Hamilton Really Screwed Up America

Today is Alexander Hamilton’s birthday, at least as far as we know. There is some debate about when he was born, but regardless, January 11 has long been recognized as his day.

If you have followed me for any length of time, you know that I am very hard on Hamilton. Rightfully so, particularly when you read essays like this that seem to believe that if conservatives only had more Hamilton, Marshall, and Lincoln, everything would be alright in America.

In fact, if we only followed their lead, the American left would be smashed to pieces and a figment of our imagination.

This is where these “national greatness conservatives” have lost it.

You can’t conserve anything in America by trumpeting Hamilton, Marshall, and Lincoln.

And don’t ever call any of them “originalists,” but that is exactly what some conservatives have started doing.

That would be like calling John Kerry a war hero.

Hamilton and Marshall may have been from the founding generation, but their unbridled nationalism did not win the day during ratification. Lincoln destroyed any vestige of “conservatism” during the War.

I intended my book, How Alexander Hamilton Screwed Up America, to show how dangerous Hamilton was to the original Constitution and how his legacy affected the federal courts’ interpretation of the Constitution. I focused quite a bit of text on John Marshall.

And I took out Lincoln in 9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America.

Regardless, some “conservatives” like John Hammer insist on arguing that more Hamilton would equal better government for America.

More importantly, he thinks that if we only had a “common good originalism” which allowed for a “muscular” nationalism, America could avoid the worst of the woke revolution.

Hammer blasts the idea that the founders would have rejected government designed to legislate morality–he is correct–but he also misses that the founders also rejected giving the general government this power.

States were one thing, but no one in Massachusetts wanted to be governed by South Carolina.

“Originalism” is better understood as a firm commitment to federalism and the federal republic.

But, Hammer’s essay provided nice podcast fodder for episode 562 of The Brion McClanahan Show.

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