Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hamilton's Curse and the Death of the Dollar Standard

Dick Cheney wasn't the first Vice President to shoot somebody: Aaron Burr is depicted here shooting and mortally wounding Alexander Hamilton during their 1804 duel in Weehawken, New Jersey, an "affair of honor" that came a couple of decades too late to save America from a lot of economic misery.

Recalling the death of Alexander Hamilton at the hands of Aaron Burr, one is inevitably prompted to borrow the line from Shakespeare's
Scottish Play: "Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it."

After examining the legacy of the first U.S. Treasury Secretary in
Thomas DiLorenzo's timely and indispensable new book Hamilton's Curse, one might be forgiven for wishing the deadly round fired by Burr's pistol during the 1804 duel at Weehawken had found its target two decades earlier, or that Hamilton -- who displayed genuine valor as an artillery officer in the War for American Independence -- had died heroically on the battlefield before laying the foundations of the corporatist system under which we now live.

A worshipful biography of Hamilton published several decades ago bore the title To Covet Honor, a phrase used by the author without irony.

The line from which that title was taken -- "If it be a sin to covet honor, I am the most offending soul alive" -- was uttered by Henry V on the eve of a battle in a war waged in the cruelest fashion on the thinnest of pretexts.

Understood in its context, rather than in the heroic light in which that author hoped to bathe his subject, that phrase actually reflects some elements of Hamilton's personality and ambitions that led him to betray the American Revolution.

Hamilton, as is widely known, favored a highly centralized government, a near-dictatorial executive, and a mercantilist/corporatist economic system. As DiLorenzo points out (and as we'll see anon), in the pursuit of his nationalist designs Hamilton had no compunctions about using what Exeter, King Henry's royal emissary who delivered an ultimatum to the French, called "bloody constraint" against his countrymen who preferred freedom to Hamilton's concept of "greatness."

Indeed, Hamilton's notion of "honor" obtained through bloodshed and coercion wasn't that different from that of Prince Hal, the "vain, giddy, shallow, humorous youth" who sought to vindicate his kingly stature by waging the first war his advisors could contrive.

As depicted by The Bard, Henry -- the "mirror of Christian kings," a line Shakespeare almost certainly imbued with bitter irony -- broke the siege of Harfleur, a town he called "guilty in defense" for resisting the English invaders -- by threatening to authorize his soldiers to rape young girls, massacre frail old men, and skewer squalling infants on pikes, "Whiles the made mothers with their howls confus'd, Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry At Herod's bloody-hunting slaughtermen...."

The same King Henry willing to unleash officially sanctioned infanticide later hanged a soldier -- a former carousing buddy -- for stealing a trinket without royal permission. The same king who was given to self-pitying soliloquies about the burdens of his office ("What infinite heart's ease must kings neglect that private men enjoy.... What kind of god art thou, that suffer'st more Of mortal griefs than do thy worshippers?") ordered the summary execution of helpless prisoners, a war crime that earned not the respect but rather the contempt of the over-matched French.

Since I'm an individualist of the Jeffersonian tradition, I've long held Hamilton in qualified contempt, a sentiment tempered by my respect for Hamilton's role in crafting Washington's Farewell Address, and some elements of his arguments offered behind the pseudonym Pacificus during the debate over U.S. neutrality in the conflict between England and France. (Both Hamilton and Washington were right about neutrality, and wrong about the power of the president to issue a neutrality decree that had the force of law; Washington, of course, was humble enough to admit his mistake.)

DiLorenzo's book documents that Hamilton, despite his legitimate heroism in the cause of Independence, may have had the most pernicious influence of any political figure in our nation's history.

Nearly all of the salient traits of the modern Leviathan State headquartered in Washington -- the imperial presidency, judicial activism, the Federal Reserve System's institutionalized counterfeiting and fraud, the ever-metastasizing government debt, the ever-expanding ranks of tax-subsidized corporate welfare parasites, the reduction of the states to docile administrative units of a unitary regime -- were inspired by, and are the fulfillment of, Hamilton's designs.

Hamilton once complained of "an excessive concern for liberty in public men," a swipe at Jefferson and other freedom zealots who placed individual rights and dignity above considerations of "national greatness." Hamilton's designs were unabashedly imperial. They required that the central government absorb the powers of all other political and social entities, and that the president enjoy unqualified discretion in using those powers to build and perpetuate a strong and expanding state.

To that end, notes DiLorenzo, Hamilton devised a scheme to wed the central government with the super-wealthy. A growing state is sustained by debt, and this meant expanding the ranks of government bondholders and tending to their needs. This meant ensuring a steady stream of revenue into the government's coffers and into the accounts of bondholders.

Hamilton thus sought to "tie the wealthy of the country (who would be primary purchasers of government bonds) to the government, thereby creating a formidable political pressure group in favor of bigger government and higher taxation."

Obviously, this was before the advent of the fiat money system under the Federal Reserve System, whose managers gratefully acknowledge Hamilton as their intellectual ancestor. In today's version of the Hamiltonian corporatist system, DiLorenzo notes, politically connected business interests consistently agitate on behalf of both a larger direct tax burden and expanded government spending financed through monetary inflation.

Hamilton's vision of a unitary state with unlimited powers was not the union of "free and independent states" for which the American Patriots had fought. Instead, the vision that caused Hamilton's pulse to race and loins to stir was that of "a United States woven together by a system of tax collectors," as James Madison sardonically observed.

Up the rebels! The Whiskey Rebels of western Pennsylvania, that is. At left: The Whiskey Rebel flag. Below right: Rebels introduce a tax collector to the latest fashions in tar-and-feather couture. Sic semper tyrannis!

It was in the service of that vision that Hamilton afflicted Americans with various excise taxes, and then abetted the invasion of western Pennsylvania in the first use of military power by the central government against Americans -- the campaign to suppress the
Whiskey Rebellion.

Farmers in western Pennsylvania, who used whiskey as an instrument of barter, heroically refused to pay Hamilton's excise tax, and quite commendably introduced the officials sent to collect it to the decorative uses of hot tar and goose feathers.
This uprising was squarely in the hallowed and admirable tradition of patriotic anti-government radicalism that had precipitated the War for Independence.

But where King George III failed to exterminate American radicalism, Hamilton -- through his influence with Washington, and his entente with the eastern seaboard mercantilist elite -- was successful.

Washington's decision to assemble and lead an army of 13,000 conscripts to overawe the Whiskey Rebels is the largest stain on his noble biography. It also laid bare the malignant ambition that resided in Hamilton's breast, and the corruption that festered even then at the heart of the corporatocracy he devised.

Notes DiLorenzo: "The rank-and-file soldiers [in the army assembled by Washington] may have been mostly conscripts, but many of the officers who accompanied Hamilton and Washington to Pennsylvania were `from the ranks of the creditor aristocracy in the seaboard cities.... These officers were eager to enforce collection of the whiskey tax so that the value of their government bond holdings could be enhanced and secured."

The punitive expedition against the Whiskey Rebels illustrated "why Hamilton was such a vociferous proponent of a standing army," writes DiLorenzo. "He wanted a standing army of tax collectors. This is how King George III collected stamp taxes and other levies from the American colonists prior to the Revolution, and it is how Hamilton intended to collect his whiskey tax" and any other impositions he could devise.

The new "sovereign" asserts itself: Washington, urged on by Hamilton, assembles an army to put down the Whiskey Rebellion.

So it was that, thirteen years after Yorktown, Hamilton and Washington deployed an army larger than the one that defeated the British in that climactic battle in order to validate the central government's power to shake down the poor and the entrepreneurial class on behalf of wealthy, well-connected political clients.

And Hamilton's treatment of captured American tax rebels displayed an imperious cruelty eclipsing that displayed by the Brits toward American P.O.W.s.

As DiLorenzo recounts, Hamilton's army "treated their captives -- including `old men who had fought for American independence ... some pale and sick' -- most inhumanely. The tax protesters were `run through the snow in chains, toward various lockups in town jails, stables, and cattle pens, to await interrogation by Hamilton.' This went on all the way across the state of Pennsylvania, until they reached Philadelphia."

Washington, whose heart was never really in this expedition, made the mistake of leaving Hamilton (of whom he entertained
much too high an opinion) in charge, and unsupervised.

