Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton blev født på øen Nevis, Britisk Vestindien, den 11. januar 1757. Hamilton flyttede til USA i 1772 og blev uddannet på King's College, New York City. Hamilton udviklede stærke politiske synspunkter og skrev en række pjecer til forsvar for koloniernes rettigheder mod Storbritannien.

Hamilton sluttede sig til den kontinentale hær i 1776 og blev kaptajn for artilleri. Han tjente også som medhjælper for general George Washington.

Efter krigen studerede Hamilton jura og blev til sidst en førende advokat i New York. Han fungerede som medlem af den kontinentale kongres i 1782 og 1783. Sammen med John Jay og James Madison var han medforfatter Federalisten. Hamilton tjente også i New York State Assembly.

George Washington blev enstemmigt valgt som USA's første præsident og blev indviet den 30. april 1789 i New York City. Washington udnævnte Thomas Jefferson til sin udenrigsminister og Hamilton som finansminister. John Adams fungerede som vicepræsident under Washington.

Washington blev enstemmigt genvalgt i 1792, men på dette tidspunkt var regeringen ikke så forenet, og der var alvorlige uenigheder mellem Jeffersons demokratiske republikanere og Hamiltons føderalister. Washington havde en tendens til at favorisere federalisterne, og da de demokratiske republikanere fik stigende støtte, besluttede han ikke at søge en tredje periode og trak sig tilbage fra embedet den 3. marts 1797.

John Adams erstattede nu Washington, og Thomas Jefferson blev den nye vicepræsident. Selv om Adams var leder af federalisterne, afviste han forslagene fra Alexander Hamilton om at erklære krig mod Frankrig. Han støttede dog udlændinge- og seditionsloven, der havde til formål at skræmme udenlandske agenter ud af landet. Men hans beslutning om at sende en fredsmission til Frankrig gjorde ham upopulær og forenede sine modstandere mod ham.

I 1804 bad Aaron Burr Hamilton om at støtte sin kampagne for at blive guvernør i New York. Hamilton nægtede at sige, at Burr var "en mand med uregelmæssig og umættelig ambition ... som ikke burde have tillid til regeringens tøjler." Burr var rasende og udfordrede Hamilton til en duel i Weekauken, New Jersey. Hamilton accepterede, og den 11. juli blev 1804 skudt af Burr. Hamilton døde dagen efter.


Biografi af Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton blev født i Britisk Vestindien i 1755 eller 1757. Der er en vis uenighed om hans fødselsår på grund af tidlige optegnelser og Hamiltons egne påstande. Han blev født uden for ægteskab med James A. Hamilton og Rachel Faucett Lavien. Hans mor døde i 1768 og efterlod ham stort set forældreløs. Han arbejdede for Beekman og Cruger som fuldmægtig og blev adopteret af en lokal købmand, Thomas Stevens, en mand nogle mener er hans biologiske far. Hans intellekt fik ledere på øen til at ville have ham til at blive uddannet i de amerikanske kolonier. Der blev indsamlet en fond til at sende ham dertil for at videreuddanne sig.


Alexander Hamilton's forældre var aldrig gift

Alexander Hamilton havde en stenet start på livet. Til at begynde med var hans forældre aldrig gift med hinanden, hvilket gjorde Hamiltons fødsel "ulovlig". Et uekte barn i 1700 -tallet havde garanteret svært ved det, på trods af at det ikke havde kontrol over omstændighederne. Ifølge Biografi, Hamiltons mor var Rachel Faucett Lavien, der kom fra en britisk og fransk huguenot-baggrund, selvom hun blev opvokset på den danskstyrede caribiske ø St. Croix. Rachel var allerede gift med en meget ældre købmand ved navn James Lavien, som hendes familie havde presset hende til at gifte sig med, da hun stadig var teenager. De to havde sammen en søn ved navn Peter. Men Rachels ægteskab med Lavien var elendigt - Lavien misbrugte brutalt hans unge kone og spildte hele hendes arv fra hendes fars død. Lavien havde endda Rachel fængslet i flere måneder (med henvisning til dansk lov) på anklager om utroskab, selvom der ikke er nogen registrering, der indikerer, at disse påstande var sande.

Som beskrevet af Historie i dag, da Rachel blev løsladt fra fængslet, besluttede hun, at hun ikke kunne gå tilbage til sin forfærdelige mand og flygtede til St. Kitts. Det var der, hun mødte den skotske handelsmand James Hamilton, som hun boede hos og havde to sønner - James Hamilton Jr. og senere Alexander. James Lavien fordømte senere sin kone som en hor og skilte sig fra hende, hvilket kan have været noget af en lettelse for den meget ondskabsfulde Rachel.


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Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton blev født i Charlestown, Nevis, i Vestindien den 11. januar 1757 (eller 1755) af James Hamilton, en skotsk købmand i St. Christopher og Rachel Fawcett. Rachels far var en huguenotlæge og plantemand. Helt ung havde hun været gift med og skilt fra en dansk indehaver på St. Croix. Efter hendes skilsmisse forbød retten hende at blive gift igen. Ægteskabet med James Hamilton var acceptabelt socialt i Vestindien, men ikke andre steder. Foreningen resulterede i fødslen af ​​to sønner, men de levede fra hinanden mindre end 10 år senere. Rachel og hendes drenge boede på St. Croix, afhængige af hendes slægtninge. Hun døde i 1768. Hans far overlevede indtil 1799 & mdash, men drengene var stort set forældreløse, før de selv var teenagere.

I en alder af 12 begyndte Hamilton at arbejde som fuldmægtig i en dagligvarebutik, men drengen havde et skarpt intellekt og ambitiøse mål. Han var en fremragende forfatter, både på fransk og engelsk. I 1772 skrumpede og reddede hans tanter for at sende den unge intellektuelle til New York for formel uddannelse.

Et print fra 1859 af King's College,
som det viste sig i 1756

I 1773 blev optaget på King's College (Nu Columbia). Selv som ung havde han et stærkt greb om politiske spørgsmål vedrørende britisk og amerikansk regering, som han udstillede i en række anonyme pjecer, der var så kræsne, de blev tilskrevet John Jay. Han var kun 17 på det tidspunkt.

Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) i uniformen i New York Artillery
Alonzo Chappel

I 1775 trak han sig fra sine universitetsstudier og grundlagde et frivilligt militært kompagni. Den 14. marts 1776 blev Hamilton bestilt som kaptajn for New York Provincial Company of Artillery. Han udviste stor dygtighed og intelligens i sine opgaver med artilleri, og Nathanael Greene lagde mærke til det. Han blev bedt om at tjene i staben på Lord Stirling, som han afslog, og fortsatte sin karriere med artilleri på Long Island, Harlem Heights, White Plains, og så handling i Trenton og Princeton i New Jersey -kampagnen.

Washington anerkendte Hamiltons lederevner såvel som hans ekstraordinære talent for at skrive. Hamilton blev forfremmet til oberstløjtnant og gjorde sin aide-de-camp 1. marts 1777. Blot tyve år gammel på det tidspunkt havde Hamilton allerede gjort bemærkelsesværdige præstationer.

Hamilton tilbragte vinteren 1777-1778 med Washington og den kontinentale hær i Valley Forge. Det var i løbet af denne vinter, at brigadegeneral Horatio Gates uden held forsøgte at inkriminere Hamilton under Conway Cabal.

Portræt af fru Alexander Hamilton
Ralph Earl, cirka 1787
Malet mens Earl var i
New York City fængsel

Den 14. december 1780 giftede Alexander Hamilton sig med Elizabeth Schuyler, datter af Philip Schuyler, en revolutionær krigsgeneral, og Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler. Både Schuylers og Rensselaers var meget velhavende og fremtrædende New York -familier. Det var et lykkeligt ægteskab, der fik otte børn.

Den 16. februar 1781 skændtes Hamilton med Washington, og deres forhold var for altid surt. Han beskriver hændelsen i et brev til sin svigerfar af 18. februar 1791:

. . . For to dage siden passerede generalen og jeg hinanden på trappen. Han fortalte mig, at han ville tale med mig. Jeg svarede, at jeg straks ville vente på ham. Jeg gik ned og leverede hr. Tilghman et brev, der skulle sendes til kommissæren, indeholdende en ordre af presserende og interessant karakter.

Da jeg vendte tilbage til generalen, blev jeg stoppet undervejs af Marquis de La Fayette, og vi talte sammen omkring et minut om et spørgsmål om forretning. Han kan vidne om, hvor utålmodig jeg var for at komme tilbage [. . .] Jeg mødte ham [Washington] i spidsen af ​​trapperne, hvor du i ti minutter havde anklaget mig for "oberst Hamilton", sagde han, "du har ladet mig vente ved trappens hoved. Jeg må fortæl dig sir, du behandler mig med respektløshed. Jeg svarede uden tålmodighed, men med beslutning: "Jeg er ikke bevidst om det, sir, men da du har syntes det er nødvendigt at fortælle mig det, skiller vi os." "Meget godt, sir , "sagde han," hvis det var dit valg, "eller noget i den retning, og vi gik fra hinanden. Jeg tror oprigtigt på, at mit fravær, som gav så meget paraply, ikke varede to minutter.

Forsøg på forsoning lykkedes ikke. Flere måneder senere, i juli, fik Hamilton kommandoen over en bataljon i Lafayettes division i Moses Hazens Brigade. Han førte et vellykket angreb på Yorktown og bidrog til den endelige amerikanske sejr der. Han fortsatte i militæret i et par år, da han blev oberst den 30. september 1783. Han forlod tjenesten ved udgangen af ​​året.


Alexander Hamilton

James Monroe, Henry Lee, John Marshall, Alexander Hamilton og Marquis de Lafayette var nogle af de kontinentale hærs officerer, der tjente George Washington under revolutionskrigen. Af disse stigende stjerner overvandt Alexander Hamilton de største odds, herunder forarmelse og illegitimitet, ved at opnå sin stilling som medhjælper til general Washington. I cirka de næste tyve år ville Hamilton og Washington arbejde sammen med hinanden under revolutionskrigen, indførelsen af ​​forfatningen og Washingtons formandskab i USA. Perioden 1777-1778 var imidlertid afgørende for den kontinentale hærs succes, og i sidste ende for den kontinentale kongres, var også vigtig for Hamilton, for i løbet af denne tid beviste han hurtigt sit værd på landsbasis.

Alexander Hamilton blev født på den vestindiske ø Nevis. Hans far, af skotsk herkomst, forblev i Skotland under Hamiltons barndom på grund af en gæld, hvilket tvang hans mor til at stole på venner og slægtninge for økonomisk støtte. Omkring ti år flyttede familien til den nærliggende ø St. Croix, hvor hans mor døde kort tid efter. Venner og slægtninge interesserede sig for den unge Hamiltons fremtid ved at opmuntre ham til at arbejde som handelsmand og til at læse og skrive, aktiviteter, hvor han udmærkede sig på trods af hans mangel på ordentlig skolegang. Hamiltons formelle uddannelse begyndte, efter at pastor Hugh Knox, en presbyteriansk minister, holdt en prædiken, der var så inspirerende, at Hamilton skrev en beskrivelse af den til Royal-Danish American Gazette. Da en gruppe læsere fandt ud af, at ordene var fra en underprivilegeret femtenårig, besluttede de at sponsorere ham til de amerikanske kolonier for at modtage sin første formelle uddannelse.

Hamilton deltog i King's College (nu Columbia University), der ligger uden for det daværende 18. århundrede New York City. I denne førsteklasses beliggenhed var Hamilton omgivet af tale om oprør, samt argumenter imod det. Begivenheder og spørgsmål førte til slaget ved Lexington og Concord på bare et par måneder, selvom direkte oprør og krig mod moderlandet var utænkeligt, var en ordkrig virkelighed. Den radikale politik i New York (og andre kolonier) blev udtrykt ved hjælp af pjecer. En særlig New York -loyalist til fordel for Englands kronpolitik, kendt som 'the Farmer' i sine sympatiske skrifter, favoriserede britisk britisk autoritet i de amerikanske kolonier og fordømte alle handlinger fra en kolonial amerikansk kongres. 'The Farmer' modtog flere svar fra Hamilton og andre oprørske, livlige Whigs. 'Friend to America', et antaget navn på Hamiltons, reagerede på 'the Farmer' i sin pjece. Han forsvarede den amerikanske kongres og skrev med henvisning til parlamentsmedlemmer den 15. december 1774, ". At de er fjender til menneskehedens rettigheder er åbenbart, fordi de ønsker at se en del af deres art slaver af en anden. At de har en uovervindelig modvilje mod sund fornuft er tydelig i mange henseender: De bestræber sig på at overbevise os om, at parlamentets absolutte suverænitet ikke indebærer vores absolutte slaveri. "1 Hamilton fortsatte med at skrive til forsvar for kolonial-amerikanske rettigheder under hele krigen.

