Showing posts with label Federalist Papers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Federalist Papers. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Imagining Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton has been on my mind a lot lately. I'm wondering what our first Treasury Secretary would think of our current economic situation. On the surface, one would think that the author of The Federalist Papers would offer great insight into the limits of government regarding the US Constitution. After all, this was the guy who argued against having a Bill of Rights.

Yet, it was Hamilton who, just two years after publishing the Federalist Papers, issued a state paper calling for the first central bank in our country's history. This idea was the great granddaddy of the Federal Reserve. More importantly, there was not a single word in our Constitution that allowed for such an institution.

Nonetheless, the man who is held up as the one who knows exactly what the Constitution means went to Article I Section 8.

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

From this, he determined that it gave Congress the power to create a central bank. Given the fact that Congress had the power to collect taxes and borrow money, he reasoned that a central bank would help this process considerably. In looking at this line from Section 8, he argued that there are implied meanings in our Constitution. Meanings that give power, not only to the enumerated items but also to the implied ones.

Jefferson and Madison couldn't believe it. They knew as well as several others that there was no such power guaranteed in the Constitution. They argued vociferously against it. But our first president (another Founding Father) George Washington agreed with Hamilton. And thus was born our first national bank.

Essentially, what I am saying is that by taking this action, two of our Founding an author of a primary source on the Constitution...stated in no uncertain terms that it is a living document and open to interpretation by the people we elect.

So, the next time you hear someone yelling about strict readings of the US Constitution and what our founding fathers intended, tell them this story...that is, right after you wipe their spit from your face.