Within three years of the inauguration of the Constitution, its greatest champions found themselves irreparably divided over what that Constitution meant and how to shape the Union it had been created to perfect. Within a decade, the division at the heights of national politics had spread into a full-scale party war, the first, the most ferocious, and perhaps the most instructive in all of American history. Never since have clashing ideologies been quite so central to a party struggle and never has such a giant set of democratic statesmen argued so profoundly over concepts that are at the root of the American political tradition. Conceived in Liberty probes the fundamentals of the great dispute among John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and their followers over the sort of country the United States should be. In clear and concise prose, Lance Banning clarifies the foundations of the first great party struggle—and thus of nineteenth-century America.
Lance Banning offers an incisive account of how American statesmen completed the work of the founding as they sought to implement their conflicting visions of the new nation's future. Conceived in Liberty is lucid, elegant, and wise, a wonderful introduction to a critical, too often neglected period.
With unmatched clarity, lucidity, and fairness, Banning explains the nature of the first great party conflict of American politics. He builds on and extends his earlier work on Jefferson and Madison and along the way imparts some important lessons on partisanship in politics and in scholarly non-partisanship.
Carl J. Richard
In this brief but insightful book on the rise of the political parties during Washington's first term, Lance Banning shows why he is regarded as one of the premier historians of the early American republic. While doing full justice to the complexity of the issues that divided the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans, Banning writes with uncommon clarity and a rare impartiality.
Lance Banning is professor of history at the University of Kentucky, where he has taught since 1973. He is the author of numerous books and essays on the American founding including The Jeffersonian Persuasion: Evolution of a Party Ideology, Jefferson and Madison: Three Conversations from the Founding, and The Sacred Fire of Liberty: James Madison and the Founding of the Federal Republic.