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Forthcoming–Chaining Down Leviathan, The American Dream of Self-Government 1776-1865. 


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Forthcoming–Chaining Down Leviathan, The American Dream of Self-Government 1776-1865. 


Marco Bassani, Ph.D

This is a study of American political thought between the secession from Britain and the War Between the States. This period was a struggle between the Jeffersonian and the Hamiltonian visions of America. The Jeffersonians favored a highly decentralized federation of sovereign states, whereas the Hamiltonians favored a highly centralized state with a veto on state legislation. This sort of polity has been called “the modern state,” which was a creation of European monarchs. When the monarchies were overthrown, it took on the form of mass democracy and national elections, both of which greatly expanded central power beyond anything the monarchs could have imagined. 

When Britain tried to incorporate the colonies into a British version of  the modern state, they resisted and won their independence. Most of the founders did not want an American version of the same planted in America. But some did. Hamilton and others seceded from Britain not because they opposed the modern state, but because they wanted to create an American version and govern it themselves. They failed. The Jeffersonians, though contested, dominated from 1776 to 1861. Lincoln inherited this Hamiltonian tradition and launched an invasion of the South, not to free slaves, but to prevent secession and securely plant a modern style European state in America where none had existed before.   :snip:  https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/abbeville-institute-press/

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