In Hamilton: The Energetic Founder, R. B. Bernstein provides a thorough history that reveals Hamilton's status as one of the key founding fathers of the United States.

Hamilton: The Energetic Founder is a brief introduction to the life, thought, work, and legacy of Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), but it is not a traditional biography. Public curiosity about Hamilton, his life, and his work has swelled, particularly among those intrigued by popular-culture portrayals in the Broadway musical Hamilton: An American Musical. This book presents a summary of Hamilton's life and explores his role in revolution, constitutionalism, economics, diplomacy, and war, as well as his relationship to honor culture and duelling. The epilogue considers Hamilton's legacies.

The book considers Hamilton as a key founding father, focusing on his work as a politician, a constitutional thinker, and the nation's first secretary of the treasury. In that role, Hamilton was perhaps the leading American domestic policy-maker and nationalist. He led the effort to write the brilliant defense and exposition of the Constitution, The Federalist, and later, as treasury secretary, he pioneered efforts to interpret the Constitution broadly, as a generous grant of national power to the government of the United States. As part of that effort, he also pioneered expositions of the Constitution as a source of executive and judicial power. In addition, as a leading figure in the American world of honor culture, Hamilton was also a principal exponent of political combat in defense of personal and political honor. As such, he was a tragic victim of the honor culture he did so much to establish as a component of national politics, dying as the result of a mortal wound he suffered
in his 1804 duel with Aaron Burr, his longtime antagonist and Vice President of the United States.

Though not often an admired political figure in his own time, Hamilton was perhaps the leading and most enthusiastic exponent of American constitutional nationalism. In the more than two centuries since his death in 1804, Hamilton has continued to be the principal advocate of a nationalist reading of US constitutionalism.

Publication Date: 
August 29, 2023