The Treasury Department’s announcement that it will eventually replace — or at least demote — Alexander Hamilton as the face of the ten dollar bill fits right in to the Obama Administration’s craven “identity politics” strategy, presumably intended to shore up Democratic support among key constituencies. As if the switcheroo wasn’t sufficiently poll-driven to begin with, the clincher of course is that Hamilton will be replaced by a woman to be selected… by popular demand.
But I cannot feel too sorry for Hamilton. The Department of the Treasury is, after all, the House that Hamilton built. No individual is so responsible for consolidating national power over economic affairs as Hamilton. He managed to have the central government assume the states’ debts and then establish a Bank of the United States, despite the utter lack of any constitutional authorization for the federal government to get into the banking business (as James Madison and many others pointed out at the time). He did not manage to wipe out state currency in his lifetime, but his political heirs — the Republicans and erstwhile Whigs who emerged victorious from the Civil War — did so with national currency legislation that taxed state legal tender out of existence. This aspect of Hamilton’s legacy is well documented in Thomas DiLorenzo’s book: Hamilton’s Curse.
Absent the centralizing legacy of Hamilton, we might still have 50 competing state currencies and no one person could dictate what image Americans see on their money. Instead, we have given the central government a monopoly on circulating currency, as Hamilton would no doubt have wished.
Mr. Hamilton, you were an admirable man in many respects, but the Leviathan you helped to create has turned against you!
See the full post — and comments — over at Ricochet!