Compare and Contrast Political Ideologies
Political world view of Thomas Jefferson
There were indications that Thomas Jefferson’s political world view as indicated in the Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence was a classical republican. Citing from the works of Bernard Bailyn, Allen Jayne noted that Jefferson was a “thorough reader of the Greek and Roman classics” (p. 2) and that most scholars wonder whether the Jefferson Declaration could be interpreted in terms of the ideals of republicanism rather than liberalism.
In a book entitled The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson co-authored by Jefferson himself with Merrill D. Peterson, it reveals Jefferson political world view particularly on the issue of Human Rights. The book emphasized Jefferson’s political dialogue, in which he said, “all men are created equal in the sense that all are equal in the order of nature and none is dependent on the will of another” (Jefferson & Peterson, 1993, p. 15). Jefferson believes in the institution of government to protect and secure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that citizens should not be deprived of all these privileges. More over, he believes that citizenship was a natural right and any person might freely acquire it. He was opposed to slavery and he worked hard to curb it though abolition “never rose to the top of his political agenda” (Jefferson & Peterson, p. 15).
Jefferson’s political world view about the power of government was laid down in his Declaration of Independence in which Jefferson believes that “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed” (p 15). Jefferson was a strong advocate of periodic amendment and revision of constitution because he wanted that that they advanced hand in hand with the progress. Jefferson wanted to see the United States to be a nation of a free citizen. His political world view on the Bill Rights and the institution of governments as reflected in his Declaration of Independence clearly point to these ideals.
In his political view of the Bill of Rights, Jefferson put emphasis on the religious freedom anchored on twin principles of freedom of religious conscience, and the separation of the church and the state. This was an important subject during that time because of the religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants. It could be recall that during this time the issue religion was rigid and strict. Any one could loose his or her life by simply practicing a different expression of faith. Jefferson envisioned a state that everyone enjoys a freedom of religious conscience and that the government respect that freedom, and protect the lives of the people, as well as their properties and rights. He envisioned a government that promotes not only the welfare of its citizens but their freedom also. He envisioned a government that does not interfere in the affairs of the church, nor the church in the affairs of the government.
In general, Jefferson envisioned and agrarian economy for the United States. Perhaps this was natural for him because aside from the fact that the Federal Policy was designed to establish a nation of small farmers during his time, Jefferson himself loves farming (Rural America at the Cross roads, p. 134). Jefferson hoped to achieve all these ideals through his initiative to open the country for settlement by small farmers. The book entitled Rural America at the Cross Roads pointed out that Jefferson “dislodged foreign government and native Americans” to allow settlers to settle and to “establish themselves on the frontier” (p. 134)
The Political world View of Alexander Hamilton
Before going to Alexander Hamilton’s political views, it is quite important to identify who was really Alexander Hamilton. Unlike Thomas Jefferson who occupies a prominent place in the annals of American history, Hamilton’s political career was short lived so as his life was. Her widow out lived him by half a century, who had struggled to raise their seven Children. Hamilton was born in 1757 to a Scotch merchant father and a French Huguenot (Protestant believer) mother. At an early age, his mother died, and he was left to the care of maternal relations that made his youth miserable. However, it was during this part of his life that the glimpse of the future states man was reflected through a letter to his friend. Regarding this letter Henry Cabot Lodge noted,
“These clear and sensible letters of business have nothing in themselves unusual, but it is not a little remarkable that they should be the work of a lad whose contemporaries were studying the rudiments of grammar on school benches, while his capacity was great enough not only to write such letters but practically to manage on his own responsibility the affairs of a considerable merchant” (p. 3)
