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Redeemed Sinner. Deep Roots. Southern Heart.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hamilton's Curse: A Review

Among other things, History is an account of a power struggle, which began in the Garden of Eden, and continues to this day. This struggle pits man against God for the power to control. As Christians, we know that this is nothing more than man breaking himself against the unbreakable laws of God.
The older I become, the more I realize that there is nothing new under the sun. Today, we rant and rave about how the Constitution is being broken daily, when it has been broken on an almost daily basis since it's ratification.

Thomas DiLorenzo's book, Hamilton's curse, is a superb chronology of the struggle between those who sought to place the ultimate governing power in the hands of a central government and those who opposed that philosophy.

After the thirteen colonies declared independence, two main political parties were at war. The Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.
The Federalists were attempting to get the Constitution ratified and a central government established. This party included men like Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and George Washington.
The Anti-Federalists were attempting to shoot down the Federalist agenda and included men like Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and James Madison.
As History shows, the Constitution was ratified, but not without some amendments, agreed to as a compromise, authored by Patrick Henry. Henry sat down and composed what would essentially be a stonewall between the government and our God-given rights. This is known as the Bill of Rights, which has stood the test of time, though it is crumbling rapidly.
After working so hard to get the Constitution ratified, most Federalists threw up their hands in disgust. Henry had foiled them. So they decided to get their own men in power and reinterpret the constitution to suit their agenda. For instance, the famous Commerce clause was twisted by Hamilton to give the government power over all all commerce, not just that which was specifically specifically delegated.

...(Hamilton invented) the theory of "war powers". The Constitution does give the central government the power to "provide for the common defense", but Hamilton interpreted that to mean that unlimited resources should be given to the military powers during wartime, including conscription and a standing army in peacetime. (The Constitution specifically limits the existence of a standing army to 2 years.) He also wanted government to nationalize all industries related to the military, which in today's world would mean virtually all industries.
-from page 32

Thomas Jefferson, Hamilton's greatest political enemy, voiced his opposition to the concept of a standing army, when he said that it is neither "needful nor safe that a standing army should be kept up in time of peace" and that "the only force which can be ready at every point", should an enemy choose to invade, "is the body of neighboring citizens formed into a militia".

Hamilton was a big proponent of national debt, an agenda he pushed very hard during his tenure as Secretary of the Treasury. He once said:
A national debt, if it is not excessive, will be to us a public blessing.
This is an oxymoron, because debt by it's definition is excessive.
Jefferson countered:
I consider the fortunes of our republic as depending, in an eminent degree, on the extinguishment of the public debt.

DiLorenzono writes:
Government debt is every politician's dream: it gives him the ability to buy votes by spending on government programs (with funds raised through borrowing) that will make him popular now, while putting the lion's share of the cost on future taxpayers, who must pay off the debt through taxes. It is the ultimate political something for nothing scheme.

I hope you can see that this governmental philosophy is very important. It effects your view of ethics, it effects your view of economics, there is no neutral ground.

Man is totally depraved and he will always rebel against God at the earliest opportunity. Our country is a prime example of this. Since the founding of America there has been a constant battle fought between those who support a dependency on a strongly centralized government and those who support a dependency on God alone, with the government as His agent. Although this was not openly acknowledged by some, it was a basic presupposition.
As Christians, we believe in providing for ourselves, living off the land, and being self sufficient. We are accountable to God for our actions, through His accountability system. We are unlike everyone else, who relies on the government for their daily bread, and bows down to the god of government. Everyone falls into one of these two categories, there is no gray area.

In closing, I highly recommend this book, it's one of the most educational I've ever read. What I shared above is a fraction of a fraction of the valuable insights DiLorenzo has on our current situation.

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Blogger Mike said...

Great post Stephen!

Hamilton once said, "A fondness for power is implanted in most men and it is natural to abuse it when acquired."

It's a shame that many consider him to be a founding father.


April 3, 2009 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger Stephen Boyd said...

Hi Mike, thanks for the comment!

Yeah, I know! I didn't realize Hamilton was so bad until we watched part of the John Adams miniseries.
So often, I tend to put all of our "Founding Fathers" on a pedestal, while we must understand that they were mortal men, just as we are.

April 3, 2009 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Enjoyed the review! I'm a big fan of DiLorenzo, and very eager to read this book.

Patrick Henry is one of my greatest historical heroes, though you may have guessed that from my son's first name... I am curious, however, as to why you place Madison in the category of "Anti-Federalist" when he was one of the three men (along with Hamilton and John Jay) who wrote "The Federalist Papers".

I would also be interested to hear you defend your premise that Christians, by definition, believe in "living off the land, and being self-sufficient." Would you, for example, argue against a Christian merchant living in the city and subsisting on goods purchased from other citizens rather than provided by himself for himself? Wouldn't this fall into a third category of "Dependent (even partially) upon private enterprise"?

I'm certainly not arguing against self-sufficiency and the agrarian lifestyle; indeed I find them highly commendable. But I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that they are among the basic tenets of the faith.

Grace and Peace,

April 4, 2009 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger Stephen Boyd said...

Thanks for the comment, Daniel.

In answer to your first point, I did not know that Madison was one of the original authors of the Federalist papers. Hamilton's Curse describes him as a close ally of Jefferson and ardently opposed to Hamilton's doctrines, especially Hamilton's ideas on debt. It was with this background that I described him as an Anti-Federalist.

As to your second point, I want to be sure that I do not call a sin what the Bible doesn't call a sin. That being said, I appreciate you calling me to account for this statement. The words I used were hasty and I cannot back them up with scripture. The short answer is I agree with you completely. The long answer will come in the form of a post later this week, Lord willing.

April 4, 2009 at 8:41 PM  

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