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Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton[1†]

Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757 – July 12, 1804) was a significant figure in the founding of the United States[1†]. Born into obscurity in the West Indies, Hamilton made his reputation during the Revolutionary War and became one of America’s most influential Founding Fathers[1†][2†]. He was an impassioned champion of a strong federal government and played a key role in ratifying the U.S. Constitution[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Alexander Hamilton was born on the Caribbean island of Nevis, in either 1755 or 1757[3†][2†]. His father, James Hamilton, was a Scottish trader, and his mother, Rachel Fawcett Lavine, was the daughter of a French Huguenot physician[3†]. Rachel was still married to another man at the time of Hamilton’s birth, but had left her husband after he spent much of her family fortune and had her imprisoned for adultery[3†][2†]. Hamilton’s father abandoned the family in 1766, and his mother died two years later[3†][2†].

Hamilton’s early life was marked by hardship. After his father’s abandonment and his mother’s death, Hamilton found himself destitute at a young age[3†]. Despite these challenges, he showed remarkable resilience and ambition. At the age of 11, he went to work as a clerk in the countinghouse of two New York merchants who had recently established themselves at St. Croix[3†]. His ability, industry, and engaging manners won him advancement from bookkeeper to manager[3†].

Hamilton’s early experiences also exposed him to the realities of international finance and the degradation of slavery[3†][4†]. These experiences would later influence his political and economic views.

In 1772, Hamilton’s talents attracted the attention of local community leaders, who raised funds to send him to America for his education[3†][2†]. He attended a preparatory school in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, and in the autumn of 1773, he entered King’s College (now Columbia University) in New York[3†][5†]. Hamilton proved to be a serious and successful student, but his studies were interrupted by the brewing revolt against Great Britain[3†].

Career Development and Achievements

Alexander Hamilton’s career was marked by significant contributions to the founding and shaping of the United States[6†][3†][2†][7†].

Hamilton played a vital role in the American Revolutionary War, serving as a lieutenant colonel and aide-de-camp to General George Washington[6†]. His valuable experience under Washington made him a trusted advisor, a position that gave Hamilton great influence in the early years of the United States[6†][5†].

After the Revolutionary War, Hamilton remained active in law and politics. He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, where he advocated for a strong central government and a system of checks and balances[6†]. Hamilton played a key role in shaping the structure of the government, particularly in the debates surrounding the division of powers between the federal and state governments[6†].

One of Hamilton’s most notable accomplishments was his appointment as the first Secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington[6†][2†]. Serving from 1789 to 1795, Hamilton was responsible for establishing the economic foundation of the young nation[6†]. He developed a comprehensive financial plan to address the country’s debts, establish a stable monetary system, and promote economic growth[6†]. Hamilton’s financial policies included the creation of a national bank, the assumption of state debts by the federal government, and the implementation of tariffs and taxes to generate revenue[6†]. His vision and initiatives were instrumental in laying the groundwork for the modern American financial system and shaping the economic trajectory of the United States[6†].

Hamilton also co-authored the Federalist Papers, a collection of influential essays that defended and promoted the ratification of the Constitution[6†][3†]. Additionally, he founded the Bank of New York[6†][5†].

Despite his untimely death in a duel with Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s contributions to the United States continue to be celebrated and his ideas remain influential in shaping the nation’s political, economic, and legal systems[6†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Alexander Hamilton was a prolific writer and his works have had a significant impact on the United States. Here are some of his main works:

  1. A Full Vindication of the Measures of Congress: This is one of Hamilton’s first published works[8†]. In this work, he defended the First Continental Congress’s proposal to embargo trade with Britain[8†][2†].
  2. The Farmer Refuted: Published in February of 1775, this was a follow-up to Hamilton’s first work[8†].
  3. Remarks on the Quebec Bill: This is another significant work by Hamilton[8†].
  4. Publius: Hamilton used this pseudonym in his writings[8†].
  5. The Continentalist: A series of letters written by Hamilton[8†].
  6. The Federalist Papers: Perhaps his most famous work, Hamilton wrote a majority of these essays that played a crucial role in the ratification of the U.S. Constitution[8†].
  7. The Reynolds Pamphlet: In this work, Hamilton confessed to an affair to counteract accusations of illegal financial dealings[8†].

Other works by Hamilton include “The Government and the Constitution”, “Letters of H.G”, “Taxation and Finance”, “Foreign Relations”, “Coinage and The Mint”, “The Adams Controversy”, and "The Jefferson Controversy"[8†].

Hamilton’s writings were instrumental in shaping the new nation’s government and financial systems. His works continue to be studied for their insight into the founding of the United States and the establishment of the federal government[8†][3†][2†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Alexander Hamilton’s life and works have been the subject of extensive analysis and evaluation. His writings, particularly “The Federalist Papers”, have been instrumental in shaping the United States’ government and financial systems[9†][10†].

