What was Hamilton's opinion of the American people?

1 Answer
Jun 4, 2016

Hamilton felt that only the wealthy class was trustworthy and rational.


While Alexander Hamilton was a big proponent of the American Revolution, and himself the result of greater social mobility than most in his time, his policies and arguments usually reflected a preference for social order and classism.

This quote from Hamilton sums it up well:

"All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are rich and well born; the other, the mass of the people. The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct, permanent share in the government. They will check the unsteadiness of the second; and as they cannot receive any advantage by change, they will therefore maintain good government."

Hamilton fought for many policies that expanded control of the general population in favor of the wealthy classes. One example is Hamilton's opposition to protective tariffs, which he felt would allow lower classes to upset the social hierarchy. In another example, Hamilton successfully convinced Congress to inherit state's war debts, so as to continuously pay the elite bondholders for their continued support of the government.

While these policies feel (and are) incredibly unjust, it is important to remember that many of these elitist policies were successful in preserving the early United States (which was Hamilton's goal). For instance, Hamilton's creation of a National Bank is often cited as a main reason for the ability of the U.S. government to compete with France and Britain in foreign affairs over the next two decades.