A Conservative ‘Review’ of My Hamilton Book

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I was disappointed to read on Takimag.com that Kevin Gutzman misrepresented what I’ve said in The Real Lincoln while laughingly pretending to “review” Hamilton’s Curse despite having obviously not read it.

In what is labeled as a book review of Hamilton’s Curse, Gutzman claims that I wrote that slavery would have peacefully ended soon after 1861 had Lincoln not invaded the Southern states and micromanaged the killing of 350,000 fellow citizens. I have never written or said any such thing.

He also asks, “Can we really blame Hamilton for the Federal Reserve?” Had he actually read Hamilton’s Curse he would know that I quote a Fed publication entitled “A History of Central Banking in America” that refers to Alexander Hamilton as “The Founding Father of Central Banking in America” and boasts that he even “sounded like a modern Fed Chairman.” I think that makes a good case that Hamilton was indeed the founding father of central banking in America. That’s how the Fed itself views him. Who has more credibility on this point — The Fed or Kevin Gutzman?

He also asks if it is really legitimate to “credit” so-called National Greatness Conservatism to Hamilton. Well, I quote Bill Kristol, the inventor of “National Greatness Conservatism,” as saying so.

Perhaps most absurdly, he asks if the Second Bank of the United States should really be called “Hamilton’s Bank,” as I do in Hamilton’s Curse. Of course it should. Hamilton was the founder of the First BUS, which was not rechartered for a few years after its first twenty. The fact that James Madison was president when the Second Bank was resurrected is an irrelevant piece of trivia with regard to the question of who the founder of the Bank of the United States was. No one who has ever written anything about this subject would deny that Hamilton was the culprit. It was indeed Hamilton’s bank.

Other than these misleading statements, Gutzman provides no information whatsoever in his “review” about what the book is actually about. Not one word about Hamilton’s constitutional views, which I write about extensively, or his mercantilist policies, his role in the Whiskey Rebellion, the politics and economics of public debt, how generations of statists have invoked the image of Hamilton to “justify” their political schemes — nothing. I would not give an undergraduate a passing grade for such shoddy work.

8:15 am on January 14, 2009