Contrary to most academic commentary on The Federalist, this book contends that the most significant teachings of the work did not have to do with the institutions of government so much as with the non-institutional features of American constitutionalism, specifically its advocacy for greater union, the development of an unparalleled culture of enterprise, and provision for war. Key to understanding why these features were so critical to The Federalist is the work's rejection of classical liberalism's orthodoxy that commercial republics were moderate or pacific in nature rather than spirited, enterprising, and warlike. Using the ancient historian Thucydides' account of the daring, innovation, and restlessness of ancient commercial Athens as an interpretive guide for the commercial republican theory that The Federalist embraces, this book provides a sweeping reinterpretation of American constitutionalism. At the heart of The Federalist's teaching, Peacock contends, is the intention to create an innovative and spirited culture of enterprise that will not only inform America's civic character post-1787 but its military character as well. No scholarship has considered the significance of Thucydides' to the The Federalist. This book does in a comprehensive reconstruction of the work that concludes that The Federalist anticipates as well as any text on American constitutionalism what many consider to be the most definitive features of American character today: its spirit of enterprise and its qualified willingness to engage in war for both reasons of national interest and republican principle.
Publisher: Lexington Books
Number of pages: 430
Weight: 762 g
Dimensions: 231 x 159 x 30 mm
Anthony Peacock provides a helpful contribution to the study of the Federalist Papers. Contrary to much scholarship, he presents a Publius who, following Thucydides and not Montesquieu, views commercial republics as spirited and warlike. At the same time, Peacock demands we also see another less-accepted view in the Federalist, namely the potential of such republics to cultivate virtue. In this effort, he wisely reminds us of a central intention of this great work: the development of the American character. -- Adam M. Carrington, Hillsdale College
A new look at the kind of society The Federalist promotes in order to nourish the political institutions it describes. In this original and valuable study Anthony Peacock finds a spirited commercialism recommended there in the mode of Thucydides, not merely passionless, economic avarice. -- Harvey C. Mansfield, Harvard University
This book, overall, constitutes the most thoroughly integrated discussion of The Federalist Papers yet produced. At the same time, it presents the most comprehensive review of scholarship on The Federalist Papers ever produced. The main contribution of this book is its careful development of a theory of interpretation of the underlying text that spawns a very careful review of the argument of the book as a whole. This work has no peer in a very long list of works addressing the general topic of The Federalist Papers. It has superceded all prior productions on this subject. -- William B. Allen, Michigan State University