Med krig i vente, fordybede Hamilton sig i studiet af artilleritaktik og militære manøvrer. I marts 1776 sluttede han sig til New York Artillery og blev anbefalet til en officerkommission af general Alexander McDougall. Han fik derved titlen "Kaptajn for Provincial Company of Artillery." Som bemærket af en topforsker, "var Hamiltons evner som en samvittighedsfuld og forretningsmæssig leder tydelig fra hans tidligste militærtjeneste. Han måtte ikke bare rekruttere og oplære sine egne mænd, han måtte også se, at de blev fodret, klædt Selv om mange unge New Yorkere måske har kæmpet mod fjenden lige så modigt som Hamilton, kæmpede få de lokale myndigheder så stædigt for at sørge for deres tropper. "2 I maj 1776 skrev Hamilton til provinsen i New York om tilstanden af hans mænd. Han var bekymret, fordi mændene i hans kompagni med artilleri ikke helt var på fuld styrke. Hamilton havde et ekstra problem, fordi hans mænd fik mindre løn end andre artilleriselskaber, og deres pligter var de samme. Der var dog kun så meget, som New York provins kongres kunne gøre. Britiske og hessiske tropper under general William Howe landede fra Halifax til New York City i sommeren 1776. I mellemtiden marcherede general Washington sin hær fra Boston og fortsatte strategisk med at befæste de vigtigste vandveje til New York City.

Hamiltons New York Artillery Company blev brugt i strategiske områder i New York City. Efter at have tabt successive kampe i byen New York dækkede han den kontinentale hærs bagside i en række af tilbagetrækningerne. Oprindeligt blev Hamiltons firma placeret ved Fort George ved havnefronten på Manhattan. Under Slaget ved White Plains anbragte Hamilton sin kanon på et sådant sted, at han kunne vende et betydeligt stort hessisk fremskridt tilbage. Denne afgørende bevægelse efterlod et godt indtryk af Hamilton blandt den amerikanske overkommando og forsinkede delvist den britiske offensiv, hvilket gav den kontinentale hær dyrebar tid til at foretage et velordnet tilbagetog. Da den kontinentale hær evakuerede New York City, faldt Forts Washington og Lee til en sejrrig britisk styrke. Da en stor del af hærens hvervning udløb i begyndelsen af ​​og i hele december, ledede Washington et desperat tilbagetog gennem New Jersey og ind i Pennsylvania. Hamiltons artilleriselskab blev specifikt udvalgt til at dække det forhastede tilbagetog fra New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Sejren i slaget ved Trenton den 26. december 1776 kendetegnede Hamilton i en kontinental hær, der fik et nyt håb om at afværge den britiske indtrængen i Philadelphia. General Howe udsendte tropper i hele New Jersey for at befri Philadelphia og Pennsylvania i 1777 fra oprørsledere. Washington anerkendte Howes taktik i forsøget på at demoralisere årsagen og fandt det absolut nødvendigt at etablere et nyopdaget håb med sin hær. I løbet af natten med overraskelsesangrebet på hessiske soldater i Trenton var Hamiltons dygtighed og erfaring afgørende. Kaptajn Hamilton og kaptajn Forrests artilleriselskaber tjente i Lord Stirlings brigade og fik til opgave at dække King Street og den parallelle Queen Street. Hamilton og Forrest var godt udstyret hver med to seks pund kanoner, mens Forrest også havde et par haubitser. Da begge gader var dækket af artilleriet, besluttede den hessiske kommandør oberst Johann Rall at oprette sit infanteri og artilleri og marchere mod amerikanerne fra King Street. "Hesserne var imidlertid ikke tidligere trådt ud, da rundskuddet fra Hamiltons batteri rev sig igennem deres rækker," ifølge en nylig bog med titlen Battles of the Revolutionary War. 3 Hessianerne under Rall trak sig tilbage i den modsatte retning, og mange endte med at overgive sig på grund af de effektive runder, der blev udskrevet fra Hamiltons artilleriselskab. General Hugh Mercer placerede sit amerikanske infanteri mellem huse fra Queen Street retning på højre flanke af oberst Rall's Hessians. De effektive runder, der blev afladet fra Hamiltons artilleri kombineret med musketeret af Mercer's tropper, og ødelagde de hessiske rækker med tab. Dette forårsagede et generelt tilbagetog blandt de hessiske tropper, mange af dem blev indhyllet og tvunget til at overgive sig til de sejrrige kontinentale.

Efter Hamiltons galanteri og heroiske bedrift, der blev vist ved det afgørende engagement i Trenton, blev han udnævnt til assistent for general Washington. I denne position ville hans skrivefærdigheder og skarpe dømmekraft vise sig at være afgørende for den øverste kommando i hæren. Vinterlejren fra 1777 i Morristown, New Jersey, fandt Hamilton med en hær på godt under 10.000. Hæren blev imidlertid støt styrket, da vinteren skred frem til foråret. I løbet af denne tid registrerede Hamilton, "de mange desertører, der kom ind fra fjenden, viste, at de var i desperat trængsel. Da muligheden for, at franskmændene kunne komme ind i krigen i Europa, ville afskrække briterne fra at sende forstærkninger til udlandet" 4. General Howes hær gjorde et indblik i det nordlige New Jersey i foråret 1777 for at trække den kontinentale hær ud af højlandet i Morristown. Ikke desto mindre ville der gå uger, før det blev en sikkerhed for, at Howes hensigt var Philadelphia. I løbet af denne tid modtog Hamilton uddannelse på jobbet og blev vant til den trange livsstil som en del af general Washingtons personale.

