Alexander Hamilton Criticism - Essay

Thomas Jefferson (memoir date 1818)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Anas: Explanations of the 3 Volumes Bound in Marbled Paper," in The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, edited by Saul K. Padover, The Heritage Press, 1967, pp. 107-20.

[The third president of the United States, Jefferson is best known as a respected statesman whose belief in natural rights, equality, individual liberties, and self-government found its fullest expression in the Declaration of Independence. During the early years of the American republic Jefferson, by his outspoken opposition to Federalist policies, became the leader of the Republican (now Democratic) Party. As such, he was a bitter opponent of the Federalists' chief spokesman, Hamilton. In the following excerpt from a portion of his memoirs originally published in 1818, Jefferson offers a contemptuous portrait of Hamilton.]

Hamilton was not only a monarchist, but for a monarchy bottomed on corruption. In proof of this, I will relate an anecdote, for the truth of which I attest the God who made me. Before the President set out on his southern tour in April, 1791, he addressed a letter of the fourth of that month, from Mount Vernon, to the Secretaries of State, Treasury and War, desiring that if any serious and important cases should arise during his absence, they would consult and act on them. And he requested that the Vice-President should also be consulted. This was the only occasion on which that officer was ever requested to...

(The entire section is 479 words.)

Henry Cabot Lodge (essay date 1882)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Professional Life—Duel and Death," in Alexander Hamilton, 1882. Reprint by Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1883, pp. 237-84.

[Lodge was an American politician, historian, and author, who coedited the North American Review with Henry Adams from 1873 to 1876, and who later served as associate editor of the International Review. His works of American history and biography include A Short History of the English Colonies in America (1881), Alexander Hamilton (1882), and Daniel Webster (1883). In the excerpt below, from his biography of Hamilton, Lodge summarizes his subject's accomplishments in glowing terms.]

Hamilton is one of...

(The entire section is 870 words.)

L. H. Boutell (review date 1885)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Alexander Hamilton," in The Dial, Chicago, Vol. VI, No. 61, May, 1885, pp. 5-7.

[In the excerpt below, Boutell provides a laudatory account of Hamilton's life and works.]

When New York ratified the Federal Constitution, the people of that State celebrated the event by a festival procession, in which was borne a flag with the portrait of Washington on one side and that of Hamilton on the other. The enthusiasm of the hour, which recognized these great men as foremost among the founders of the republic—as the men who knew how to build and save a State—has been justified by the political history of succeeding years, and especially by the fierce and bloody...

(The entire section is 2496 words.)

The Atlantic Monthly (review date 1887)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Alexander Hamilton," in The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. LIX, No. CCCLI, January, 1887, pp. 115-23.

[The following is an approbatory overview of Hamilton's character and works.]

As one reads the writings of Alexander Hamilton, it is impossible to escape a sense of regret that he was not born within the limits of the thirteen colonies in British America. The most distinguished statesman of the United States should have been a son of their soil, a product of their civilization, a result of their formative influences. It was a strange freak of chance or destiny which placed so magnificent an intellect in the head of a child to be born illegitimately, of obscure...

(The entire section is 4265 words.)

Vernon Louis Parrington (essay date 1927)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Political Thinkers—The English Group," in Main Currents in American Thought, An Interpretation of American Literature from the Beginnings to 1920: The Colonial Mind, 1620-1800, Vol. I., 1927. Reprint by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1955, pp. 297-326.

[Parrington was an American historian, critic, and educator. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for the first two volumes of his influential Main Currents in American Thought (1927); the third volume remained unfinished at the time of his death. In the following excerpt, Parrington presents Hamilton as a key theorist of American industrial economy.]

Of the disciplined forces that put to rout the disorganized...

(The entire section is 5955 words.)

Frederick C. Prescott (essay date 1934)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, American Book Company, 1934, pp. xi-lxxii.

[In the excerpt below, Prescott traces Hamilton's career as both a political theorist and participant in government.]

Hamilton's interests of public concern were mainly political. His work as a lawyer was secondary; that as a financier and economist, as will appear, was subordinate to his political activity. We are here concerned, therefore, primarily with the development of his political theory and its applications.

