Ep. 20: Alexander Hamilton

20071025_AlexanderHamiltonStandingThe JuntoCast returns from its extended summer hiatus with a very special episode. This month, Ken Owen, Michael Hattem, Roy Rogers, Nora Slonimsky, and, special guest, Joanne Freeman discuss the life and times of Alexander Hamilton, including the impact of his early life in the Caribbean, his roles in the war, the Constitution, and the first party system, and his untimely death at the hand of Aaron Burr in the nation’s most infamous political duel.

Don’t miss our upcoming JuntoCast Extra! with the same guests discussing the current “Hamilton moment” and the Broadway musical driving that moment.


Alexander Hamilton was an illegitimate child born on a small island in the Caribbean in 1755. As a teenager, he earned his way to the mainland colonies where he intended to pursue a college degree. Instead, he soon found himself embroiled in revolution, first as a writer and speaker and then as a soldier and officer. During the war he developed a crucial relationship with George Washington, who he served as an aide-de-camp. After the war ended, Hamilton agitated politically for a stronger federal government to replace the Articles of Confederation, ultimately having a hand in calling the Constitutional Convention. After working tirelessly for the ratification of the Constitution in 1788 and 1789, he was named the first Secretary of the Treasury by George Washington. From that position, he played a significant role in fostering and shaping the first party system, which was defined in no small part by the ideological differences between Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton left public office in 1795 but continued to be a major political strategist until he was killed in a duel with then-Vice President Aaron Burr in 1804.


  • Who was Alexander Hamilton?
  • How did Hamilton’s origins shape his personality and his career?
  • What role did Hamilton play in the war and what role did the war play in his life?
  • Did Hamilton encourage a military coup in 1783?
  • What was Hamilton’s impact on the Constitutional Convention and the ratification process?
  • Who was Maria Reynolds?
  • How did he come to be involved in a duel with then-Vice President Aaron Burr?


Joanne Freeman is Professor of History and American Studies at Yale University. She is the author of Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic and editor of the Library of America volume of Alexander Hamilton’s Writings. Her highly popular course on the American Revolution is available on OpenYale and YouTube.

Nora Slonimsky is a PhD candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center and a Writing Fellow at Lehman College. Her dissertation, “The Engine of Free Expression [?]: The Political Development of Copyright in the Colonial British Atlantic and Early National United States,” focuses on copyright as a conceptual and economic construct.


As always, you can subscribe to “The JuntoCast” in iTunes or via RSS. The JuntoCast is also available on Spreaker, and recent episodes are also available at SoundCloud and YouTube.


Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. New York: Penguin Press, 2004.

Cooke, Jacob E. Alexander Hamilton: A Profile. New York: Hill and Wang, 1967.

DiLorenzo, Thomas J. Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution. New York: Crown Forum, 2008.

Elkins, Stanley M., and Eric L. McKitrick. The Age of Federalism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Ellis, Joseph J. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.

Federalists Reconsidered. Edited by Doron S. Ben-Atar and Barbara Oberg. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1998.

Fleming, Thomas J. Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Future of America. New York: Basic Books, 1999.

Freeman, Joanne. Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

Hacker, Louis M. Alexander Hamilton in the American Tradition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1957.

Hamilton, Alexander. Writings. Edited by Joanne B. Freeman. New York: Library of America, 2001.

Hamilton, Alexander, James Madison, and John Jay. The Federalist Papers. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

Knott, Stephen F. Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002.

The Many Faces of Alexander Hamilton: The Life and Legacy of America’s Most Elusive Founding Father. Edited by Douglas Ambrose and Robert W. T. Martin. New York: NYU Press, 2006.

Morris, Richard B. Alexander Hamilton and the Founding of the Nation. New York: Dial Press, 1957.

The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. Edited by Harold C. Syrett and Jacob E. Cooke (27 vols., New York: Columbia University Press, 1961-1987).

Randall, Willard Sterne. Alexander Hamilton: A Life. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.

Rogow, Arnold. A Fatal Friendship: Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. New York: Hill and Wang, 1998.

Rossiter, Clinton. Alexander Hamilton and the Constitution. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1964.

Staloff, Darren. Hamilton, Adams, and Jefferson: The Politics of Enlightenment and the American Founding. New York: Hill and Wang, 2005.

Stourzh, Gerald. Alexander Hamilton and the Idea of Republican Government. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1970.


Alexander Hamilton’s “Plan of a Constitution for America” (New York Public Library).

Hamilton, Alexander. Observations on Certain Documents. Philadelphia, 1797.

“Alexander Hamilton,” American Experience, PBS documentary.

The Federalist Papers, full-text, Library of Congress.

Hamilton: A Life in Documents, New-York Historical Society Library Exhibition, 2015.

“Alexander Hamilton: The Man who Made Modern America,” New-York Historical Society Exhibition, 2004.

The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, 27 vols. Founders Online.

One comment on “Ep. 20: Alexander Hamilton

  1. […] Ep. 20: Alexander Hamilton […]


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