“What Mr. McDonald’s book does, with exceptional skill and learning, is to re-examine Hamilton’s policies as secretary of the treasury. To this task the author brings a masterful knowledge of the politics of the period. . . . He brilliantly demonstrates how William Blackstone, David Hume and Jacques Necker affected Hamilton’s thought. Finally, Mr. McDonald . . . gives the clearest exposition that I have ever seen of just what Hamilton’s financial policies were and how they worked.” David Herbert Donald, New York Times Book Review
The founders of the American republic were ardently concerned with the judgment of posterity. Had they known what a fickle muse Clio would prove to be, they might have been more anxious. The making of myths and legends, complete with a hagiology and demonology, is inherent in the process of evolution toward nationhood. Consequently, individual actors in the original drama have often been consigned by History to roles they did not actually play, and the most important of them have played shifting roles, being heroes in one generation and villains in the next. It is therefore not surprising that Alexander Hamiltonalong with Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Madisonhas had his ups and downs at the hands of historians.