This permitted him, in DiLorenzo's words, to play "the role of Grand Inquisitor," in which he, as if in anticipation of Gitmo-era proceedings, "`prompted detainees to manufacture evidence' against his political opponents from Pennsylvania. One of his assistants, a General White, `ordered the beheading of anyone attempting to escape' and was not overruled by the treasury secretary, who was apparently willing to play judge, jury, and executioner. Indeed, Hamilton
ordered local judges to render guilty verdicts against the twenty men who were eventually imprisoned, and he wanted all guilty parties to be hanged."

Due in no small measure to Washington's influence, Hamilton's crusade never reached that bloody fruition. Twelve rebels were prosecuted; two were convicted, and pardoned by Washington. None of them ever paid the abhorrent whiskey tax. This was perhaps the last significant victory against Hamilton's system.

After his death in 1804, Hamilton's disciples would succeed -- briefly -- in creating a central Bank of the United States. A generation later, an otherwise undistinguished Illinois lawyer who made himself wealthy in the service of the Hamiltonian railroad combine would wage a war of consolidation against the South in order to preserve the tax revenues that were indispensable to the corporatist system.
That was indeed the causus belli for Lincoln's war to prevent southern independence, even though the Regime demands that we perceive it to be a sacred crusade to liberate enslaved black people, rather than a conflict intended to make tax slaves out of everybody.

Hamilton's system reached its full, malignant maturity in 1913 under the unspeakably vile Woodrow Wilson, the presidential sock-puppet of "Colonel" Edward Mandell House -- who was himself the instrument of the same creditor class Hamilton had served so faithfully. That year brought about the imposition of the income tax, the creation of the Federal Reserve System, and the effective abolition of the United States Senate (originally designed to protect the interests of the separate states) via the Seventeenth Amendment.

Since that time, Americans have lived under a unitary state fueled by taxation, debt, and inflation, in which the earnings of the middle class are plundered for the benefit of corporate welfare whores.
Those living today enjoy the unique, albeit unsettling, blessing of watching the death throes of Hamilton's system, or at least the post-1971 version of the same.

From Herr Henreich Paulson, the heir to Hamilton's throne, we hear the same kind of self-contradictory persiflage that littered the various "Reports" Hamilton wrote on behalf of his mercantilist designs. As trillions of dollars are created by the Fed to slop the troughs of Wall Street speculators and their creditors, we are seeing Hamiltonian governance in its purity: The unblushing transfer of wealth from productive private interests into the hands of the politically favored elite.

Monsters immortalized: Bank robber-turned-secret police founder Felix Dzerzhinsky, father of the KGB, depicted in a statue outside Moscow's Lubyanka Square. Below, right: Alexander Hamilton, who devised schemes to rob people through the banks, as idealized in a statue outside the Treasury Department Building.

Just as the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Soviet KGB, still stands outside the Lubyanka Square headquarters of the "post-Soviet" secret police, Hamilton's marble likeness resides in front of the Treasury Department Building, headquarters of the agency that oversees our own three-letter terrorist organ, the IRS.

And the abiding cult of the imperial presidency attests to Hamilton's success in refashioning what was intended to be a modest executive office into a fully realized elected dictatorship.

The unfolding economic collapse is nothing less than an extinction-level event for the dollar system devised by Hamilton. I have no idea what will replace the dollar as the world's reserve currency, but the greenback will lose that status very soon -- most likely sooner than most of us would suspect.

When that happens, the brutality encoded in the Hamiltonian State's genotype -- recall the forced marches of elderly tax rebels through the snows of Pennsylvania, the coerced confessions and accusations, the threats of beheadings and summary hangings -- will manifest itself quite forcefully as it seeks to extract the means of paying its bondholders.

Wisdom dictates that we preserve what we've earned by withdrawing from the dollar system (to the extent that we can), learn how to protect it and those close to us from predators both private and public, and find suitable refuge as we witness the death throes of the existing order.

And in preparation for the Second American Revolution, we should read and re-read Thomas DiLorenzo's enlightening and elegantly written indictment in order to understand how the first one was betrayed.

Want to know more about the Hamiltonian Homeland Security State?
Check it out.

