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Grant number like: FT-269856-20

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Jon David Schaff
Northern State University (Aberdeen, SD 57401-7198)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/15/2020 – 7/15/2020

A More Perfect Union: The Political Philosophies of Jefferson, Hamilton, and Lincoln

Writing a historical study comparing the political philosophies of Thomas Jefferson (president, 1743-1826), Alexander Hamilton (secretary of the treasury, 1757-1804), and Abraham Lincoln (president, 1809-1865).

Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton are rightly depicted as adversaries in the American founding era. Jefferson was the tribune of people and a believer in small government based in the yeoman farmer. Hamilton promoted government support for banking and industry and showed deep skepticism toward democracy. This project argues that Lincoln serves as a synthesis of Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian ideas. Lincoln's thought marries Jefferson's preference for self-sufficient labor and natural rights to Hamilton's belief in a national economic policy and skepticism of Jeffersonian populism. Looking at each statesman's views on economics, presidential power, war, the Constitution, natural rights, and populism we see that Lincoln was able to blend ideas of both founders to build better than either intended. As the nature of the founding-era conflicts still inhabit contemporary politics, we can prosper from appreciating Lincoln's fusion of the best of Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian ideas.