For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Alexander Hamilton
America's Forgotten Founder
  • Joseph A. Murray
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Alexander Hamilton . America's Forgotten Founder
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Alexander Hamilton promoted a vigorous national government to create a strong and unified country out of a mixed bag of 13 sovereign states. Hamilton's varied contributions give him a claim to the title of architect of the US Government. This new biography introduces the general reader to some of the challenges and controversies of the early days of the Republic and highlights Hamilton's brilliant contributions to US policy and structure.

About the Author

Joseph A. Murray is a freelance writer with a life-long interest in American history. He and his wife JoAnn reside in LaVale, Maryland.

About the Book

Alexander Hamilton: America’s Forgotten Founder describes the character and achievements of a man who was instrumental in casting the form of our government and especially its strong financial structure. His financial innovations...

Alexander Hamilton: America’s Forgotten Founder describes the character and achievements of a man who was instrumental in casting the form of our government and especially its strong financial structure. His financial innovations renewed the public credit when war debts threatened to swamp the fledgling economy, provided a stable currency system and established a federal revenue system. Hamilton s involvement in the foreign affairs of the new republic assured its unity, sovereignty and rapid economic growth.
Born in the West Indies, Alexander Hamilton migrated to America when he was fifteen years old, at a time when Colonial America was torn by political unrest with Great Britain. He served in the Revolution as General Washington s chief aide-de-camp and as an officer in combat units. He was a persuasive presence in the Constitutional Convention and helped to lead the subsequent ratification process.
Hamilton was a proponent for a strong central government, believing that its direct influence over the people would strengthen the unity of the country. As Secretary of the Treasury, he understood that a strong financial system was essential to provide credibility and economic growth to the new republic. He based his financial plan on the consolidation of the national debt and the adoption of a taxation system to service and retire that debt. He promoted the chartering of the Bank of the United States as the keystone to his financial plan.
Arguably the Father of Federalism, Hamilton gave more to the structure and process of the United States government then any other single individual. His opponents, principally the Jeffersonian Republicans, argued for greater sovereignty for state governments and sought to diminish the role of wealth in structuring and operating the financial systems of the country. When it came, the Civil War vindicated Hamilton s politics over Jefferson s view of a more tenuous and tentative union.
He authored the lion s share of The Federalist Papers, writings which remain an important guide to the meaning and the intended function of the Constitution today.
Regrettably, the hostility of his political opponents has transcended the country s recognition of the debt owed to this man.
This work introduces the general reader to some of the challenges and controversies of the early days of the Republic and highlights Hamilton s brilliant contributions to US policy and structure. Hamilton promoted a vigorous national government to create a strong and unified country out of a mixed bag of 13 sovereign states.
This book was written for the broad cross-section of American readers, particularly those who, while not having an abiding interest in history, would welcome an interestingly written, brief history of Hamilton s life and the great events surrounding the founding of the nation. The book is also suited for high school and college-level students of US history. Most Americans today have little understanding of the character, the life and accomplishments of Alexander Hamilton, an extraordinary man by any account and an extraordinary American. The current work intends to make his life and accomplishments accessible to a broader public.


