66 pages 2 hours read

Ron Chernow

Alexander Hamilton

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 2004

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Chapters 17-22

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 17 Summary: “The First Town in America”

Hamilton soon moved to the Philadelphia treasury offices, where he began his work in earnest. The creation of the Customs service took most of his time the first year. He was also required to develop policies to combat offshore smuggling, which resulted in a patrolling maritime organization that would become the Coast Guard. 

Hamilton’s evaluations of America’s finances required him to track the country’s sources of revenue. Three quarters of U.S. revenue came from commerce with Great Britain. This alarmed Hamilton, who saw that in order to mitigate risk—future conflict with England was always a possibility—the Treasury needed to receive funds from more sources.

He instituted a tax on whiskey and spirits that would help diversify America’s income and also grant more power to the federal government. The whiskey tax would prove to be hugely unpopular, even though it achieved Hamilton’s aims.

Chapter 18 Summary: “Of Avarice and Enterprise”

A December 14, 1790 report details the proposal for the Bank of the United States. Jefferson, Madison, and Adams would be Hamilton’s most venomous critics, but they were “backward in finance” (414). Jefferson and Adams hated banks. Adams wanted a central bank with state branches, but not a single private branch. Hamilton set out to demonstrate advantages of banks.