FREE ♷ Jefferson and Hamilton ☪

This was a really well researched and insightful look into two lives I like the way it was framed as two opposing poles that have shaped American politics throughout history, but the actual text largely biographical didn t pay as much attention to the thesis which is about political philosophy as I would have liked What I m really hankering for now is an intellectual history of how Hamiltonianism and Jeffersonianism have persisted through the fabric of American history over the past couple of centuries The book made me like Hamilton less than I did based on the musical, especially the details surrounding the duel If I was dueling someone who insisted on cleaning his spectacles, practicing his aim, etc right before the word go, I d try to shoot em dead, too It didn t make me like Jefferson much less, but that s primarily because it would be hard for my opinion of him to get any lower Nevertheless, my view did sink a tad lower after all, primarily based on the hypocrisy of his opposition to Hamilton despite the fact that he Jefferson represented the elite he was so leery of while Hamilton represented the kind of meritocratic, self mad man that Jefferson was supposed to ideologically favor Elitism dies hard, no matter how it conceals itself.And then there s the little matter of Jefferson as proto Maoist Didn t Mao say something about being willing to lose half the population to win the revolution That s got nothing on Jefferson, who said Were there but an Adam and Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it now is Psychotic much I think so And yeah, the Adam and Eve thing was an exaggeration, but there s no doubt he was ready and willing to spill innocent blood by the gallon to bring about the Utopian future It s the kind of idealistic monstrosity that really curdles my blood Jefferson s bette noir was English monarchy which you might notice is still around today And while I certainly prefer America s system of government to that of the UKs, I d be a little less eager to sacrifice millions upon millions of lives billions if we extrapolate to today s population to avoid the Hellscape of constitutional monarchy I wonder how Jefferson s tune may have changed if he d lived to see the revolutions of the 20th century.So there s no doubt that if I had to choose I d pick Hamilton over Jefferson But that s hardly to say I m a fan of Hamilton who if I understand correctly was literally in favor of crowning George Washington king Uh no thanks.And that s one of the consistent messages I got from reading history nobody was right And, for that matter, nobody was wrong I m not saying that all truth is relative or anything like that I just mean that with the benefit of hindsight even the most apparently sagacious and prophetic leaders got stuff wrong And not minor stuff, but major stuff that they seemed equally as confident about as whatever they were famous for Heroes are not made They are fabricated after the fact primarily by omission We lionize Newton the physics genius by quietly eliding Newton the passionate alchemist from the picture Hamilton, compared to Jefferson s bloodthirsty lunacy, was a sober policy genius But without detracting from that genius if he d had unbridled power he just might have turned the good ole US of A into a little proto fascist monarchy So here s the thing if nobody back then was right, what makes you think anybody today yourself including really knows what s going on Face it, you don t.The subtitle of the book is apt Either Jefferson or Hamilton would have destroyed the American experiment before it got off the ground, but their rivalry the competition between those two poles really did forge our society It s a lesson I wish we could understand and apply to our present political insanity. Great book As a big reader listener of US Revolutionary time period, I have read many books about Jefferson and my favorite founding father, Hamilton I have read many outstanding biographies of these men which, as you would expect, follow their lives chronologically What I loved about this book was that it followed these two men simultaneously When one of the two was doing something at a certain point in their life, we learn was the other was doing at that time Not just at pivotal moments in their lives, but also the mundane As I said, I would say I am a student of this period of US History, and this book provided many additional insights simply due to the way the information was presented A great read. FREE ♶ Jefferson and Hamilton ♧ From The Award Winning Author Of Almost A Miracle And The Ascent Of George Washington, This Is The Rare Work Of Scholarship That Offers Us Irresistible Human Drama Even As It Enriches Our Understanding Of Deep Themes In Our Nation S HistoryThe Decade Of The S Has Been Called The Age Of Passion Fervor Ran High As Rival Factions Battled Over The Course Of The New Republic Each Side Convinced That The Other S Goals Would Betray The Legacy Of The Revolution So Recently Fought And So Dearly Won All Understood As Well That What Was At Stake Was Not A Moment S Political Advantage, But The Future Course Of The American Experiment In Democracy In This Epochal Debate, No Two Figures Loomed Larger Than Thomas Jefferson And Alexander HamiltonBoth Men Were Visionaries, But