Hamilton, Walton Hale (1881–1958)

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Although Walton Hale Hamilton never formally studied law, he became an influential member of the faculty of Yale Law School and one of the nation's leading experts on government regulation of the economy. Hamilton's many books discussing the relationship between the government and the economic order include Prices and Price Policies (1938), The Patterns of Competition (1940), Patents and Free Trade (1941), and The Politics of Industry (1957). In these and other works, Hamilton criticized as unrealistic the traditional view of the American economy as a self-regulating free market; he pointed out that the government is deeply enmeshed in the economy, often at the urgent request of the private sector. Hamilton's most substantial contribution to constitutional scholarship, The Power to Govern, written with Douglass Adair (1937), followed naturally from his other interests. Exploring the intellectual background of the framing of the Constitution, Hamilton and Adair focused on the meaning of the word "commerce"; they concluded that the Framers intended to grant the national government broad powers through the Constitution's commerce clause to regulate all forms of economic activity resulting in transactions across state lines, thus implicitly supporting the constitutionality of new deal federal regulation.

Richard B. Bernstein

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Hamilton, Walton Hale (1881–1958)

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