Mens den kontinentale hær afventede general Howes og den britiske hærs tilgang i Wilmington, Delaware, beskrev Hamilton atmosfæren før slaget ved Brandywine. Den 1. september 1777 skrev han om general Howes sjuskebevægelser, den kontinentale hærs moral og om det omkringliggende landskab. "Han ligger stadig der [Grays Hill, Pennsylvania] i en tilstand af inaktivitet i høj grad, tror jeg på grund af mangel på heste, for at transportere sin bagage og butikker. Det ser ud til, at han kun sejlede med omkring tre ugers provendor og var seks til søs Dette har medført død af et stort antal af hans heste og har skabt skelet af resten. Han vil være forpligtet til at indsamle en forsyning fra nabolandet, før han kan flytte. Dette land bugner ikke af gode stillinger. Det er skæres af en sådan uendelighed af veje og er så lidt bjergrige, at det er umuligt at finde et sted, der ikke er ansvarligt for kapitalfejl. ] fjenden vil have Philadelphia, hvis de tør gøre et modigt skub for det, medmindre vi bekæmper dem en temmelig generel handling. Jeg mener, vi burde gøre det, og at vi skal slå dem forsvarligt, hvis vi gør det Militsen virker temmelig generelt rørende. Vores hær er i højsædet lth & spiritus. Vi håber at have to gange fjendens tal. Jeg ville ikke kun bekæmpe dem, men jeg ville angribe dem, for jeg holder det som et fastslået maksimum, at der er tre til en til fordel for, at partiet angriber. "5 Blandt de afsendelser, der ankom til Ringhuset, var modstridende rapporter om den kontinentale hærs højre flanke. De hemmelighedsfulde bevægelser foretaget af Howe og Cornwallis havde kurerer, der bragte rapporter hele formiddagen. En af Hamiltons opgaver i Benjamin Rings hjem var at fastslå den umiddelbare betydning af indkommende forsendelser. Efter at have besluttet at forstærke den kontinentale hærs højre flanke med Nathanael Greens brigader, red Washington og Lafayette sammen med Washingtons stab sammen med Greenes tropper. På scenen af ​​forsøget forsøgte de at samle kontinenterne i Stephen's og Stirlings divisioner. Den amerikanske stand på Brandywine Creek viste sig næsten at være fatal, men der var ikke noget andet alternativ for Washington. I løbet af de ni måneder, der var tilbage i Philadelphia-kampagnen 1777-78, blev Hamilton indsat på missioner af stor betydning på anmodning fra general Washington.

Da general Washington besluttede at beholde sin hær mellem Howe og den kontinentale hærs forsyningslinje dybere i Pennsylvania, sendte han Hamilton på en mission for at ødelægge en forsyning af mel og forhindre andre forsyninger i at falde i britiske hænder, da de marcherede mod Philadelphia. Hamilton ledede nu en gruppe på otte kavalerister, der omfattede kaptajn Henry Lee, og var ved at brænde møllen ved den lille landsby Valley Forge, da to vagter affyrede advarselsskud fra deres poster. Styrken i det britiske kavaleri, der stort set oversteg Hamiltons styrke, jagede i første omgang kaptajn Lee, der tog flugt over millrace med et par monterede amerikanske kavalerier. De britiske dragoner opgav jagten med Lee og gik efter Hamilton. Mens Hamilton forsøgte at krydse Schuylkill-floden i et scow, affyrede de grønne belagte dragoner adskillige volleys mod ham og resten af ​​hans parti. Musketeriet sårede en mand, dræbte en anden og lammede Hamiltons hest. Hamilton havde intet andet valg end at svømme til den anden side af floden, hvorefter han skrev til John Hancock, præsident for den kontinentale kongres, briterne havde potentiale til at være i Philadelphia den aften. Da han vendte tilbage til Washingtons hovedkvarter, blev Hamilton chagrined for at finde ud af, at han var blevet opgivet for et tilskadekomne ved ord fra Lee. Imens var den kontinentale kongres og Philadelphia patrioter i panik, sikrede værdigenstande og forlod byen.

Briterne kom ikke ind i byen den nat eller inden for den næste uge. Hamiltons næste mission var at gå ind i Philadelphia og skaffe sko, tæpper, tøj og andre vigtige forsyninger til den kontinentale hær. Den 26. september marcherede briterne under Howe endelig ind i Philadelphia. Hamiltons missioner var dog ikke helt slut, og efter slaget ved Germantown blev udkæmpet i oktober 1777 blev han sendt nordpå til New York. General Horatio Gates var den seneste sejrherre i Saratoga, hvor han besejrede den britiske general "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne. Gates var tilbageholdende med at sende forstærkninger til Washington, og da Gates ikke ville anerkende Washingtons anmodning gennem afsendelse, blev Hamilton skyndte sig til forhandlinger. Da forstærkninger var ankommet for at styrke Washingtons antal, var Fort Mifflin og Fort Mercer faldet i britiske hænder, og Royal Navy havde fuldstændig adgang til Delaware -floden og kunne levere besættelseshæren ved Philadelphia havne. Hamilton ville tilbringe resten af ​​vinteren på Valley Forge i Washingtons hovedkvarter i et af Isaac Potts 'hjem, ved siden af, hvor han oplevede det nær dødelige møde med grøncoatede britiske dragoner det foregående efterår.

Efter den prøvende vinter i Valley Forge og den formelle alliance med Frankrig observerede Hamilton den kontinentale hær, da den blev næsten sejrrig over Redcoats i slaget ved Monmouth. Hamilton og Lafayette var tæt på general Washington på slaglinjen, da han samlede kontinenterne til næsten sejr. Hamilton blev beskrevet under slaget som ". Uophørlig i sine bestræbelser i løbet af dagen i rekognosering af fjenden, i samling og i anklager." 6 I resten af ​​den tid, han tjente stillingen som aide-de-camp, ville Washington ikke give Hamilton mulighed for uafhængigt at styre en styrke af tropper, fordi det ville være uretfærdigt over for andre kontinentale hærs officerer, der overgik ham i anciennitet. General Washington og oberst Hamilton havde et fald i foråret 1781, og Hamilton trak sig som assistent for øverstkommanderende. Til sidst fik han en uafhængig kommando, og under Yorktown -kampagnen befalede han erobringen af ​​en strategisk befæstning (red #10) ved belejringen af ​​Yorktown, Virginia.

Efter kapitulationen af ​​general Cornwallis og hans hær i Yorktown blev Hamilton udnævnt til kongresmedlem. Han arbejdede tæt sammen med andre New Yorker, Gouveneur Morris, for at finansiere den nye regering. Hamiltons faste arbejde med kolonialforsamlingen i kongressen opsummerer hans krigstid. Hans hurtige fremskridt fra de caribiske øer, til college i New York og den erfaring, han opnåede i den kontinentale hær (især som assistent til Washington) fortsatte med sin enorme indflydelse under udformningen af ​​forfatningen og videre. De ekstraordinære præstationer, han gjorde under krigen for amerikansk uafhængighed, imponerede ikke få. Alexander Hamiltons bidrag til USA i denne tidlige periode vil ikke blive glemt snart.


