As one of the Founding Fathers of the United States,
Hamiltonoccupies an eccentric, even flamboyant, position compared
withWashington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Madison, and
Marshall.Hamilton s genius, forged during his service in the
Continental Army inthe Revolution, brought him not only admiration
but also suspicion. Asthe country he helped to found grew and
changed, so did his thinking.
Consistency with earlier positions was never a hallmark of Hamilton
sthought, which changed as the country changed from thirteen
breakawayBritish colonies to a single independent nation. Alexander
Hamilton sthought has, for over two hundred years, been noted for
its deviationsfrom American revolutionary Whig orthodoxy. From a
conventional Whigat the beginning of his career, Hamilton developed
a Federalist viewpointthat liberty depended above all on the
creation of a powerful centralgovernment.
In this collection, we find the seeds of this development,
asHamilton s early optimistic confidence in the triumph of American
Whigprinciples begins to give way, under the influence of his
experienceduring the Revolution, to his mature Federalism. Hamilton
s politicalphilosophy reflected his vision of the central
government as the protectorof individual liberties, in sharp
contrast to the popular democraticsentiments of his archrival
This comprehensive collection of his early writings, from the
periodbefore and during the Revolutionary War, provides a fuller
understandingof the development of his thinking.
Hamilton wrote to persuade, and he had the ability to clarify
thecomplex issues of his time without oversimplifying them. From
the basiccore values established in his earlier writings to the
more assertive vision ofgovernment in his mature work, we see how
Hamilton s thought respondedto the emerging nation and how the
nation was shaped by his ideas.
Alexander Hamilton (1755 1804) was a trusted military aide and
secretaryto General George Washington during the American
Revolution andwas later appointed inspector general of the army,
with the rank of majorgeneral. He was an attorney and politician, a
member of the ContinentalCongress in the 1780s, and a
representative of New York at the AnnapolisConvention and the
Constitutional Convention. He supported the newConstitution in "The
Federalist," with Madison and Jay. As the first U.S.Secretary of
the Treasury, Hamilton was an advocate of sound public credit,
development of natural resources and trade, and establishment of
the firstnational Bank of the United States. The opposition to his
policies led to thefactional divisions from which developed the
system of political parties.
Richard B. Vernier is an Adjunct Professor ofAmerican History at
Purdue University at Calumet and aspecialist in the field of
Anglo-American ideasof political economy. He obtained his doctorate
from St. Catherine's College, Oxford.
Joyce Appleby is Professor Emerita of History at UCLA. She obtained
her doctorate from Claremont University."
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