Conversations at the Washington Library is a weekly podcast about early American history and the people who teach it.

We all know Alexander Hamilton for his service during the Revolutionary War, his tenure as the first Secretary of the Treasury, and his death at the hands of Aaron Burr. But have you met Alexander Hamilton, Attorney at Law? In Part 2 of our four-part exploration of early American law, Dr. Kate Elizabeth Brown of Western Kentucky University introduces us to a man who was as ferocious in the court room as he was battling Thomas Jefferson over the National Bank. And as Dr. Brown argues in her book, Alexander Hamilton and the Development of American Law, you can't separate the one Hamilton from the other. Hamilton's law practice in the 1780s shaped his approach to federal power in the 1790s. His time representing American Loyalists and other clients in New York state courts informed his thinking about the law, the Constitution, and the young republic's place in the world. It may also surprise you to learn that Hamilton was as concerned with individual rights as he was creating a more powerful national government. 

Dr. Brown was in town to lecture as part of Mount Vernon's Teacher's Institute and she stopped by after class to talk about Hamilton and the law. If you'd like more information about our teacher programs, please click the link above. 

Be sure to check out Part 1 of this mini-series on early American law featuring Dr. Nicola Phillips and her research into Thomas Erskine, and tune in next week for Part 3 when we talk to Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky about George Washington's Constitution. 

About our Guest:

Dr. Kate Elizabeth Brown is an assistant professor of history at Western Kentucky University specializing in American legal and constitutional history and the early republic. In addition to her book, Alexander Hamilton and the Development of American Law, she has published articles in the Law and History Review and the Federal History Journal. She has also received numerous fellowships and research grants including a James C. Rees Fellowship from the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, a Larry J. Hackman Research Residency Grant at the New York State Archives, a Cromwell Senior Research Grant from the American Society of Legal History and a fellowship at the Gilder-Lehrman Institute for American History.   

About Our Host

Jim Ambuske leads the digital history initiatives at the Washington Library. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia in 2016 with a focus on Scotland and America in an Age of War and Revolution. He is a former Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia Law Library. At UVA, Ambuske co-directed the 1828 Catalogue Project and the Scottish Court of Session Project.  Ambuske is currently at work on a book entitled Emigration and Empire: America and Scotland in the Revolutionary Era, as well as a chapter on Scottish loyalism during the American Revolution for a volume to be published by the University of Edinburgh Press.

 

 

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