American System Explorations: Alexander Hamilton

Reading the actual writings of great minds who shaped the course of history and conducted successful battle with the forces of oligarchism has fallen out of practice for obvious reasons amidst our crisis-ridden society. Within the course of this series of workshops, we explore some of the essential ideas that allowed the young American republic to not only survive its early years, but also establish a new system of national economics which has struck at the achyles heel of oligarchs for the next 250 years.

In the course of the reading of Hamilton’s ‘On The Subject of Manufactures’, we came to encounter a vicious set of ideas representing the British Imperial school led by Adam Smith and the French Physiocrats which Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton went to war with.

The crisis faced by the newly-constituted USA cannot be overstated as the weight of unpayable debts incurred during the war, unbounded inflation of the 1780s and a total lack of coherence amongst the 13 states had created a nation at war with itself.

Free trade wasn’t even agreed to between the states under this dynamic of chaos and distrust and no ability to raise taxes or impose protective tariffs from cheap dumping of goods from London was possible. Hamilton, Franklin and Washington knew that it were only a matter of time before the chaos prevalent among the USA would result in a quick re-absorption into the British Empire and undoing of the victories of 1783.

Among the greatest barriers to the establishment of economic sovereignty was the inability to grow a manufacturing economy which had been blocked for generations by the British foreign office and which was opposed by many forces within the slave power who saw industrial progress as a direct threat to their system of slave production. The theories spread among the USA defending the agrarianism of the slave-ocracy were found in the sophistries of British theories of labor, value and economic behavior then promoted by the likes of Adam Smith, and the french physiocrats which Hamilton took aim in the course of the report.

Leading figures of the American system of national banking, protectionism, and internal improvements from Henry Clay, Henry C Carey, Lincoln and FDR drew heavily on Hamilton’s Report on Manufactures and as you will come to see, the reason why Hamilton’s writings have been so obscured and banalized by forces that want to either 1) wipe his work from history, or 2) co-opt the mechanisms he created for the enslavement of the American people have animated the past 250 years and continue to do so to this day.

Before plunging into a reading of Hamilton’s 1791-92 reports, we started with a 1987 essay written by the late American economist Lyndon LaRouche titled ‘In Defense of Alexander Hamilton’ which introduces the elementary concepts of economic science as both a branch of sociology, aesthetics and physical science. This work took place in two sessions which can be accessed here:

In Defense of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton (by Lyndon LaRouche) part 1

In Defense of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton (by Lyndon LaRouche) part 2

Click on the links below to access the four-part workshop on Hamilton’s Report on the Subject of Manufactures:

On the Subject of Manufactures (1791) Reading 1

On the Subject of Manufactures (1791) Reading 2

On the Subject of Manufactures (1791) Reading 3

On the Subject of Manufactures (1791) Reading 4