Alexander Hamilton: Ideas on Human Nature

Alexander Hamilton played a slight, yet important, role in the Constitutional Convention in 1787. He was best known for his career as a financial role in the early American government. With a strong background in law, Hamilton approached the Constitutional Convention in 1787 with some fairly radical ideas. He was a scholar from Kings College in New York and a successful fighter from the Revolutionary War. And with this background, he presented his strong opinions to the delegates.

His most important role in the Convention occurred on June 18, when he delivered an extremely lengthy proposal for a new government. His focus was the conception of human nature and how it related to political science. He had a strong perspective, with an emphasis on liberty, nobility, philanthropy and power. His ideas display the tension between liberty and power. As stated in his article, Michael J. Rosana suggests that Hamilton believed “the tension between liberty and power require powerful government to defend liberty” (Rosano 64).   As Hamilton addressed the delegates, his speech was found to go against the new ideas of the New Jersey Plan.  He wanted to go as far towards monarchy as possible, with still maintaining the republican principles. Hamilton discussed politicians “love of power” (Beeman 167) and self interest. He understood that most politicians have a strong drive for personal gain, but that it is backed by the desire to do public good (Rosano 69).

Hamilton’s daylong presentation to the Convention delegates was an aggressive approach to their seemingly endless debate for the new constitution. He touched upon five main focal points; “an active and constant interest in supporting government,” “the love of power,” “the habitual attachment of the people” to what is close to them, “the coercion of laws or the coercion of arms,” and the influence of other models (Beeman 167).

The room listened intently as Hamilton presented his ideas. When he finally finished, the delegates were at a loss. His proposal had been radical. One delegate remembered that he had been “praised by every body, but supported by none” (Beenman 170).

Hamilton’s ideas for the new government were extreme.However, his ideas were not completely thrown from the making of the new government. The Convention did take his ideas into consideration and morphed some of them to use in the final outcome of the new US Constitution.


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