As an American seeking to be relevant in a world of Europeans, I’m often surprised by the comment from Europeans about the number of them who move to the U.S. to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. It raises the question in my mind, is America really that different in terms of the climate of opportunity for greater entrepreneurial success?
Therefore, I was quite intrigued recently as I read through Ron Chernow’s masterful biography, Alexander Hamilton. While in his day, Hamilton himself was quite a controversial character, he, never the less, was the leading contributor to creating the environment that still attracts entrepreneurial zeal to the United States. Of the 700+ page tome, one brief section that I found to be particularly insightful relative to this point, quotes Hamilton as follows:
“As to whatever may depend on enterprise, we need not fear to be outdone by any people on earth. It may also be said that enterprise is our element.”
Chernow goes on to say:
“(He helped) foster the cultural and legal setting in which enterprise flourished… a rule of law through enforceable contracts; respect for private property; a trustworthy bureaucracy to arbitrate legal disputes; and the offer of patents and other protections to promote invention.”
Today, we take all of these things for granted, but nearly 230 years ago they were experimental concepts that proved to be foundational to the prosperity of America and today still somewhat sets America apart in terms of being an entrepreneurial magnet.
Currently, the values of entrepreneurship are deeply embedded in American culture and generally provide an “attraction factor” that helps open doors for opportunities to tell others about the critical role that faith in Christ plays in the integration of professional, social, family and spiritual life. What a privilege we have to help connect our story to the story of men and women across Europe… to serve them, to learn from them and to share the love of Jesus.
Nearly 230 years ago a man named Alexander helped shape who we (as Americans) are today. It serves as a great platform for ministry. Clearly, it was no accident.