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Hamilton and the LawReading Today's Most Contentious Legal Issues through the Hit Musical$
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Lisa A. Tucker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501752216

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501752216.001.0001

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Hamilton’s Bank and Jefferson’s Nightmare

Hamilton’s Bank and Jefferson’s Nightmare

(p.236) 31 Hamilton’s Bank and Jefferson’s Nightmare
Hamilton and the Law

Mehrsa Baradaran

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses how Alexander Hamilton pushed for a national, centralized, and government-coordinated banking system. He argued that only this system of banking would produce a world-class economy and a unified, prosperous nation. Hamilton emphasized that successful banking required a strong partnership with the federal government. As Lin Manuel Miranda's Hamilton: An American Musical makes clear, a large federal bank was Thomas Jefferson's worst nightmare. Jefferson feared that powerful, centralized banking would threaten democracy and suffocate credit for the non-elite small farmers that would be the lifeblood of the nation. He proposed that these inequalities should be remedied by forcing banks to serve only local markets. Jefferson won in the short term, but Hamilton was more prescient about what the country would need and the central role the federal government would take on within the banking sector.

Keywords:   Alexander Hamilton, national banking system, federal government, Lin Manuel Miranda, Hamilton, federal bank, Thomas Jefferson, centralized banking, banking sector

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