A volume in Harper's ""New American Nation"" series, this book by the author of Alexander Hamilton, Portrait in Paradox is a meticulously detailed and annotated study of this country's struggles in an era of early political turmoil. Led by Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and others, the Federalists, the party in power, had engineered the adoption of the Constitution and the election of Washington as president; they believed in a strong central government, a national bank under Hamilton, secretary of the Treasury, and the growth of industries. The agrarian Anti-Federalists of ""Republicans"" (not at all like today's G.O.P.), under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, both Virginians, hated Hamilton and his bank and believed in the importance of agriculture over industry and of states' rights, Virginian in particular, over those of a centralized government. From their vituperations a nation was born. Denounced by the Republicans as a ""secret traitor to his country"", Washington served two terms with honor and was replaced by Adams; Hamilton funded the national debt and established the national credit; laws were passed, speeches made, industries flourished, and French and English meddling in domestic affairs did not lead to war. By 1800, when ""Republican"" Jefferson defeated Adams in an incredibly squalid presidential campaign, the Constitution had become a workable ""instrument of government"", and Adams, by his last act naming John Marshall as Chief Justice, set his own mark on the Federalist era. A book for historians only, this authentic study of a complicated era will appeal to students of the legal, political and financial beginnings of this country, and should find a place in all libraries of the period. Average readers, even those with a penchant for history, may find it soporific.