Liberty and Order documents the years during which America’s founding generation divided over the sort of country the United States was to become. The founders’ arguments over the proper construction of the new Constitution, political economy, the appropriate level of popular participation in a republican polity, the direction of foreign policy, and much else, not only contributed crucially to the shaping of the nineteenth-century United States but have also remained of enduring interest to all students of republican liberty.
This anthology makes it possible to understand the grounds and development of the great collision, which pitted John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and others who called themselves Federalists or, sometimes, the friends of order, against the opposition party led by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and their followers, in what emerged as the Jeffersonian Republican Party.
Through letters, circulars, debate transcriptions, House proceedings, and newspaper articles, Lance Banning provides the reader with original-source explanations of early anti-Federalist feeling and Federalist concerns, beginning with the seventh letter from the “Federal Farmer,” in which the deepest fears of many opponents of the Constitution were expressed. He then selects from the House proceedings concerning the Bill of Rights and makes his way toward the public debates concerning the massive revolutionary war debt acquired by the United States.
The reader is also able to examine the American reaction to the French Revolution and to the War of 1812, and to explore the founders’ disagreements over both domestic and foreign policy. The collection ends on a somewhat melancholy note with the correspondence of Jefferson and Adams, who were, to some extent, reconciled to each other at the end of their political careers.
With this significant collection, the reader receives a deeper understanding of the complex issues, struggles, and personalities that made up the first great party battle and that continue to shape our representative government today.