The Core Principles of the American System of Economics
Email this review


A Hamilton enthusiast argues for his significance and contrasts his views with today’s world of finance.

In this debut history book, Spannaus builds on online writings about Alexander Hamilton’s political and financial theses to argue that he was and continues to be a driving force in shaping the American financial system and that—contrary to popular opinion—he would be more likely to oppose today’s shareholder value-driven business climate than to feel at home on 21st-century Wall Street. The book makes the case for Hamilton’s continuing relevance by arguing that his theories served as the basis for Abraham Lincoln’s and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s policies, as well as those of several other countries, while Hamilton’s distance from Adam Smith sets the stage for an assessment of his opinions on modern corporations. Hamilton’s writings, particularly the Report on Manufactures, provide much of the basis for the book’s solid (if occasionally overenthusiastic, e.g., “Alexander Hamilton’s banking system was not British!”) analysis. However, the inclusion of active hyperlinks (i.e., “click here” in a physical book is sloppy, and it detracts from Spannaus’ effort to connect the reader to the book’s substantial base of primary and secondary historical sources. On the whole, though, Spannaus is a strong writer, making discussions of economic theory accessible and displaying a clear passion for her subject: “Now that Hamilton’s American System of economics has been virtually erased from popular memory, there is a real danger that our government will either collapse or cease to be a republic.” The book concludes with a Hamilton-inspired convincing proposal for a new infrastructure bank, an appropriate coda to a full-bodied and plausibly argued defense of his original vision for commerce in the United States.

A thoughtful, well-written argument for Alexander Hamilton’s financial system as a guard against tyranny.

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5320-6754-9
Page count: 244pp
Publisher: iUniverse
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: