College Announces the Alexander Hamilton Center
Programming to Begin in 2007
By Scott Stafford
Contact: Scott Stafford
September 6, 2006
The College has announced the founding of the Alexander Hamilton Center (AHC), an organization inspired by Alexander Hamilton's life and work. The AHC seeks to "promote excellence in scholarship through the study of freedom, democracy and capitalism as these ideas were developed and institutionalized in the United States and within the larger tradition of Western culture," according to the center's charter.
The AHC will explore the meaning and implications of capitalism, its genesis and impact; the role of markets, money and financial institutions in economic growth; the relations between economic freedom and political freedom; the construction of limited government; the rise of the modern, bureaucratic state and its impact on individuals and communities; the role of religion in American politics; separation of church and state; the nature of republics, democracies and empires; realism and idealism in the practice of United States foreign policy; and the role of the United States in world affairs.
Center founders are faculty members James Bradfield, the Elias W. Leavenworth Professor of Economics, Robert Paquette, the Publius Virgilius Rogers Professor of American History, and Douglas Ambrose, the Sidney Wertimer Associate Professor of History.
"The Alexander Hamilton Center is an exciting faculty initiative, one that will draw renewed attention on this campus to the considerable scholarly interest in the life and work of the founder who leant his name to our college," said Joseph Urgo, dean of the faculty. "Alexander Hamilton's rise to prominence from disadvantage, his life-long commitment to clarity in prose and speech and his ultimate devotion to the experiment of a United States government and society, all reflect the ongoing educational values of Hamilton College."
The AHC intends to sponsor annual lectures, colloquia and conferences centered on annual thematic programming. The AHC also proposes to award annual fellowships to scholars in the field, conduct an annual student essay competition, provide stipends for student research and recognize an author of the most outstanding work of scholarship related to Alexander Hamilton or that period in which he made his enduring contributions to the intellectual, economic and political life of the United States. Although the AHC will design programming for the education of Hamilton students, it will seek to engage a much broader community, including high school students and teachers, alumni, trustees and political officials.
In introducing the center, Paquette, who will serve as the center's first director, said, "The Alexander Hamilton Center has lofty aspirations and an ambitious agenda. Its central concerns derive from the big issues tackled by the college's distinguished namesake during the founding of the United States. The center will take root on campus and begin active programming during the fall semester 2006. …We fully intend to build an edifice that will stand the test of time and serve as a beacon light for scholarship and high standards among this country's elite liberal arts colleges."
Alexander Hamilton's connection to the College reaches back to 1793 when, as Secretary of the Treasury, he endorsed Samuel Kirkland's proposal to create a "seminary of learning" to educate the children of Oneida Indians and white settlers in upstate New York. Hamilton agreed to serve as a trustee of the school, which, in 1812, was chartered as Hamilton College.
Hamilton stood at the center of the founding of the United States, serving as an artillery officer and key aide to George Washington. He not only participated as a delegate in the Constitutional Convention, but also endorsed its handiwork by composing the majority of the Federalist Papers. Thomas Jefferson, Hamilton's arch-rival, described the 85 essays as "the best commentary on the principles of government, which ever was written." Hamilton's role in the ratification of the Constitution and his enduring contributions to the fields of law, economics and politics helped ensure the very survival of that great experiment in popular government.