Monday, August 21, 2017

Brown's "Alexander Hamilton and the Development of American Law"

Kate Elizabeth Brown, an assistant professor of history and political science at Huntington University, has published Alexander Hamilton and the Development of American Law, with the University Press of Kansas:
Alexander Hamilton is commonly seen as the standard-bearer of an ideology-turned-political party, the Federalists, engaged in a struggle for the soul of the young United States against the Anti-Federalists, and later, the Jeffersonian Republicans. Alexander Hamilton and the Development of American Law counters such conventional wisdom with a new, more nuanced view of Hamilton as a true federalist, rather than a one-dimensional nationalist, whose most important influence on the American founding is his legal legacy.

In this analytical biography, Kate Elizabeth Brown recasts our understanding of Hamilton’s political career, his policy achievements, and his significant role in the American founding by considering him first and foremost as a preeminent lawyer who applied law and legal arguments to accomplish his statecraft. In particular, Brown shows how Hamilton used inherited English legal principles to accomplish his policy goals, and how state and federal jurists adapted these Hamiltonian principles into a distinct, republican jurisprudence throughout the nineteenth century. When writing his authoritative commentary on the nature of federal constitutional power in The Federalist, Hamilton juxtaposed the British constitution with the new American one he helped to create; when proposing commercial, monetary, banking, administrative, or foreign policy in Washington’s cabinet, he used legal arguments to justify his desired course of action. In short, lawyering, legal innovation, and common law permeated Alexander Hamilton’s professional career.
Among the endorsements:
“Katherine Brown’s forcefully and persuasively argued book reminds us that Alexander Hamilton’s contributions to the nation included his work in law. He was a founding father of American law whose jurisprudence greatly influenced early American constitutionalism. Scholars generally regard Hamilton as a relentless defender of strong central government, but Brown makes the case for Hamilton’s more balanced federalism and his introduction of the doctrine of corresponding powers. Although he regarded law as an instrument of republican statecraft and is rightly known for his public lawmaking role, Hamilton was also an accomplished courtroom advocate with a large practice. Brown’s work will restore Hamilton to the place he occupied in the history of American law.”
—Peter Charles Hoffer, author of Rutgers v. Waddington: Alexander Hamilton, the End of the War for Independence, and the Origins of Judicial Review
Professor Brown discusses her book here.

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