In the history of American politics, there are few stories as enigmatic as that of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison’s bitterly personal falling out. Together they helped bring the Constitution into being, yet soon after the new republic was born they broke over the meaning of its founding document. Hamilton emphasized economic growth, Madison the importance of republican principles.
Jay Cost is the first to argue that both men were right and that their quarrel reveals a fundamental paradox at the heart of the American experiment. He shows that each man in his own way came to accept corruption as a necessary cost of growth. The Price of Greatness reveals the trade-off that made the United States the richest nation in human history, and that continues to fracture our politics to this day.
Jay Cost is a Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a columnist at National Review Online, a contributing editorial writer to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and a contributing editor at the Weekly Standard. He is the author of three books, most recently The Price of Greatness: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and the Creation of American Oligarchy. He earned a B.A. with High Distinction in government and history from the University of Virginia, and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago.