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Political Philosophy of Alexander Hamilton

by Michael P Federici Johns Hopkins University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 304 pages
AU$59.99 NZ$63.47
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America's first treasury secretary and the principal author of the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton is one of the nation's important early statesmen. Michael P Federici's introduction to this Founding Father's political thought firmly places Hamilton among the country's original political philosophers as well.
Hamilton remains something of an enigma in the history of American political thought and of the nation's founding. Conservatives and liberals both claim him, and in his writings one can find material to support the positions of either camp. Taking a balanced and objective approach, Federici sorts through the written and historical record to reveal Hamilton's philosophy as the synthetic product of a learned and pragmatic man whose intellectual genealogy draws on Classical thinkers such as Cicero and Plutarch, Christian theologians, and David Hume, Montesquieu, and other Enlightenment philosophers. In evaluating the thought of this republican, would-be empire builder, Federici explains that the apparent contradictions found in the Federalist Papers and other examples of Hamilton's writings reflect both his practical engagement with debates over the French Revolution, commercialism, and other global issues of the times, as well as his philosophical search for a balance between central authority and federalism at home. In doing so, this book challenges the conventional view of Hamilton as a monarchist and shows him instead to be a primary advocate of American constitutionalism. Devoted to the whole of Hamilton's political theory, this accessible and teachable analysis makes clear the enormous influence Hamilton had on the development of American political and economic institutions and policies.

Introduction: Hamilton's Significance
1. The Personal Background of a Political Theorist
2. Hamilton's Philosophical Anthropology
3. Theoretical Foundations of Constitutionalism
4. Hamilton and American Constitutional Formation
5. Hamilton's Foreign Policy
6. Hamilton's Political Economy
7. Hamilton and Jefferson
Conclusion: Hamilton's Legacy
Recommended Reading

"This is a rich and developed book... Hamilton's political thinking does indeed deserve greater attention today, and Federici provides a valuable contribution toward that understanding."

Michael P. Federici is a professor of political science at Mercyhurst University and the author of Eric Voegelin: The Restoration of Order and The Challenge of Populism: The Rise of Right-Wing Democratism in Postwar America.