Alexander Hamilton


The Federalist

Easton Press Alexander Hamilton books

The Federalist Papers

Franklin Library Alexander Hamilton books

The Federalist - 100 Greatest Books of All Time - 1977
The Federalist American State Papers - Great Books of the Western World - 1980

 

Alexander Hamilton biography

Alexander Hamilton, born on January 11, 1755 (or 1757, as the exact year is disputed), and fatally wounded in a duel on July 12, 1804, was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and a key figure in the nation's early history. Hamilton played a crucial role in shaping the U.S. Constitution, establishing the nation's financial system, and contributing to the development of American political thought. Born in the West Indies on the island of Nevis, Hamilton was the illegitimate son of Rachel Faucette Lavien and James A. Hamilton. Orphaned at an early age, he showed remarkable intellectual promise. Recognizing his potential, community leaders in St. Croix financed his education in the American colonies.

Hamilton arrived in New York in 1772 and quickly became involved in the revolutionary fervor sweeping the colonies. He joined the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, rising to the rank of General George Washington's aide-de-camp with a commission as a lieutenant colonel. Hamilton's intelligence, strategic acumen, and leadership abilities earned him Washington's trust. Post-war, Hamilton was a key advocate for a stronger central government. He played a pivotal role in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, contributing to the drafting of the United States Constitution. Hamilton's extensive writings, alongside James Madison and John Jay, in The Federalist Papers sought to garner support for the ratification of the Constitution.

As the nation's first Secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington, Hamilton spearheaded the establishment of the nation's financial system. His ambitious economic plans included the assumption of state debts, the creation of a national bank, and the implementation of tariffs. Hamilton's financial vision laid the groundwork for the economic stability of the United States. Hamilton's political career was not without controversy. He clashed with political rivals, including Thomas Jefferson, over issues such as the scope of federal power and the nature of the economy. Hamilton's belief in a strong, centralized government and his support for an industrialized economy set him at odds with those who championed states' rights and agrarian interests.

The most tragic chapter in Hamilton's life unfolded in 1804 when he was fatally wounded in a duel with Aaron Burr, then the sitting Vice President. The duel took place in Weehawken, New Jersey, and Hamilton died the following day. Alexander Hamilton's legacy endures in American history. His contributions to the Constitution, his role in shaping the financial system, and his intellectual influence continue to be studied and celebrated. Hamilton's life has also been the subject of renewed interest, thanks to the popular Broadway musical "Hamilton," which brought his story to a broader contemporary audience.

 

The Federalist Papers

The Federalist Papers are a collection of eighty-five articles and essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in favor of ratifying the United States Constitution. Originally published anonymously, The Federalist Papers first appearing in 1787 as a series of letters to New York newspapers, this collective body of work is widely considered to be among the most important historical collections of all time. Although the authors of The Federalist Papers foremost intended to influence the vote in favor of ratifying the Constitution, in Federalist No. 1 Hamilton explicitly set their debate in broader political terms. “It has been frequently remarked,” he wrote, “that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force."

Among the many highlights of these acclaimed essays is Federalist No. 10, in which Madison discusses the means of preventing rule by majority faction and advocates for a large, commercial republic. This is generally regarded as the most important of the eighty-five essays from a philosophical perspective, and it is complemented by Federalist No. 14, in which Madison takes the measure of the United States, declares it appropriate for an extended republic, and concludes with a memorable defense of the Constitution. In Federalist No. 70, Hamilton advocates for a one-man chief executive, and in Federalist No. 78 he persuasively lays the groundwork for the doctrine of judicial review by federal courts.

Though centuries old, these timeless essays remain the benchmark of American political philosophy. As eloquently stated by famed historian Richard B. Morris, The Federalist Papers serve as an "incomparable exposition of the Constitution, a classic in political science unsurpassed in both breadth and depth by the product of any later American writer."

Hailed by Thomas Jefferson as “the best commentary on the principles of government which was ever written", The Federalist Papers is a collection of eighty-five essays published by Founding Fathers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay from 1787 to 1788, as a means to persuade the public to ratify the Constitution of the United States.

With nearly two-thirds of the essays written by Hamilton, this enduring classic is perfect for modern audiences passionate about his work or seeking a deeper understanding of one of the most important documents in US history.

"This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren ... should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties." So wrote John Jay, one of the revolutionary authors of The Federalist Papers, arguing that if the United States was truly to be a single nation, its leaders would have to agree on universally binding rules of governance in short, a constitution. In a brilliant set of essays, Jay and his colleagues Alexander Hamilton and James Madison explored in minute detail the implications of establishing a kind of rule that would engage as many citizens as possible and that would include a system of checks and balances. Their arguments proved successful in the end, and The Federalist Papers stand as key documents in the founding of the United States.

Considered a keystone of American democracy, some of the more famous articles dealt with: An enduring classic of political philosophy and a milestone in political science, Thomas Jefferson hailed The Federalist Papers as the best commentary ever written about the principles of government.



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