One of the most vivid, influential, and controversial figures of the American founding, Alexander Hamilton was an unusually prolific and vigorous writer. As a military aide to George Washington, forceful critic of the Articles of Confederation, persuasive proponent of ratification of the Constitution, first Secretary of the Treasury, and leader of the Federalist party, Hamilton devoted himself to the creation of a militarily and economically powerful American nation guided by a strong republican government. His public and private writings demonstrate the perceptive intelligence, confident advocacy, driving ambition, and profound concern for honor and reputation that contributed both to his rise to fame and to his tragic early death.
Arranged chronologically, Writings contains more than 170 letters, speeches, essays, reports, and memoranda written between 1769 and 1804. Included are all 51 of Hamilton's contributions to The Federalist, as well as subsequent writing calling for a broad construction of federal power under the Constitution; his famous speech to the Constitutional Convention, which gave rise to accusations that he favored monarchy; early writings supporting the Revolutionary cause and a stronger central government; his visionary reports as Treasury secretary on the public credit, a national bank, and the encouragement of American manufactures; a detailed confession of adultery made by Hamilton in order to defend himself against charges of official misconduct; and his self- destructive attack on John Adams during the 1800 campaign. An extensive selection of private letters illuminates Hamilton's complex relationship with George Washington, his deep affection for his wife and children, his mounting fears during the 1790s regarding the Jeffersonian opposition and the French Revolution, and his profound distrust of Aaron Burr. Included in an appendix are conflicting eyewitness accounts of the Hamilton-Burr duel. Continue reading →
In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, National Book Award winner Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”
Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. “To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.” Chernow here recounts Hamilton’s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.
Historians have long told the story of America’s birth as the triumph of Jefferson’s democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than we’ve encountered before—from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamilton’s famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804.
Chernow’s biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America’s birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.
From the award-winning author of Almost a Miracle and The Ascent of George Washington, this is the rare work of scholarship that offers us irresistible human drama even as it enriches our understanding of deep themes in our nation’s history.
The decade of the 1790s has been called the “age of passion.” Fervor ran high as rival factions battled over the course of the new republic—each side convinced that the other’s goals would betray the legacy of the Revolution so recently fought and so dearly won. All understood as well that what was at stake was not a moment’s political advantage, but the future course of the American experiment in democracy. In this epochal debate, no two figures loomed larger than Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Continue reading →