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Original Intents

Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and the American Founding

Andrew Shankman

Publication Date - 07 March 2017

ISBN: 9780199370139

176 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Explains the political, economic, and constitutional ideas of Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison as their thinking developed from the American Revolution through the early 1790s


Lucid and concise, Original Intents: Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and the American Founding fully explains the political, economic, and constitutional ideas of Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison as their thinking developed from the American Revolution through the early 1790s. It shows how their ideas took shape and changed as they engaged with each other and eventually began to have serious debates and arguments. Original Intents shows that there was no single original meaning or intent in the Constitution, and that Hamilton sought to build a Republican United States that was completely incompatible with the Republic that Jefferson and Madison wanted. By the early 1790s, the two Virginians had come to despise Hamilton and detest his vision, and vice versa.

About the Author(s)

Andrew Shankman is Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University, Camden.


"Original Intents greatly clarifies our understanding of Hamilton and his financial system and explains more clearly than ever before why Jefferson and Madison so strongly opposed him and his system."--Gordon S. Wood, Brown University

"In Original Intents, Andrew Shankman provides a masterful account of what was at stake in Jefferson's and Madison's opposition to Hamilton's plans for the new nation. In lively and clear language, he illuminates how fragile the new republic appeared to America's founding generation. By bringing the founders' concerns to life and exposing their differences, Shankman lays out the origins of debates over government and equality, which Americans continue to wrestle with today."--Johann N. Neem, author of Creating a Nation of Joiners

"Hamilton vs. Jefferson: in some ways, their storied clash frames and explains the nation's first decade of constitutional governance. Original Intents examines this conflict as the two men and their mutual friend Madison experienced and understood it. Rather than dealing in vague generalities about idealistic visions, it offers a gripping ground-level view of a battle over the meaning and reach of the nation's new Constitution. Clear, concise, and rich in context without ever losing sight of the politics and personalities of its protagonists, Original Intents is sure to have both popular and classroom appeal. Anyone who seeks to understand the nation's founding and its lasting implications should read this book."--Joanne Freeman, Yale University

"Here is a handy book that calls our attention to the central debate in the American founding experience: what kind of country should the American people create? Patriotic narratives would have us believe that the answer was 'self-evident,' but nothing was farther from the truth. There had been many revolutions, several separate 'foundings,' and no shortage of reckless claims tossed off by friends and foes of the 1787 Constitution. The bitter quarrels between Hamilton and Jefferson, refereed or inflamed by an ever-thoughtful James Madison, framed profoundly different outcomes for the infant republic. Deftly sketching out this complicated Venn diagram of interests, ideals, hopes, and dreams, Andrew Shankman rightly concludes that neither side won--and we would be best served by ignoring claims to the contrary from either direction. Excellent history; excellent advice."--John L. Larson, Purdue University

Table of Contents


    Chapter One: Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison and the Fear of Anarchy in the 1780s

    Chapter Two: Seeds of Disagreement in the 1780s

    Chapter Three: A Fragile Unity: Supporting the Constitution

    Chapter Four: Disagreement: Revenue, Debt, Commerce, and the Report on Public Credit

    Chapter Five: Conflict: Funding, Assumption, and the National Capital

    Chapter Six: A Mighty Argument: The Constitution, the Bank, and the Stock Market Crashes of 1791 and 1792

    Chapter Seven: The Mighty Argument Goes Public: The Report on Manufactures and the Origins of Party Politics


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