The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800 (Google eBook)

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Oxford University Press, Dec 20, 1994 - History - 944 pages
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When Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office for the presidency in 1801, America had just passed through twelve critical years, years dominated by some of the towering figures of our history and by the challenge of having to do everything for the first time. Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Adams, and Jefferson himself each had a share in shaping that remarkable era--an era that is brilliantly captured in The Age of Federalism. Written by esteemed historians Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism gives us a reflective, deeply informed analytical survey of this extraordinary period. Ranging over the widest variety of concerns--political, cultural, economic, diplomatic, and military--the authors provide a sweeping historical account, keeping always in view not only the problems the new nation faced but also the particular individuals who tried to solve them. As they move through the Federalist era, they draw subtly perceptive character sketches not only of the great figures--Washington and Jefferson, Talleyrand and Napoleon Bonaparte--but also of lesser ones, such as George Hammond, Britain's frustrated minister to the United States, James McHenry, Adams's hapless Secretary of War, the pre-Chief Justice version of John Marshall, and others. They weave these lively profiles into an analysis of the central controversies of the day, turning such intricate issues as the public debt into fascinating depictions of opposing political strategies and contending economic philosophies. Each dispute bears in some way on the broader story of the emerging nation. The authors show, for instance, the consequences the fight over Hamilton's financial system had for the locating of the nation's permanent capital, and how it widened an ideological gulf between Hamilton and the Virginians, Madison and Jefferson, that became unbridgeable. The statesmen of the founding generation, the authors believe, did "a surprising number of things right." But Elkins and McKitrick also describe some things that went resoundingly wrong: the hopelessly underfinanced effort to construct a capital city on the Potomac (New York, they argue, would have been a far more logical choice than Washington), and prosecutions under the Alien and Sedition Acts which turned into a comic nightmare. No detail is left out, or left uninteresting, as their account continues through the Adams presidency, the XYZ affair, the naval Quasi-War with France, and the desperate Federalist maneuvers in 1800, first to prevent the reelection of Adams and then to nullify the election of Jefferson. The Age of Federalism is the fruit of many years of discussion and thought, in which deep scholarship is matched only by the lucid distinction of its prose. With it, Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick have produced the definitive study, long awaited by historians, of the early national era.
  

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Contents

Modes of Thought and Feeling in the Founding Generation
3
Legitimacy
31
Finance and Ideology
77
The Divided Mind of James Madison 1790 Nationalist Versus Ideologue
133
The Republics Capital City
163
Jefferson and the Yeoman Republic
195
Jefferson as Secretary of State
209
The Emergence of Partisan Politics The Republican Interest
257
The Populist Impulse
451
The Retirement of Washington
489
John Adams and the Dogma of Balance
529
Adams and Hamilton
581
The Settlement
643
The Mentality of Federalism in 1800
691
NOTES
757
INDEX
911

The French Revolution in America
303
America and Great Britain
375

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About the author (1994)

Stanley Elkins is the author of Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life, and is Professor of History at Smith College. Eric McKitrick is the author of Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction, and is Professor of History Emeritus at Columbia University.

Stanley Elkins is the author of Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life, and is Professor of History at Smith College. Eric McKitrick is the author of Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction, and is Professor of History Emeritus at Columbia University.

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