Friends, you must have either Jefferson or Hamilton. All the fundamental conflicts in our history were adumbrated during the first decade of the General Government in the contest symbolized by these two men. Hamilton lost in the short run, but triumphed in the long run. He would find much that is agreeable in the present American regime – plutocratic kritarchy which we persist, by long habit of self-deception, in calling democracy. But Thomas Jefferson would not be at all happy with what has happened to this country; he might even suggest that the time had come for a little revolution. The host of petty intellectuals and pundits, elitists, and would-be elitists—tame scribblers of the American Empire—sense this, and so Jefferson must be dealt with appropriately. The Establishment is frightened by the rumblings they hear from the Great Beast (that is, we the American people). They are shocked to realize that Jefferson honestly did believe in the people; that he believed the soundest basis for government to be popular consent and a severely limited government.

Hamilton, on the other hand, believed in rule by “the [self-appointed] best” and in “energetic government” operating in the interest of private profit. For the better part of a century we had protective tariffs which burdened the great mass of the American people, agriculturalists, and consumers, while profiting large capital. Now that it is in the interest of large capital to ship American workers’ jobs to the Third World, we have every petty pundit singing the praises of “free trade.” Just what Alexander ordered.

Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. Excerpted from “Why They Hate Jefferson” in From Union to Empire: Essays in the Jeffersonian Tradition by Clyde N. Wilson.

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