The Revolutionary Writings of Alexander Hamilton
Publication Year: 2012
Consistency with earlier positions was never a hallmark of Hamilton’s thought, which changed as the country changed from thirteen breakaway British colonies to a single independent nation. Alexander Hamilton’s thought has, for over two hundred years, been noted for its deviations from American revolutionary Whig orthodoxy. From a conventional Whig at the beginning of his career, Hamilton developed a Federalist viewpoint that liberty depended above all on the creation of a powerful central government.
In this collection, we find the seeds of this development, as Hamilton’s early optimistic confidence in the triumph of American Whig principles begins to give way, under the influence of his experience during the Revolution, to his mature Federalism. Hamilton’s political philosophy reflected his vision of the central government as the protector of individual liberties, in sharp contrast to the popular democratic sentiments of his archrival Jefferson.
This comprehensive collection of his early writings, from the period before and during the Revolutionary War, provides a fuller understanding of the development of his thinking.
Hamilton wrote to persuade, and he had the ability to clarify the complex issues of his time without oversimplifying them. From the basic core values established in his earlier writings to the more assertive vision of government in his mature work, we see how Hamilton’s thought responded to the emerging nation and how the nation was shaped by his ideas.
Alexander Hamilton (1755–1804) was a trusted military aide and secretary to General George Washington during the American Revolution and was later appointed inspector general of the army, with the rank of major general. He was an attorney and politician, a member of the Continental Congress in the 1780s, and a representative of New York at the Annapolis Convention and the Constitutional Convention. He supported the new Constitution 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 first national Bank of the United States. The opposition to his policies led to the factional divisions from which developed the system of political parties.
Richard B. Vernier is an Adjunct Professor of American History at Purdue University at Calumet and a specialist in the field of Anglo-American ideas of 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.
Published by: Liberty Fund
Title Page, Copyright
Americans have an unusual relationship to the founding era of their nation. They not only revere their many Founding Fathers but study their lives and writings with great avidity. Curators, scholars, and popular writers respond to this taste with exhibits, books, videos, and conferences. Bicentennial commemorations of the American Revolution began in 1975 and continued annually with reenactments, tours, and TV shows. Alexander...
Considering the reputations of all the Founding Fathers, that of Alexander Hamilton has taken the wildest swings. Over the past two centuries, he has by turns been vilified as a cunning, aristocratic cryptomonarchist out to strangle American democracy in its cradle, and hailed as a steely-eyed visionary who secured the economic foundations of the republic and fathered the modern American industrial state. How one...
A Full Vindication
On October 14, 1774, the Continental Congress issued its Declaration and Resolves in response to Parliament’s legislative retaliation for the Boston Tea Party. The Coercive Acts, as they came to be called, were four-fold: The Boston Port Act shut the Boston Harbor to all ocean traffic; the second act made the Massachusetts Council appointive and limited town meetings; the third allowed royal officials charged with capital crimes in the colonies to be tried in England; and the fourth...
The Farmer Refuted
In response to Hamilton’s Full Vindication, the Rev. Samuel Seabury blasted back in the New York press on January 5, 1775. The “Westchester Farmer’s” A View of the Controversy between Great-Britain and her Colonies . . . (London, 1775) mocked his adversary’s facile invocations of “natural rights of mankind,” declaring that “Man in the state of nature may be considered as perfectly free from all restraints of law and government...
Remarks on the Quebec Bill
The same parliamentary session that passed the Coercive Acts in 1774 also passed new legislation for the governance of predominantly Catholic Francophone Quebec, which had been won from France in the Seven Years’War. Ostensibly a measure to grant “the free exercise of the religion of the Church of Rome” to a colony of officially Protestant Britain, the Quebec Act deeply unnerved the thirteen colonies. In the first place, the...
Hamilton´s adoption of the nom de plume “Publius” reflects his reading while serving as a member of General Washington’s staff from 1777 to 1778. He used an Army pay-book as a commonplace book, filled with notes from his wide readings in subjects from finance to history. A particular favorite was Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, whence he derived the name later associated with The Federalist Papers. ...
Hamilton resigned from Washington’s staff in February 1781 after three years as one of Washington’s closest aides. Although he was eager to acquire a battlefield command, while he waited for a new assignment, he continued his reading in political economy and finance. It was during this interlude that he wrote a long letter to Robert Morris, the newly named congressional superintendent of finance, congratulating him on...
Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2012
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