Alexander Hamilton

It is important to tell the story of the Constitution’s origins in a way that demythifies it. Impressive as they were, the men who wrote the Constitution were not demigods; they had interests, prejudices, and moral blind spots.

Aaron Burr's 1807 trial challenged the Constitution

In late March 1807 Aaron Burr arrived in Richmond, Virginia, in a vile mood, filthy and stinking. He had just endured a month of hard travel under heavy guard through the dense forests of the Southeast. Read more >>

Strict codes of conduct marked the relationships of early American Politicians, often leading to duels, brawls, and other—sometimes fatal—violence

An impetuous and sometimes corrupt Congress has often hamstrung the efforts of the president since the earliest days of the Republic

On a little-remarked, steamy day in late June 1973, a revolution took place in Washington, D.C., one that would transfer far more power and wealth than did the revolt against King George III in 1776. Read more >>

Some old myths die in this new study of his West Indies childhood

Speculators caused a stock market crash in 1792, forcing the federal government to bail out New York bankers— and the nation

Wall Street’s first bubble swelled burst in the spring of 1792, exerting a profound effect on American politics and society. Nine years after the Treaty of Paris and the acknowledgement of the former colonies— independence, both Europe and America lay in turmoil. Read more >>
1. 1606: The Virginia Company is formed to seek profit from a new business: American settlement. 2. 1612: John Rolfe plants West Indian tobacco in Virginia, the cash crop that assures the colony’s success. Read more >>

How a debt-ridden banana republic became the greatest economic engine the world has ever known

Suppose they could go on "Meet The Press"...

Without his brilliance at espionage the Revolution could not have been won

ON IT HE GAVE THE NEW nation a new industry, wrote a protoguide to New England inns and taverns, (probably) did some secret politicking, discovered a town that lived up to his hopes for a democratic society, scrutinized everything from rattlesnakes to rum manufacture—and, in the process, pretty much invented the summer vacation itself

BY THE END OF THE FIRST CONGRESS, IN THE SPRING OF 1791, Thomas Jefferson badly needed a vacation. The first Secretary of State disliked the noise, dirt, and crowds of the capital, Philadelphia, and the cramped routines of office work. Read more >>

And how it grew, and grew, and grew…

The federal government was still in the process of establishing itself in 1792 and did not have a good year financially. Total income was only $3,670,000, or 88 cents per capita. Outlays were $5,080,000. The budget deficit therefore amounted to fully 38 percent of revenues. Read more >>

The two-party system, undreamt of by the founders of the Republic, has been one of its basic shaping forces ever since their time

Recently I got a letter from a friend of mine, Max Lale, the current president of the Texas State Historical Society, that gave me a quick glimpse of a vanished world. Read more >>

A controversial recent book suggests that what we think of as good manners is a relatively new thing, a commodity manufactured to meet the needs of an industrial age. But now that the Industrial Revolution is over, we may need them more than ever—for very different reasons.

All of us have encountered surly check-out cashiers, come up against uncivil civil servants, and witnessed rude public behavior. The couple behind us who talk through the entire movie. The stranger who lets the shop door slam in our face. Read more >>

At its roots lie fundamental tensions that have bedeviled American banking since the nation began

Bank failure is as American as apple pie. Read more >>

Two hundred years ago the United States was a weakling republic prostrate beneath a ruinous national debt. Then Alexander Hamilton worked the miracle of fiscal imagination that made America a healthy young economic giant. How did he do it?

One price of political greatness is to be forced to campaign even long after death. The Founding Fathers, particularly, have been constantly dragged from their graves for partisan purposes. Read more >>

A knowledgeable and passionate guide takes us for a walk down Wall Street, and we find the buildings there eloquent of the whole history of American finance

One of the pleasant burdens of friendship, and of living in a renowned and intimidating great city like New York, is that friends planning to visit will ask me to show them the sights of some quarter of town, most usually in the borough of Manhattan, county o Read more >>

The framers of the Constitution were proud of what they had done but might be astonished that their words still carry so much weight. A distinguished scholar tells us how the great charter has survived and flourished.

The American Constitution has functioned and endured longer than any other written constitution of the modern era. It imbues the nation with energy to act while restraining its agents from acting improperly. Read more >>

Walden is here, of course; but so too is Fanny Farmer’s first cookbook

America is not a nation of readers, yet books have had a deep and lasting effect on its national life. Read more >>

Banking as we’ve known it for centuries is dead, and we don’t really know the consequences of what is taking its place. A historical overview.

For the last several years congressional committees and presidential task forces have been nattering back and forth about what should be done to change the legal order that establishes and specifically empowers and regulates the nation’s banks. Read more >>

The early years of our republic produced dozens of great leaders. A historian explains how men like Adams and Jefferson were selected for public office, and tells why the machinery that raised them became obsolete.

THERE IS NO clear consensus on what constitutes greatness, nor are there any objective criteria for measuring it—but when we look at holders of high public offices and at the current field of candidates, we know it is missing. Read more >>

Encamped above the Hudson for the last, hard winter of the Revolution, the officers of the Continental Army began to talk mutiny. It would be up to their harried commander to defend the most precious principle of the infant nation—the supremacy of civilian rule .

Sunday, October 27, 1782. Mist and intermittent sheets of cold rain shrouded the granite spine of Butter Hill as it stretched west from the Hudson River above West Point toward the distant Shawangunk mountain range. Read more >>

Corruption, Yesterday and Today

The recent spate of revelations of bribery by American corporations of government officials, domestic and foreign, has left many with a sense that the business ethics of the nation are going to hell in a handbasket. Read more >>
Nearly two centuries after Crèvecoeur propounded his notorious question—“What then is the American, this new man?”—Vine Deloria, Jr., an American Indian writing in the Bicentennial year on the subject “The North Americans” for Crisis Read more >>

The Unknown Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton’s contribution to welding the thirteen semi-independent states which had won the Revolution into a unified political entity was greater than that of any other Founding Father, with the possible exception of Washington. But this tells only half the story. Read more >>

Vain, snobbish, distinctly upper-class in his libertine social habits, Gouverneur Morris nevertheless saw himself justifiably as "A Representative of America"

Of all the remarkable men who forgathered in Philadelphia in the spring of 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation, and perhaps to do even more, Gouverneur Morris was certainly the most talkative. Read more >>

Courtly, gallant, handsome, and bold, John Laurens seemed the perfect citizen-soldier of the Revolution. But why did he have to seek death so assiduously?

How a nation regards its past is itself a fact of considerable historical significance, and it will be interesting to observe the treatment of the Founding Fathers during the Bicentennial celebration. Read more >>

In the snarled disputes over the Yazoo land claims in 1790 George Washington and an educated Creek chieftain turned out to be the diplomatic kingpins

Shortly past noon on April 30, 1789, a tall, somber man, dressed in a simple brown suit, was inaugurated as the first President of the United States at Federal Hall in New York City. Read more >>

IN THE MOST FAMOUS DUEL IN AMERICAN HISTORY AARON BURR IS USUALLY SEEN AS THE VILLAIN, ALEXANDER HAMILTON AS THE NOBLE VICTIM, BUT WAS IT REALLY THAT SIMPLE?

Of all the thousands of duels fought in this country, only one is known to every high-school student. Read more >>
William Maclay, elected by the Pennsylvania Legislature to the Senate of the United States, left his farm near Harrisburg early in March, 1789, and journeyed to New York to attend the first session of the First Congress. Read more >>