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  • Hi, my name is John Green

  • and this is Crash Course U.S. History

  • and now that we have a Constitution, it’s actually United States history.

  • Today were going to look at the birth of America’s pastime

  • (No, not baseball. Not football. Not eating.)

  • I mean politics, which in America has been adversarial since its very beginnings,

  • despite what the founders wanted.

  • [BEST]

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  • [EVER]

  • We looked at the first big conflict in American politics last week:

  • Constitution or Articles of Confederation?

  • I hope that I convinced you we made the right choice,

  • but regardless, we made it. The constitution passed.

  • But immediately following the passage of the constitution

  • a pretty fundamental conflict came up: what kind of a country should we be?

  • Mr Green, Mr Green!

  • The US is supposed to be the policeman of the world and keep

  • the people in the green parts of Not-America from hurting themselves.

  • Oh, Me From The Past, we don’t get into that stuff until 1823.

  • (Libertage)

  • So, one vision of America was put forward by Alexander Hamilton,

  • who’d served in the war as Washington’s top aide and would go on to be his first

  • Secretary of the Treasury and probably would have been president himself,

  • had he not been born in the British West Indies.

  • Hamilton had a strong personality, and as you can see,

  • the beautiful wavy hair of a Caribbean god, and he had very definite ideas

  • about what he wanted the future of America to look like:

  • First, Hamilton wanted the country to be mercantile,

  • which means that he believed that we should be deeply involved in world trade.

  • Second, he wanted the U.S. to be a manufacturing powerhouse.

  • We wouldn’t just buy and sell stuff, we would make it too.

  • He even invested in a plan to make Patterson New Jersey a manufacturing hub,

  • which of course ultimately failed because New Jersey.

  • [don't take the bait, Jersey!]

  • But to make a manufacturing giant, he

  • needed a strong government that could build infrastructure and protect patents.

  • But you already knew that he was in favor of a strong government because, of course,

  • he wrote so many of the Federalist Papers.

  • Hamilton also envisioned an America that was governed primarily by the elite.

  • His party, which came to be known as the Federalist Party,

  • would be the one ofthe rich, the able and the well-born.”

  • I mean, just think if the federalist party had survived,

  • we might have had a bunch of like, Bushes and Kennedys as president.

  • [see what he did there?]

  • Hamilton wanted America to be firmly affiliated with Great Britain.

  • Which isn’t surprising, given his passion for elitism and trade.

  • But there was an opposing view of what America should look like,

  • and it is most associated with Thomas Jefferson.

  • Let’s go to the thought bubble.

  • Jefferson wanted an America that was predominantly agrarian,

  • with most people being small scale subsistence level farmers.

  • Maybe they would produce a little surplus for local markets,

  • but certainly not for international consumers.

  • There would be no international trade.

  • And he didn’t want manufacturing either.

  • This small scale local economy could best be served

  • by a small scale, local government.

  • It’s not a surprise to find

  • that Jefferson’s sympathies lay with the anti-federalists,

  • even though he benefited from the new constitution a little bit,

  • since he eventually got to be President and everything.

  • Unlike the elitist Hamilton, Jefferson was an avowed democrat,

  • which meant that he distrusted concentrated power and privilege

  • and believed that the masses could basically govern themselves.

  • To him government and concentrated economic power

  • were greater threats to liberty than a tyrannical majority.

  • Jefferson was a big fan of the French, [gasp! clutch the pearls…]

  • and not only because he spent

  • a fair amount of time in Paris as our ambassador there.

  • He also liked the French because

  • they fought with us in the war of independence against the British,

  • and because, after 1789, he liked the way the French treated their aristocrats--

  • that is, brutally.

  • [liberals: not all hippie pantywaists?]

  • In general Jefferson and his partisans who called themselves Republicans

  • (although some textbooks call them Democratic-Republicans

  • just to make things really confusing)

  • preferred France just as the Hamiltonians preferred Britain,

  • and this was a bit of a problem since France and England were pretty much

  • constantly at war between 1740 and 1815.

  • Thanks, Thought Bubble.

  • So linked to these imagined Americas were the questions of

  • how democratic we should be and how much free speech we should have.

  • Jefferson and the Republicans wanted more democracy and more free speech,

  • well, sort of.

  • I mean, During Washington’s presidency, Democratic-Republican Societies sprang up,

  • the first opposition political parties.

  • And in 1794 the Democratic-Republican society of Pennsylvania published

  • an address which made the point that,

  • Freedom of thought, and a free communication of opinions by speech or

  • through the medium of the press, are the safeguards of our Liberties.”

  • The Federalists on the other hand

  • saw too much free speech and democracy as a threat.

  • And from this it sounds like the Republicans werebetter democrats”,

  • but it’s more complicated than that.

  • I mean, for one thing many Republicans, including Thomas Jefferson

  • were slaveholders, and slavery is kind of the opposite of Democracy.

  • [nice use of "kind of"]

  • And for another, many were supporters of the French Revolution,

  • and supporting the French Revolution after 1793 is pretty of problematic.

  • Because as youll remember from Crash Course World History,

  • Robespierre was guillotining everyone,

  • up until the point where he himself was guillotined.

  • Okay, so in the first real American presidential election

  • there weren’t any political parties. There wasn’t even a campaign.

  • The election was uncontested and George Washington won.

  • He didn’t even have to run for office; he stood for it.

  • Washington’s presidency is important for a number of precedents that he set,

  • including the notion that a president should only serve two terms and

  • the idea that even if he was a general the president should wear civilian clothing,

  • but he wasn’t the real policy brains.

  • Hamilton was.

  • Washington probably wouldn’t have called himself a Federalist,

  • but he backed Hamilton’s plan for a stronger nation

  • And to that end,

  • Hamilton began the great American tradition of having a 5 point plan:

  • [and who knows, maybe the presidential thumb-extended-over-fist move]

  • Point 1: Establish the nation’s credit-worthiness

  • Hamilton realized that if the new nation wanted to be taken seriously

  • it had to pay off its debts, most of which had come during the war.

  • And to do this Hamilton proposed

  • that the U.S. government assume the debt that the states had amassed.

  • Point 2: Create a national debt-

  • - that’s something you don’t hear politicians say these days

  • Hamilton wanted to create new interest bearing bonds,

  • hoping to give the rich people a stake in our nation’s success.

  • Point 3: Create a Bank of the United States

  • This bank would be private and it would turn a profit for its shareholders

  • but it would hold public funds and issue notes that would circulate as currency.

  • And the bank would definitely be needed

  • to house all the money that was expected to be raised from...

  • Point 4: a Whiskey tax.

  • Then, as now, Americans liked to drink.

  • And one sure way to raise money was to set an excise tax on whiskey,

  • which might reduce drinking on the margins or cause people to switch to beer.

  • But what it would definitely do is hurt small farmers, who found

  • the most profitable use of their grain was to distill it into sweet, sweet whiskey.

  • So the Whiskey Tax really upset small farmers, as we will see in a moment.

  • Point 5: Encourage domestic industrial manufacturing by imposing a tariff.

  • For those of you who think that the U.S. was founded on free trade principles,

  • think again.

  • Now youll remember that the Republicans wanted an agrarian republic

  • with freer trade, so they disliked Hamilton’s plan.

  • They also argued that none of this was in the constitution, and they were right.

  • This position of expecting government to be limited by the text of the constitution

  • came to be known as strict construction.

  • But the Republicans lacked a five point plan of their own,

  • so their only hope of success was

  • to shave Hamilton’s five point plan down to four points, which is what they did.

  • In 1790, many of the Republicans,

  • who were Southerners, like Jefferson, struck a bargain.

  • They agreed to points 1-4 of Hamilton’s plan in exchange for

  • a permanent capital on the Potomac (in the South as opposed to

  • the first two temporary capitals of the US in New York and Philadelphia).

  • So the Hamiltonian economy won out. For a while.

  • Probably the most immediately controversial aspect of Hamilton’s program

  • was the whiskey tax, and not just because people loved to drink.

  • But also because farmers love to turn their rye into whiskey, into profits.

  • In 1794 western Pennsylvania farmers even took up arms to protest the tax;

  • and that clearly could not stand.

  • Washington actually led (at least for part of the way) a force of 13,000 men

  • to put down this Whiskey Rebellion,

  • becoming the only sitting president to lead troops in the field,

  • and America continued to tax booze, as it does to this day.