Liberty and Order is an ambitious anthology of primary source writings: letters, circulars, debate transcriptions, House proceedings, and newspaper articles that document 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, the political economy, the appropriate level of popular participation in a republican polity, foreign policy, and much else, not only contributed crucially to the shaping of the nineteenth-century United States, but also have remained of enduring interest to all historians 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.
Editor 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 debt acquired by the United States. The reader is 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. Brief, elucidatory headnotes place both the novice and the expert in the midst of the times.
With this significant new 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.
Lance Banning (1942-2006) was Professor of History at the University of Kentucky, where he had taught since 1973, and was the 2000/2001 Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. He was also coeditor of the University Press of Kansas series “American Political Thought” and the author of many articles, essays, and books on the American founding and first party struggle, including three award-winning books: Jefferson and Madison: Three Conversations from the Founding, The Jeffersonian Persuasion: Evolution of a Party Ideology, and The Sacred Fire of Liberty: James Madison and the Founding of the Federal Republic, the latter two of which were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.