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Friends, I’m pleased to announce yet another series of the American Cinema Foundation movie podcasts. We usually talk about movies–now we’ll be talking about movies yet to be made: About the Founders. Friend of the show Richard Brookhiser has very kindly agreed to do a series of podcasts with me, following his admirable biographies of the Founders. We’re both persuaded by Shelley’s famous word, that poets are the unacknowledged legislators of mankind–and we’d rather some of this poetry deal with the most famous legislators themselves, the Founders. At the same time, America needs a Plutarch and Mr. Brookhiser is doing very well in that role. We start with the most controversial and splendid Founder, adventurous Hamilton, the immigrant patriot.
We talk about Hamilton’s greatness, the way his politics and his posthumous fame are both in symbiosis with Jefferson’s throughout American history, and then we go on to Hamilton’s generative ideas, which guided him throughout his career and which have become fundamental institutions in American life and politics. He wanted to establish the American economy as the mode of American action, for independence, prosperity, thriving, and opportunity. Hence his work in politics and the law focused on commerce, credit, and property rights. The economy is the path to a good life in the modern world and no one understood this better than Hamilton, with his own example in the back of his mind, a poor orphan without help from most of the institutions of society on which all of us rely.
Summer is coming, so if you’re looking for readings, Mr. Brookhiser’s books on the Founders are a great read. (They’re available here on Amazon.) I read them in college–they were part of my own education about America–and I am enjoying reading them all over again this summer, with the added delight of having the chance to talk about them with the author! I recommend them, I’ve long made a habit of making a gift of them to friends, and I hope you will do likewise. They’re the most reliable way to what we now need–to come into possession of the treasure the Founders have left for America as an inheritance. Let me add that some of my editors are interested in publishing some thoughts on these books and our podcasts, so these will appear elsewhere online–I will offer links when the time comes.
For friends of the show interested in keeping one step ahead of the podcast–our next episode will be on Gouverneur Morris, the charming and outrageous man more than all the other Founders understood the presidency would become the focus of American politics. Read Mr. Brookhiser’s book in the next few weeks and you will have an added delight in our upcoming conversation!