10 Overraskende fakta om Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

Hvis du ikke vidste, hvem Alexander Hamilton var før 2015, gør du det sandsynligvis nu. Efter at Lin-Manuel Miranda udgav sin hitmusikal, ved teaterfans og ikke-historikere nu mere om vores første finansminister, end vi nogensinde har gjort før.

Inden 2015 kiggede mange af os sandsynligvis på den amerikanske 10-dollarseddel og tænkte aldrig på ham eller sagde måske "Hvem er denne fyr, og hvorfor er han på vores penge?" Kan du fortælle, at jeg er en stor fan af musicalen? Ok, til bedre ting! Lad os tjekke nogle interessante fakta, du måske ikke har (eller måske har, afhængigt af din historiske baggrund) kendt om Alexander Hamilton.

1. Hamilton er ikke fra USA

Alexander Hamilton er immigrant. Vent, hvad? En grundlægger, en immigrant ?! Det er rigtigt. Mange mennesker, der var med til at forme USA, var immigranter som Marquis de Lafayette. Alexander var dog den eneste grundlægger, der ikke blev født i USA.

Hamilton blev født den 11. januar, (hans fødselsår bestrides som enten 1755 eller 1757) på øen Nevis i Britisk Vestindien, ellers kendt som i Caribien. Efter at hans mor døde, og hans far havde for længst forladt, rejste han som teenager til New York.

2. Hamilton var en revolutionær krigsveteran

Under slaget ved Yorktowne ledte han et ladet angreb ved hjælp af sine venner på en britisk redout. Med den viden kan man sige, at han var en vigtig komponent i USA, der opnåede uafhængighed.

3. Han løj om sin alder

Grunden til at historikere debatterer om, hvornår Hamilton blev født, er fordi han tidligt løj om, hvor gammel han var. Kort efter at han blev født, forlod hans skotske far James Hamilton ham, sin bror og hans mor. Familien blev efterladt i fattigdom, og hans mor, Rachel Fawcett, døde, da han var 13 år efter at være blevet syg.

Da han skulle arbejde, ændrede han sin alder for at se mere lovende ud som lærling og fik job som fuldmægtig hos et handelsselskab i St. Croix.

Det hjalp ham bestemt, da han efter at have skrevet et brev, han skulle sende til sin far, blev offentliggjort i stedet i en avis af redaktør Hugh Knox (ja, den samme Knox, der blev ordineret af Aaron Burr Sr.). Efter at det blev offentliggjort, kom mange forretningsmænd frem for at spørge identiteten på den person, der skrev brevet. Nå, resten er historie, da den samling var det, der sendte Hamilton til Amerika for at få en uddannelse på King's College (nu Columbia University).

4. Han var for det meste en selvlært advokat, der tog eksamen på seks måneder

I dag er det helt uhørt. Advokater gennemgår år og år med eksamener og uddannelse, men Hamilton gjorde det på rekordtid. Mens han boede i Caribien, læste han lovbog efter lovbog og studerede jura på King's College.

Hans studier blev imidlertid afbrudt af den forestående krig med Storbritannien. Efter krigen forlod han sin stilling som Washingtons rådgiver og afsluttede sine studier. Det tog ham kun 6 måneder at forberede sig til New York Bar Exam, og han bestod med glans.

I 1782, efter at han havde bestået eksamen, blev Hamilton advokat i New York City. Og som musicalen siger: "Jeg praktiserede jura, Burr arbejdede ved siden af." Men vi får mere at vide om Aaron Burr senere. På en sidebemærkning studerede han også med John Jay og William Paterson. Hvis du ikke ved, hvem de er, blev de to kommende højesteretsdommere.

Federalist, om den nye forfatning

5. En af hans arv var The Federalist Papers

Hvis du husker noget fra amerikansk historie, en af ​​tingene måske Federalist Papers. Hvad var disse papirer? Nå, disse papirer hjalp med at ratificere forfatningen. På det tidspunkt blev USA's forfatning ikke godt modtaget. Det var rod og modstridende.

Sammen med John Jay og James Madison udviklede de en plan om at skrive 25 essays til aviser for at anomalt forsvare forfatningen, cirka 9 essays hver. Nå, det fungerede ikke som planlagt.

Til sidst blev der skrevet 85 essays mellem oktober 1787 og maj 1788. John Jay blev syg og skrev kun 5 essays. James Madison skrev 29, og Hamilton skrev den anden 51. Han skriver virkelig, som om han løber tør for tid, ikke sandt? Takket være deres indsats blev forfatningen ratificeret den 21. juni 1788, efter at 9 af 13 stater havde godkendt den.

6. Hamilton var involveret i USAs første sexskandale

Når det kommer til 2020, er en sexskandale ikke så chokerende (nogle gange), og du ved, det er blevet gjort gennem historien. Helvede, se på Bill Clinton. Men denne skandale var lidt anderledes. Mens Hamiltons kone og børn var på ferie med sin familie i New York, besluttede Hamilton at blive bagefter, fordi han havde for meget arbejde at lave.

Han havde en plan om at komme igennem til kongressen trods alt. Han var slået, træt og trængte til en pause. En nat kom en Maria Reynolds til hans dør og ledte efter hjælp. Hun havde sagt, at hendes mand, James Reynolds, forlod hende, og hun havde brug for penge til at komme til en familie at bo hos. Hamilton gik hende hjem og gav hende pengene, og på en eller anden måde endte de begge i hendes soveværelse.

Næste ting du ved, Hamilton har en udenomsægteskabelig affære i et par måneder. Det var dog ikke, hvad alle troede. Dette blæste i så store proportioner, at det fik Hamilton til at skrive Reynolds -pjecen, der rensede ham for en national finansiel fidus, men også afslørede hans utroskab. Hvis han ikke besluttede at gøre Thomas Jefferson sur, ville det hele sandsynligvis have været en hemmelighed.

7. Han stiftede The New York Post

Avisen var ikke som vi alle kender den i dag. Under valget i 1800 var Hamilton vred over, at Thomas Jefferson var den demokratisk-republikanske kandidat. Han ville have, at daværende præsident John Adams skulle vinde for Federalistpartiet, da Adams stemte mere overens med sine idealer. Vi ved alle, hvem der vandt. I november 1801 besluttede Hamilton at oprette The New York Evening Post, som var anti-demokratisk-republikansk og konsekvent bagvaskede Jefferson.

