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Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That…
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Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation (vuoden 2013 painos)

– tekijä: John Ferling (Tekijä), Stephen McLaughlin (Kertoja), Audible Studios for Bloomsbury (Publisher)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
245485,323 (4.18)3
"A spellbinding history of the epic rivalry that shaped our republic: Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and their competing visions for America... The decade of the 1790s 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 Hamilton. Both 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 more 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 greatness. Jefferson 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" -- from publisher's web page.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:ffifield
Teoksen nimi:Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation
Kirjailijat:John Ferling (Tekijä)
Muut tekijät:Stephen McLaughlin (Kertoja), Audible Studios for Bloomsbury (Publisher)
Info:Audible Studios for Bloomsbury (2013)
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):****
Avainsanoja:History, American History, American Revolution

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Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation (tekijä: John Ferling)

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näyttää 4/4
Joy's review: A well-written and mostly even-handed book that compares and contrasts Jefferson and Hamilton's lives, philosophies, and contributions to creating, establishing, and preserving the new American republic. Well worth the time to remind yourself of the American history you may have forgotten such as why the Articles of Confederation didn't work or that Jefferson had nothing to do with the Constitution (he was in Paris at the time). Ferling also does a good job of pointing out the foibles of some now legendary participants such as Washington. Did you know that he kept the Continental army inactive for as much as 10 months per year (or more!) throughout the war? ( )
  konastories | Jun 1, 2015 |
John Ferling, a respected scholar of the American Revolution, sets forth the ideological differences between two of our most influential Founding Fathers, and recounts the poisonous enmity between them that arose as a result. The story is relevant even today, since the bitter partisan divide America is now experiencing is quite similar to what threatened to tear apart the fabric of the country apart in its infancy.

Ferling provides a more dispassionate (i.e., less hagiographic) portrait of the two men than many recent biographies. He is quite good at laying out the philosophies of these two great thinkers, and showing how much they both contributed to the tenor and construction of the new nation. Nevertheless, when it comes to dissecting the personal characteristics of the two men, Ferling goes easier on the shortcomings of Jefferson than he does on Hamilton, even making Hamilton sound a bit like he verged on insanity toward the end of his life.

Hamilton was certainly more volatile and impulsive than Jefferson, but the actions instigated by each of them ended up mirroring the other’s. The main difference, in my view, was that Hamilton was more open about his feelings and actions than Jefferson; Jefferson’s behaviors could be just as egregious, but he cleverly operated almost exclusively behind the scenes, using sycophantic lackeys to do his dirty work (most notably, Virginia Congressman William Branch Giles, newspaperman Philip Freneau, and future presidents James Madison and James Monroe). As Ron Chernow observed in his 2004 masterful biography Alexander Hamilton, Jefferson was a “proficient political ventriloquist” who was “skilled at using proxies while keeping his own lips tightly sealed.” He used other men to hound Hamilton and discredit him, through whatever combination of truth and lies were necessary to accomplish that goal.

In spite of all the time and effort spent by each of these men in attacking the other, they also managed to make major contributions to the establishment of the American Republic. It was largely thanks to Hamilton that the nation was able to grow strong enough to overcome the defects it suffered when bound only by the Articles of Confederation. But Hamilton’s vision included the possibility of a nationstate bound to a plutocracy.

As for Jefferson, it was his radical egalitarian vision (at least in theory) that put into words the dream of equality of opportunity that still inspires those seeking freedom from oppression. (Nevertheless, no matter what interpretation later generations made of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a racist who “believed that blacks were slow, lazy, oversexed, less capable than whites of reasoning, and on the whole an inferior race.” Although he claimed he wanted to abolish slavery, he did not want blacks, once freed, to remain in the country.)

Ferling devotes some space to trying to explain Jefferson’s hypocritical divide between his professions about slavery and the actions he did, or rather, did not, take. Like other historians, Ferling makes a number of excuses for Jefferson. He does, however, admit that Jefferson absolutely would not consider emancipation without expatriation of freedmen and that “he refused to denounce the spread of slavery, and in private he made it clear that if the Union was torn asunder over the issue, he would stand with the South in defense of slavery.” Still, Ferling suggests that Jefferson was no worse than Washington, writing: “Like Washington, Jefferson made a conscious decision to keep others enslaved so that he might live the sumptuous life.”

