In the latest “Making America” video for PragerU, Dinesh D’Souza, the author and speaker, explains how Alexander Hamilton laid the foundations for American commercial prosperity by promoting new ideas about wealth creation for the country.
As D’Souza points out, after the American War for Independence, there was debate about the future of the new country’s economic system. What system would the young nation adopt if it moved on from the old force and conquest means of acquiring wealth?
“Alexander Hamilton, the first treasurer of the United States, had the answer,” says D’Souza. “Under his brilliant stewardship, the new nation developed a new concept of wealth creation: capitalism—based on innovation, invention, and enterprise. And it would be available to every citizen from any background with the willingness to work for it.”
While D’Souza notes that there were exceptions to this general principle, he argues that, at the core, “America is the first society to be based on invention and trade.”
D’Souza credits this fact to the unique influence of Alexander Hamilton.
Born in the Caribbean, Hamilton was orphaned at 12 and years later, at age 29, moved to New York. Soon after, he joined George Washington’s staff, took part in the Revolutionary War, and, eventually, became a member of Washington’s cabinet as the Secretary of Treasury.
“Hamilton envisioned America as a nation whose nuclei would be cities, centers of vigorous invention, innovation, and trade, with new types of people—entrepreneurs, mechanics, financiers, salesmen, and so on—all working to enjoy the ‘pleasing reward of their toils,’” D’Souza says.
Hamilton knew that the acceptance of slavery was a major problem for the young United States, and favored a gradual ending of the slave system. He believed, says D’Souza, that adopting his commercial-based system would hasten slavery’s demise.
“In his mind, there was only one way: make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to become as prosperous as possible. This would happen through the myriad ways of commerce,” says D’Souza.
He realized that the government would need to be strong enough to protect the new commercial systems he hoped to implement throughout the country. On this question, he often debated Thomas Jefferson, who wanted a weaker government.
A key component of protecting the rights to commerce was included in the Constitution in the form of patent protection. This gave creators an incentive to invent things that would benefit the nation.
“It was no accident that within a matter of decades the United States became the most prosperous nation in world history,” D’Souza says. “It’s no accident because Alexander Hamilton was there at the founding—the man who understood that, thanks to capitalism, you don’t have to take anyone else’s marbles to get more marbles of your own.”