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Thomas Fleming on
the need for a well-established economy

Thomas Fleming Q: What's the situation of the continental army at that time

A: Both Hamilton and Burr experienced what we might call a collapse of the revolutionary economy. It was dramatized at Valley Forge and then again, a few winters later, at Morris Town. The American economy simply couldn't feed the army, and it got so bad at Morris Town. Washington said, "It takes a wagonload of money to buy a wagonload of hay to feed the horses, let alone the men." It was just a terrible situation, and this made it a huge impression on Hamilton and on Burr, but in different ways. Hamilton became convinced that the American people were not to be trusted; they had to be sort of browbeaten almost into supporting this revolution. We couldn't allow the economy to fall apart the way it did during the Revolution, just printing money helter-skelter, we had to have a really intelligently designed economy.

Burr on the other end, who was not in any way nearly as deep a thinker about the economy or anything else as Hamilton, began to think that there was something wrong with Washington. He saw Washington more and more as a rather incompetent general who just wasn't doing the job the way Burr would liked him to have done. And he drifted slowly into a group of officers who really were against Washington. This put him, you might say, on the wrong side as far as the future of America was concerned. He was an outsider, at least until politics developed in the 1790s.

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