From this, Hamilton was able to advance himself in the intellectual world which brought him a new experience in the military service that lead to his political career. Hamilton’s political world view was reflected in his 1791 Reports on the Subject of manufacturers which according to Mark Perlman and Charles Robert McCann, Hamilton envisioned the United States as “economic and Political Power” (p. 188). Perlman and McCann pointed out that at the time of Hamilton’s report, the United States was “predominantly an agrarian society, agriculture being in many senses identified with self-sufficiency and independence” (Perlman & McCann, p. 188). Hamilton sees the future of United States in the manufacturing and he worked hard to impress his views upon the congress. Hamilton envisioned the United States to be a powerful country that plays an important rule in the world affairs. In their View of Hamilton’s economic measures, Perlman and McCann were convinced that Hamilton was largely influenced by the prominent British political economist particularly on the view about the “usefulness of increasing economic wealth to the benefit and enhancement of the state power. Hamilton’s political world views were anchored on economic issues particularly on the importance of manufacturing which according to him, as cited by Perlman and McCann, “the positive impact of a manufacturing-based economy consisted of (1) the perfection of the division of labor, (2) the improvement of the productivity of the labor force by the employment of machinery (3) the expansion of employment to businesses that served a support rule to manufacturing, (4) the fostering of immigration, (5) the furtherance of diversity in the talents of the labor force, (6) the increase in the “objects of enterprise” brought by the stimulation of imagination and creativity, and (7) the increase in demand for the agricultural surplus (Perlman, McCann, p. 189). Hamilton hoped to achieve these by lobbying with congress for the approval for the acceptance of economic proposal which was the shift of economic approach from small farming economy to manufacturing.
Obviously, the differences between Jefferson and Hamilton’s political world views were their concept the economy. While Jefferson believes that small farming was an essential factor for the economy, Hamilton sees it as inferior to manufacturing. However, it was apparent that both men were gifted with extra ordinary intelligence that made them shine over the others. They were both men of principles whose integrity and credibility were unquestioned. Both men had contributed to what the United States has become today through their visions and economic policies they had so greatly endeavored for congress to accept, which proved to have greatly helped transformed the agrarian economy to become a manufacturing and industrial economy that had brought enormous wealth and power to the country. It was just unfortunate that Hamilton did not live long to see most of his ideals become the factor for the tremendous growth of the Country’s economy.
The ways in which today’s world reflects the visions of these two founding fathers
Jefferson’s vision of a nation of small farmers and planters may not be so appealing today to warrant some ways for the society to reflect on it. However, his vision of a free nation with every citizen enjoys freedom of religious conscience is reflected by the culture that is fast shaping the American society. A culture that allows every American to practice what he thought is beneficial for him, which is in effect, the very essence of freedom. Jefferson’s visions is also reflected in the American constitution which promote equality, liberty, and justice regardless of race, ethnic origin, status in society, and so on, which made the American justice system fair and credible.
On the other hand, Hamilton’s vision of industrial and manufacturing economy is reflected by what America has become today, a powerful nation with a powerful economy that plays a major role in the affairs of world. Today, the influence of Hamilton’s economic vision is reflected by continues global economic expansions of America and interests of the American public in commerce.
Who would be more satisfied with what we’ve become? Which vision has had the most influence?
Apparently, Hamilton’s vision had the most influence in terms of his vision for the economy. However in their vision of American society, in governance and in the implementation justice, Jefferson’s vision had a very significant influence. Generally though, both men had a profound influence in today’s society but their influence lies in two different component of the American nation. Jefferson had important influence in society particularly in the implementation of law and justice, while Hamilton’s vision was influential the transformation of the United States to become both economic and political power.
Jayne, Allen Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence USA: University Press of Kentucky, 2000 Jefferson, Thomas & Peterson, Merrill The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson USA: UNC Press, 1993 Lodge, Henry. A Alexander Hamilton USA: Kessinger Publishing, 2004 Perlman, Mark & McCann, Charles. The Pillars of Economic Understanding: Ideas and Traditions. USA: University of Michigan Press, 1998.
U.S Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. Rural America at the Crossroads: Networking for the Future. DIANE Publishing, 1991.