Dum spiro, pugno!


Anonymous said...

DiLorenzo is a delightful author who had great influence on my political beliefs. After reading "The Real Lincoln" I was left with an understanding of what I had long felt but had no context for - We are all slaves now.

Those who proudly boast of the honor of paying their taxes would be amusing if they weren't so destructive to so many lives. In the end we will need to re-learn the spirit of the Whiskey Rebels - Leviathan must die!

Indeed . . .

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Brandon said...

An excellent review of an excellent book, written in your inimitable style, Mr. Grigg! I have already purchased and read Dr. DiLorenzo's latest book, and loved it. For me, having already read his first book on Lincoln, and so many of his articles on both Lincoln, Hamilton, and others, this book's primary value lies in connecting all the dots, so to speak, in one succinct and clear volume. I urge everyone to read it.

BTW, there is yet another significant event in the period surrounding 1913 (not sure of the exact year) that has served to destroy our liberties, and that is that the size of the U.S. House of Representatives was frozen at 435, while the population of this country has continued its growth, thus depriving us all of a more truly representative house. Check out for more information.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for posting that link. That is amazing and wonderful information.

William N. Grigg said...

Brandon, I hadn't known much -- if anything -- about the crucial history you've brought to my attention. Thanks so much!

Johnny Deceptively said...

Mr. Grigg,
There is another book, that came out eleven years ago, that deals with very much the same thing; the hijacking of the country by Hamilton and his merchant and banking buddies. It's called Hologram of Liberty: The Constitutions' Shocking Alliance with Big Government by Kenneth Royce, a.k.a Boston T. Party. I'd definitely give it a try.

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading Murray Rothbard's "Anatomy of the State" posted today at; your and Tom DiLorenzo's observations on Hamilton are a great specific example of the general theory Rothbard was explaining.

The truth is so refreshing!

Brandon said...

You are welcome. Though I've been aware of and supported this idea for some time now, I recently was reminded of it and encouraged to spread the word after hearing one of Lew Rockwell's recent podcasts with Dr. Mark Thornton on the subject. Dr. Thornton also has a scholarly article on

To top it off, this issue has recently been discovered by the eminent Dr. Walter Williams, economist at George Mason U. and syndicated columnist, in one of his latest missives.

Tell all your friends! Spread the word! I know I will.

Anonymous said...


You said that you are "father of five (soon to be six!)" at the top of the blog.


When will you be the father of six? : )

William N. Grigg said...

T2T, thanks!

Actually, I'm already the father of six children; our most recent is alive and well in utero (he was kicking up a storm earlier today), and he'll be ready to come out sometime in late January or early February.

Korrin's doing much better, obviously. From what I understand, it's not uncommon for women who suffer from her condition (a variant of schizophrenia) to benefit from the hormonal changes attendant to pregnancy.

I apologize for the fact that the announcement above is marred by sloppy diction. I promise to clean that up fairly soon.

Anonymous said...

Although Hamilton was an early advocate of most the things that I fear and detest in the political-economic realm including state and local governments being little more than criminal franchises of a strong and expanding debt based central government, he at least met his end honorably and after experiencing a great deal of agony. That is more than I can say for the pampered security crazed whores who now conduct their sordid affairs in Washington. What a shame that dueling has been banned. To even mention the possibility would probably result in one being instantly labeled a terrorist or enemy combatant, massive thugswarm, and being handed one-way rendition airfare.

Anonymous said...

When it takes place, the next Revolution will actually be #3...the tie-breaker.

1775-1783..#1 vs. Britain Leviathan

1861-1865..#2 Hamilton's Developing Leviathan vs. Jefferson's Republic

2009-?? ..#3 PapaGuv's Fully Completed Leviathan vs. TBD

Anonymous said...

This Saturday (Nov, 21) there will
be a demonstration at the local
FED building here in Houston, Texas.
The FED building here in Houston
serves no purpose but to cast a
sense of forboding upon anyone
who happens to look at it.
It is truly a hideous piece of
of architecture.

The honorable and courageous
Dr.Ron Paul will be attending the
demonstration to give a speech
against the monstrosity which is
the FED.

