Reviewed by Keith Jones
Most people’s understanding of when and how the political divide began has a very shallow scope. Some when asked would pick a point within their own lifetimes, most others would draw it to a particular administration or period within the last hundred years. The most common answers would likely be Johnson’s War on Poverty or Roosevelt’s New Deal. Some more astute might reach back to the Lincoln administration and the misnamed American Civil War. While those would be getting warmer, they are still several decades away from the origins of the two most significant dissenting schools of American political and economic thought.
In Hamilton’s Curse Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo starkly illustrates how we first began on the long road away from the strict constructionist view of the U.S. Constitution that most of its framers strongly backed to where we are today. The deep hostility between Thomas Jefferson — 3rd President of the United States of America and author of the Declaration of Independence — and the first Secretary of the Treasury for the new nation, Alexander Hamilton would form the headwaters of each philosophy. One wonders why Hamilton sided with the Patriot cause at all upon seeing the monarchical powers he wished to vest with the presidency. He favored a king like executive elected for life with near dictatorial abilities such as personally appointing the governors of each state who would be answerable to him. Under his vision the Senators would be near royalty themselves also with lifetime offices. Of course Hamilton’s views of the economic and taxing discretion of the central government were equally sweeping.
DiLorenzo traces the followers of Hamilton’s school of thought up through the War for Southern Independence and into the modern era. You will see that of the two, while Jefferson prevailed in the immediate scope, Hamilton had the last laugh. Most modern citizens know little about Alexander Hamilton and understand less. Regardless of which side of the political divide you fall on, Hamilton’s Curse will help you understand that the profound differences span back much further than the last fifty years as so many often erroneously speak of.