Study Questions

Chapters 1 - 3

Chapters 1 - 3

Compare the society and culture in New York when Hamilton lived there with the Caribbean where he grew up. How were they alike? How were they different

What did Hamilton mean by: "There are strong minds in every walk of life that will rise superior to the disadvantages of a situation and will commend the tribute due to their merit, not only from the classes to which they particularly belong but from the society in general." Do you agree? Do you agree with the "every walk of life" part?

What did Hamilton mean by "In time of such commotion as the present, while the passions of men are worked up to an uncommon pitch, there is great danger of fatal extremes," and that steps must be taken to "keep men steady and within proper bounds." What kinds of steps might he have meant?

What did John Locke mean by, "Citizens exchange obedience for safety--but the contract is not binding."

John Locke also said, "The government exists by consent of the governed." In what ways is this true in the United States today? How is it not true?

Chapters 4 - 6

What did George Washington mean when he said, "The army is a dangerous instrument to play with."

Compare and contrast George Washington's leadership style and personality with Alexander Hamilton's.

Jefferson thought capitalism created an unquenchable thirst for money. Do you agree that plantation families have less of a thirst for money?

Jefferson valued individual liberty. Is it possible for a person to have total liberty? Why or why not?

Does local government increase individual liberty? Can you think of ways it does? Can you think of ways it doesn't?

How might a bank lend out more money than it has cash on hand? What would happen if a bank did that? (Hint: When the bank lends money, it does so by crediting that person's account. So the bank credits Person A's account with, say, $10,000. Person A then "buys" something from Person B by writing a check, which transfers the money to Person B's account.)

Chapters 7 - 8

What did Hamilton mean by "furious and dark passions?" (page 87) Have you seen examples in your life of what Hamilton was referring to?

Are there examples of due process in your school? Are there examples where you, as a student, feel that you are deprived of due process?

Have you ever seen an example of the minority being tyrannized by the majority?

How do you think the case between Elizabeth Rutgers and Joshua Waddington should have been decided? What would be fair to both of them?

Have you seen an example of demogagery in your life?

Do you agree that financial banks only benefit certain classes of people?

Do you agree with Jefferson that "a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as neessary in the political world as storms in the physical." Why or why not?

Chapters 9 - 10

Why did it bother Hamilton for judges and members of the executive branch to be selected by the state legislatures?

Why did Hamilton want Senators to serve lifetime terms? Do you think that would be a good idea? Why or why not?

Why did Hamilton felt America would be stronger if open to foreigners. Do you agree? Why or why not?

How bad of a gaffe was it when Hamilton used the phrase "elective monarch" to describe the president? (p. 107)

Throughout American history, there have been calls to abolish the electoral college. Do you think the electoral college serves a worthy purpose, or should it be abolished?

To you think estabishing a Department of the Treasury was a mistake? What would have happened had Hamilton not established the Department of the Treasury?

Discuss the pros and cons of the nonoriginalist approach to Constitutional interpretation.

The agrarian class was suspicious of the mercantile class. Did they have good reason for their fear?

Chapter 11 - 12

Hamilton was fine with rebellion against the king, but not rebellion against the American government. Was there hypocrisy in that? Was there any way that could be seen as self-serving?

Are taxes necessary, or evil?

Describe Hamilton's personality. Would he have made a good president?

Liberals are usually described as favoring change, while conservatives want things to remain as they are. For generations, Thomas Jefferson was seen as the liberal who progress in terms of a new world in which all people have liberty, while Hamilton was seen as the backward looking converative who wanted things to remain as they are, with a British style democracy. Can you make an argument both ways? For Jefferson as the liberal and Hamilton as the conservative and the other way around?

Should a newspaper be allowed to print anything it wants about a public figure? What if the newspaper accidentally gets facts wrong? What if the newspaper genuinely believes everything it prints?




Making of America