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THE YOUNG REPUBLIC

The population of the United States grew rapidly. By the time of the first official census in 1790, approximately 4 million people lived in the U.S., almost double the 1770 population of just over 2 million. Although business was picking up, the government was still deep in debt from the Revolutionary War.

Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton wanted to pay off the national debt. Even though the United States had won the war, investors still didn't think government bonds were worth much more than 10 cents on the dollar. Hamilton proposed to pay the investors all back. To raise the money, he got Congress to approve a duty on foreign imports and U.S.-made luxury items such as whiskey and carriages. The credit of the United States improved. Hamilton supported the development of a national bank, partially funded by the government, that could keep money in circulation and help boost the economy. He also wanted to give subsidies to business, but Congress wouldn't buy that. Jefferson argued against the Bank of the United States, but it passed anyway. Although he got the nation on a firm financial footing, Hamilton's policies were seen by poorer farmers as serving the rich Eastern merchants.

Example

Question: What was Alexander Hamilton's economic policy?

Answer: Alexander Hamilton's economic program included a Bank of the U.S., plus excise and tariff taxes. Congress rejected his idea of direct subsidies to manufacturers.

Example

Question: How was Hamilton's financial program viewed by poorer voters?

Answer: Alexander Hamilton's fiscal policy was seen as favoring Eastern merchants.

As a states' rights strict-constructionist, Jefferson believed that anything not specifically mentioned in the Constitution was prohibited to the federal government. Hamilton took a broad interpretation, or loose-construction, view of the Constitution. He thought the Constitution had implied powers, which allowed the government to do whatever was necessary to carry out the general tasks assigned in the Constitution. A modern example of implied power is the federal road-building program; the only power enumerated for this in the Constitution is the maintenance of postal roads. Therefore, every freeway is officially a postal road.

 
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