God bless Ron Paul.
God bless America.
God damn the Federal Reserve.

Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I'd take Hamilton over any candidate for President in the last election except for Ron Paul.

Your article is not fair to Hamilton. A lot of it is bait-and-switch, where you list a lot of bad things that other people have done and attribute it to Hamilton even though it was not his doing.

The "Central Bank" he proposed was nothing like the FED monstrosity, and I would trade the FED for what Hamilton proposed in a flash. Hamilton's bank could not create "money out of thin air" and had to have gold to back its activities.

It is true that Hamilton wanted a stronger central government than Jefferson (and I), and he was pro-business in the classic sense, but that does not mean he would support the leviathan corprotist state we have now. It is just as likely that he would be as horrified at it as we are.

Remember that in the end Hamilton left the federalist party and backed Jefferson for President. He ended well. The article makes him out to be a Henry Paulson. That is way too hard on him.

I don't like taxes, but there are legitimate functions of government, and they have to be financed somehow. The Constitution does empower congress to regulate interstate commerce, and that regulation can include a tax. I'd trade the intrusive income tax for a whiskey tax in a flash. It is not the federal government's business how much each person has earned.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Grigg,

Congratulations to you and your wife from Janice and I. How exciting! Children are a blessing! We now have 1 and 1/2 dozen* children living, one little one is in heaven. May God bless and keep you and yours!

James Niemela

* No, not 18 children(yet), but 1 child and 1/2 dozen more children. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Alexander, for the kind
mention of my Hologram of Liberty.

I published it in 1997, and it pretty
well covered the points that DiLorenzo
made in his book this year.

Back then, academia and the think
tanks wouldn't touch Hologram.
AMR at Laissez-Faire Books refused
it outright, even at a whopping
70% discount.

I guess I wrote it too early . . .

Mr. Grigg, I'll gladly send you a
signed review copy. Thanks for your article.

Kenneth W. Royce

Hercules Mulligan said...

Hello sir. I observe that you are a genuine lover of liberty and the founding principles. I have studied the founding principles, as rooted in the Bible, for over 5 years, and Hamilton's life, writings, faith, and political beliefs for a slightly shorter time period. I have also investigated DiLorenzo's claims, and found them not only lacking, but even dangerous.

I am a constitutionalist, a Ron Paul-supporter, someone who believes in the restraint of the federal government and the abolition of the Federal Reserve, etc. I used to believe that many of the things you state in this post were true. Until I read the writings of Hamilton himself, as well as those of Jefferson and Washington. I hope you will consider my following remarks, as they are based upon documentary evidence, and not suspicion and inference, and third-source interpretation.

DiLorenzo's claim is built upon historical inaccuracies, misinterpretation, the opinions of Hamilton's claimed fans/enemies, and "bait and switch," as Moore says, but NEVER what Hamilton said. And when he quotes Hamilton, he usually takes them out of context.

I haven't read his book yet (I've only seen the introduction from an online snipit), but I'd like to. I'd like to see if he can back his theory with more than just "Newt Gingrich the neocon likes Hamilton -- SO BIG GOVT IS HAMILTON'S FAULT!!!"

Here's what's happened: many of Hamilton's neo-con "fans" have lied about what he believed, so that their position would appear to have the support of a Founder. And Hamilton's enemies have lied too, either out of ignorance, malice,

By the way, without George Washington, much of Hamilton's policies never would have been put into practice. This is not taught in the history books today, but for about half of Washington's years in service to his country, Hamilton was his right-hand man. Never in a moment of his life did Washington regret that decision. Through all the political turmoil, through all the tests and criticisms and hard times, Washington and Hamilton were agreed in the principles of Federalism, and they only grew closer. A study of their relationship would throw some light on the REAL Hamilton (read their correspondence, not contemporary history books), and on the history of that time.

Did You Know ... ?

Hamilton was a Christian.

Hamilton was a patriot from the very beginning. He wrote what may be well termed "an expanded version of the Declaration."

Hamilton believed in a government limited by the Constitution. He did not advocate a "strong central government," he never even used the term "central government." He called it the "general" or "federal" government, which, under the Constitution, it is.

Hamilton did NOT believe in gross national debt, or a fiat currency. He vehemently denounced both.