Their Visions Of What The United States Should Be Were Diametrically Opposed Jefferson, A True Revolutionary, Believed Passionately In Individual Liberty And A Egalitarian Society, With A Weak Central Government And Greater Powers For The States Hamilton, A Brilliant Organizer And Tactician, Feared Chaos And Social Disorder He Sought To Build A Powerful National Government That Could Ensure The Young Nation S Security And Drive It Toward Economic GreatnessJefferson And Hamilton Is The Story Of The Fierce Struggle Both Public And, Ultimately, Bitterly Personal Between These Two Titans It Ended Only With The Death Of Hamilton In A Pistol Duel, Felled By Aaron Burr, Jefferson S Vice President Their Competing Legacies, Like The Twin Strands Of DNA, Continue To Shape Our Country To This Day Their Personalities, Their Passions, And Their Bold Dreams For America Leap From The Page In This Epic New Work From One Of Our Finest Historians Not an impressive work, I m afraid, because it seems to lack a purpose If it is a dual biography, it needs a lot of fleshing out I don t think anything was added to what Chernow said concerning Hamilton and a great deal was left out He certainly did not come alive on these pages and the issues Hamilton tackled are not presented in nearly as much depth The presentation on Jefferson comes to an end with the death of Hamilton, despite the fact that Jefferson s presidency continued for than four years As inadequate as this is, 90% of the book deals with the personages and events rather than the ideologies they espoused Discussion of their ideas is dispersed, repetitive, and not particularly in depth The buildup to the War of 1812, including the Embargo Act of 1807, is nowhere to be found The continued debate over the First and Second Banks of the United States are missing as well Hamilton may have died in 1804, but the problems he dealt with didn t And then there s page 361 Among the many, many ridiculous statements and sentiments somehow packed into one page is the idea that Hamiltonianism led to our current incredibly powerful chief executive, gargantuan military, repeated intervention in foreign affairs, and political system in the thrall of great wealth I would attribute that less than an ideology intentionally building that world than I would to result of WWII Wouldn t recommend this book Pick up Chernow for Hamilton and Jefferson s papers for that man himself Wouldn t mind finding a good biography on Jefferson, but this wasn t it. When you read a book like this, I think it s fair to expect a certain degree of objectivity You want the facts of the subjects lives and philosophies to be presented in an hopefully engaging manner with little editorializing Unfortunately, Ferling can t seem to keep his own bias under control It s very clear from the beginning, that Ferling prefers one man over the other, and that man s name rhymes with Jhomas Tefferson.Beneath a veneer of impartiality, time and again, Ferling awkwardly limbo dances his way through the unsavory details of Jefferson s life, while grasping at microscopic straws to condemn Hamilton For one example, Ferling posits that Hamilton might have destroyed or doctored evidence of using government funds for speculation However, he bases this solely on circumstantial evidence There s absolutely no solid evidence to corroborate this claim, or if there is, it wasn t included in the book What we do know, is that Hamilton, after a thorough investigation conducted by his political enemies Monroe, Muhlenberg, and Venable , he was cleared of all charges You would think, if there were any truth behind the charges, of all people, his enemies would probably want to use that against him Even after his death, Ferling writes that Jefferson Hamilton s enemy, and ostensibly, the reason for this book to exist told John Adams that he felt Hamilton was an honest and good man However, none of this seems to matter to Ferling who is determined to paint Hamilton as nothing than a Machiavellian schemer Now, contrast this with how he treats Thomas Jefferson Ferling introduces Sally Hemings as the woman about to enter Jefferson s life I mean, wow Right there Think about it Let s just set aside the fact that she was only 14 years old at the time, the idea that his slave had the agency to enter into his life is insulting She was a slave And not in the wacky Kanye West slavery was voluntary version TJ owned Sally since she was 3 years old She didn t have a choice, so let s not pretend like this was some grand love story Ferling then goes on to try to excuse the affair by basically saying, Sally was very pretty looking very much like his dead wife Sally was his wife s half sister and even if she did escape, the entire country not just the South was racist, so where was she going to go In other words, Sure, he raped his slave, but she was just so fucking hot Plus, she had nowhere else to go, so, like, can you really blame him Spoiler Alert Yes Yes, I can.Look, the fact of the matter is, the Founding Father s were a bunch of brilliant men who somehow accomplished amazing things despite having mashed shit for brains They were all flawed All of them They were human, not saints And when you write a book like this, one that seems to want to canonize one man and villainize the