[Marxism] "Hamilton" for the 1%

DW dwaltersmia at gmail.com
Mon Apr 11 19:15:25 MDT 2016


"Other historians are more supportive of the show’s treatment of the
subject. Eric Foner, the author most recently of “Gateway to Freedom: The
Hidden History of the Underground Railroad,”
<http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/15/books/eric-foner-revisits-myths-of-the-underground-railroad.html>
said he wished the show had complicated its populist portrait by noting
Hamilton’s elitism and dedication to property rights, which were “more
important to him” than fighting slavery, Mr. Foner said."

Based on that quote it seems Foner himself is playing to populist
sentiment. Hamilton, indeed the first authentic "Big Gov't" advocate as a
Federalist was afraid of the masses (reacting, as he did, to the perception
of the French Revolution as "the Mob gone wild") and indeed fearful of
democracy. Yet it's an odd statement...since Jefferson plebeian pretensions
of other anti-Federalists were really no different than Hamilton's,  among
the Founding White Guys. However unlike Hamilton, Jefferson never spoke
about slavery except passing comments at this or that salon and the
occasional letter where he waxed guilty about the "sin" that was slavery.
Jefferson and others learned to live wit hit; Hamilton was a staunch
abolitionist despite his NY mercantile ties. Hamilton's policies worked to
establish the material basis for the underpinning of slavery whereas
Jefferson's (and almost all the anti-Federalists) believed that democracy
simply meant "states rights". Jefferson was fearful of a strong central
gov't, lest it be used to impose abolitionism in his Slave state of
Virginia.

Hamilton was not an active abolitionist to be sure, but never hesitated to
jump into the debate about it unlike the anti-Federalists. He was no Thomas
Paine or Benjamin Franklin, but he was on the right side of the question.

David Walters



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