Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Jefferson And Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged A Nation

Veteran journalist and author Joseph G. Goulden offers a review of John Ferling's Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation in today's Washington Times.   

Poisonous feuds have long been a hallmark of Washington politics. Consider the open hatred between President Lyndon Johnson and Robert F. Kennedy during the late 1960s. More than once, in private gatherings, I heard LBJ refer to Kennedy as “that little (expletive).” Kennedy could be equally scornful, according to journalistic scuttlebutt.

However, LBJ versus RFK was a schoolyard spat (the issues being Vietnam and political rivalry) compared to the hostility between Founding Fathers Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson during the early years of the United States.

Their issues were far more important — nothing less than the future shape of the country. Should America build a modern economy — industrialized and with a viable financial system and a sensible military? Or should it be an agrarian society dependent on the individual yeoman with a minimum commerce, protected from adversaries by a citizen militia?

John Ferling, arguably the best historian of the period, recounts with engaging, authoritative prose the decades-long struggle that traces the parallel careers of Jefferson, the scion of Virginia gentry, and Hamilton, born out-of-wedlock on Nevis in the British West Indies. In a nutshell, Jefferson was handed a fortune and “farmed” with slave labor. Hamilton made his way to New York as a penniless teen, worked as a clerk for a merchant and became a prosperous lawyer.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:


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