Alexander Hamilton – Continental Congressman – New York


In 1775, after the first engagement of American troops with the British in Boston, Hamilton joined a New York volunteer militia company called the Hearts of Oak, which included other King’s College students. He drilled with the company, before classes, in the graveyard of nearby St. Paul’s Chapel. Hamilton studied military history and tactics on his own and achieved the rank of lieutenant. Under fire from HMS Asia, he led a successful raid for British cannon in the Battery, the capture of which resulted in the Hearts of Oak becoming an artillery company thereafter. Through his connections with influential New York patriots such as Alexander McDougall and John Jay, he raised the New York Provincial Company of Artillery of sixty men in 1776, and was elected captain. It took part in the campaign of 1776 around New York City, particularly at the Battle of White Plains; at the Battle of Trenton, it was stationed at the high point of town, the meeting of the present Warren and Broad Streets, to keep the Hessians pinned in the Trenton Barracks.

===Washington’s staff===

Hamilton was invited to become an aide to Nathanael Greene and to Henry Knox; however, he declined these invitations, believing his best chance for improving his station in life was glory on the battlefield. Hamilton eventually received an invitation he felt he could not refuse: to serve as Washington’s aide, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Hamilton served for four years as Washington’s chief of staff. He handled letters to Congress, state governors, and the most powerful generals in the Continental Army; he drafted many of Washington’s orders and letters at the latter’s direction; he eventually issued orders from Washington over Hamilton’s own signature. Hamilton was involved in a wide variety of high-level duties, including intelligence, diplomacy, and negotiation with senior army officers as Washington’s emissary. The important duties with which he was entrusted attest to Washington’s deep confidence in his abilities and character, then and afterward. At the points in their relationship when there was little personal attachment, there was still always a reciprocal confidence and respect.

During the war, Hamilton became close friends with several fellow officers. His letters to the Marquis de Lafayette and to John Laurens, employing the sentimental literary conventions of the late eighteenth century and alluding to Greek history and mythology, have been read by Jonathan Katz as revealing a homosocial or perhaps homosexual relationship, but few historians agree.

Hamilton married Elizabeth Schuyler on December 14, 1780. She was the daughter of Philip Schuyler, a general and wealthy landowner from one of the most prominent families in the state of New York. The marriage took place at Schuyler Mansion in Albany, New York.

Hamilton was also close to Eliza’s older sister, Angelica, who eloped with John Barker Church, an Englishman who made a fortune in North America during the Revolution. She returned with Church to London after the war, where she later become a joint friend of Maria Cosway and Thomas Jefferson.

While on Washington’s staff, Hamilton long sought command and a return to active combat. As the war drew nearer to a close, he knew that opportunities for military glory were fading. In February 1781, Hamilton was mildly reprimanded by Washington, and used this as an excuse to resign his staff position. He asked Washington and others for a field command. This continued until early July 1781, when Hamilton submitted a letter to Washington with his commission enclosed, “thus tacitly threatening to resign if he didn’t get his desired command.”

On July 31, 1781, Washington relented and assigned Hamilton as commander of a New York light infantry battalion. In the planning for the assault on Yorktown, Hamilton was given command of three battalions, which were to fight in conjunction with French troops in taking Redoubts No. 9 and No. 10 of the British fortifications at Yorktown. Hamilton and his battalions fought bravely and took Redoubt No. 10 with bayonets in a nighttime action, as planned. The French also fought bravely, took heavy casualties, and successfully took Redoubt #9. This action forced the British surrender of an entire army at Yorktown, effectively ending major British military operations in North America.

===Hamilton enters Congress===

After the Battle of Yorktown, Hamilton resigned his commission. He was appointed in July 1782 to the Congress of the Confederation as a New York representative for the term beginning in November 1782. Hamilton supported congressmen such as Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris, his assistant Gouverneur Morris (no relation), along with James Wilson and James Madison, to provide the Congress with the independent source of revenue it lacked under the Articles of Confederation.

While on Washington’s staff, Hamilton had become frustrated with the decentralized nature of the wartime Continental Congress, particularly its dependence upon the states for voluntary financial support. Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress had no power to collect taxes or to demand money from the states. This lack of a stable source of funding had made it difficult for the Continental Army both to obtain its necessary provisions and to pay its soldiers. During the war, and for some time after, Congress obtained what funds it could from subsidies from the King of France, from aid requested from the several states (which were often unable or unwilling to contribute), and from European loans.

