Artifacts of Finance: Alexander Hamilton’s Society of the Cincinnati Badge
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Alexander Hamilton is known for helping to create the US Mint and the first national bank—but he is also the founding father of our national debt, which, according to John Steele Gordon, eventually led to the creation of capital markets. Hamilton butted heads with Thomas Jefferson over the assumption of national debt—among many other issues—and revisiting these early debates seems apropos in light of recent politics.
The badge above, awarded to Hamilton by the Society of the Cincinnati and passed down through the generations to his descendants, is currently on display at the Museum of American Finance as part of the “Alexander Hamilton: Lineage and Legacy” exhibit (through July 12, 2011). According to guest curator Dr. Richard Sylla, “Hamilton’s principal goals—US independence, a stronger government and economic modernization—are also his legacy. The exhibit shows that Hamilton, the subject of many stiff portraits and cold statues, was really quite a passionate soldier, statesman and financier.”