The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800

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Oxford University Press, USA, Feb 23, 1995 - History - 944 pages
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When Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office for the presidency in 1801, the United States 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 setting the nation's important precedents, in organizing the public finances, and in attempting - though with minimal success - to compel respect for the American republic from the powers of Europe. The historical era bounded by those first years is brilliantly represented 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, military - the authors keep in view not only the problems the new nation faced but also the particular individuals who tried, with mixed results, to solve them. They intersperse their account with subtly perceptive (and sometimes delightful) character sketches, not only of the great central figures - Washington and Jefferson, Talleyrand and Napoleon Bonaparte - but also of various lesser ones, such as George Hammond, Britain's frustrated minister to the United States, James McHenry, Adams's hapless Secretary of War, a pre-Chief Justice version of John Marshall, and others. They weave these lively profiles into an analysis of the major controversies of the time in an effort to recover something that is now two centuries out of reach, the psychology of a generation of nation-builders, not allof it attractive. The moral urgency of these issues, and the bitterness of the disagreements over them, reflected a fearful sense that the entire future hung on the particular way any one of them was settled. We thus see, for example, how the fight over Hamilton's Treasury syste
 

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User Review  - TomVeal - LibraryThing

This tome won the Bancroft Prize, and not undeservedly. It is full of information, has a compelling narrative thread and gives a great deal of insight into the ideologies and prejudices of the first ... Read full review

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User Review  - patito-de-hule - LibraryThing

An excellent account of the history of the United States during the administrations of Washington and Adams. This book discusses the writing of the Constitution, the "court" and "country" ideologies ... Read full review

Contents

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About the author (1995)


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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