An amendment to the Articles had been proposed by Thomas Burke, in February 1781, to give Congress the power to collect a 5% impost, or duty on all imports, but this required ratification by all states; securing its passage as law proved impossible after it was rejected by Rhode Island in November 1782. Madison joined Hamilton in persuading Congress to send a delegation to persuade Rhode Island to change its mind. Their report recommending the delegation argued the federal government needed not just some level of financial autonomy, but also the ability to make laws that superseded those of the individual states. Hamilton transmitted a letter arguing that Congress already had the power to tax, since it had the power to fix the sums due from the several states; but Virginia’s rescission of its own ratification ended the Rhode Island negotiations.

===Congress and the Army===

While Hamilton was in Congress, discontented soldiers began to pose a danger to the young United States. Most of the army was then posted at Newburgh, New York. Those in the army were paying for much of their own supplies, and they had not been paid in eight months. Furthermore, the Continental officers had been promised, in May 1778, after Valley Forge, a pension of half their pay when they were discharged. It was at this time that a group of officers organized under the leadership of General Henry Knox sent a delegation to lobby Congress, led by Capt. Alexander MacDougall (see above). The officers had three demands: the Army’s pay, their own pensions, and commutation of those pensions into a lump-sum payment.

Several Congressmen, including Hamilton and the Morrises, attempted to use this Newburgh Conspiracy as leverage to secure support from the states and in Congress for funding of the national government. They encouraged MacDougall to continue his aggressive approach, threatening unknown consequences if their demands were not met, and defeated proposals that would have resolved the crisis without establishing general federal taxation: that the states assume the debt to the army, or that an impost be established dedicated to the sole purpose of paying that debt. Hamilton suggested using the Army’s claims to prevail upon the states for the proposed national funding system. The Morrises and Hamilton contacted Knox to suggest he and the officers defy civil authority, at least by not disbanding if the army were not satisfied; Hamilton wrote Washington to suggest that Hamilton covertly “take direction” of the officers’ efforts to secure redress, to secure continental funding but keep the army within the limits of moderation. Washington wrote Hamilton back, declining to introduce the army; after the crisis had ended, he warned of the dangers of using the army as leverage to gain support for the national funding plan.

On March 15, Washington defused the Newburgh situation by giving a speech to the officers. Congress ordered the Army officially disbanded in April 1783. In the same month, Congress passed a new measure for a twenty-five-year impost—which Hamilton voted against—that again required the consent of all the states; it also approved a commutation of the officers’ pensions to five years of full pay. Rhode Island again opposed these provisions, and Hamilton’s robust assertions of national prerogatives in his previous letter were widely held to be excessive. The Continental Congress was never able to secure full ratification for back pay, pensions, or its own independent sources of funding.

In June 1783, a different group of disgruntled soldiers from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, sent Congress a petition demanding their back pay. When they began to march toward Philadelphia, Congress charged Hamilton and two others with intercepting the mob. Hamilton requested militia from Pennsylvania’s Supreme Executive Council, but was turned down. Hamilton instructed Assistant Secretary of War William Jackson to intercept the men. Jackson was unsuccessful. The mob arrived in Philadelphia, and the soldiers proceeded to harangue Congress for their pay. The President of Congress, John Dickinson, feared that the Pennsylvania state militia was unreliable, and refused its help. Hamilton argued that Congress ought to adjourn to Princeton, New Jersey. Congress agreed, and relocated there.

Frustrated with the weakness of the central government, Hamilton while in Princeton drafted a call to revise the Articles of Confederation. This resolution contained many features of the future US Constitution, including a strong federal government with the ability to collect taxes and raise an army. It also included the separation of powers into the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches.

===Return to New York===

Hamilton resigned from Congress, and in July 1783 was authorized to practice law in New York after several months of self-directed education. He practiced law in New York City in partnership with Richard Harison. He specialized in defending Tories and British subjects, as in Rutgers v. Waddington, in which he defeated a claim for damages done to a brewery by the Englishmen who held it during the military occupation of New York. He pleaded for the Mayor’s Court to interpret state law consistent with the 1783 Treaty of Paris which had ended the Revolutionary War.

