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The founders and finance : how Hamilton, Gallatin, and other immigrants forged a
Thomas K. McCraw
Adult Nonfiction HJ261 .M37 2012

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From Publishers' Weekly:

A Pulitzer Prize winner and Harvard Business School emeritus professor, McCraw sheds light on personalities and policies in this overview of the development of early American finance. The newly independent United States "had long been bankrupt"; both the fledgling national government and the states were in hock for the War of Independence. According to McCraw (Prophets of Regulation), brilliant immigrants, such as Alexander Hamilton and Albert Gallatin, lacked the parochial vision common to their peers, who saw the basis of wealth mostly in land. With at least 50 "coinages and currencies... in circulation" in 1789, banking was in turmoil. The main economic resource for the federal government was tariffs on imports, mostly from Britain. Hamilton's decisive advocacy of a national bank and assumption of state war debts laid the basis for economic expansion and cemented the dominance of federal power. McCraw then turns to Gallatin's ascendency in Congress, where in 1796 he denounced the growth in the national debt and decried high military spending. Starting with the still-resonant contrast between the "big government" Hamilton and "small government" Gallatin, McCraw's wealth of historical data should interest any lay historian, particularly when he presents the many "what if's." (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Only two men are honored with statues outside the U.S. Treasury building: Alexander Hamilton and Albert Gallatin. McCraw (business history, emeritus, Harvard Business Sch.), who won a Pulitzer Prize for Prophets of Regulation, explores their qualities, foibles, achievements, and failures in order to show why both deserve credit for laying the foundations of American governmental finance. Hamilton, McCraw explains, as the first Treasury secretary, contained the crushing national debt, made the country creditworthy, established a national bank, and sowed the seeds of rapid economic growth. Gallatin was an ardent Republican, but McCraw says he was also pragmatic in accepting much of Hamilton's system and, as Treasury secretary in the Jefferson and Madison administrations, cut government spending, reduced the national debt, eliminated taxes, expedited the Louisiana Purchase, formulated land policy, and favored internal improvements. In his concluding chapters, McCraw draws parallels between his subjects' immigrant backgrounds, national visions, and understanding of capital and credit. VERDICT McCraw is a talented storyteller. His highly readable and fascinating work portrays the brilliance of Hamilton and Gallatin against the difficulty of their time and is strongly recommended to all readers interested in American and financial history.-Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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