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09/10/2009

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Salvatore DeGennaro

Great discussion Lindsey, you are analyzing a subject that is not only related to economics and the history of corporation, but the reassessment of the Founders in general. I for one, similar to your feelings on the matter, do not enjoy defaming the Founders simply because that seems to be the hip thing to do currently in history. However, I believe strongly that these pragmatic economic reasons were truly part of their motivations to rebel against Great Britain. I think that some historians may use this, among other things, as an opportunity to try and lower the aggrandized stature of the Founders, but I don’t see why this would do so. The Founders were men trying to make a living, like every other person in the original colonies at that time. They were comprised of merchants, farmers, and planters and the treatment of the colonies as a “colony” by Great Britain was detrimental to them politically and economically. Why should a fight for economic freedom be less grand than a fight for political freedom? Certainly the Founders fought for both. This is perhaps yet another reason to admire them rather than defame them. The freedom to conduct business without the meddling hand of a mother country was no small matter to these men and economic freedom certainly is no less valuable than political freedom, is it?

-Salvatore

TJD

I think Beard has a really non-controversial proposition: the Revolution was led by a bunch of elites who looked out for their own financial interests. Salvatore, I am not sure I agree that it was quite as broad based as I read your post--I am not sure they were just guys out to earn a living, so much as profit-maximizers looking out for their own self-interest. I don't say this to defame them. They were pragmatists. Nothing wrong with that. But, I don't know whether this was a fight for "economic freedom" in the Constitutional period. I think the Articles did not work in terms of wealth creation and develpment of an advancing economy, so the Hamiltonians (and I say that being a Hamilton fan) worked hard to pass a Constitution that worked to the benefit of the haves.
No need to put them on a pedastal, no reason to criticize them, they were rational actors, and characterizing them good or bad is, to me, moot. Like the parable about the frog carrying the scorpion across the stream, when the scorpion stung his ride, it is in their nature.

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