Alexander Hamilton’s Liberalism: Distinguishing Fact and Myth

by | Jul 18, 2019

Hamilton is an Enlightened, classical liberal, a more consistent champion of rights and liberty than any other Founder, thus an inspiring model for contemporary friends of liberty.

Alexander Hamilton was America’s most important Founding Father after Washington.

What were the main features of his political economy?

Many Jeffersonian libertarians today deride him as a statist – whether as a “monarchist,” mercantilist, protectionist, nationalist, erector of “central banking,” or proponent of “strong government” – and thus reject him as a proper guide in modern times. Modern liberals concur, but champion Hamilton as an authoritative legitimizer of the mixed-economy corporatist state; yet anti-corporate critics today also associate Hamilton’s approach with “plutocracy.”

In truth Hamilton is an Enlightened, classical liberal, a more consistent champion of rights and liberty than any other Founder, thus an inspiring model for contemporary friends of liberty.

Dr. Salsman is president of InterMarket Forecasting, Inc., an assistant professor of political economy at Duke University and a senior fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research. Previously he was an economist at Wainwright Economics, Inc. and a banker at the Bank of New York and Citibank. Dr. Salsman has authored three books: Breaking the Banks: Central Banking Problems and Free Banking Solutions (AIER, 1990), Gold and Liberty (AIER, 1995), and The Political Economy of Public Debt: Three Centuries of Theory and Evidence (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017). In 2021 his fourth book – Where Have all the Capitalist Gone? – will be published by the American Institute for Economic Research. He is also author of a dozen chapters and scores of articles. His work has appeared in the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, Reason Papers, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Forbes, the Economist, the Financial Post, the Intellectual Activist, and The Objective Standard. Dr. Salsman earned his B.A. in economics from Bowdoin College (1981), his M.A. in economics from New York University (1988), and his Ph.D. in political economy from Duke University (2012). His personal website is richardsalsman.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

Did you gain value from this article?

With over 9,000 articles online Capitalism Magazine is completely free. We rely on the generosity of our readers to keep us going. So if you already donate to us, thank you! And if you don’t, please consider making a donation today. One-off donations – or better yet, monthly donations – are hugely appreciated. You can find out more here. Thank you!

What do you think?

We are always interested in rational feedback and criticism. Feel free to share your thoughts using this form.

We will post responses that we think are of interest to our readers in our Letters section.

Pin It on Pinterest