Jefferson Vs. Hamilton

Jefferson Vs. Hamilton

by Noble E. Cunningham
     
 

This documentary study of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton focuses on their differing views of society and government in the formative years of the new American nation. Interweaving more than 40 documents into 7 chronological chapters, the text follows the lives and careers of the two men from their youth, through the Revolutionary War, to the death of

Overview

This documentary study of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton focuses on their differing views of society and government in the formative years of the new American nation. Interweaving more than 40 documents into 7 chronological chapters, the text follows the lives and careers of the two men from their youth, through the Revolutionary War, to the death of Hamilton in 1804. In each chapter, generous excerpts from their public papers and private letters reveal the two men's often divergent views on government and the Constitution, economic and foreign policy, and the military, and illustrate the roles they played in the emergence of political parties.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This ninth volume in the "Bedford Series in History and Culture" focuses on two adversarial American legends, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. As with other works in this series, the format, which combines narrative commentary with primary documents, emphasizes brevity. In a succinct narrative that composes less than half the volume, Cunningham (emeritus, history, Univ. of Missouri, Columbia) once again demonstrates his considerable skill as historian and writer. Numerous key letters, speeches, reports, and other primary documents interwoven into the text illustrate fundamental differences between the democrat from an established family and the equally talented social outsider with an even sharper entrepreneur's eye. The "Bedford" series is aimed at college American history courses, and this latest volume will be useful in that setting. It will also appeal to general readers who want mini-biographies and samples of the written works of these two American political giants.--William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Kirkus Reviews
Selections from the writings of two of the foremost antagonists among the Founding Fathers, edited and explained by historian and biographer Cunningham (In Pursuit of Reason, 1987). Cunningham's efforts will forever dispel any romantic notions that the Founding Fathers were a troop of amiable Boy Scouts. The Jefferson and Hamilton on display here are fierce opponents, each absolutely convinced that the other was a danger to the fledgling country. Cunningham has juxtaposed some of the principal writings of both men (most of the pieces are excerpts) and supplied some genial commentary—all intended to "reveal how the two leading political figures faced the major issues of their day." Hamilton (younger than Jefferson by 12 years) did not trust the general public: "The people are turbulent and changing," he wrote in 1787, "they seldom judge or determine right." Jefferson, by contrast, had supreme faith in the electorate and wished to guarantee the survival of liberty by improving "the education of the common people." Cunningham reveals that there is no record of the first meeting between the men, but they both were members of Washington's first cabinet—Jefferson was Secretary of State, and Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury. Their first important clash was over the formation of the national bank (Hamilton favored it—and won). Jefferson hated Hamilton's fondness for paper currency and later wrote Washington that he believed he had been "duped" by Hamilton and "made a tool for forwarding his schemes." Hamilton later called Jefferson "a contemptible hypocrite" and could not bring himself to credit Jefferson even for Louisiana, whose purchase, sniped Hamilton,wasdue to "fortuitous . . . circumstances" rather than "any wise or vigorous measure." Cunningham concludes—somewhat superfluously—that "both men contributed greatly to the shaping of the American nation." As this useful volume of powerful prose ably illustrates, what often survives a political collision is moral clarity. (10 illustrations)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312228217
Publisher:
Palgrave Macmillan
Publication date:
03/17/2000
Series:
Bedford Series in History and Culture
Pages:
202
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.62(d)

Meet the Author

Noble E. Cunningham Jr. is Curator's Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Missouri, Columbia.

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