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Alexander Hamilton

Geburtstag: 11. Januar 1755
Todesdatum: 12. Juli 1804
Andere Namen:Ալեքսանդր Համիլթոն

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Alexander Hamilton war ein amerikanischer Staatsmann. Er zählt zu den „Gründervätern der Vereinigten Staaten“.

Hamilton diente im Amerikanischen Unabhängigkeitskrieg im persönlichen Stab von George Washington, von 1782 bis 1783 war er Mitglied des Kontinentalkongresses. 1784 gründete er die Bank of New York , die älteste Bank der Vereinigten Staaten. Er nahm an der Philadelphia Convention zur Ausarbeitung einer neuen Verfassung teil, die er anschließend in den Federalist Papers gemeinsam mit John Jay und James Madison verteidigte. Der junge Rechtsanwalt tat sich mit seiner konservativen Haltung hervor. So befürwortete er die Wahl des Präsidenten und der Senatoren auf Lebenszeit und wollte eine starke Zentralregierung gegenüber den Einzelstaaten festschreiben. Hamilton setzte sich zwar nur mit letzterer Forderung teilweise durch, gilt aber zusammen mit James Madison und George Washington als einer der drei Väter der amerikanischen Verfassung.

Unter der Regierung Washingtons wurde er von 1789 bis 1793 der erste Finanzminister der Vereinigten Staaten und trug maßgeblich zum Aufbau des Bankensystems und der Marine bei. Um 1791/1792 gründete er die Föderalistische Partei, zudem war er Mitbegründer der New York Manumission Society, die für die Abschaffung der Sklaverei und für die Rechte der afrikanischstämmigen Bevölkerung eintrat. Mit dieser Haltung schuf er sich keine Freunde in den sklavenhaltenden Südstaaten, wie etwa Virginia. Hamilton starb am 12. Juli 1804 an einer Verwundung, die er sich am Vortag in einem Duell mit seinem langjährigen politischen Rivalen Aaron Burr zugezogen hatte.

Alexander Hamilton gilt als Begründer des Amerikanischen Systems der Politischen Ökonomie. Er nutzte diese Bezeichnung erstmals 1791 in einem Dokument an den Kongress. Es geht von einer Gemeinwohlverpflichtung für alle Beteiligten einer Volkswirtschaft aus, wie sie in der amerikanischen Verfassung festgeschrieben ist. In diesem System schafft der Staat Bedingungen, unter denen Produktionsbetriebe sich – zum Wohl der Unternehmen, der Beschäftigten und des Gemeinwesens – weiterentwickeln können. Weitere Vertreter des Amerikanischen Systems der Politischen Ökonomie waren Henry Charles Carey und Friedrich List.

1791 wurde er in die American Academy of Arts and Sciences gewählt. Hamiltons Porträt befindet sich auf der 10-Dollar-Banknote.

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Zitate Alexander Hamilton

„The phrase is as comprehensive as any that could have been used;“

— Alexander Hamilton
Context: The terms "general welfare" were doubtless intended to signify more than was expressed or imported in those which preceded; otherwise, numerous exigencies incident to the affairs of a nation would have been left without a provision. The phrase is as comprehensive as any that could have been used; because it was not fit that the constitutional authority of the Union to appropriate its revenues should have been restricted within narrower limits than the "general welfare;" and because this necessarily embraces a vast variety of particulars, which are susceptible neither of specification nor of definition.

„I never expect to see a perfect work from imperfect man. The result of the deliberations of all collective bodies must necessarily be a compound, as well of the errors and prejudices, as of the good sense and wisdom, of the individuals of whom they are composed.“

— Alexander Hamilton
Context: I should esteem it the extreme of imprudence to prolong the precarious state of our national affairs, and to expose the Union to the jeopardy of successive experiments, in the chimerical pursuit of a perfect plan. I never expect to see a perfect work from imperfect man. The result of the deliberations of all collective bodies must necessarily be a compound, as well of the errors and prejudices, as of the good sense and wisdom, of the individuals of whom they are composed. No. 85

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„They are, upon that account, the greatest of all improvements.“

— Alexander Hamilton
Context: Good roads, canals, and navigable rivers, by diminishing the expense of carriage, put the remote parts of a country more nearly upon a level with those in the neighborhood of the town. They are, upon that account, the greatest of all improvements. They encourage the cultivation of the remote, which must always be the most extensive circle of the country. They are advantageous to the town, by breaking down the monopoly of the country in its neighborhood. They are advantageous, even to that part of the country. Though they introduce some rival commodities into the old market, they open many new markets to its produce. Monopoly, besides, is a great enemy to good management, which can never be universally established, but in consequence of that free and universal competition, which forces every body to have recourse to it for the sake of self-defence. It is not more than fifty years ago that some of the counties in the neighborhood of London petitioned the parliament against the extension of the turnpike roads into the remoter counties. Those remoter counties, they pretended, from the cheapness of labor, would be able to sell their grass and corn cheaper in the London market than themselves, and they would thereby reduce their rents, and ruin their cultivation. Their rents, however, have risen, and their cultivation has been improved since that time.

