecting states, a federal coalition was Hamilton’s greatest dream and achievement. We are unified because of him. What more can I say, except that Alexander Hamilton is the Sexiest Man on US Currency and Thomas Jefferson isn’t?

GUILDER: First off Florin, let’s cut the crap. Don’t try to use the fact that Hamilton set a historical precedent of epic failing in death matches to show that he would win a death match with someone who was 10x more of a BAMF than Aaron Burr.  Jefferson was the intellectual force behind the American Revolution. A true freedom fighter, Jefferson advocated violent rebellion every twenty years or so (“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”) Alexander Hamilton was a megalomaniac power-monger who would have crowned George Washington king if he had his way. And despite his authoring of the Federalist Papers, he was so extremely authoritarian that even James Madison, his former ally, turned against him, siding with Thomas Jefferson in George Washington’s presidency. It is only because of the work of Jefferson and his Anti-Federalist followers that we have today’s Bil protecting l of Rights, US citizens from an overreaching government that is nowhere near held back by the checks and balances of the Constitution to the extent preached by Hamilton. Not that he’d have a problem with the Patriot Act, or anything. Don’t even get me started on his enslavement of the states to burgeoning federal power, setting a precedent for the one-size-fits-all external style of government that dominates us today, rather than advocating individual states’ choices on touchier issues. And while TJ may have been caught up with War Fever and advocated the Embargo Act, doing so did set the precedent of using trade sanctions as a diplomatic means of achieving goals. And as far as the economy goes, don’t drink Florin’s Koolaid about the National Bank. By creating the money monopoly monstrosity that was the first Bank of the United States, Hamilton set our Republic on the path to enslavement through governmentally-empowered-banker-induced boom and bust cycles.  So all Hammie has to show for is his advocating for extreme government power, whether infringing upon your social or economic liberties. Maybe that’s good for Florin, but I’ll take empowerment over enslavement.

What do you guys think? Vote in the poll below.

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7 Comments »

  1. Firstly, let me say I love the flair you guys write with. I would like this argument to continue at the first possible lunch. Secondly, this reminds me of Ender’s Game (you guys are set to take over cyberspace, and then the world from there!) I am definitely gonna continue reading.

    Comment by Kamal the Bharatnatophile — February 13, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

  2. I love how this blog is so informative and intellectually stimulating while still being a good read. As with kamal, I will definitely continue following this blog!

    Comment by Anon. — February 13, 2010 @ 10:04 pm

  3. While I have to admit that Florin makes an excellent argument, I must side with Guilder. However, Guilder, you forgot to mention the Louisiana Purchase which almost doubled the size of the nation! Jefferson set aside his personal political beliefs of a relatively strict interpretation of the Constitution for America’s best interest. He did not believe that the Federal govt had the power to purchase territory but realized that it was best for the nation to keep control of the Western hemisphere and thereby prevented Spain and France from gaining power in the West. And how would Huck and Jim have been able to travel down the Louisiana bayous without our friend Mr. Jefferson? 😉

    Comment by Miss Economist — February 14, 2010 @ 12:04 pm

  4. Ok so, this is a debate of loose interpretation of the constitution (Jefferson) vs. strict interpretation of the constitution (Hamilton) Im just going to go down both of your arguments and make my own verdict 🙂

    Florin: You start off with an accusation that Hamilton never drove the economy into an economic depression, but are you aware that the United States had excessive debt at the time and was subject to invasion by both France and the UK, but both were too busy at war with each other, something that will play a crucial role later on. You’ve slandered the Embargo Act, yet it was a necessary act that, that is not approved by many, but let me ask you this, do you agree that impressment of US sailors is good for the US? I think not. You then add that Hamilton built the US economy, only by limiting state sovereignty, which the states would not accept, also adding that it reached the point where the bank was “killed” by Andrew Jackson, only to be brought back nearly 100 years later by Wilson. Your next argument is punative… the face value of a bill…? really? so by your logic Hamilton is 10x better than Washington? Benjamin Franklin 100x better than Washington…? I dont think so. Hamilton did not solely secure the ratification of the constitution it was along with the efforts of John Jay and James Madison, speaking of Madison, this quote taken from Federalist paper 10 is interesting “Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.” – it shows the very nature of our debate 😀 your next argument based off the nature of men can be addresed in this quote as well by Madison in paper 10 “The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man” – was there enough faction for Jefferson and Hamilton to kill each other… yes, but was Jefferson stupid enough to put the betterment of America on the line over a gun fight? i think not, Hamilton on the other side did. You end your argument stating that “we are unified because of him” – are you aware that aside from the interpretation of the constitution, their arguments were of argicultural society (Jefferson) vs. industrial society (Hamilton), I will say that Hamilton won that argument, however it nearly tore apart our country in the bloodiest war our nation has ever seen, the Civil War.