Introduction
Alexander Hamilton lived in the most challenging period of American history, when its institutions were being formed and its direction was being determined. He produced a legacy of the strongest government and national economy in the world. Born on a remote island in the West Indies, Hamilton entered America when he was not yet sixteen years of...
Alexander Hamilton lived in the most challenging period of American history, when its institutions were being formed and its direction was being determined. He produced a legacy of the strongest government and national economy in the world. Born on a remote island in the West Indies, Hamilton entered America when he was not yet sixteen years of age, at a time when the colonies were torn by political unrest over their oppressive treatment at the hands of the British Parliament.
In three years, while Hamilton was acquiring an education, the political unrest with Great Britain transitioned into a crisis that finally ignited at Lexington and Concord. With his education interrupted by the Revolution, Hamilton involved himself in the struggle for independence by joining New York’s militia as a captain of artillery. He had the good fortune to be offered a position on the staff of General Washington, which began a relationship that was to have a lasting and beneficial effect on the formation and development of the United States government. Hamilton continued his education in stolen moments during the Revolution by reading the works of classical writers on politics, law and economic principles. He distinguished himself during the war, both on the field of battle and in his administrative role as Washington’s chief aide-de-camp. In this latter position Hamilton became acquainted with many of the important military and political leaders of the period, establishing relationships that would be enhanced over the years.
This book contains a brief coverage of the important events of the era including the Revolution, the struggle to forge a viable nation under the the Articles of Confederation, the difficulties of the Constitutional Convention and ratification process and the development of the republican form of government under the new Constitution. Alexander Hamilton was ubiquitous in all of these events and he exerted a defining influence in the development of the new government. Although he had very little formal education, his reading of Pufendorf, Locke, Montesquieu, Grotius and Blackstone provided him with an understanding of the history and theory of politics and of the law which equipped him to write the major part of the Federalist Papers, that widely accepted and lasting guide to understanding the Constitution. The writings of Adam Smith and David Hume aided his own genius in the formation of national fiscal policies that gave stability and respectability to the emerging government.
At the conclusion of the revolution, self-styled patriots (encouraged by the state of New York) were taking retribution against the Tories by seizing their properties and businesses. Hamilton argued against the practice, even defending Tories in lawsuits, recognizing that the wealth and skills possessed by the Tories would be invaluable in the reconstruction of the country. He argued that if America were to grow large and strong it would have to be done through the labor of immigrants and that the country had to demonstrate to the world that it was strong enough to grow and to flourish while tolerating internal opposition.
Hamilton was among those who feared that the loose union of states under the Confederation would not survive as a political entity and would forever be an enticement to foreign intervention; he strongly promoted the Philadelphia Convention, the creation of a new Constitution and the formation of strong central government. As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton believed that a strong financial system was essential, first to gain international respect and, second, to encourage a vigorous American economy. He based his financial plan on the consolidation of the national debt and the adoption of a system of revenue collection to service and retire that debt. The national bank that was chartered under his aegis was the keystone to his financial plan, serving to stabilize the country’s monetary system, to liquidate the national debt through individual investments and to serve as the transactional institution for handling the government’s monies. At the direction of Congress, Hamilton set the standards for the formation of the national mint.
Hamilton was subject to the frailties of his humanity and paid a severe price for his human weaknesses. He engaged in an extra-marital affair with a woman who, in collusion with her husband, had set out to destroy him politically. He and his family had to endure the torment of having this affair made public, years after its termination. When confronted with a public accusation of this indiscretion he did not attempt to deny it or to cover it up, but acknowledged his wrongdoing; he also exposed the political calumny of his opponents who had engineered the scandal.
One of Hamilton’s weaknesses was his low threshold of tolerance for personal affronts or attacks on his character. While Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton experienced many attacks on his plan for national financial recovery by the Jeffersonian Republicans, who viewed America as having its greatest national potential as an agrarian society, where ultimate sovereignty rested in the individual states. The differing views of Hamiltonian Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans were to persist, grow rancorous and eventually threaten the survival of the country in the Civil War. Thomas Jefferson and his supporters saw in the complexities of Hamilton’s financial plan ideal opportunities for their own political gain by pandering to their constituents — who generally were men unschooled in such arcane financial details. Hamilton did not possess the politician’s knack for tactfully handling disputes with political opponents. He formed opinions carefully but, once they were formed, he was blunt in expressing his disapproval of political opponents or their positions. His opposition to the defects and tactics of one of these opponents, Aaron Burr, eventually led to the pistol duel that ended Hamilton’s life.
Table of Contents
Preface Chapter 1. Hamilton’s Youth Chapter 2. Gaining Maturity In War Chapter 3. Valley Forge To Yorktown Chapter 4. Creating The New Government Chapter 5. Fulfilling Th
Preface
Chapter 1. Hamilton’s Youth
Chapter 2. Gaining Maturity In War
Chapter 3. Valley Forge To Yorktown
Chapter 4. Creating The New Government
Chapter 5. Fulfilling The Potential
Chapter 6. Challenges Foreign And Domestic
Chapter 7. The French Revolution In America
Chapter 8. Foreign Diplomacy
Chapter 9. The Final Years
Epilogue
Acknowledgements
Bibliography
Index
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Categories

Pages 264
Year: 2007
LC Classification: E302.6.H2M88
Dewey code: 973.4092--dc22
BISAC: HIS036030
BISAC: HIS036533
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-500-3
Price: USD 23.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-501-0
Price: USD 32.00
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