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Alexander Hamilton's Notes on Plutarch in His Pay Book

Philip Stadter
The Review of Politics
Vol. 73, No. 2 (SPRING 2011), pp. 199-217
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23016379
Page Count: 19
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Alexander Hamilton's Notes on Plutarch in His Pay Book
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Abstract

Alexander Hamilton's notes to his reading of two pairs of Plutarch's Parallel Lives, Theseus-Romulus and Lycurgus-Numa, probably made in the winter of 1777–1778 at Valley Forge, reveal his early attention to the rewards of founding a new state, the natures and advantages of different political institutions, and economic, social, military, and cultural practices. They furnish a valuable testament to Hamilton's early intellectual development. He focuses on monarchy and the danger of tyranny and on the institutions by which states had limited the power of monarchs and of the popular will: the senate at Rome and the gerousia and later the ephors at Sparta. Hamilton admires Numa's use of religion to nourish civil society, while his interest in the Spartans' treatment of their helots is a testimony to his early concern about the problem of slavery.

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