ALEXANDER HAMILTON: How a Bastard Foreigner Became the Greatest Proponent of Adam Smith’s Capitalism!

Roshan R. Varghese, World History, David W. Butler High School

Curriculum Unit (pdf)


Some economic historians have argued that Alexander Hamilton was an elitist who simply copied the political and economic system of Great Britain and that his policies ran counter to the free-trade system that helped produce the prosperity of the United States. They cite his creation of the National Bank as a financial institution and the active promotion of manufacturing and internal improvements by the federal government, even though those are acclaimed by most others. However, the United States Constitution, which Hamilton helped author, is steeped in the free-market capitalistic ideals of Adam Smith, a Scottish philosopher and economist and his preeminent work, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (or commonly known as The Wealth of Nations). The credit system created by the Constitution is based on national sovereignty and has thus fostered technological progress, and why it can be argued that, “Alexander Hamilton is the foremost figure in American history who never attained the presidency, yet he probably had a much deeper and more lasting impact than many who did.”[i]

[i] Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. pg. 4.