Commerce and Country

in Making Patriots

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2001 | ISBN: 9780226044378
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226044514 | DOI:
Commerce and Country

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This chapter describes the evolution of America into a commercial republic. Although one of its founders, Thomas Jefferson, favored agrarian society, he drafted the bills abolishing primogeniture and entail in his state of Virginia. This checked feudalism, with its “pseudo-aristocracy,” that depended on the stability of land ownership, thereby making land a commodity, to be bought or sold as readily as a stock, bond, or bale of cotton. Because of Jefferson's “reforms,” the farmer also came to depend on the “casualties and caprice of customers,” thereby laying the axe to his agrarian society. The Federalists, particularly James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, had a better understanding of the character of the American people, and of the form of government in which their rights could be secured. Hamilton had remarked that all Americans were looking forward with eager expectation and growing alacrity to this pleasing reward of their toils, which could only be achieved by multiplying the means of gratification and promoting the introduction and circulation of precious metals.

Keywords: America; Thomas Jefferson; primogeniture; James Madison; Alexander Hamilton; pseudo-aristocracy; agrarian society

Chapter.  5338 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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