Cunningham is a historical nonfiction work that compiles written documents by Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson with commentary. Though these works and the commentary the background, the ideology, and the rivalry of Jefferson and Hamilton are revealed. This book is split into seven main parts: different paths to fame, diverging courses, poles apart on banks and factories, conflict in Washington's Cabinet, disagreement on foreign affairs, political competitors, and Hamilton and President Jefferson. .
In the first section, the different backgrounds of Jefferson and Hamilton are revealed. Jeffersons family was rich and was able to afford him an excellent education in Virginia. Jeffersons claim to fame occurred when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. Hamilton grew up in the West Indies and was poor and relatively uneducated. Despite this humble background, he was a significant advocate in the ratification and creation of the Constitution. Through his writings in the Federalist Papers, he contributed the largest number of essays, which helped to convince many individuals and states to ratify the Constitution.
The second section explained the beginning of the major disagreements between Jefferson and Hamilton. A major point of contention was how to handle the national debt. The United States owed about twelve million dollars internationally and forty million dollars domestically. Hamilton as the secretary of treasury prepared a report on how to handle this issue, which was met with much protest. Jefferson offered a compromise that he later regretted. The third section explores their differences on establishing a national bank and support of manufacturing within the United States. Hamilton was a major supporter of creating a national bank modeled after the Bank of England, and Jefferson opposed it and doubted the constitutionality of it. Hamilton wrote the Report on Manufacturers in support of manufacturing, and Jefferson opposed to protect his agrarian interests.