When the outbreak of the Revolution converted Hamilton, at the age of nineteen, from a student to a soldier, his political...

(The entire section is 8376 words.)

Bertrand Russell (essay date 1934)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Jeffersonian Democracy," in Freedom and Organization: 1814-1914, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1934, pp. 259-73.

[A respected and prolific author, Russell was an English philosopher and mathematician known for his support of humanistic concerns. In the following excerpt, Russell compares the political philosophies of Jefferson and Hamilton, noting that the success of the Jeffersonian Republicans ironically led to the advent of Hamiltonian economic policies in the United States.]

In the first Congress elected under the new Constitution, the business of using democratic machinery to make the rich richer was brilliantly inaugurated. During the War of...

(The entire section is 1115 words.)

John Allen Krout (essay date 1957)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Alexander Hamilton's Place in the Founding of the Nation," in American Themes: Selected Essays and Addresses of John Allen Krout, edited by Clifford Lord and Henry F. Graff, Columbia University Press, 1963, pp. 19-32.

[In the following essay, originally a paper delivered before a meeting of the American Philosophical Society in 1957, Krout stresses Hamilton's importance as a pioneer American economist and advocate of centralized government.]

Every successful nation-builder of modern times—Colbert in the seventeenth century, the elder Pitt in the eighteenth, Cavour and Bismarck in the nineteenth—understood the relation of economic strength to political...

(The entire section is 4678 words.)

Dumas Malone (essay date 1964)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Jefferson, Hamilton, and the Constitution," in Theory and Practice in American Politics, edited by William H. Nelson with Francis L. Loewenham, The University of Chicago Press, 1964, pp. 13-23.

[Malone wrote the definitive biography of Jefferson: the six-volume Jefferson and His Time (1948-1981). In the following essay, he explicates the respective roles of Jefferson and Hamilton in shaping the interpretation of Constitutional law and the role of government.]

Jefferson and Hamilton had much to do with interpreting the Constitution, but little or nothing to do with its framing. Had Jefferson been available, he could hardly have failed to be a delegate...

(The entire section is 5070 words.)

Albert Furtwangler (essay date 1979)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Strategies of Candor in The Federalist," in Early American Literature, Vol. XIV, No. 1, Spring 1979, pp. 91-109.

[In the following excerpt, Furtwangler provides a close analysis of language and rhetorical strategy in The Federalist.]

In the course of the eighteenth century an important shift occurred in the usage of the word "candor," so that it came to mean what it does today: forthrightness, frankness, direct honesty. Corresponding with this shift was a perceptible turn in the way readers and authors regarded one another or looked at the writings that stood between them. When a writer early in the century asked his readers to be candid in accepting...

(The entire section is 8198 words.)

Forrest McDonald (essay date 1980)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Rhetoric of Alexander Hamilton" in Rhetoric and American Statesmanship, edited by Glen E. Thurow and Jeffrey D. Wallin, Carolina Academic Press and The Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, 1984, pp. 71-86.

[In the following essay, originally a paper delivered at a conference in 1980, McDonald discusses Hamilton's language, his rhetorical strategies, and his literary style.]

The political rhetoric of the Founders of the American Republic has received scant attention from scholars. The relative neglect is understandable. On the one hand, the very concept of rhetoric has, in modem times, all but lost its classical...

(The entire section is 6579 words.)

Russell Kirk (essay date 1986)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "John Adams and Liberty under Law: Alexander Hamilton," in The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot, revised edition, Regnery Books, 1986, pp. 75-80.

[An American historian, political theorist, novelist, journalist, and lecturer, Kirk was one of America's most eminent conservative intellectuals. His works have provided a major impetus to the conservative revival that has developed since the 1950s. In The Conservative Mind, Kirk traces the roots and canons of modern conservative thought to such important predecessors as Edmund Burke, John Adams, and Alexis de Tocqueville. In the following excerpt from the seventh (1986) edition of that work, Kirk discourses on Hamilton's...

(The entire section is 2081 words.)