Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton were both great leaders in American history who contributed immensely to America’s political, social and economic development. President George Washington had appointed Alexander Hamilton America’s first secretary of the treasury while Thomas Jefferson was named the secretary of state. Both these leaders were independent minded and visionary, with great ideas for the nation. When Hamilton came into power, he focused most of his time and energy on the creation of government institutions that would make America a world power. Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, had a vision intended for the people. He pursued goals that were intended to create equality amongst the citizens by making the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness paramount. He believed governments were to be instituted among men for this sole purpose.
Hamilton and Jefferson had greatly varying viewpoints on nearly all matters from the structure of government, foreign policy, how to run the economy and governance. On government structure, Jefferson wanted stronger democratic state governments with reduced federal employees, strict following of the constitution and protection of people’s rights and liberties. Jefferson belonged to and was supported by the Democratic - Republican Party, whose members were mostly common citizens like the unemployed, shopkeepers, settlers and small farmers. Hamilton, on the other hand, subscribed to the idea of a strong central government with increased federal employees. He believed that loose interpretation of the constitution was sufficient and that when circumstances demand, individuals liberties like speech, should be restricted. Hamilton was a Federalist; a party consisting of bankers, manufacturers, merchants and wealthy farmers, society’s elite.
The most memorable conflict ever between Hamilton and Jefferson was on the formation of a national bank. Hamilton wanted a national bank to be formed with authority to establish branches in different parts of the country. In his time as the secretary of treasury, he sponsored a national mint and argued in favor of tariffs that offered temporary protection of new firms in order to promote the development of competitive national industries. These conditions would place government credit on individual businesses, thus encouraging commerce, industry, and government support from businessmen. Jefferson seriously opposed the formation of a national bank and use of national debt to establish credit. He wanted the elimination of all national debts. This stalemate eventually took the matter to congress, which made necessary and proper laws for carrying out other powers specifically granted. By doing this, they supported Hamilton, who formed a national bank to levy and collect taxes, pay debts and borrow money.
Hamilton feared a state of anarchy from the citizens and thus thought of governance in terms of order, while Jefferson feared tyranny by authoritarian governments; he thought of governance in terms of freedom and equality amongst all citizens. This state of affairs, for a long time, ensured a subtle middle ground on most issues, and many though it was good fortune for the country to have such leaders.
Loius Masur. "A Biography of America." Learner.org. WGBH Educational Foundation. Web. 11 Apr. 2011.
Jefferson vs. Hamilton viewpoints. www.palomar.edu/.../JEFFERSON-HAMILTON%20VIEWPOINTS.pdf