History of the United States eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 731 pages of information about History of the United States.

=The United States Bank.=—­Encouraged by the success of his funding and assumption measures, Hamilton laid before Congress a project for a great United States Bank.  He proposed that a private corporation be chartered by Congress, authorized to raise a capital stock of $10,000,000 (three-fourths in new six per cent federal bonds and one-fourth in specie) and empowered to issue paper currency under proper safeguards.  Many advantages, Hamilton contended, would accrue to the government from this institution.  The price of the government bonds would be increased, thus enhancing public credit.  A national currency would be created of uniform value from one end of the land to the other.  The branches of the bank in various cities would make easy the exchange of funds so vital to commercial transactions on a national scale.  Finally, through the issue of bank notes, the money capital available for agriculture and industry would be increased, thus stimulating business enterprise.  Jefferson hotly attacked the bank on the ground that Congress had no power whatever under the Constitution to charter such a private corporation.  Hamilton defended it with great cogency.  Washington, after weighing all opinions, decided in favor of the proposal.  In 1791 the bill establishing the first United States Bank for a period of twenty years became a law.

=The Protective Tariff.=—­A third part of Hamilton’s program was the protection of American industries.  The first revenue act of 1789, though designed primarily to bring money into the empty treasury, declared in favor of the principle.  The following year Washington referred to the subject in his address to Congress.  Thereupon Hamilton was instructed to prepare recommendations for legislative action.  The result, after a delay of more than a year, was his Report on Manufactures, another state paper worthy, in closeness of reasoning and keenness of understanding, of a place beside his report on public credit.  Hamilton based his argument on the broadest national grounds:  the protective tariff would, by encouraging the building of factories, create a home market for the produce of farms and plantations; by making the United States independent of other countries in times of peace, it would double its security in time of war; by making use of the labor of women and children, it would turn to the production of goods persons otherwise idle or only partly employed; by increasing the trade between the North and South it would strengthen the links of union and add to political ties those of commerce and intercourse.  The revenue measure of 1792 bore the impress of these arguments.


=Dissensions over Hamilton’s Measures.=—­Hamilton’s plans, touching deeply as they did the resources of individuals and the interests of the states, awakened alarm and opposition.  Funding at face value, said his critics, was a government favor to speculators; the assumption of state debts was a deep design to undermine the state governments; Congress had no constitutional power to create a bank; the law creating the bank merely allowed a private corporation to make paper money and lend it at a high rate of interest; and the tariff was a tax on land and labor for the benefit of manufacturers.

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History of the United States from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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