Age of Federalism; The Early American Republic, 1788-1800 / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 95%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (39) from $1.99   
  • New (8) from $23.97   
  • Used (31) from $1.99   


When Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office for the presidency in 1801, America had just passed through twelve critical years, years dominated by some of the towering figures of our history and by the challenge of having to do everything for the first time. Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Adams, and Jefferson himself each had a share in shaping that remarkable era—an era that is brilliantly captured in The Age of Federalism.
Written by esteemed historians Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism gives us a reflective, deeply informed analytical survey of this extraordinary period. Ranging over the widest variety of concerns—political, cultural, economic, diplomatic, and military—the authors provide a sweeping historical account, keeping always in view not only the problems the new nation faced but also the particular individuals who tried to solve them. As they move through the Federalist era, they draw subtly perceptive character sketches not only of the great figures—Washington and Jefferson, Talleyrand and Napoleon Bonaparte—but also of lesser ones, such as George Hammond, Britain's frustrated minister to the United States, James McHenry, Adams's hapless Secretary of War, the pre-Chief Justice version of John Marshall, and others. They weave these lively profiles into an analysis of the central controversies of the day, turning such intricate issues as the public debt into fascinating depictions of opposing political strategies and contending economic philosophies. Each dispute bears in some way on the broader story of the emerging nation. The authors show, for instance, the consequences the fight over Hamilton's financial system had for the locating of the nation's permanent capital, and how it widened an ideological gulf between Hamilton and the Virginians, Madison and Jefferson, that became unbridgeable. The statesmen of the founding generation, the authors believe, did "a surprising number of things right." But Elkins and McKitrick also describe some things that went resoundingly wrong: the hopelessly underfinanced effort to construct a capital city on the Potomac (New York, they argue, would have been a far more logical choice than Washington), and prosecutions under the Alien and Sedition Acts which turned into a comic nightmare. No detail is left out, or left uninteresting, as their account continues through the Adams presidency, the XYZ affair, the naval Quasi-War with France, and the desperate Federalist maneuvers in 1800, first to prevent the reelection of Adams and then to nullify the election of Jefferson.
The Age of Federalism is the fruit of many years of discussion and thought, in which deep scholarship is matched only by the lucid distinction of its prose. With it, Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick have produced the definitive study, long awaited by historians, of the early national era.

Covering a wide variety of concerns--political, cultural, economic, diplomatic, and military--the authors provide a sweeping historical account of America's first years, weaving biographical insights with keen analysis and reflection. A definitive, long-awaited study of the early national era. Illustrations.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Noted historians Elkins (emeritus, Smith College) and McKitrick (emeritus, Columbia U.) provide an analytical survey of the first 12 years of the US under the Constitution (1788-1800) that captures the personalities and issues of the young nation with clarity, authority, and feeling. Both scholarly and accessible, and likely to become a classic. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195093810
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/28/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 944
  • Sales rank: 794,343
  • Product dimensions: 9.31 (w) x 6.25 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Stanley Elkins is the author of Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life, and is Professor of History at Smith College. Eric McKitrick is the author of Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction, and is Professor of History Emeritus at Columbia University.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction: Modes of Thought and Feeling in the Founding Generation 3
Ch. I Legitimacy 31
Ch. II Finance and Ideology 77
Ch. III The Divided Mind of James Madison, 1790: Nationalist Versus Ideologue 133
Ch. IV The Republic's Capital City 163
Ch. V Jefferson and the Yeoman Republic 195
Ch. VI Jefferson as Secretary of State 209
Ch. VII The Emergence of Partisan Politics: The "Republican Interest" 257
Ch. VIII The French Revolution in America 303
Ch. IX America and Great Britain 375
Ch. X The Populist Impulse 451
Ch. XI The Retirement of Washington 489
Ch. XII John Adams and the Dogma of "Balance " 529
Ch. XIII Adams and Hamilton 581
Ch. XIV The Settlement 643
Ch. XV The Mentality of Federalism in 1800 691
Notes 755
Index 911
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 14, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I thought this was the definitive study of the Federalist era. W

    I thought this was the definitive study of the Federalist era. What I likeded about this book is the authors viewpoint of Thomas Jefferson. If i remember right their opinion of Jefferson is not very high. If efforts to discredit Washington Jefferson, while Secretary of State upported French Ambassadors who wanted to drag the new republic into a war with Great Britain. All this was going on while he was Washington's Secretary of State. He became allmost paranoid that the Federalist were conspiring to destory the new Government and create a monarchy. This fear was enhanced when Americans became so caught up in the French Revolution. Americans were bitterly divided over this issue. Eventually Jefferson became the leader of the first opposition party. It was a very troubled era. for the new country. The authors certainly did the research and it was very well writtien. I thought this was a very exceptional work and gave it a five star rating.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2009

    Age of Federalism loses college reader

    Stanley Elkins and Eick McKitrick's "Age of Federalism" is certainly a well-researched, well-conceived narration of the events, motivations, and conflicts which created our American Republic. The book, however, fails to grab the average reader with any sort of engaging writing. While rich in detail and accurate and abounding in fact, the book is written very densely and plainly, lacking a prosaic style which could captivate or inform a reader for 700 pages.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2005

    An amazing book

    I'm only through the first 127 pages but I am hooked. This book goes into extensive detail about how the US Federal Government came into existance. It delves into thinking behind major decisions such as how the Cabinet was formed, how Congress and the Executive Branch were to interact with each other, how the Federal Govt assumed the entire debt of each state...and on and on...Absolutely fascinating reading.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)