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Challenging Myths about Hamilton in Shepherdstown

Jan. 30, 2020—The Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education at Shepherd University will host a book talk by Nancy Bradeen Spannaus, author of Hamilton versus Wall Street: The Core Principles of the American System of Economics on Wednesday, February 5, 2020.

Challenging Myths about Hamilton in Shepherdstown

A partial picture of the book Hamilton Versus Wall Street.

The doors will open at 6:30 pm and the book talk will begin in the center’s auditorium at 7:00 pm. Following the lecture, books will be available for sale by Four Seasons Bookstore in the Rotunda, and there will be a signing reception. There is no cost for admission, but the Center requests that you reserve your seats by contacting Jody Brumage ( jbrumage@shepherd.edu ) or (304-876-5648). The Byrd Center is located at 213 North King Street, Shepherdstown, West Virginia on the campus of Shepherd University.

The Byrd Center, named after the late Senate Robert Byrd, was established in 2002, and dedicated to “advance[ing] representative democracy by promoting a better understanding of the United States Congress and the Constitution through programs and research that engage citizens.” It “conducts lectures, film screenings, public forums, teacher’s institutes, workshops, and conferences on a wide variety of topics and issues,” and hosts the papers of several Congressmen, including those of Senator Byrd himself, who was renowned for his deep historical knowledge of the U.S. Senate.

Hamilton’s Role Today

Spannaus’s talk will focus on presenting Alexander Hamilton’s role as the founder of the American System of Economics, the System which built the United States into the industrial republic which was once the envy of the world. In so doing, Spannaus will be challenging several prevalent myths about our First Treasury Secretary, especially the one that portrays him as a tool of greedy financiers. To the contrary: Hamilton conceived and built his economic system in order to promote the unity and growth of the nation in order to benefit all its citizens, Spannaus argues, and they are still relevant today.

“Most Americans remain painfully ignorant of the in-depth content of Hamilton’s political-economic thinking, and even more so of the American System thinkers who picked up and advanced his work through the American System,” Spannaus asserts.  “Listeners can expect to be surprised to learn of the content of his Report on Manufactures, and the work of economists like Mathew and Henry C. Carey, who took up Hamilton’s mission into the 19th Century.”

“Hamilton, of course, is in the news today primarily in connection with his Federalist writings on impeachment,” Spannaus added. “These are not irrelevant to his economic thought, however. Both proceeded from his core conviction that our Constitutional republic must be governed by individuals committed to promoting the public good through a sovereign commitment to economic progress, which he hoped the Constitution and his economic system would achieve.”

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