This Day in Financial History - January 11 . . .

1757 - Alexander Hamilton is born. Along with fighting in the American Revolution and scribing a number of the Federalist Papers, Hamilton was instrumental in shaping America's early fiscal course.

In 1789, President George Washington installed Hamilton as the first Secretary of the Treasury. Once in office, Hamilton set about developing a plan for repaying America's considerable war debts, as well as establishing the young nation's foreign and domestic credit. Hamilton outlined his plans in a series of reports delivered to Congress between 1790 and 1791. An ardent proponent of centralized government, Hamilton used the reports to push fiscal policy that expanded the Federal government's reach and responsibilities. Indeed, he called for the Federal government to assume responsibility for debts accrued by the states, a notion that raised the ire of states'-rights proponents and some powerful members of the business community. However, Hamilton brokered a deal with Thomas Jefferson to secure enough votes to ensure the passage of his legislation. In a later report, Hamilton successfully made the case for the establishment of the Bank of the United States, a strong national institution patterned after the Bank of England.

Despite these victories, Hamilton was a lightning rod for controversy and criticism. Indeed, his Report on Manufacturers, which drew heavily on works of Adam Smith in its call for protective tariffs to nurture America's burgeoning industrial sector, was shot down by Congress, though it later proved to be a key influence on the nation's economic development. By 1795, Hamilton had grown weary of waging battle with the legislators and retired to attend to his private fortune. However, a long string of presidents kept Hamilton on as a key, though unofficial, advisor long after he surrendered his Treasury post. Source:

1973 - The Dow Jones Industrial Average peaks at a then-record high of 1051.70. It will not close above that level again for almost a decade -- 3,583 days, to be exact. Source:

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