„For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?“

— Alexander Hamilton
Context: I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? No. 84

„But the system which has been mentioned, is far from characterising the general policy of Nations.“

— Alexander Hamilton
Context: If the system of perfect liberty to industry and commerce were the prevailing system of nations, the arguments which dissuade a country in the predicament of the United States, from the zealous pursuits of manufactures would doubtless have great force. (...) But the system which has been mentioned, is far from characterising the general policy of Nations. The prevalent one has been regulated by an opposite spirit. The consequence of it is, that the United States are to a certain extent in the situation of a country precluded from foreign Commerce. They can indeed, without difficulty obtain from abroad the manufactured supplies, of which they are in want; but they experience numerous and very injurious impediments to the emission and vent of their own commodities. (...) In such a position of things, the United States cannot exchange with Europe on equal terms, and the want of reciprocity would render them the victim of a system, which should induce them to confine their views to Agriculture and refrain from Manufactures. A constant and increasing necessity, on their part, for the commodities of Europe, and only a partial and occasional demand for their own, in return, could not but expose them to a state of impoverishment, compared with the opulence to which their political and natural advantages authorise them to aspire.

„Civil liberty is only natural liberty, modified and secured by the sanctions of civil society. It is not a thing, in its own nature, precarious and dependent on human will and caprice; but it is conformable to the constitution of man, as well as necessary to the well-being of society.“

— Alexander Hamilton
Context: The fundamental source of all your errors, sophisms, and false reasonings, is a total ignorance of the natural rights of mankind. Were you once to become acquainted with these, you could never entertain a thought, that all men are not, by nature, entitled to a parity of privileges. You would be convinced, that natural liberty is a gift of the beneficent Creator, to the whole human race; and that civil liberty is founded in that; and cannot be wrested from any people, without the most manifest violation of justice. Civil liberty is only natural liberty, modified and secured by the sanctions of civil society. It is not a thing, in its own nature, precarious and dependent on human will and caprice; but it is conformable to the constitution of man, as well as necessary to the well-being of society.

„The foregoing suggestions are not designed to inculcate an opinion that manufacturing industry is more productive than that of Agriculture. They are intended rather to shew that the reverse of this proposition is not ascertained;“

— Alexander Hamilton
Context: The foregoing suggestions are not designed to inculcate an opinion that manufacturing industry is more productive than that of Agriculture. They are intended rather to shew that the reverse of this proposition is not ascertained; that the general arguments which are brought to establish it are not satisfactory; and consequently that a supposition of the superior productiveness of Tillage ought to be no obstacle to listening to any substantial inducements to the encouragement of manufactures.

„In the mean time, the maintenance of two Citizens, instead of one, is going on; the State has two members instead of one; and they together consume twice the value of what is produced from the land.“

— Alexander Hamilton
Context: To affirm, that the labour of the Manufacturer is unproductive, because he consumes as much of the produce of land, as he adds value to the raw materials which he manufactures, is not better founded, than it would be to affirm, that the labour of the farmer, which furnishes materials to the manufacturer, is unproductive, because he consumes an equal value of manufactured articles. Each furnishes a certain portion of the produce of his labor to the other, and each destroys a correspondent portion of the produce of the labour of the other. In the mean time, the maintenance of two Citizens, instead of one, is going on; the State has two members instead of one; and they together consume twice the value of what is produced from the land.

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„The prodigious affect of such a Machine is easily conceived. To this invention is to be attributed essentially the immense progress, which has been so suddenly made in Great Britain in the various fabrics of Cotton.“

— Alexander Hamilton
Context: The Cotton Mill invented in England, within the last twenty years, is a signal illustration of the general proposition, which has been just advanced. In consequence of it, all the different processes for spinning Cotton are performed by means of Machines, which are put in motion by water, and attended chiefly by women and Children; and by a smaller number of persons, in the whole, than are requisite in the ordinary mode of spinning. And it is an advantage of great moment that the operations of this mill continue with convenience, during the night, as well as through the day. The prodigious affect of such a Machine is easily conceived. To this invention is to be attributed essentially the immense progress, which has been so suddenly made in Great Britain in the various fabrics of Cotton.

„The complete independence of the Courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution. By a limited Constitution, I understand one which contains certain specified exceptions to the Legislative authority“

— Alexander Hamilton
Context: The complete independence of the Courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution. By a limited Constitution, I understand one which contains certain specified exceptions to the Legislative authority; such, for instance, as that it shall pass no bills of attainder, no ex post facto laws, and the like. Limitations of this kind can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of the Courts of justice; whose duty it must be to declare all Acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing. No. 78

„The right of parliament to legislate for us cannot be accounted for upon any reasonable grounds. The constitution of Great Britain is very properly called a limited monarchy, the people having reserved to themselves a share in the legislature, as a check upon the regal authority, to prevent its degenerating into despotism and tyranny.“

— Alexander Hamilton
Context: The right of parliament to legislate for us cannot be accounted for upon any reasonable grounds. The constitution of Great Britain is very properly called a limited monarchy, the people having reserved to themselves a share in the legislature, as a check upon the regal authority, to prevent its degenerating into despotism and tyranny. The very aim and intention of the democratical part, or the house of commons, is to secure the rights of the people. Its very being depends upon those rights. Its whole power is derived from them, and must be terminated by them.

„To cherish and stimulate the activity of the human mind, by multiplying the objects of enterprise, is not among the least considerable of the expedients, by which the wealth of a nation may be promoted.“

— Alexander Hamilton
Context: To cherish and stimulate the activity of the human mind, by multiplying the objects of enterprise, is not among the least considerable of the expedients, by which the wealth of a nation may be promoted. Even things in themselves not positively advantageous, sometimes become so, by their tendency to provoke exertion. Every new scene, which is opened to the busy nature of man to rouse and exert itself, is the addition of a new energy to the general stock of effort.

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„There are men who could neither be distressed nor won into a sacrifice of their duty; but this stern virtue is the growth of few soils; and in the main it will be found that a power over a man's support is a power over his will.“

— Alexander Hamilton
Context: There are men who could neither be distressed nor won into a sacrifice of their duty; but this stern virtue is the growth of few soils; and in the main it will be found that a power over a man's support is a power over his will. If it were necessary to confirm so plain a truth by facts, examples would not be wanting, even in this country, of the intimidation or seduction of the Executive by the terrors or allurements of the pecuniary arrangements of the legislative body. No. 73

„To produce the desirable changes, as early as may be expedient, may therefore require the incitement and patronage of government.“

— Alexander Hamilton
Context: The remaining objections to a particular encouragement of manufactures in the United States now require to be examined. One of these turns on the proposition, that Industry, if left to itself, will naturally find its way to the most useful and profitable employment: whence it is inferred, that manufactures without the aid of government will grow up as soon and as fast, as the natural state of things and the interest of the community may require. Against the solidity of this hypothesis, in the full latitude of the terms, very cogent reasons may be offered. These have relation to the strong influence of habit and the spirit of imitation, the fear of want of success in untried enterprises, the intrinsic difficulties incident to first essays towards a competition with those who have previously attained to perfection in the business to be attempted, the bounties, premiums, and other artificial encouragements, with which foreign nations second the exertions of their own Citizens in the branches, in which they are to be rivalled. Experience teaches, that men are often so much governed by what they are accustomed to see and practice, that the simplest and most obvious improvements, in the most ordinary occupations, are adopted with hesitation, reluctance and by slow gradations. The spontaneous transition to new pursuits, in a community long habituated to different ones, may be expected to be attended with proportionably greater difficulty. When former occupations ceased to yield a profit adequate to the subsistence of their followers, or when there was an absolute deficiency of employment in them, owing to the superabundance of hands, changes would ensue; but these changes would be likely to be more tardy than might consist with the interest either of individuals or of the Society. In many cases they would not happen, while a bare support could be ensured by an adherence to ancient courses; though a resort to a more profitable employment might be practicable. To produce the desirable changes, as early as may be expedient, may therefore require the incitement and patronage of government.

„The rights of neutrality will only be respected, when they are defended by an adequate power.“

— Alexander Hamilton
Context: The rights of neutrality will only be respected, when they are defended by an adequate power. A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral. No. 11

„Men often oppose a thing, merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike. But if they have been consulted, and have happened to disapprove, opposition then becomes, in their estimation, an indispensable duty of self-love.“

— Alexander Hamilton
Context: Men often oppose a thing, merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike. But if they have been consulted, and have happened to disapprove, opposition then becomes, in their estimation, an indispensable duty of self-love. They seem to think themselves bound in honor, and by all the motives of personal infallibility, to defeat the success of what has been resolved upon contrary to their sentiments. Men of upright, benevolent tempers have too many opportunities of remarking, with horror, to what desperate lengths this disposition is sometimes carried, and how often the great interests of society are sacrificed to the vanity, to the conceit, and to the obstinacy of individuals, who have credit enough to make their passions and their caprices interesting to mankind. Perhaps the question now before the public may, in its consequences, afford melancholy proofs of the effects of this despicable frailty, or rather detestable vice, in the human character. Federalist No. 70 (18 March 1788)

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