In 1784, he founded the Bank of New York, now the oldest ongoing bank in the United States. Hamilton was one of the men who restored King’s College, which had been suspended since 1776 and severely damaged during the War, as Columbia College. Long dissatisfied with the weak Articles of Confederation, he played a major leadership role at the Annapolis Convention in 1786. He drafted its resolution for a constitutional convention, and in doing so brought his longtime desire to have a more powerful, more financially independent federal government one step closer to reality.

==Constitution and Federalist Papers==

In 1787, Hamilton served as assemblyman from New York County in the New York State Legislature and was the first delegate chosen to the Constitutional Convention. Even though Hamilton had been a leader in calling for a new Constitutional Convention, his direct influence at the Convention itself was quite limited. Governor George Clinton’s faction in the New York legislature had chosen New York’s other two delegates, John Lansing and Robert Yates, and both of them opposed Hamilton’s goal of a strong national government. Thus, whenever the other two members of the New York delegation were present, they decided New York’s vote; and when they left the convention in protest, Hamilton remained but with no vote, since two representatives were required for any state to cast a vote.

Early in the Convention he made a speech proposing a President-for-Life; it had no effect upon the deliberations of the convention. He proposed to have an elected President and elected Senators who would serve for life, contingent upon “good behavior” and subject to removal for corruption or abuse; this idea contributed later to the hostile view of Hamilton as a monarchist sympathizer, held by James Madison. During the convention, Hamilton constructed a draft for the Constitution based on the convention debates, but he never presented it. This draft had most of the features of the actual Constitution, including such details as the three-fifths clause. In this draft, the Senate was to be elected in proportion to the population, being two-fifths the size of the House, and the President and Senators were to be elected through complex multistage elections, in which chosen electors would elect smaller bodies of electors; they would hold office for life, but were removable for misconduct. The President would have an absolute veto. The Supreme Court was to have immediate jurisdiction over all law suits involving the United States, and state governors were to be appointed by the federal government.

At the end of the Convention, Hamilton was still not content with the final form of the Constitution, but signed it anyway as a vast improvement over the Articles of Confederation, and urged his fellow delegates to do so also. Since the other two members of the New York delegation, Lansing and Yates, had already withdrawn, Hamilton was the only New York signer to the United States Constitution. He then took a highly active part in the successful campaign for the document’s ratification in New York in 1788, which was a crucial step in its national ratification. Hamilton recruited John Jay and James Madison to write a series of essays defending the proposed Constitution, now known as the Federalist Papers, and made the largest contribution to that effort, writing 51 of 85 essays published (Madison wrote 29, Jay only five). Hamilton’s essays and arguments were influential in New York state, and elsewhere, during the debates over ratification. The Federalist Papers are more often cited than any other primary source by jurists, lawyers, historians, and political scientists as the major contemporary interpretation of the Constitution.{#tag:ref| Using Supreme Court citations, the five most cited were Federalist No. 42 (Madison, 33 decisions), Federalist No. 78 (Hamilton, 30 decisions), Federalist No. 81 (Hamilton, 27 decisions), Federalist No. 51 (Madison, 26 decisions), Federalist No. 32 (Hamilton, 25 decisions).|group=”note”}

In the Federalist No. 11, 1787, Hamilton wrote:

“Let the thirteen States, bound together in a strict and indisoluble Union, concur in erecting one great American system, superior to the control of all trans-Atlantic force or influence and able to dictate the terms of the connection between the old and the new world!”

In 1788, Hamilton served yet another term in what proved to be the last session of the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation. When the term of Hamilton’s father-in-law Phillip Schuyler was up in 1791, elected in his place was the attorney general of New York, one Aaron Burr. Hamilton blamed Burr for this result, and ill characterizations of Burr appear in his correspondence thereafter. The two men did work together from time to time thereafter on various projects, including Hamilton’s army of 1798 and the Manhattan Water Company.

==Secretary of the Treasury==

President George Washington appointed Hamilton as the first United States Secretary of the Treasury on September 11, 1789. He left office on the last day of January 1795. Much of the structure of the government of the United States was worked out in those five years, beginning with the structure and function of the cabinet itself. Forrest McDonald argues that Hamilton saw his office, like that of the British First Lord of the Treasury, as the equivalent of a Prime Minister; Hamilton would oversee his colleagues under the elective reign of George Washington. Washington did request Hamilton’s advice and assistance on matters outside the purview of the Treasury Department.