Hamilton’s life story is remarkable. Born in the Caribbean at the height of the slave trade, he overcame significant adversity to become a key figure in the American Revolutionary War and the early years of the United States[9†]. His ambition and determination were evident from an early age, and these traits, coupled with his intellect and skill as a writer, propelled him to the forefront of American politics[9†].

Hamilton’s writings, particularly “The Federalist Papers”, are considered seminal works in the field of political science[9†][10†]. His arguments in favor of a strong federal government and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution have had a lasting impact on American political thought[9†][10†].

However, Hamilton’s style of politics was polarizing, and he made many enemies during his career[9†]. His personal life was also marked by scandal, most notably the Reynolds affair, which he publicly confessed to in the Reynolds Pamphlet[9†][10†].

Despite these controversies, Hamilton’s legacy is largely positive. He is remembered as a visionary who played a crucial role in establishing the United States’ government and financial systems[9†][10†]. His life and works continue to be studied for their insight into the founding of the United States and the establishment of the federal government[9†][10†].

Personal Life

Alexander Hamilton married Elizabeth Schuyler on December 14, 1780[11†][12†]. Elizabeth was the daughter of Philip Schuyler, a Revolutionary War general, and Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler[11†][12†]. Both the Schuylers and Rensselaers were very wealthy and prominent New York families[11†][12†]. Their marriage was a happy one that produced eight children[11†][2†][12†], many of whom went on to have celebrated careers in law, politics, and the military[11†][2†].

Despite his affair with Maria Reynolds, a married woman, Hamilton and his wife remained very close[11†]. Together they built and lived in the Grange in New York City[11†]. Alexander Hamilton’s beloved first-born son, Philip, was killed in a duel in 1801 while attempting to defend his father’s honor against attacks by New York lawyer George Eacker[11†][2†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Alexander Hamilton’s political theory grapples with the enduring questions of political order, and it marks the great achievement of American constitutionalism in its understanding that civilization depends on a realistic understanding of the human condition[13†]. He provided the early republic with firm and bold leadership[13†][14†]. In justifying and explaining his political actions, he articulated a theory of politics that has served as the foundation for one of the two central varieties of American constitutionalism[13†][14†].

Hamilton, both the musical and its lead character, are obsessed with the idea of legacy[13†][15†]. Alexander Hamilton is haunted by his impending doom, with frequent references to it and death itself appearing as a secret character in Hamilton by way of The Bullet[13†][15†]. Today more people are acquainted with Founding Father Alexander Hamilton than they have ever been, thanks to the amazing popularity of the Broadway musical “Hamilton” by Lin-Manuel Miranda[13†][16†].

His arguments presage his analysis of and support for the important concept of judicial review, which he articulated later in The Federalist Number 78[13†][16†]. His argument foretells the almost identical one written by Chief Justice John Marshall in the watershed case of Marbury v. Madison (1803)[13†][16†]. For the first time, a federal court struck down an act of Congress on the grounds of its unconstitutionality[13†][16†].

In conclusion, Alexander Hamilton’s legacy is one of strong federal government, financial stability, and a realistic understanding of the human condition. His influence continues to be felt today, not only in the political and financial institutions he helped to create but also in the popular imagination.

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - Alexander Hamilton [website] - link
  2. History - Alexander Hamilton: Facts, Birth, Children & Death [website] - link
  3. Britannica - Alexander Hamilton: United States statesman [website] - link
  4. PBS LearningMedia - Alexander Hamilton: Early Influences [website] - link
  5. Columbia University - The Core Curriculum - Alexander Hamilton [website] [archive] - link
  6. Have Fun With History - 10 Alexander Hamilton Accomplishments and Achievements [website] - link
  7. Investopedia - Who Was Alexander Hamilton? [website] - link
  8. istory Things - The Many Brilliant Works of Alexander Hamilton [website] - link
  9. LitCharts - Hamilton Act 1: Alexander Hamilton Summary & Analysis [website] - link
  10. LitCharts - Hamilton Study Guide [website] - link
  11. ThoughtCo - Biography of Alexander Hamilton [website] - link
  12. ushistory.org - Biography of Alexander Hamilton [website] [archive] - link
  13. The Imaginative Conservative - The Legacy of Alexander Hamilton [website] - link
  14. The Imaginative Conservative - The Political Philosophy of Alexander Hamilton [website] - link
  15. ScreenRant - Hamilton Ending: Alexander’s Death & The Final Song Explained [website] - link
  16. UNH Today - Alexander Hamilton's Legacy [website] - link
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