Financial History Issue 121 (Spring 2017) | Page 27

By Michael Anthony Kirsch Alexander Hamilton’s role as chief founder of our financial system has become an object of study and appre- ciation in recent years. Among his most notable accomplishments, Hamilton mas- terfully dealt with the problem of Amer- ica’s seemingly insurmountable Revolu- tionary War debt, while turning that debt into the basis of a strong financial system. Many of Hamilton’s achievements as Sec- retary of the Treasury are becoming well known, as is the fact that Hamilton had already developed many of the elements of his financial program carried out as Sec- retary during the early 1780s. But among these early writings, Hamilton’s important addresses as a member of the Continental Congress in 1782 and 1783 are rarely noted, even though some of them clearly fore- shadow his most consequential repo