In the next two years, Hamilton submitted five reports:

* First Report on the Public Credit: Communicated to the House of Representatives, January 14, 1790.
* Operations of the Act Laying Duties on Imports: Communicated to the House of Representatives, April 23, 1790.
* Second Report on Public Credit – Report on a National Bank. Communicated to the House of Representatives, December 14, 1790.
* Report on the Establishment of a Mint: Communicated to the House of Representatives, January 28, 1791.
* Report on Manufactures: Communicated to the House of Representatives, December 5, 1791.

===Report on Public Credit===

In the Report on Public Credit, the Secretary made a controversial proposal that would have the federal government assume state debts incurred during the Revolution. This would give the federal government much more power by placing the country’s most serious financial obligation in the hands of the federal government rather than the state governments.

The primary criticism of the plan was from Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Representative James Madison. Some states, such as Jefferson’s Virginia, had paid almost half of their debts, and felt that their taxpayers should not be assessed again to bail out the less provident. They further argued that the plan passed beyond the scope of the new Constitutional government.

Madison objected to Hamilton’s proposal to lower the rate of interest and postpone payments on federal debt as not being payment in full; he also objected to the speculative profits being made. Much of the national debt was in the form of bonds issued to Continental veterans, in place of wages the Continental Congress did not have the money to pay. As the bonds continued to go unpaid, many had been pawned for a small fraction of their value. Madison proposed to pay in full, but to divide payment between the original recipient and the present possessor. Others, such as Samuel Livermore of New Hampshire, wished to curb speculation, and reduce taxation, by paying only part of the bond. The disagreements between Madison and Hamilton extended to other proposals Hamilton made to Congress, and drew in Jefferson when he returned from serving as minister to France. Hamilton’s supporters became known as Federalists and Jefferson’s as Republicans. As Madison put it:

> “I deserted Colonel Hamilton, or rather Colonel H. deserted me; in a word, the divergence between us took place from his wishing to administration, or rather to administer the Government into what he thought it ought to be…”

Hamilton eventually secured passage of his assumption plan by striking a deal with Jefferson and Madison. Hamilton would use his influence to place the permanent national capital on the Potomac River, and Jefferson and Madison would encourage their friends to back Hamilton’s assumption plan. In the end, Hamilton’s assumption, together with his proposals for funding the debt, overcame legislative opposition and narrowly passed the House on July 26, 1790.

===Report on a National Bank===

Hamilton’s Report on a National Bank, was a projection from the first Report on the Public Credit. Although Hamilton had been forming ideas of a national bank as early as 1779, he gathered ideas in various ways over the past eleven years. These included theories from Adam Smith, extensive studies on the Bank of England, the blunders of the Bank of North America and his experience in establishing the Bank of New York. His also used American records from James Wilson, Pelatiah Webster, Gouverneur Morris, and from his assistant Treasury secretary Tench Coxe.

Hamilton suggested that Congress should charter the National Bank was to have its capitalization at $10 million, and one-fifth of the total was to be handled by the Government. Since the Government did not have the money, it would borrow the money from the bank itself, and repay the loan in ten even annual installments. The rest was to be available to individual investors. The bank was to be governed by a twenty-five member board of directors that was to represent a large majority of the private shareholders, which Hamilton considered essential for his being under a private direction. Hamilton’s bank model had many similarities to that of the Bank of England, except Hamilton wanted to exclude the Government from being involved in public debt, but provide a large, firm elastic money supply for the functioning of normal businesses and usual economic development, among other differences. For tax revenue to ignite the bank, it was the same as he had previously proposed; increases on imported spirits: rum, liquor, and whiskey.

The bill passed through the Senate practically without a problem, but objections of the proposal increased by the time it reached the House of Representatives. It was generally held by critics that Hamilton was serving the interests of the Northeast by means of the bank, and those of the agrarian lifestyle would not benefit from it. Among those critics was James Jackson of Georgia, who also attempted to refute the report by quoting from The Federalist Papers. Madison and Jefferson also opposed the bank bill; however, the potential of the capital not being moved to the Potomac if the bank was to have a firm establishment in Philadelphia (the current capital of the United States) was a more significant reason, and actions that Pennsylvania members of Congress took to keep the capital there made both men anxious. Madison warned the Pennsylvania congress members that he would attacked the bill as unconstitutional in the House, and followed up on his threat. Madison argued his case of where the power of a bank could be established within the Constitution, but he failed to sway members of the House, and his authority on the constitution was question by a few members. The bill eventually passed in an overwhelming fashion 39 to 20, on the 8th of February, 1791.