other, you re not being fair to either man Not only that, it breaks the the reader s trust in the author Once the author s bias is revealed, it calls into question the entire narrative How much of this is speculation or fact Are you withholding information Ultimately, there is some interesting History to be found here that is sullied by the author s bias Honestly, I think I would have respected it had it simply been titled Thomas Jefferson Was the Best Dude Ever And Here s Why He s Better Than That Asshole Alexander Hamilton. One could read the introduction to say the author believes Thomas Jefferson equals Bill Clinton and Alexander Hamilton equals George W Bush The introduction also contains the assertion that the Declaration of Independence proclaimed that all men are born equal when it says we are created equal After that inauspicious start, the first two thirds of the book are well done, relatively concise, parallel biographies of the two title subjects Readers could pick up most of what they should know about them here Their public accomplishments and private failures are both covered in a compelling narrative.As with all too many men who achieve greatness in public life, Hamilton and Jefferson had some incredible moral failures Hamilton s marital infidelity and hotheadedness Jefferson s constant personal extravagance and debt, slaveholding, and relationship with Sally Hemmings Ferling addresses these matters without apologizing for them, but also without diminishing Hamilton s and Jefferson s immense contributions to the formation of a nation unlike any other.It is not until two thirds into the book that the subtitle The Rivalry That Forged a Nation begins to fit Until then, Hamilton and Jefferson had largely operated in different spheres, apparently having no real disagreement with each other For instance, during the Revolutionary War, Hamilton fought Jefferson wrote the Declaration and served as Governor of Virginia During the Constitutional Convention and the battle over ratification, Hamilton was intimately involved while Jefferson was serving in Paris But for the next hundred pages, the text hits their disputing visions hard The rivalry begins in the early 1790s with the two serving in Washington s cabinet and Hamilton s proposal for a national bank Jefferson starts to see nefarious things in Hamilton s financial programs a hierarchical society centralized, even monarchal, government, with a loss of state sovereignty and a nation of mostly urban dwellers In contrast, Jefferson and James Madison with him saw the spirit of 1776 as one of limited central government, emphasis on individual liberty and equal opportunities, and a focus on land ownership and agriculture Jefferson fought against Hamilton, so much so that the champion of limited government was not above contradiction he put a man on the State Department payroll whose job was to publish a newspaper attacking Hamilton and his programs The rivalry led to the formation of the first two major political parties, the Federalists and Jefferson s Democratic Republican Party.Throughout most of the 1790s, Hamilton was the victor It is hard to tell from Ferling s account why Hamilton was so successful, except if the reason is as simple as that the man who acted above it all George Washington almost always sided with him Washington s death does coincide with Hamilton s increasingly irrational behavior including burning bridges with John Adams and political fall Jefferson saw his own victory in the unique 1800 presidential election as a triumph of his own viewpoint and a return to the spirit of 1776 Nevertheless, as Ferling notes, much of what America became was what Hamilton foresaw.I still think the subtitle overplays the text There was certainly a rivalry and the competing views of Hamilton and Jefferson Madison reverberate today But much of the book does not address that and it is quite short on explaining the long term impact of the rivalry Beyond the introduction, there are also some further hints that Ferling views the politics of the past through a misguided lens of the politics of the present He essentially writes that Hamilton engaged in right wing politics, calling a staple of such politics the labeling of those who disagree with the administration s foreign policy as disloyal Near the end Ferling strangely calls John McCain extremely conservative In fact, Ferling appears to use the the label conservative throughout the book as a pejorative one, but he never defines what he means by it It leads to some contradictions if we take the ordinary meaning For instance, at one point Ferling calls Hamilton s Constitutional Convention plan the most radical and also the most conservative If you ignore the premise of the subtitle and some of these quibbles, though, the book serves well as a biographical highlight reel of the lives of these two men and the formation of the United States Ferling knows his subjects well so well, in fact, that he feels free to offer lots of speculation of their motives, only some of which Ferling acknowledges as speculation His knowledge shows and he writes well.A final note I read an advanced reader s copy received as part of the Goodreads giveaway program In addition to the misquoting of the Declaration in the introduction referred to above , there were numerous typographical errors Those errors were presumably fixed by the final edition. Ferling has a solid reputation as a scholar, but I can t say I felt like I found that here This book was a mess I give it two stars only because it is, at least, reasonably researched I have several large issues with this book Firstly, the book is barely about the rivalry that forged a nation Second, it is quite obvious that Ferling considers Hamilton the villain and Jefferson the hero Third, I honestly don t think Ferling did a good job of understanding either character This book suffers from perilously poor direction Up until about Chapter 9, it is an unnecessarily detailed but oddly empty look at the lives of our titular characters until that point, before either one of them met the other In terms of what we needed to frame the rivalry, the first eight chapters I think could have been condensed into as few as two chapters Ferling trades off between the two for the rest of the book, but fails to stick close to his thesis, instead giving the impression that he means this to be something of a double biography, though without the detail or insight that would make that kind of book valuable I will admit that I might be somewhat biased, but after reading Chernow s Hamilton I cannot read a book like this that takes the traditional view of Hamilton very seriously Chernow definitely delves into Hamilton s psyche better, finding convincing reasons for the flaws in his character Honestly, Ferling doesn t seem to be able to help himself he ends most of the speculation about motives with passages that boil down to but maybe Hamilton was just evil Ferling repeatedly attacks Hamilton s actions, but glosses over most of Jefferson s faults, and generally does everything he can to leave Jefferson s actions, personality, and honor unblemished I think Ferling s greatest crime, though, is giving us what amounts to an uninteresting retread of the basic understanding most people have of this rivalry Only the last few pages seem to make any coherent point about the rivalry, and then, not well Ferling simply fails to give us any deeper understanding of either character or the rivalry that defined the 1790s I am glad, at least, that he brushes aside the idea that Washington was a puppet in Hamilton s hands In total, I am left with the question of why Ferling wrote this book There was a good premise, which is what made me pick the book up in the first place, but the book absolutely failed in making good on the concept Ferling s biases threaten to make this book not just badly put together, but just legitimately bad history I would not recommend this book if anyone is interested in the fascinating dichotomy of Jefferson v Hamilton s America, I recommend instead picking up firstly Chernow s Hamilton biography, and then a Jefferson biography with insight, like Joseph J Ellis American Sphinx. As an avid Hamiltonian I sought this book out for its unique take on the two Founders Unlike other reviewers who found the treatment of Hamilton incomplete, I enjoyed the author s approach which in my mind sought to describe the key aspects of both lives and their intertwining when it occurred I read Chernow when it appeared and other volumes to know enough of the detail of Hamilton s life In a relatively short 362 pages effort, Ferling nicely grasps the key elements of both mens personality and political philosophy This would not be the book for most readers unacquainted with the lives of these Founders, but the parallel description does seek to connect the dots between these two remarkable and historically essential men The story ultimately ends on a sad note, and Ferling does a good job of describing Hamilton s descent into political oblivion and recklessness Perhaps the impact was greater because Hamilton s life was squeezed into such a short volume, but the final quarter of his life seemed tragic and unnecessary as described by Ferling than it did with Chernow Another plus was an increased appreciation for Jefferson While I still find his vision for America naive and limiting, he brought his commitment to equality and democracy at least for whites to the forefront and blunted the excesses of the High Federalists. One of my professors in college was Broadus Mitchell He was the foremost Hamiltonian scholar of his day, author of multiple biographies of Hamilton and associates Not surprisingly, my freshman year at Hofstra s New College with Broadus Mitchell was an intensive study of Alexander Hamilton and the founding of America The textbook was surprise one of the several biographies of Hamilton authored by Broadus Mitchell.When I had was given the opportunity to review this book, I was intrigued I wondered what the author could tell me I hadn t read elsewhere and if he could tell the story better or differently, perhaps offer some fresh insights.I have patience with history books I don t expect it to read like fiction Much to my delight, John Ferling s opening chapters in which he compares and examines the youth, upbringing and psychological makeup of both men is beautifully written entertaining and lively Perceptive Astute What drove them, what inspired them to become the men who built America.All was going swimmingly well until the war began The Revolutionary War.I