Madison and Jefferson Defended the Constitution, Hamilton Usurped It

By: June 06, 2011


You’ve previously indicated your surprise that I trace the origins of the modern Tea Party movement’s critique of our federal government’s Constitutional usurpations to the actions of Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton during George Washington’s first term as President. Starting with his successful support of the establishment of a national bank, using the “necessary and proper clause” of the Constitution in ways both Madison and Jefferson deemed to be far beyond that document’s original intent, Hamilton supported policies that suggest many of the arguments he advanced just a few years earlier in The Federalist Papers were more tactical sophistry than sincerely held beliefs.

To me, Madison and Jefferson were the defenders of the Constitution, Hamilton the usurper. In his old age, years after Hamilton’s death, Jefferson said of Hamilton’s financial system that “[it] had two objects, 1st as a puzzle, to exclude popular understanding and inquiry; 2nd, as a machine for the corruption of the legislature . . . men thus enriched by the dexterity of a leader [Hamilton], would follow of course the chief who was leading them to fortune, and become zealous instruments of all his enterprises…”

I have two questions for you:

  1. Do you agree with my broad view of Madison and Jefferson as the defenders of the Constitution and Hamilton as the usurper?
  2. Do you agree with Jefferson’s statement that Hamilton’s financial system was “a machine for the corruption of the legislature?”

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, will be published in July, 2011. His new book, Covenant of Liberty, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

One Response to Madison and Jefferson Defended the Constitution, Hamilton Usurped It

  1. Pingback: The Constitution: Historically Complicated, Politically Ambiguous « Hysteriography

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