But there were crucial differences between Washington and Jefferson on slavery. Washington, even Ferling admits, stated that if the Union broke up, he would move to the North and side with them, not with his home state of Virginia. Ferling does not go into Washington’s position on slavery in depth, presumably because it is beyond the purview of the book. But Washington not only struggled more with how to deal with slavery during his life, but would have freed his slaves at or before his death if he had been able to do so. Under the dower laws of the time, many of his slaves either belonged to Martha, or were married to slaves belonging to Martha. He refused to break up slave families, and Martha had no inclination to free her slaves. (After her husband died however, the slaves, who knew that Washington arranged for them to be freed when Martha died, were looking a little too happy for Martha’s comfort level, and she became uneasy that they would try to advance the date of her death. After a year, therefore, she freed them herself.) In contradistinction, Jefferson stipulated that only five of his slaves be freed even upon his death (all of them were from the Hemings family).

Regarding the invective and undermining engaged in by each man against the other, it is my distinct impression that Jefferson was the more venomous of the two, and did the most damage. His tactics, however, allowed him to escape the judgment of his fellows (and of history) more unscathed than did Hamilton.

Evaluation: Ferling breaks no new historical ground, but he is a spritely writer about an endlessly fascinating subject. He gives a much more balanced view of Jefferson than many other biographers, and does an excellent job in condensing and illuminating the political philosophies of Jefferson and Hamilton. If you are interested in the contributions of these two powerful and formidable men to the American project, this book makes a great introduction. ( )
2 ääni nbmars | Nov 16, 2013 |
This is a well researched book. It compares and contrasts Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. The book begins by examining their early lives and aspirations. Jefferson was the son of privilege and spending years reading and studying in his home after completing his formal education. Hamilton came from humble, scandalous beginnings and was able to come to the American colonies to study due to the generous support of benefactors who recognized his intelligence and potential.

These men were major players in the formation of the United States, though they wanted different things for it. Jefferson was an advocate of total democracy and agrarianism. Hamilton was in favor of a strong central government and military. He was fundamental in the formation the banking system in the early days of the government and was under the support of George Washington. Hamilton had dreams of becoming great through military accomplishment, but was thwarted by being appointed Washington's aide de camp. This, however, set him on the path to being an influential power broker. he worked behind the scenes influencing and manipulating to get his agenda adopted. Jefferson was also a man of vision for the nation, but his vision for the country was one of a more pastoral nation, where the inhabitants lived in rural areas rather than cities. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, but did not help much in the war for Independence, retreating instead to spend those years in Monticello. He enjoyed his time as ambassador to France, though he developed a strong dislike of monarchies, and planned to returned there, but Washington asked him to be Secretary of State.
This is a well researched book. It compares and contrasts Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. The book begins by examining their early lives and aspirations. Jefferson was the son of privilege and spending years reading and studying in his home after completing his formal education. Hamilton came from humble, scandalous beginnings and was able to come to the American colonies to study due to the generous support of benefactors who recognized his intelligence and potential.

These men were major players in the formation of the United States, though they wanted different things for it. Jefferson was an advocate of total democracy and agrarianism. Hamilton was in favor of a strong central government and military. He was fundamental in the formation the banking system in the early days of the government and was under the support of George Washington. Hamilton had dreams of becoming great through military accomplishment, but was thwarted by being appointed Washington's aide de camp. This, however, set him on the path to being an influential power broker. he worked behind the scenes influencing and manipulating to get his agenda adopted. Hamilton worked hard to get the Constitution passed and was the main writer and publisher of The Federalist Papers, assisted in this by fellow writers James Madison and John Jay.

Jefferson was also a man of vision for the nation, but his vision for the country was one of a more pastoral nation, where the inhabitants lived in rural areas rather than cities. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, but did not help much in the war for Independence, retreating instead to spend those years in Monticello. He enjoyed his time as ambassador to France, though he developed a strong dislike of monarchies, and planned to returned there, but Washington asked him to be Secretary of State.

The foibles of each man are presented in the book. Both thought highly of themselves and both were involved in affairs which affected their plans. Hamilton's relationship with the Reynolds and Jefferson's with Sally Hemming and others caused them to make political decisions which may not have otherwise been made. As time went by, Jefferson portrayed himself as being more tolerant of his political rivals, but that may have been his desire for leaving a good legacy behind as he aged. Hamilton's attempts at manipulation become more obvious and offensive as he tried to maintain his power in influencing elections and policy. His death by dueling with Aaron Burr could have been avoided as Burr gave him opportunities to recant, but, ultimately, did his pride prevail or did he want an escape from what he would see as a loss of power?

Both men lived extravagant lifestyles and incurred debt, though Jefferson spent most of his life living luxuriously while in debt, while Hamilton did not overspend until near the end of his life, when he purchased farmland and built a home for his family. Even so, Hamilton had the ability to repay the debt working as a lawyer, which he may have done had he lived. Jefferson frequently had to sell slaves and land to repay debt, though he was never debt free. Interestingly, he reduced the federal debt significantly while he was in office.

