History of Alexander Hamilton

Birth of Alexander Hamilton

He was born in Charlestown, Nevis, in the Caribbean, out of wedlock to Rachel Faucette, of British & French Huguenot descent. She had been married to Johann Michael Lavien when she fell in love with the Scottish James Hamilton. She left her husband and their son and moved in with Hamilton, where she lived with him in Nevis and on St. Croix. Alexander took his natural father’s surname.

Education

He became an accounting clerk with a local import-export firm and later apprenticed with a merchant. He became good enough as a trader that he ran the firm for five months in 1771. Denied an education in a church school due to his illegitimacy, the young Hamilton had caught the attention of the local Presbyterian minister and occasional doctor, Hugh Knox, The minister noticed his ambition and intelligence and mentored him with a firm intellectual and spiritual grounding, adding classics, literature, and history from his vast library.

Lt. Colonel Hamilton, NY Artillery

American Revolution

Hamilton, still in his twenties, was among the inner circle of George Washington’s army during the American Revolutionary War and the subsequent early National period. He became Washington’s aide-de-camp as a Lieutenant Colonel and was in charge of correspondences with Congress and the writing of orders for the Continental Army.

Aides-de-camp Office, Washington’s HQ, Valley Forge
Surrender of Lord Cornwallis

Founding Father?

Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography, Alexander Hamilton, spends a lot of time on his youth and how it impacted his later life. While ambitious and accomplished, Hamilton had not been born to the upper-class planter society like Washington, Jefferson, and Adams. He became friends with John Jay and James Madison, but few others of the Founders.

Career and Congress

Hamilton practiced law successfully in New York City. While serving, he called for the funding of the national government by the states and the assumption of state debts by the federal government. He drafted a call to revise the existing Articles of Confederation, the first documents of the U.S. government after the Revolutionary War, which Hamilton considered too weak for current needs.

The Federalists Papers

Government Service

As the first secretary of the treasury from 1789, he was the principal driving force of Washington’s administration and the creator of the U.S. central banking system, the establishing of the U.S. Mint, and a “System of Cutters” which became the birth of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Affair Scandal

Hamilton was the first American politician that was involved in a highly publicized sex scandal. In 1791 Maria Reynolds claimed that her husband had abandoned her and appealed to Hamilton for funds to return to her relatives. When he delivered the funds to her, as Hamilton reported, “it was quickly apparent that other than pecuniary consolidation would be acceptable.”

Abolitionist?

Much has been said of late about Hamilton’s interest in the abolition of slavery in America. He, along with John Jay and Aaron Burr, were among the founders of the New York Manumission Society in 1785, which established the New York African Free School in 1787 for poor and orphaned children of slaves and free people of color.

Death of Alexander Hamilton

As a leader in the Federalist political party, Hamilton opposed the Democratic-Republican candidates, including John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, for the 1800 election. Hamilton wrote a pamphlet intended only for fellow Federalists called a Letter from Alexander Hamilton, Concerning the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq. President of the United States. However, it fell into the hands of the Democratic-Republican Party, both destroying Hamilton’s reputation among the Federalists and hurting Adam’s election campaign, guaranteeing Jefferson’s candidacy.

Hamilton — The Musical

Writer and technologist. Author of fascinating articles about history, tech trends, and pop culture. billpetro.com @billpetro

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