Alexander Hamilton, by Richard Sylla ISBN 9781454922759
Five out of five stars
While some books are described as illustrated, this one over delivers. It is packed with detailed images of Alexander Hamilton, the people in his life and the locations where the events happened. It is unfortunate that when the founding fathers are discussed, the focus is on the men that became president, independent of their level of success. Hamilton is largely dismissed, even though his influence was likely greater than even that of Thomas Jefferson.
For what Hamilton did was make the new nation of the United States financially viable and set it on the course to be the leading industrial power of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Hamilton established the banking system that led to the federal government having a line of credit that allowed it to borrow vast sums when needed. When his political opponent Thomas Jefferson wanted to purchase the Louisiana Territory from France, it was the policies of Hamilton that made it financially possible. Ironically, these were policies that Jefferson had long been on the record as opposing.
Hamilton was also an avid supporter of a strong central government and tariff policies that encouraged the development of domestic industries. He understood that the purchase of cheap goods from foreign nations would not lead to the fledgling nation developing the industrial base that would lead to economic and military security. Others such as Jefferson and James Madison considered the United States to be an agrarian country that did not need industry.
This is a great book about Alexander Hamilton, the man that was arguably the smartest and most influential of the group of men collectively called “the founding fathers.” Killed at a relatively young age in a senseless, pointless duel with Aaron Burr, Hamilton could have accomplished far more than the list of incredible things that are not often recognized. This book does a great deal to right that unfortunate historical wrong.