The essays in this volume explore some of the potentially divisive realities that characterized the Federalist Era. Nine distinguished authors address themes that include the ideological assumptions that fueled the political debate, the interrelated chracter of social and political history, the role of the courts as an emerging force in arbitrating and containing conflict, and the expansionist impulses that pushed the new nation's borders westward. Gordon S. Wood introduces the collection with an incisive overview of the bold ambitions and unfulfilled aspirations of the critical first decade of the United States.