Page 36


e Herb “Best place to cure Th if. what ails you” Explore our Oasis of Earthly Delights! extensive array of natural health and bodycare products comprehensive collection of herbs great gift ideas and much more! Mn.-Fri. 10-6:30 200 West Mary 444-6251 Sot. 10-5 CourthouseD’irect Public records online not in line Immediately Download Deeds, Mortgages, Liens, AJs, etc. 63 Texas Counties Over 420 counties nationwide Offline Abstracting & Title Research Services Available >Start a Title Agency Title Plants in 7 Texas Counties Celebrating 25 years of Public Records & Property Research questions. How much money shall there be? Who ought to control it? To what ends?” The American political system became one long, endless dispute about whether the country should have a central bank, a national currency, federal debt, and a gold standard. The question of capitalism’s compatibility with democracy, which divided the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, remains fundamental to American politics. At the moment, the consensus is that the American economy has a cloudless future, in part because it has been spun off to the investment banking business. But don’t kid yourself: When you see the likes of Robert Rubin and Henry ning Treasury, clothe them in your mind with the whiskers and waistcoats of a Morgan or Jay Gould. With the House of Goldman installed in Washington, recall the thoughts of Cooke’s father, who during the Civil War saw his sons and their placemen well appointed in and around the Lincoln administration. According to Brands, father Cooke reflected: “Now is the time for making money. … The door is open.” Hamilton and Jefferson were contemporaries from the mid-1770s until 1804. During the Revolutionary war, Hamilton was an officer on Washington’s staff and led a bayonet charge at Yorktown. He was in Philadelphia the summer of 1787 during the constitutional convention and co-authored The Federalist Papers. John Adams called him “the bastard brat of a Scottish peddler” and later resented the way Hamilton manipulated President Washington. But everyone respected his financial acumen. At times Jefferson and Hamilton worked well together, and a dinner in Philadelphia led to the federal assumption of state debts in exchange for the relocation of the Capitol to the banks of the Potomac. They served together in Washington’s first cabinet but disagreed, almost violently, on the principles of American government and economy. Nevertheless, it is thanks to Hamilton that Jefferson, and not Aaron Burr, became president in 1800. \(After Burr killed Hamilton in their famous duel, he reflected: “Had I read Voltaire less and Sterne more, I might have thought the world wide enough for Hamilton “amiable in society, and honorable in all and duly valuing in private life, yet so bewitched & perverted by the British example, as to be under thoro’ conviction that corruption was essential to the government of a nation.” According to Brands, Hamilton’s vision of a strong central government dominating the national economy is triumphant today in Washington. He carried the early debate on whether the United States should be capitalist with some democracy, or democratic with some capitalism. \(The Constitution Hamilton, for example, convinced the government to redeem Revolutionary War-era debts at par \(what Jefferson described as Hamilton’s gift to the “stockearly speculators who had snapped up financial paper at pennies on the dollar. He set up the first Bank of the United States, maintaining, as Brands quotes Adam Smith, that a central bank could be a “great engine of state.” A hard-money man, Hamilton believed banks should only lend against specie in their vaults \(not against EnronJefferson, he believed the federal government had the right and obligation to issue money and incur debt. He was the first proponent of deficit spending. By contrast, Jefferson thought “banks more dangerous than standing armies” and saw the future of America in its villages and small farms, not in the assets and liens of its moneyed class. Jefferson wrote whimsically \(in part about himcies of property annexed to certain mercantile houses in London,” and resented having a mortgage over both himself and the democracy. he Bank of the United States, the only federally chartered bank, lasted until the presidency of Andrew Jackson, who went after it as though it were snake loose in the Oval Office. Brands quotes a conversation between Jackson and his vice president: “The Bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to kill me. But I will kill it!” In particular, Jackson despised the bank’s president, Nicholas Biddle, for his pretensions toward oligopoly, his deference to capital, his bribery of certain legislators \(including Daniel took on government deposits. An uneasy relationship had always 24 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MAY 18, 2007