am not a war buff and was not expecting a play by play of the revolution But there it was Battle by battle, troop movement by troop movement I could feel my brain switch from engaged to stupefied I m not sure why the full details of the war are included Aside from showcasing Hamilton s military career doable in a few paragraphs , it adds little to my understanding of either man As far as I m concerned, it mainly adds hundreds of pages where a page or two of summary would have sufficed.If you are a military history buff, you might like it If not, skip the war and move on It s a long book that includes a lot of great material When Ferling is writing about the character and personality of his two extraordinary subjects, he s lively and illuminating, but when he lapses into authoritative mode, it bogs down Seriously dull I read a lot of history, stuff that other people think is boring and which I find fascinating so it s got to be pretty stultifying before I think it s boring.Yet it s too good to miss, so skip sections in which you aren t interested and read the rest It is extremely uneven with sections so gripping I couldn t put it down and others so dreary I couldn t stay awake I am disinterested in battles and troop movements, so maybe I m the wrong person to judge, but I cannot see how this material adds anything useful Jefferson never fought in the war Hamilton did, but he was not a military man Even though he had a distinguished war record, being a warrior was not a core piece of his character or particularly relevant to his story Several hundred pages could and should be deleted.Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton were two of the most influential men in American history The author said it well when he commented sorry, this isn t a quote I m paraphrasing that there are lots of statues dedicated to Jefferson, but we live in Hamilton s world True enough Hamilton was the consummate advocate of a strong central government with economic control through a central bank Jefferson advocated extreme individual freedom, leaving most government to local authorities.It amuses me that Hamilton is the darling of the GOP while Jefferson is the Liberal ideal Given Hamilton s belief in strong central government and Jefferson s preference for isolationism, individualism and decentralization well, it pretty much defines our nation s massive problem with cognitive dissonance.If you re a history buff with a serious interest in early American history, there is much to like It is said that Both men were visionaries, but their visions of what the United States were diametrically opposed It may have been true in 1780, but it has long ceased to have any current relevance In the end, the strands of their opposing philosophies have gotten twisted into a single ball of thread, both necessary to our American dream.Jefferson and Hamilton is the story of the struggle public and ultimately personal between two major figures in our country s history It ended when Alexander Hamilton died in a duel with Aaron Burr, Jefferson s vice president.Worth reading for sure, but not light entertainment This is history buff material Fortunately, there are still a few of us around. This book compares and contrasts the political viewpoints of Jefferson and Hamilton, starting with biographical background on each and then focusing on their time in Washington s cabinet and their political disagreements afterwards It is a readable study that is generally fair to its subjects Something about Hamilton and Jefferson seems to inspire their biographers to take sides even than 200 years later, so it is refreshing to get a balanced view I do take issue with the author s choice to frame some of the debate in an anachronistic conservative liberal dichotomy meant to be analogous to our current era For example, Ferling characterizes Hamilton s choice to back the Constitution as conservative I understand that he is contrasting Hamilton s reserved views about popular rule to Jefferson s democratic stance, but the Constitution overturned the previous system, creating a government unlike any other at that time Hamilton was the only signer from New York and worked very hard to secure ratification in the face of a great deal of opposition in his state He was hardly propping up the established system Later, a perennial charge by the Jeffersonians against Hamilton was that he didn t really support the Constitution because he wanted somethingmonarchical they didn t see backing the Constitution as a traditionalist move either It s possible that Jefferson would have pushed for something radical, but he wasn t there at the time and claimed to be generally in favor of what they came up with He did clash with Hamilton later over interpretation, but not really over the wisdom of the document itself Ferling frames a lot of the discussion in the context of Hamilton as the representative of the elite, monied class and Jefferson as a social revolutionary and voice of the people This holds up for some things, but is vastly oversimplified It falls apart altogether when you consider Jefferson s near silence on the 15 20% of the population that was enslaved This book is successful in discussing the events and personalities of the time, but weaker when drawing parallels to modern politics.