Washington hesitated to sign the bill, as he received suggestions from Attorney-General Edmund Randolph and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson dismissed the ‘necessary and proper’ clause as reasoning for the creation of a national bank, stating that the enumerated powers “can all be carried into execution without a bank.” Along with Randolph and Jefferson’s objections, Washington’s involvement in the movement of the capital from Philadelphia is also thought to be a reason for his hesitation. In response to the objection of the ‘necessary and proper’ clause, Hamilton stated that “Necessary often means no more than needful, requisite, incidental, useful, or conductive to”, and the bank was a “convenient species of medium in which they (taxes) are to be paid.”. Washington would eventually sign the bill into law.

===Establishing the U.S. Mint===

In 1791, Hamilton submitted Report on the Establishment of a Mint to the House of Representatives. Most of Hamilton’s ideas for this report were from European economists, resolutions from Continental Congress meetings from 1785 and 1786, and from people such as Gouverneur Morris and Thomas Jefferson. Due to the Spanish coin being the most circulated coin in the United States at the time, Alexander Hamilton proposed that the minting of the United States dollar weighing almost as much as the Spanish peso would be the simplest way to introduce a national currency. Hamilton wanted the U.S. dollar system to be set for decimals rather than the eights like the Spanish mint. In spite of preferring a monometallic gold standard, he issued a bimetallic currency at ratio that was to be similar to most European countries. What was different from the European currencies was his desire to overprice the gold on the grounds that the United States would always receive an influx of silver from the West Indies. Hamilton desired the minting of small value coins such as silver ten-cent, copper, and half-cent pieces, for reducing the cost of living for the poor. His motives weren’t motivated for charity, as he also had objectives of the general public to become accustomed to handling money on a frequent basis.

By 1792, Hamilton’s principles were adopted by Congress, resulting in the Coinage Act of 1792, and the creation of the United States Mint. There was to be a ten dollar Gold Eagle coin, a silver dollar, and fractional money ranging from one-half to fifty cents. The coining of silver and gold were issued by 1795.

===Revenue Cutter Service===

Smuggling off American coasts was an issue before the Revolutionary War, and after the Revolution it was more problematic. Along with smuggling, lack of shipping control, pirating, and a revenue unbalance were also major problems. In response, Hamilton proposed to Congress to enact a naval police force called revenue cutters in order to patrol the waters and assist the custom collectors with confiscating contraband. This idea was also proposed to assist in tariff controlling, boosting the American economy, and promote the merchant marine. It is thought that his experience obtained during his apprenticeship with Nicholas Kruger was influential in his decision-making.

Concerning some of the details of the “System of Cutters”, {#tag:ref|The System of Revenue Cutters was also known as the Revenue Service, Revenue-Marine Service, and System of Cutters after being enacted by Congress. It officially became the Coast Guard in 1915.|group=”note”} Hamilton wanted the first ten cutters in different areas in the United States, from New England to Georgia. Hamilton also wanted those cutters to be armed with ten muskets and bayonets, twenty pistols, two chisels, one broad-ax and two lanterns. Hamilton also wanted the fabric of the sails to be domestically manufactured. Hamilton was also concerned of the employees’ food supply and etiquette when boarding ships, and made provisions for each.

Congress established the Revenue Cutter Service on August 4, 1790, which is viewed as the birth of the United States Coast Guard.

===Sources of revenue===

One of the principal sources of revenue Hamilton prevailed upon Congress to approve was an excise tax on whiskey. Strong opposition to the whiskey tax by cottage producers in remote, rural regions erupted into the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794; in Western Pennsylvania and western Virginia, whiskey was the basic export product and was fundamental to the local economy. In response to the rebellion, believing compliance with the laws was vital to the establishment of federal authority, Hamilton accompanied to the rebellion’s site President Washington, General Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, and more federal troops than were ever assembled in one place during the Revolution. This overwhelming display of force intimidated the leaders of the insurrection, ending the rebellion virtually without bloodshed.

