In This Review In This Review
Hamilton's Republic: Readings in the American Democratic Nationalist Tradition
Edited by Michael Lind
Free Press, 1997, 345 pp.
A commendable but unsatisfactory effort to draw together the principal writings of American thinkers and leaders who have drawn inspiration from Alexander Hamilton. Though many of the selections are excellent, the attempt to cover so much ground (over two hundred years' worth of the principles of foreign policy, the nature of political identity, and systems of political economy) means that no subject is covered adequately. Lind's editorial comments, moreover, are often quite dogmatic and reductionist. It is one thing to say that the argument between Hamilton and Jefferson was fundamental and persists in various guises, quite another to group American parties, statesmen, and thinkers into "Hamiltonians" and "Jeffersonians" from the beginning to the present day. A large number of figures that Lind identifies with the Hamiltonian tradition (among both nineteenth-century Whigs and twentieth-century Democrats) admired Jefferson as well and frequently saw themselves as synthesizing two valuable traditions rather than choosing between them. Lind, by contrast, appears to have imbibed (to a fault) Henry Adams' maxim that "it is always safe to abuse Jefferson."
Source URL: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/capsule-review/1998-03-01/hamiltons-republic-readings-american-democratic-nationalist