The Hamilton Scheme: An Epic Tale of Money and Power in the American Founding (Hardcover)

The Hamilton Scheme: An Epic Tale of Money and Power in the American Founding By William Hogeland Cover Image

The Hamilton Scheme: An Epic Tale of Money and Power in the American Founding (Hardcover)

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"William Hogeland is the best guide I have found to understanding how we today are, for good and evil, children of Alexander.” —J. Bradford DeLong, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Slouching Towards Utopia

How Alexander Hamilton embraced American oligarchy to jumpstart American prosperity.


“Forgotten founder” no more, Alexander Hamilton has become a global celebrity. Millions know his name. Millions imagine knowing the man. But what did he really want for the country? What risks did he run in pursuing those vaulting ambitions? Who tried to stop him? How did they fight? It’s ironic that the Hamilton revival has obscured the man’s most dramatic battles and hardest-won achievements—as well as downplaying unsettling aspects of his legacy.

Thrilling to the romance of becoming the one-man inventor of a modern nation, our first Treasury secretary fostered growth by engineering an ingenious dynamo—banking, public debt, manufacturing—for concentrating national wealth in the hands of a government-connected elite. Seeking American prosperity, he built American oligarchy. Hence his animus and mutual sense of betrayal with Jefferson and Madison—and his career-long fight to suppress a rowdy egalitarian movement little remembered today: the eighteenth-century white working class.

Marshaling an idiosyncratic cast of insiders and outsiders, vividly dramatizing backroom intrigues and literal street fights—and sharply dissenting from recent biographies—William Hogeland’s The Hamilton Scheme brings to life Hamilton’s vision and the hard-knock struggles over democracy, wealth, and the meaning of America that drove the nation’s creation and hold enduring significance today.

William Hogeland is the author of several books on founding U.S. history, The Whiskey Rebellion, Declaration, and Founding Finance, as well as a collection of essays, Inventing American History. Born in Virginia and raised in Brooklyn, he lives in New York City.
Product Details ISBN: 9780374167837
ISBN-10: 0374167834
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: May 28th, 2024
Pages: 544
Language: English

"A well-wrought tale of how the American empire came to be born on the balance sheet as much as by the gun." Kirkus Reviews

“America's exceptional wealth relative to other North Atlantic economies is, to a remarkable degree, Alexander Hamilton's creation. And so is America's remarkable tolerance for high inequality. William Hogeland is the best guide I have found to understanding how we today are, for good and evil, children of Alexander.” —J. Bradford DeLong, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Slouching Towards Utopia

"I've always loved William Hogeland's writing, especially the confidence and verve with which he knocks down others' stupid sentimentalities in favor of a smart sentimentality that's actually worth holding onto: that American can truly be democratic. This book reveals a knockdown, drag-out, and often violent class war that hid in plain sight over what kind of economy America should have. It makes for as riveting a story as any hip-hop Broadway musical. And it's far more accurate to boot." —Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland and Reaganland

“Alexander Hamilton’s plans to consolidate wealth in an investor class were once as hotly debated as anything in American history. It took a lot of forgetting to make him a hero of the people. We’re in William Hogeland’s debt for getting the story straight and for telling it so engagingly, as it needs to be told, from the top down and from the bottom up.” —David Waldstreicher, distinguished professor of history at the CUNY Graduate Center and author of Slavery’s Constitution and The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley

"A bold and creative new narrative of Alexander Hamilton’s role in the American founding that brings lesser known but vital players into view." —Annette Gordon-Reed, Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University and author of On Juneteenth and The Hemingses of Monticello