===Manufacturing and industry===

Hamilton’s next report was his Report on Manufactures. Although he was requested by Congress on 15 January of 1790 for a report for manufacturing that would expand the United States independence, the report was not submitted until 5 December of 1791. In the report, Hamilton quoted from Wealth of Nations and used the French physiocrats as an example for rejecting agrarianism and the physiocratic theory; respectively. Hamilton also refuted Smith’s ideas of government noninterference, as it would have been detrimental for trade with other countries. Hamilton also thought of the United States being a dominant agrarian country would be at a disadvantage in dealing with Europe. In response to the agrarian detractors, Hamilton stated that agriculture’s interest would be advanced by manufactures, and that agriculture was just as productive as manufacturing.

Among the ways that the government could assist manufactures, Hamilton mentioned levying protective duties on imported foreign goods manufactured in the United States, to withdraw duties levied on raw materials needed for domestic manufacturing, pecuniary boundaries, and encouraging immigration for people to better themselves in similar employment opportunities.

Congress shelved the report without much debate (except for Madison’s objection to Hamilton’s formulation of the General Welfare clause, which Hamilton construed liberally as a legal basis for his extensive programs). The Report has been often quoted by protectionists since.

Subsequently in 1791, with his ideas for manufacturing being a major influence, Hamilton, along with Coxe and several entrepreneurs from New York and Philadelphia helped form Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures, a private industrial corporation. The location at Great Falls of the Passaic River in New Jersey was selected due to access to raw materials, was densely inhabited, and the access to water power on the falls of the Passaic. The factory town was named Paterson after New Jersey’s Governor William Paterson, who signed the charter. The profits were to derive from specific corporates rather than the benefits to be conferred to the nation and the citizens, which was unlike the report. Hamilton also suggested the first stock to be offered at $500,000 and to eventually increase to $1 million, and welcomed state and national government subscriptions alike. The company never materialized any success as numerous shareholders reneged on stock payments, some of the Society’s members would were soon bankrupt, while William Duer, the governor of the program, wounded up in debtors’ prison. In spite of Hamilton coming to mend the disaster, the company would expire by 1796.

===Emergence of parties===

During Hamilton’s tenure as Treasury Secretary, political factions began to emerge. A Congressional caucus, led by James Madison and William Branch Giles, began as an opposition group to Hamilton’s financial programs, and Thomas Jefferson joined this group when he returned from France. Hamilton and his allies began to call themselves Federalists. The opposition group, now called the Democratic-Republican Party by political scientists, was at the time known as Republicans,.{#tag:ref|quote:I see by a paper of last evening that even in New York a meeting of the people has taken place, at the instance of the Republican party, and that a committee is appointed for the like purpose. See also Smith, (2004) p.832.|group=”note”}

Hamilton assembled a nationwide coalition to garner support for the Administration, including the expansive financial programs Hamilton had made Administration policy and especially the president’s policy of neutrality in the European war between Britain and France. Hamilton’s public relations campaign attacked the French minister Edmond-Charles Genêt (he called himself as “Citizen Genêt”) who tried to appeal to voters directly, which Federalists denounced as foreign interference in American affairs.

The Jeffersonian Republicans opposed banks and cities, and favored France. They built their own national coalition to oppose the Federalists. Both sides gained the support of local political factions; each side developed its own partisan newspapers. Noah Webster, John Fenno, and William Cobbett were energetic editors for the Federalists; Benjamin Franklin Bache and Philip Freneau were fiery Republican editors. All the newspapers were characterized by intense personal attacks, major exaggerations and invented claims. In 1801, Hamilton established a daily newspaper, the New York Evening Post and brought in William Coleman as editor. It is still publishing (as the New York Post).

==Jay Treaty and Britain==

When France and Britain went to war in early 1793, all four members of the Cabinet were consulted on what to do. They and Washington unanimously agreed to remain neutral, and to send Genet home.

However, in 1794 policy toward Britain became a major point of contention between the two parties. Hamilton and the Federalists wished for more trade with Britain, the new nation’s largest trading partner. The Republicans saw Britain as the main threat to republicanism and proposed instead a trade war.

To avoid war, Washington sent Chief Justice John Jay to negotiate with the British; Hamilton largely wrote Jay’s instructions. The result was Jay’s Treaty. It was denounced by the Repu