Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained

The True Meaning of Democracy

Reading Room: Chapter 10 Summary

Alexander Hamilton and the British Connection

“… he seem’d
For dignity composed, and high exploit:
But all was false and hollow …”

If there were a coup d’état, was there some other, darker purpose, that needed to be hidden from public view? Hamilton is the man to follow. It was he who set the direction for the new country immediately after the ratification of the Constitution.

It was Hamilton’s goal—via a national bank—to wed the “interest of the monied [sic] men with the resources of government.” A national debt he maintained is a “national blessing. It will be powerful cement of our union.” Three years later, in 1784, Hamilton founded the Bank of New York.

When Hamilton married into the Schuyler family he acquired a brother-in-law by the name of John Barker Church. Church was a British subject who had fled Britain under suspicious circumstances. Church became influential in American affairs and appears to have amassed a fortune as a profiteer during the Revolutionary war with Britain. With his new found wealth, he returned to England, found himself at the center of a high society in London. Eventually, he was elected to Parliament. On leaving for England, he assigned Hamilton the role of his American business agent.

In 1790, Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton delivered a report to Congress outlining his proposal for dealing with public debt. It was Hamilton’s decision to have the war bonds redeemed at full face value thus providing speculators with a windfall. It turns out that the Schuyler family and Church were among the chief beneficiaries.

Less than a year and a half into Washington’s first term, Hamilton proposed a central bank to be known as “The Bank of the United States.” Hamilton’s bank, like the Bank of England, was to be a private, not a public institution. Like the Bank of England, the names of its shareholders were to remain secret. It was open to domestic as well as foreign investors.

In Inventing A Nation, Gore Vidal refers to Hamilton as “English Secret Agent Number Seven.” According to Vidal, in July of 1794, while Jay was in England negotiating the treaty which bears his name, Hamilton—British Agent Number Seven—met in secret with George Hammond, British minister at Philadelphia and revealed much that would work for British and against American interests.