Portrait of Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton on the Constitutionality of a National Bank

Found in: The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 3

This quote originates from Alexander Hamilton’s statement regarding the constitutionality of the power of the federal government to establish a national bank. Specifically, Alexander Hamilton was responding to a request made by President George Washington to three of his principal cabinet members on the legal question of the power of the federal government to incorporate: Attorney General Edmund Randolph, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, and Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton was in fact the originator of the plan to establish such an institution on the grounds that it would assist in maintaining the accounts of the treasury, facilitate in the financing of the government’s debts and essential services like defense, and ultimately, maintain the value of the nation’s currency.

Money & Banking

“Now it appears to the Secretary of the Treasury that this general principle is inherent in the very definition of government, and essential to every step of the progress to be made by that of the United States, namely: That every power vested in a government is in its nature sovereign, and includes, by force of the term, a right to employ all the means requisite and fairly applicable to the attainment of the ends of such power, and which are not precluded by restrictions and exceptions specified in the Constitution, or not immoral, or not contrary to the essential ends of political society.” (FROM: Hamilton to Washington, February 23, 1791