Front Page Titles (by Subject) PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION - The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 1
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PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION - Alexander Hamilton, The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 1 
The Works of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Henry Cabot Lodge (Federal Edition) (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). In 12 vols. Vol. 1.
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PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION
It is eighteen years since the first publication of this edition of the Works of Alexander Hamilton. The letterpress edition at that time printed was limited to 500 copies, which were subscribed for within a very short time after the completion of the publication, and for a number of years no further sets have been available for sale. In connection with the continued demand for the writings of Hamilton, a demand that is now coming from a later generation than that for which the set was originally printed, the publishers have felt warranted in again bringing the work before the public. The volumes as now issued are, of necessity, printed from type newly set for the purpose. The text is in substance identical with that of the original issue, but such errors, typographical or other, as crept into the earlier volumes, have, so far as detected, been corrected. It would appear that the writings and correspondence presented in the volumes as first issued were substantially complete. The editor has no knowledge of further Hamilton material of sufficient compass or importance to warrant any fresh compilation or general revision.
The editor has no change, either, to make in the Preface written eighteen years ago, in which he tried to give an estimate of Hamilton's influence and intellect and of his power and standing as an American statesman, or rather as a statesman of the closing years of the eighteenth century, for Hamilton is one of the representative minds of a period as well as of a country. But the increased demand for his Works which has called forth this second edition furnishes, when rightly considered, a text of such significance, that the editor of his Works is not willing to let it pass without comment.
Hamilton's great contemporary reputation suffered after his death an almost complete eclipse. The unrestricted triumph of his chief opponent, Thomas Jefferson, and the course pursued by the Federalists in regard to the purchase of Louisiana and the War of 1812, were the chief causes of this result. The party of which he had been the chief and the champion sank out of existence, and even its name was lost except as a byword of political unpopularity. The early history of the United States, moreover, was little studied in the first half of the nineteenth century except by a few public men or by scholars and antiquarians thought to be possessed by strange fancies. After the Civil War, however, the American people, purged by a great ordeal of fire from the crude boasting which furnished the Dickenses and Trollopes a theme for their abuse, awoke to a full realization of the greatness of the work in which they had been engaged and of the meaning and power of the nation they had built up. In schools and universities, American history was taught as never before, and the popular interest in it became not only widespread but profound. One has but to turn to the catalogues of our libraries and our publishers to find proof of this, and to learn that every nook and corner of our history is being explored, and that all the most important periods have been and are being studied and written about with the utmost care and ability.
No one has profited by these changed conditions more than Hamilton. As the history of the United States has been investigated and developed, Hamilton has loomed ever larger upon the receding horizon of the days when that history began. His commanding figure has grown ever more luminous and more vital as the years have passed by, and the change is marked even in the eighteen which have elapsed since this edition was first published. He has been the subject of many biographies and in these later days has become the hero of fiction, which has discovered the romantic side of his career, and has made his name and deeds familiar to many to whom history is only a task.
Eighteen years ago, many persons probably would have hesitated to admit in full the editor's estimate of Hamilton's ability and power and of his standing among the statesmen of his time at home and abroad. The editor is inclined to think that few good judges to-day, whether or not they agreed with Hamilton in political principles, would seriously question that estimate and opinion as put forth in 1885. More and more have events justified Hamilton's conception of the government of the United States; more and more has the soundness of his finance and of his principles of administration been silently accepted. Even upon the most contested of his policies, that of protection, to which the United States has always adhered, it would seem as if the world were gradually coming round to Hamilton's position.
The Preface to this edition, written in 1885, says: “He studied Adam Smith and then wrote the Report on Manufactures, developing the theory as to the protection of nascent industries in its application to the United States, and standing firmly on the doctrine that this was a question which each nation must decide for itself.” All the nations of the earth, with but one exception, have in practice accepted this doctrine, and when the leader of one party in England says: “There is nothing sacred in Free Trade,” and the leader of the other is urging preferential colonial and imperial tariffs, it seems as if, despite the fervor of their Free-Trade protestations, they were drawing near to the great American statesman who a hundred years ago declared that Free Trade or Protection was a mere question of what was more profitable, and that each nation, in view of all the surrounding circumstances, must decide that question for itself.
Hamilton was a thinker as well as an actor. He did many great deeds. He cut his name deep in our history. His influence is felt to-day, as it always has been, in our government and our policies. But if he had never done anything personally his writings must always be studied as enduring contributions to finance, political economy, and the science of government.
July 8th, 1903.
From the painting by Inman.