Founding Finance Reviews, Sept. 1, 2012

Hogeland, William. Founding Finance: How Debt, Speculation, Foreclosures, Protests, and Crackdowns Made Us a Nation. Univ. of Texas. (Discovering America). Oct. 2012. c.256p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780292743618. $20. HIST

Hogeland (Declaration: The Nine Tumultuous Weeks When America Became Independent: May 1–July 4, 1776) examines how populists striving for economic and social justice were derailed in the founding of the United States and how both today’s Tea Party and Occupy movements mistakenly look to the Founding Fathers for historical justification. He shows that wealthy merchants and planters dominated society as lenders and landlords. He cites the North Carolina Regulators, the Pennsylvania Committee of Privates, and the Whiskey Rebellion as populist attempts at egalitarian reform and notes how, in defense, the economic elite formulated a strong federal government built on centralized banking with taxing and military powers. Familiar names such as Alexander Hamilton, John and Samuel Adams, and George Washington figure prominently in his study but so too do egalitarian radicals such as Thomas Paine and Herman Husband. Hogeland concedes that he is at variance with consensus historians. ­VERDICT This provocative work will displease members of both the right and the left, but it is recommended to academic and other readers who wish to dig beneath history’s surface and note both the populist and anti-populist dimensions of the nation’s founding.—­Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA

starred review starMcCraw, Thomas K. The Founders and Finance: How Hamilton, Gallatin, and Other Immigrants Forged a New Economy. Belknap: Harvard Univ. Oct. 2012. c.457p. illus. index. ISBN 9780674066922. $35. HIST

Only two men are honored with statues outside the U.S. Treasury building: Alexander Hamilton and Albert Gallatin. McCraw (business history, emeritus, Harvard Business Sch.), who won a Pulitzer Prize for Prophets of Regulation, explores their qualities, foibles, achievements, and failures in order to show why both deserve credit for laying the foundations of American governmental finance. Hamilton, McCraw explains, as the first Treasury secretary, contained the crushing national debt, made the country creditworthy, established a national bank, and sowed the seeds of rapid economic growth. Gallatin was an ardent Republican, but McCraw says he was also pragmatic in accepting much of Hamilton’s system and, as Treasury secretary in the Jefferson and Madison administrations, cut government spending, reduced the national debt, eliminated taxes, expedited the Louisiana Purchase, formulated land policy, and favored internal improvements. In his concluding chapters, McCraw draws parallels between his subjects’ immigrant backgrounds, national visions, and understanding of capital and credit. VERDICT McCraw is a talented storyteller. His highly readable and fascinating work portrays the brilliance of Hamilton and Gallatin against the difficulty of their time and is strongly recommended to all readers interested in American and financial history.—Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA