The United States has been distinguished among free governments as a “presidential” republic. In The Effective Republic, Harvey Flaumenhaft shows how the study of Alexander Hamilton’s political thought opens the way to understanding the nature of this republic and the reasons for its development.
Although Hamilton exterted an extraordinary influence on American institutions, his contribution and the thinking behind it often have been obscured and misconstrued by piecemeal approaches to his voluminous writings. Here, Flaumenhaft draws upon more than two dozen volumes of Hamilton’s papers to produce a comprehensive account of his thought on the principles of politics—the account which Hamilton himself hoped to give in a multivolume treatise, but died before producing.
Beginning with a discussion of the place of general principles in Hamilton’s thought, The Effective Republic proceeds to his views on popular representation as a safeguard of individual liberty. Flaumenhaft then elaborates on Hamilton’s thinking about efficacious administration, especially how the President and Senate meet the requirements of unity and duration in a republic, and on the importance of an independent judiciary for constitutional integrity. What emerges clearly as Hamilton’s chief concern is the need to make government not only safe but effective—hindered from doing harm by its popular base, but also, through the differentiation of administrative powers and tasks, capable of doing good.
Interpreting, linking, and, and arranging Hamilton’s words, Flaumenhaft allows Hamilton to speak for himself, to explain his benificiaries his vision of what the republican experiment needed in order to succeed.