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The Political Philosophy of Alexander Hamilton

, 304 pages
June 2012



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The Political Philosophy of Alexander Hamilton

America’s first treasury secretary and one of the three authors of the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton stands as one of the nation’s important early statesmen. Michael P. Federici places this Founding Father among the country’s original political philosophers as well.

Hamilton remains something of an enigma. 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 well-read and pragmatic figure whose intellectual genealogy drew on Classical thinkers such as Cicero and Plutarch, Christian theologians, and Enlightenment philosophers, including Hume and Montesquieu. In evaluating the thought of this republican and 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, capital expansion, commercialism, and other large issues of his time, and his search for a balance between central authority and federalism in the embryonic American government. This book challenges the view of Hamilton as a monarchist and shows him instead to be a strong advocate of American constitutionalism.

Devoted to the whole of Hamilton’s political writing, this accessible and teachable analysis makes clear the enormous influence Hamilton had on the development of American political and economic institutions and policies.

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.

"A comprehensive take on Hamilton that will stir discussion, not only of this Founding Father, but also of the nature and character of American democracy. Federici provides a convincing portrait of Hamilton's political thought as grounded in his philosophical anthropology and gives a more rounded—and democratic—view of Hamilton than currently exists."

"[A] comprehensive and very thoughtful work that should go a long way toward restoring Hamilton to his rightful place among our Founding Fathers."

"Federici deepens readers' understanding of Hamilton's political thought and his enduring legacy."

"This book is an intelligent investigation that ultimately reminds us that the ideas of the founders remain as relevant in 2012 as they were in the 1790s."

"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."

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