Fact Check: Were the 1800s Steve Bannon's Kind of America?

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tags: Steve Bannon, Economic nationalism



"You couldn't be more dead wrong. America was built on her citizens. ... Look at the 19th century. What built America's called the American system, from Hamilton to Polk to Henry Clay to Lincoln to the Roosevelts. [It was] a system of protection of our manufacturing, financial system that lends to manufacturers, OK, and the control of our borders. Economic nationalism is what this country was built on. The American system." – Steve Bannon

President Trump's former strategic adviser offered this riff about American history on CBS's 60 Minutes. He was responding to interviewer Charlie Rose, who said that "people have been able to come here, find a place, contribute to the economy. That's what immigration has been in America." Bannon said he was "dead wrong." 

So let's explore: Does the history Bannon cited support his case?

First: Alexander Hamilton was an immigrant. He was born in the West Indies. In the 18th century he fought for his adopted country in war (as immigrants often have) and then, as treasury secretary, he contributed immensely to his adopted country's economy (as immigrants often have). He argued for the government to pay Revolutionary War debts, dreamed up a sophisticated financial system, and ended up on the $10 bill. Even in the 21st century, he continues to generate economic activity as the subject of a Broadway musical.




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