Hamilton, according to the documentary evidence, and according to trustworthy experts like Joseph Story and James Kent, was one of the most responsible, if not the most responsible person, for the Constitution's existence. It is ridiculous to say, as DiLorenzo does, that Hamilton conspired to create it, and then when it was finally ratified, thanks to Hamilton's efforts, he conspired to destroy it.

If you read Hamilton's writings, you will realize that Hamilton's beliefs about government were based on his Christian belief in the falleness of human nature. He not only believed in the need to restrain rulers, but to restrain the masses as well. And in a post-revolutionary country, where the scales are tipping out of balance toward too much power in the hands of the masses, and degenerating anarchy, it is law and order and steady and efficient government that needs to be emphasized.

The leading and most prominent Federalists were not bankers, stock-brokers, merchants, or silver-spooned aristocrats. They were REVOLUTIONARY WAR VETERANS. Let me list a few: Alexander Hamilton (as you know; artillery captain, aide-de-camp of Washington), George Washington, James McHenry (Washington's aide-de-camp), Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (American colonel), Timothy Pickering (Washington's aide), Gouverneur Morris (Anthony Wayne's aide), Daniel Morgan (backwoods Colonel of the DM Rifle Co.), Rufus King (also Wayne's aide, I believe), and the list could go on. Look at the signers of the Constitution -- a huge number bore arms on the field.

Jefferson was accused by Patrick Henry of cowardice. Jefferson indeed, as governor of VA during the latter part of the Revolution, relegated his duty to resist the British, who were marching into the South. When the British came within sight of Monticello, Jefferson packed his books and ran, giving up the capitol city without fight! So much for Jefferson's heroic attempts to save our Revolution! But Hamilton, who not much later risked his life as he took the trenches from the British with unloaded bayonets, was actually a British spy and traitor! But thanks to him, we won the Yorktown victory, and the war!!

Jefferson was a humanist, a Unitarian, a supporter of the French Jacobins and their Revolution, and a sympathizer of the Illuminati. This is not conspiracy theory; I have his own letters to prove it.

Jefferson paid an evil man, James T. Callender, to slander Pres. Washington and others. Callendar was a runaway from Europe, who came to Philadelphia to resume the trade of scandal-mongering (i. e. making up gross lies about politicians he didn't like) Washington and the other Federalists.

Washington wrote this letter to Hamilton when Hamilton turned in his resignation from the Treasury in 1795.

The "Whiskey Rebellion" was not about whiskey. Maybe it was fueled by indignation against the whiskey tax, but it was not about whiskey. It was a rebellion stirred up by the French Jacobin Edmond Genet. The year before, he had threatened Washington that he would stir up a huge rebellion among the people, since Washington refused to declare war in favor of France. John Adams reported in a letter that mobs incited by Genet stormed his property and pounded on his doors, threatening to drag him out and beat him, and overthrow the federal government, unless Washington emerged and declared war in favor of France. That kind of a rebellion is not about whiskey taxes. Washington himself said that the Insurrection was the "fruit of the Democratic Societies," which were founded by Genet.

Maybe DiLorenzo's next book should bash Washington, as Hamilton's neo-con co-conspirator. Either that, or as an idiot who suddenly went dumb and didn't know what he was doing.

I am writing a series of posts here exposing DiLorenzo's lie. If you are interested in facts, then feel free to visit and discuss. I'm open to disagreement and debate.

Joel said...

I am writing a series of posts here exposing DiLorenzo's lie.

But didn't you say earlier that you hadn't read the book?

Hercules Mulligan said...

Joel --

I have not read ALL of DiLorenzo's book, but I have read his articles on the subject and I have listened to several lectures and interviews he has done on it. The posts are not meant to be a rebuttal of this book per ce; they are meant to refute the revisionism behind it, based on what he has already written in other places on the subject.

I do plan to finish reading his book sometime, for the purpose of seeing his views exposited in more detail. Until I do that, I won't go very far in my series of posts, obviously. Right now, I am dealing with the "preliminary" issues, and bringing to the public's attention the context out of which many facts have been taken.

Thanks for your interest. I hope we can discuss this issue in the future.