The book provided a good history lesson and both men were seen as human, with faults as well as great visions. The country we now live in is the result of both of their efforts; perhaps, in the early years, our nation needed them both, one to balance the other's ideas of governing and growing the new country. We tend to treat the founding Fathers as saints, but they were human. One wonders how they would have survived the current political climate and campaigns. I am recommending this book to family and friends. There are some grammatical errors, which I expect will be corrected by editing prior to the book release. I have not been compensated in any way (other than being given a copy of this book to review) and my opinion on the book is entirely my own. ( )
  graffitimom | Jul 27, 2013 |
Both left Congress complaining that nothing had been achieved or could be achieved in a house full of lawyers who spoke interminably and changed nothing. Hamilton spent years drumming up the phony fear that France was about to invade, in order to build up (quadruple) the armed forces and their supply chains, and to raise taxes for them. It took three dozen votes to elect Jefferson president, because the electors split along party lines and stayed there. Both men despised real democracy and the chaos they predicted would ensue if everyone actually had a voice. They were all about the privileged few – the ruling class. This was the world of Hamilton and Jefferson in John Ferling’s strong book.

The first half is their quite separate individual stories. They might have met once or twice along the way, and they certainly knew each other’s reputation, because both were famous. But they really only started interacting after 1790 when they were both in the cabinet, and they both quickly showed their true colors, leading to fireworks. They sniped at each other, called each other names, and whined about each other to the boss, George Washington. They loathed each other, and fixated on stopping each other from achieving anything.

In many ways, Jefferson looks worse by comparison. He was entitled. He inherited. He spent lavishly, mismanaged his enterprises, spent most of his life carelessly deepening his massive debt, and never devoted himself to his trade until late in life, when he became president. He was constantly turning down offers of office, only to be coaxed into one or another for a term. He was forever remodeling every home he ever had, in Paris, in Philadelphia, New York, and most famously, Monticello, which seemed to be forever under scaffolding. He was predictable in his unending defense of his homeland, Virginia, promoting its rights over the country’s. He was a timid, if not cowardly governor. He despised organized religion: “Had the almighty begotten 1000 sons instead of one, they could not have eradicated the ignorance, superstition, poverty and oppression of body and mind that churches had inflicted.” He was hypocritical over slaves. He claimed to abhor the concept, but had a 600 over his lifetime. His blatant racism didn’t stop him from bedding at least one of them, and having possibly six children by her. He even took her to Paris for five years, knowing that slavery was illegal there. America’s first ambassador to France could not be bothered with mere protocol and local laws. He had his comforts to think of. That is the image of Jefferson: me first.

Hamilton was much more kinetic, doctrinaire and intolerant. He was all over royalty and privilege once he got a taste of life in government. He annoyed and polarized, but because of his reputation with George Washington, he could and did write his own ticket, regardless of government policy or strategy. He ruined people’s lives because he thought them unworthy. He was firmly against taxes that would affect the rich, preferring to milk the common man. He was a confirmed elitist, which is ironic because of his very difficult adolescence. Jefferson was no less elitist, but fought Hamilton’s taxes, mostly because Hamilton proposed them. Hamilton spent a lot of time trying to rescue his reputation after a seedy affair – actually entrapment with blackmail – while Treasury Secretary. He would have been better off with a slave, like Jefferson, who brushed off scandal time and again. Hamilton pulled the strings (at first) in the Adams administration, bending the new president to his will by controlling the other cabinet members. He was constantly pushing for larger armed forces, the first time we’ve seen the hypocrisy of “preserving the peace” though there were no threats to America’s shores, and many feared the army would be used against Americans instead. And Hamilton did. He exhibited what we now call naïve realism – he believed himself in everything he said; he was absolutely right in his own mind. He was clearly a megalomaniac in the making. By the time he was killed in a duel, you are both ready and willing for it. Some say he was, too.

As they aged, Hamilton got crazier. Jefferson mellowed, enabling much more democracy, though he shrank from acting against slavery, time and again. At bottom, both men were making it up as they went along. They had no empirical backup for their theories, proposals and frameworks. They were of course, heavily influenced by their own histories, with Jefferson having the more dramatic epiphany from five years in Paris, which opened his eyes to another kind of life. His vision of a peaceful agrarian society where everyone was a white landowner irrevocably moved to the back burner when he became president.

Today, Hamilton would exult in the military-corporate complex that rules, and Jefferson would be saddened by the police oversight, lack of privacy, and government interference at every turn. Hamilton gave us structured government and financial institutions. Jefferson gave us the taste of liberty. We still haven’t figured out how to balance them. ( )
  DavidWineberg | Jul 25, 2013 |
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"A spellbinding history of the epic rivalry that shaped our republic: Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and their competing visions for America... The decade of the 1790s 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 Hamilton. Both 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 more 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 greatness. Jefferson 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" -- from publisher's web page.

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