    Lastly.. neither of you pointed out that Jefferson was elected president, and is commonly ranked among the top 10, where was Hamilton? dead

    Well… i support Jefferson, so im too lazy to go against Guilders arguments 😀 – not saying i agree with EVERYTHING he/she says

    Comment by Loyal Democrat — February 14, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

  5. I wrote sooo much. no life 😀

    Comment by Loyal Democrat — February 14, 2010 @ 7:15 pm

  6. First off, thanks to everyone for commenting! We both really appreciate it, and it’s always great to get the opportunity to argue—I mean, have some open discussion with amazing people.

    Loyal Democrat: For your essay, I thank you. You make some cogent points, and I loved the monster of a comment you wrote! However, there are a few points I have to make. Celebrity Deathmatches are meant to be semi-humorous/mostly fact-based reasons why individuals would win in either an intellectual or physical confrontation. To go point by point: the US was in a debt because it wasn’t a fully-formed nation yet and still had a ton of Revolutionary War Debt. Hamilton didn’t create that war, just as he didn’t create that debt; instead, he started the institutions that would fix the deficit. Next, the Embargo Act wasn’t necessary: considering impressment numbers; there was no way that an end to all export trade, not just to Britain, was an appropriate response. Also, when Jackson “killed” the bank, he set the country up for yet another depression—a clear sign that the national bank was necessary. As to the ten-dollar bill argument, I hope you forgive my pretty lame joke. Now, you cite Madison and the folly of abolishing liberty, but that has no real bearing on what we’re talking about. Hamilton was never a proponent of terminating American freedom at all! As a Founding Father, it is true that he wasn’t solely responsible for the passage of Constitution, but there’s no doubt he was important. To the duel argument, I point once again to the vein of humor inherent to this post and (hopefully) this blog: with his skills, dear ‘ole Hammie would be sure to win. More seriously, however, you say that Hamilton’s support of industrialization instigated the Civil War. Not only were there a huge number of other factors (slavery, social differences, political divisions), but there is a) no connection between Hamilton/Jefferson ideals regarding industry and b) are you really implying that industrialization is a bad thing? It did help us win both World Wars, after all… Lastly, Jefferson was elected president by a narrow margin, and Hamilton was only unable to run by virtue of his birth in Barbados. But what a president he would have made!

    Miss Economist: Excellent point regarding the Louisiana Purchase. I don’t think that’s something Hamilton would have objected to at all, but it is interesting that Jefferson ended up following Federalist ideology, hm?

    Comment by florinparty — February 16, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

  7. Sorry for missing all of your humor!!! Once i get going, i get going!

    The war debt was part of the United States, but most of this war debt is practically eliminated under the presidecny of Jefferson, and of course you will add the 15 million from lousiana, but would you say it was a poor investment? vs. having to go to war with france later for it, as when we tried to take Canada? Hamilton was ahead of his time with the bank, he did create more debt his institutions that limited state sovereignty, the very thing he wanted to establish, and the embargo act was necessary if the US wanted to prove to be a dominant force, it gave way for the US to realize that it couldn’t. reley on others and it created self-sufficiency, preparing them for the war of 1812. Hamilton and Jefferson were agrarian vs. industrialization (south vs. north -> civil war) also, recession after jackson under van buren was because of lowering cotton prices, nothing to do with the national bank, that was unwanted by the states

    Comment by Loyal Democrat — February 16, 2010 @ 6:36 pm


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Two schools of thought. One intellectual barfight. Contact us at teapartytwoparty[at]gmail[dot]com.

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