The Constitutional Thought of Alexander Hamilton
CONSTITUTIONS AND THE CLASSICS, Denis Galligan, ed., Oxford, 2014
27 Pages Posted: 7 May 2014 Last revised: 4 Nov 2014
Date Written: May 6, 2014
Alexander Hamilton was one of the strongest minds behind the development of modern constitutionalism, both in theory and in practice. Hamilton shared the constitutional principles of his republican contemporaries in his commitment to bicameral legislatures, elected executives, the separation of powers, checks and balances in government, and representative (rather than direct) democracy. He differed somewhat in his much stronger commitment to federalism, to executive power, and to judges, as the bulwark of constitutional liberty. Hamilton became as "Publius" (with James Madison) in "The Federalist" the foremost advocate and interpreter of constitutional government as it would ultimately be implemented in the United States. All these principles, widely accepted in theory by "enlightened" political writers of Hamilton's era, were reduced to practice in the American constitutions, and the Federal constitution of 1787, from which they have extended across the globe. Hamilton is one of the most perceptive and effective fathers of modern constitutional thought.
Keywords: Alexander Hamilton, constitutionalism, constitution, Publius, republican, republicanism, bicameralism, separation of powers, checks and balances,federalism, judges, judicial independence, enlightenment, modernity, United States Constitution
JEL Classification: K19, K39, B30, B31, N40, N41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation