Acton Institute Powerblog

Alexander Hamilton’s founding of the American economy

During even the first century of its founding, America had produced the world’s “largest capital driven economy.” How was such a young country able to outrun many of its older competitors? Founding Father Alexander Hamilton is perhaps the primary figure to have kick-started America’s successful economic landscape.

In an article written for The Online Library of Law and Liberty, Samuel Gregg, Acton’s Director of Research, reviews Alexander Hamilton on Finance, Credit, and Debt, and gives readers a historical glimpse of the financial reforms bolstering the American economy.

His voluminous writings reflect a remarkable capacity to relate economic writings—ranging from the apostle of free markets, Adam Smith, to Smith’s fellow Scot and the 18th century’s champion of mercantilism, Sir James Steuart—to ancient and modern political debates. From Hamilton’s perspective, those charged with the responsibility of government couldn’t pursue economic policy as if it could be determined in isolation from a nation’s political wellbeing or core beliefs. Nor, however, did Hamilton believe that governments should act as if the hard fiscal and financial truths of the moment could somehow be ignored…Hamilton’s financial innovations, it turns out, contributed to one of the most notable political successes of someone who despised him. They also helped realize a nation-state’s territorial goals in that rarest of ways, which is to say, relatively peacefully. For that all Americans, past, present, and future, owe Alexander Hamilton a great non-monetary debt.

Read Gregg’s full piece, “Founding Financial Father.”

Caroline Roberts

Caroline Roberts is a managing editor at the Acton Institute and produces Acton's weekly podcast, Acton Line.