William Hogeland gets semi-medieval on historical revisionists in Inventing American History...
"Neo-Hamiltonians have been chopping up the past to make it conform to their political aims. Alexander Hamilton's national vision and founding economics are far more troubling--so more compelling--than his promoters acknowledge ... Hamilton is routinely credited for favoring a strong executive branch. What he really favored was an executive branch run by him, strong enough to do anything it deemed in the national interest. For Hamilton, personal and military force, unrestrained by the slightest consideration of law, were joined ineluctably to American wealth, American unity, and America modernity. "
Gonna have to get this. I've done a decent amount of historical destination marketing and strategy and it always amazes me how contorted some can get in their efforts to burnish a favorite mythology and push it as "Historical Fact." Imagine a late-1700s version of how critics portray Al Gore today. That was Hamilton. Except...
his worldview was much less kum-ba-ya and more like today's Neo-conservative crazy mated with Wall Street-worship and a hefty dose of Dr. Laura Schlesinger.
Hamilton was the ultimate "elitist"--an acknowledged righteous blowhard most definitely interested in telling others what to do and how to comport their lives. And that made him the uber-Federalist. For example, about the tax that started the Whiskey Rebellion he famously said as Treasury Secretary: "[it was] more as a measure of social discipline than as a source of revenue." Yep, that sounds like the Fox News version of Gore. The weird part? Look at who loves Hamilton's ideas and uppityness.
Today's Federalist Society of libertarian and conservative lawyers and jurists (Bork, Scalia, Roberts, Alito, etc) lay claim to being Constitutional Originalists (the strict reading of, no "wandering interpretation" or "Judicial Activism" allowed.) But what they really like are Hamilton's ideas about what the finished Constitution didn't clearly tidy up about States Rights. Their reasoning finds it's roots in the Federalist Papers, particularly #78, written by Hamilton, on the worry of judges not buying into the idea that possessors should decide 9/10ths of the law. But, as venally and politically useful as his words may be, as noted above, Hamilton the know-it-all would be a damned poor spokesmodel for a movement championing supposed lost freedoms beneficial to the masses. So, what do they do? They claim James Madison as their Archetype and Logo.
Problem is, while it's true Madison wrote 29 of the 85 Federalist papers, he was also vehemently opposed to much of what Hamilton believed about power and vested interests and the supposed "enlightened thinking" of the learned and moneyed. In other words, Madison thought Hamilton was full of self-serving crap. What's more, he was temperamentally and politically aligned with Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican Party, not the Federalists of Alexander Hamilton. Those two, Madison and Jefferson, however imperfect, were true progressives, leery of putting a new American stamp of approval on an old-country superiority-complex of privilege, connections and wealth.
As I'm guessing Hogeland's book fleshes out, Hamilton then, just as the Federalists of today, had little problem with elitism, double-standards, corporate welfare and the offering of advantage to the already advantaged. Problem is, the people who need to hear that will stomp and gnash and scream and call William Hogeland and his book, yep, you guessed it: Elitist!!
[Hogeland's book release Via boingboing]