March 26, 2022—Two new videos just posted on AmericanSystemNow’s You Tube channel offer unique views of two crucial periods of American history. In both, author Nancy Spannaus applies the concepts she developed in her book Hamilton Versus Wall Street: The Core Principles of the American System of Economics, to unearth surprising and challenging aspects of American history that are often overlooked.
The Federalist Era
The first video, about 40 minutes long, is a lecture on “The Loudouners Who Challenged Thomas Jefferson” on March 13 in Lovettsville, Virginia. Spannaus presents the startling discovery that Loudoun County, Virginia was a “Federalist stronghold,” where leading Federalists Leven Powell and Charles Fenton Mercer, among others, went directly up against the anti-industrial, Virginia-first policies of Jefferson.
The result was that Loudoun County played a leading role in supporting Hamiltonian policies such as building the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, establishing primary education, and defending national unity as defined in the Constitution. While these policies were in large part defeated until after the Civil War, they had an ongoing legacy in the Federalist-dominated areas of northern Virginia and elsewhere.
This fact is underscored by the distribution of votes against secession in the first statewide referendum held in Virginia in April 1861.
The lecture can be accessed here.
The Lincoln Era
The second recent posting is of a class given March 24 on the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, arguably the greatest of the United States’ American System presidents. Spannaus’s class series is ongoing at Shepherd University’s Lifelong Learning program in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
What the series emphasizes is that Lincoln’s motivating passion was economic development that would allow “all men to rise,” which he understood to be the nation’s founding ideal, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Indeed, Hamilton’s American System principles were conceived as a means of defending and advancing the liberties won in the Revolution.
In this class, the second in the series, Nancy presents how Lincoln’s passion was elaborated in his Presidency. His whirlwind of economic measures demonstrated his commitment to a Hamiltonian program – establishing economic sovereignty, building national unity, and implementing government measures to support improvements of all sorts for the population.
Lincoln saw his economic measures as crucial not only for the war, but for the nation’s future. They were integrally connected to the need to prevent the expansion of slavery and put it on the road to extinction. Nancy provides a close look at the trajectory of Lincoln’s proposals on slavery, numerous features of which cut against today’s popular disparagement of his abolitionist stance.
The class is rich in detail, including Lincoln’s own words, many of which have been ignored by popular treatments of this controversial president. It is geared, as Nancy said in a promotional speech, to not only learning more about Lincoln, but also potentially learning from him in our current period of crisis.
The hour-long class can be accessed here.