I dag kender vi avisen som The New York Post, der ikke længere er så velrenommeret som en nyhedskilde. Papiret blev købt af Rupert Murdoch i 1976, og det er kun gået ned ad bakke derfra. Desværre ved vi aldrig, hvordan Hamilton ville have følt sig om sit elskede papir og det indhold, de udskriver i dag.

Philip Hamilton

8. Hans Søn blev dræbt i en Duel

Philip Hamilton blev dræbt i en duel længe før sin far. But that’s not the interesting part, or maybe it is. On July 4th, 1801, a lawyer named George Eacker gave a speech at Columbia University about Hamilton trying to take the presidency by force and preferred monarchy over democracy. Philip read about the speech in the newspaper and quite aptly, became angry his father’s name was being slandered with lies. Four months later, he and his friend Richard Price spotted Eacker in a box at the theatre. Well, Price and Hamilton supposedly drunk stormed the box to confront Eacker and insult him. Two wrongs don’t make a right…right?

Later, both Price and Philip sent a letter to Eacker challenging him to a duel. Two duels? Well, November 22nd, 1801 was the duel with Price. Both men missed their shot and honor was satisfied. The next day it was Philip’s turn. They met at the dueling grounds in Weehawken, New Jersey, and sadly, Philip was struck and died a day later, mostly due to infection. Here’s the kicker: the same place Philip died is where Hamilton chose his duel and died three years later.

9. He Left His Family in Debt

Hvad? THE Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father, first Secretary of the Treasury, and a genius left his family in debt? It’s inconceivable! Ok, wrong story. After his death, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson started a rumor that Hamilton was corrupt and used his position as Secretary of the Treasury to make himself wealthy. Well, none of it was true. Hamilton never cheated the system and wasn’t corrupt. He created America’s economic infrastructure and Wall St…well, it’s hard to see that as a good thing right about now.

Serving as Secretary, he actually made less money than during his time as a lawyer. He may have even made more money if he wasn’t killed. Things got so bad for the Hamilton family is caused Eliza, his wife, to ask Congress for money and land that was given to him for his service in the Revolutionary War that he previously forfeited. Things eventually get better though. Eliza helped raise funds for the Washington Monument and started her own private orphanage in New York City.

Mrs. Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton

10. No One Knows What Really Happened

What does that mean? It means there are aspects of Hamilton’s dealings and life that no one knows for sure about. For a man who was constantly writing, there are still things left to ambiguity. A private dinner meeting between Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison occurred but we only have evidence of Jefferson’s account.

All we know is, the meeting led to the nation’s capital (Washington, D.C.) being placed in the South along the Potomac River, and Hamilton got his votes for his financial system passed through Congress. Yes, the same system we have today.

What’s the next one? No one knows the full account of Hamilton’s death. The only witnesses were their seconds, which are basically neutral parties to negotiate terms between the two dueling parties. Did Hamilton purposely misfire? Did the dueling code obligate Burr not to shoot? Well if that was the case Hamilton wouldn’t have died. All we know is yes, both parties fired in succession but the seconds disagree on the intervening time. So, it’s a case of Han Solo vs. Greedo and who shot first. We’ll just never know.

Portrait of an older Alexander Hamilton

Referencer
DeConde, Alexander. “Alexander Hamilton.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 10 Sept. 2020, www.britannica.com/biography/Alexander-Hamilton-United-States-statesman.
Grimminck, Robert. “10 Fascinating Facts About Alexander Hamilton.” Toptenz.net, 6 June 2017, www.toptenz.net/10-fascinating-facts-alexander-hamilton.php.
History.com Editors. “Alexander Hamilton.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/alexander-hamilton.
NCC Staff. “10 Essential Facts about Alexander Hamilton on His Birthday.” National Constitution Center – Constitutioncenter.org, constitutioncenter.org/blog/10-essential-facts-about-alexander-hamilton/.
Staff, American History Central. “Hamilton, Alexander.” American History Central, R.Squared Communications, LLC, 27 Aug. 2019, www.americanhistorycentral.com/entries/alexander-hamilton/view/quick-facts/.

A weekly newsletter for History Buffs like you. Once a week. Cool stuff only.


Alexander Hamilton Facts: Early Life

  • Alexander Hamilton was born in and spent part of his childhood in Charlestown, the capital of the island of Nevis, in the Leeward Islands Nevis was one of the British West Indies.
  • Hamilton was born out of wedlock to Rachel Faucette, a married woman of partial French Huguenot descent, and James A. Hamilton, the fourth son of the Scottish laird Alexander Hamilton of Grange, Ayrshire.
  • His mother moved with the young Hamilton to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, then ruled by Denmark.
  • It is not certain whether the year of Hamilton&rsquos birth was 1757 or 1755 most historical evidence after Hamilton&rsquos arrival in North America supports the idea that he was born in 1757, and many historians had accepted this birth date.
  • Hamilton listed his birth year as 1757 when he first arrived in the 13 original colonies. He celebrated his birthday on January 11.
  • Hamilton&rsquos mother had been married previously to Johann Michael Lavien of St. Croix. Rachel left her husband and first son, Peter, traveling to St. Kitts in 1750, where she met James Hamilton.
  • Hamilton and Rachel moved together to Rachel&rsquos birthplace, Nevis, where she had inherited property from her father. The couple&rsquos two sons were James Jr. and Alexander.
  • Because Alexander Hamilton&rsquos parents were not legally married, the Church of England denied him membership and education in the church school. Hamilton received &ldquoindividual tutoring&rdquo and classes in a private school led by a Jewish headmistress. Hamilton supplemented his education with a family library of 34 books.
  • James Hamilton abandoned Rachel and their sons, allegedly to &ldquospar[e] [Rachel] a charge of bigamy &hellip after finding out that her first husband intend[ed] to divorce her under Danish law on grounds of adultery and desertion.&rdquo Thereafter, Rachel supported her children in St. Croix, keeping a small store in Christiansted.
  • She contracted a severe fever and died on February 19, 1768, 1:02 am, leaving Hamilton orphaned.
  • In probate court, Rachel&rsquos &ldquofirst husband seized her estate&rdquo and obtained the few valuables Rachel had owned, including some household silver. Many items were auctioned off, but a friend purchased the family&rsquos books and returned them to the young Hamilton.
  • Hamilton became a clerk at Beekman and Cruger, which traded with the New England colonies he was left in charge of the firm for five months in 1771, while the owner was at sea.
  • He and his older brother James Jr. were adopted briefly by a cousin, Peter Lytton but when Lytton committed suicide, the brothers were separated.
  • James apprenticed with a local carpenter, while Alexander was adopted by a Nevis merchant, Thomas Stevens.
  • Hamilton continued clerking, but he remained an avid reader, later developing an interest in writing, and began to desire a life outside the small island where he lived.
  • He wrote an essay published in the Royal Danish-American Gazette, a detailed account of a hurricane which had hit Christiansted hard on August 30, 1772. Hamilton&rsquos essay would be a turning point in his life. The essay impressed community leaders, who collected a fund to send the young Hamilton to the colonies for his education.

Alexander Hamilton Facts: Education

  • In the autumn of 1772, Hamilton arrived in the middle colony, New Jersey at Elizabethtown.
  • In 1773 he studied with Francis Barber at Elizabethtown in preparation for college work. He came under the influence of William Livingston, a leading intellectual and revolutionary, with whom he lived for a time at his Liberty Hall.
  • Hamilton entered King&rsquos College in New York City in the autumn of 1773.
  • In what is credited as his first public appearance, on July 6, 1774 at the liberty pole at King&rsquos College, Hamilton&rsquos friend Robert Troup spoke of Hamilton&rsquos ability to clearly and concisely explain the rights and reasons the patriots have in their case against the British.
  • Hamilton, Troup and four other undergraduates formed an unnamed literary society that is regarded as a precursor of the Philolexian Society.
  • When the Church of England clergyman Samuel Seabury published a series of pamphlets promoting the Loyalist cause in 1774, Hamilton responded anonymously with his first political writings, A Full Vindication of the Measures of Congress og The Farmer Refuted.
  • Seabury essentially tried to provoke fear into the colonies and his main objective was to stopgap the potential of a union among the colonies. Hamilton published two additional pieces attacking the Quebec Act and may have also authored the fifteen anonymous installments of &ldquoThe Monitor&rdquo for Holt&rsquos New York Journal.
  • Although Hamilton was a supporter of the American Revolution at this prewar stage, he did not approve of mob reprisals against Loyalists. On May 10, 1775, Hamilton won credit for saving his college president Myles Cooper, a Loyalist, from an angry mob by speaking to the crowd long enough for Cooper to escape.

Alexander Hamilton lyrics explained: Early history of the $10 Founding Father, as told by the musical’s opening number

The record-breaking, critically-beloved musical Hamilton is being released as a movie on Disney+, bringing a barnstorming hip-hop history lesson to the world’s homes at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

The opening number, “Alexander Hamilton,” offers a whirlwind journey through his decidedly bleak early life, as he overcomes harsh circumstances to eventually claw his way his way to New York (revolution ensues).

Your guide to what to watch next - no spoilers, we promise

There’s an awful lot of exposition crammed into the ensemble piece, which essentially covers the first 20 years of Hamilton’s existence – so here’s a quick overview on what it all means.

‘How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore…’

The opening musings, rapped by his arch-rival and eventual killer Aaron Burr, lay out the unglamorous circumstances of Hamilton’s birth.

He certainly was a bastard, born out of wedlock in either 1755 or 1757 to James Hamilton and Rachel Faucette, a French Huguenot woman who was married to another man (although she had separated from him several years before), and his being an orphan is referred to at various points in the musical (more on that shortly).

The label “son of a whore” presumably refers to accusations made by Rachel Faucette’s first husband John Lavien about her supposed infidelity and a more general comment on his illegitimacy, rather than any notion that his mother was a sex worker.

‘And a Scotsman…’

A reference to James Hamilton who, as his name indicates, hailed from Scotland – he was the fourth son of Laird Alexander Hamilton of Grange, Ayrshire.

‘Dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean…’

Hamilton was raised in Charleston, the capital of the small Carribbean island of Nevis, of Saint Kitts and Nevis fame – the restored building where he was born is now used as the Museum of Nevis History.

Faucette and Hamilton’s father had actually met in Saint Kitts, but they settled on Nevis, the island of her birth.

‘The ten-dollar founding father…’

An 1805 portrait of Hamilton – who served as the first US Secretary of the Treasury – has adorned the obverse of US $10 bill since 1929, when the banknote was reduced in size to its current proportions.

Previously, the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and Benjamin Franklin have appeared on the bill.

‘By 14, they placed him in charge of a trading charter….’

This early detail provides an demonstration of the teenage Hamilton’s intelligence and logistical prowess, and refers to the age Hamilton became a clerk at the import-export firm Beekman and Cruger on the island of St Croix, where he and his brother had moved with their mother.

According to biographers, even at that tender age he was left in charge of the business for five months when his boss, Nicholas Cruger, returned to New York for health reasons.

A lyric later in the song which describes how Hamilton “started working, clerking for his late mother’s landlord” also refers to this job.

‘Then a hurricane came and devastated reigned…’

This refers to a famous letter written to his father about a hurricane which devastated the Carribbean, including Hamilton’s home in Christiansed, St Croix, in August 1772.

‘Word got around, they said this kid is insane, man…’

Hamilton’s hurricane letter was so well received that it was eventually published in the Thirteen Colonies – his reputation bourgeoned in St Kitts to the point that, as the song continues, they “took up a collection just to send him to the mainland” to pursue his education.

‘When he was 10 his father split, full of it, debt-ridden…’

At some point when Hamilton was a boy, his father James abandoned the family, allegedly citing the noble reason of sparing Faucette a charge of bigamy.

However, accounts certainly suggest that James Hamilton’s business ventures in the Carribbean proved entirely unsuccessful, and he was dogged with debts.

‘Two years later see Alex and his mother bed-ridden…’

In 1768, when Hamilton was around 13, he and his mother fell ill, most likely with yellow fever.

‘Alex got better but his mother went quick…’

Rachel Faucette died on 19 February 1768, leaving Hamilton, as Burr pointed out at the beginning of the song, effectively an orphan – her first husband, John Lavien, claimed her meagre estate.

‘Moved in with a cousin, the cousin committed suicide…’

Hamilton and his older brother, James jr, were taken in by their cousin Peter Lytton shortly after their mother’s death, but he took his own life in July 1769 – the two boys were subsequently separated.

‘See him now as he stands on the bow of a ship headed for a new land’

Hamilton arrived in what became the USA in October 1772, initially sailing to Boston before proceeding to New York (his arrival there makes up the final stages of the song).

He initially took lodgings with Hercules Mulligan, a tailor-turned-spy who played a crucial role in the American Revolutionary War, memorably chronicled in the musical.


History of New York City

Alexander Hamilton, one of the nation’s founding fathers and the first secretary of treasury. He had a very important impact on New York City, creating The Bank of New York and advising it’s financial situation after the war.

Alexander Hamilton, one of the nation’s founding fathers, was raised in the West Indies, orphaned and sent to the northern colonies in 1773 to obtain an education. He soon enrolled in New York’s very own King’s College, now known as Columbia University, to study law. While studying at King’s College he decided to join a militia company in New York City. After war broke out, he fought in many battles and was soon appointed lieutenant colonel on George Washington’s staff. He fought in the American Revolution and helped lead George Washington to success. In 1782, he was elected to the Continental Congress and soon after the American Revolution ended he returned to pursue a career in law, although he never actually obtained a degree.

He pursued life as a lawyer as well as a civic leader in New York in 1784 Hamilton helped the founding of the Bank of New York. As he watched the country’s financial and political burdens drown the nation he called for a strengthening of the federal government with himself as one of the leaders along with George Washington and James Madison, fighting for a new Constitution in 1786. Alexander Hamilton believed, “In every civil society there must be a supreme power to which all the members of that society are subject, for otherwise there could be no supremacy or subordination—that is, no government at all.”[1] He attended the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and contributed to the development of our current day federal constitution and justified its ratification. In 1789 President Washington appointed Hamilton as the first Secretary of the Treasury while the federal government was based in New York City. With this new job title Hamilton consolidated the country’s debts and paid them off equally as well as establishing a very modern financial system.

As the Treasury Secretary he argued for an economy that included a manufacturing system in addition to farming, particularly in New York City. Hamilton says, “It might also be observed, with a contrary view, that the labour employed in Agriculture is in a great periodical and occasional, depending on seasons, liable to various and long intermissions while that occupied in many manufactures is constant and regular, extending through the year, embracing in some instances night as well as day”. [2] He does not deny the productiveness of agriculture but explains the availability and opportunity that manufacturing has to offer in comparison to farming, there is less uncertainty. In addition to the abundance of opportunities that manufacturing can offer the city, he explains how it could increase employment, “the employment of persons who would otherwise be idle (and in many cases a burthen on the community), either from the byass of temper, habit, infirmity of body, or some other cause, indisposing, or disqualifying them from the toils of the Country”.[3] Women and children are of more use in manufacturing establishments then they would be otherwise, and increase the number of employed people in the city.

Alexander Hamilton was a supporter of a strong central government he believed that a single national government would be better than individual, separate states. He argued that a union would encourage commerce and trade enabling the government to collect an abundance of revenue from trade and form the foundation of the American government. He stressed that, “In this country, if the principal part be not drawn from commerce, it must fall with oppressive weight upon land” [4]He stated that a union would be strong and prosperous while separate states would be weak and unsuccessful. Hamilton also defends the constitution and the national government’s right to impose taxes on the people in order to have enough resources and funding to govern the country correctly. His opinion of the government’s job was, “The purpose of Hamilton’s political economy was the preservation of private property and the liberty to pursue it. For him the chief functions of government were to protect property, to enforce a legal framework in which it was secured, and to provide a stable environment for economic activity and growth”. [5] If the revenue cannot be raised the national credit will suffer, they will not be trusted to take out loans, resulting in the inability to borrow money in times of crisis such as wars and unable to protect the country and its citizens. “Money is, with propriety, considered as the vital principle of the body politic as that which sustains its life and motion, and enables it to perform its most essential function”[6]He supports the government having adequate power and revenue but also understands the power can be taken from granted therefore he is also a supporter of the checks and balances system.

[2] Hamilton, Alexander. 1791. Report on the Manufacturers. Submitted to the U.S. Congress, December 5. At http://www.constitution.org/ah/rpt_manufactures.pdf.

[3] Hamilton, Alexander. 1791. Report on the Manufacturers. Submitted to the U.S. Congress, December 5. At http://www.constitution.org/ah/rpt_manufactures.pdf.

[4] Hamilton,Alexander. 1787. Federalist Paper No. 12.http://www.foundingfathers.info/federalistpapers/fed12.htm

[5] Nelson, John R. “Alexander Hamilton and American Manufacturing: A Reexamination.” The Journal of American History 65, no. 4 (1979): 971-95.

[6] Hamilton, Alexander. 1787. Federalist Paper No. 30.http://www.foundingfathers.info/federalistpapers/fed30.htm

Hamilton, Alexander. 1791. Report on the Manufacturers. Submitted to the U.S. Congress, December 5. At http://www.constitution.org/ah/rpt_manufactures.pdf.

Hamilton, Alexander. 1787. Federalist Paper No. 12. http://www.foundingfathers.info/federalistpapers/fed12.htm

Hamilton, Alexander. 1787. Federalist Paper No. 30. http://www.foundingfathers.info/federalistpapers/fed30.htm

Nelson, John R. “Alexander Hamilton and American Manufacturing: A Reexamination.” The Journal of American History 65, no. 4 (1979): 971-95.

Jaffe, Steven H., Museum of the City of New York, and Jessica Lautin. 2014. Capital of Capital : Money, Banking, and Power in New York City. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost)


Your guide to Alexander Hamilton, plus 6 fascinating facts about the founding father

Alexander Hamilton (1755/7–1804) rose from an impoverished upbringing to become one of the founding fathers of America. Today, he is best known for featuring on the $10 bill in the United States and as the subject of the hugely successful musical theatre production, Hamilton. Read on for a brief biography of Hamilton, and the real story of the duel in which he was killed. Plus, Jem Duducu shares six fascinating facts about Hamilton…

Denne konkurrence er nu lukket

Published: December 22, 2020 at 4:05 am

As the statesman who laid the foundations of the US government’s financial mechanisms and systems, Alexander Hamilton is a hugely important figure in American history the impact of his political rivalry with Thomas Jefferson is still seen today.

Alexander Hamilton: a biography

Født: c1755, the island of Nevis, British West Indies

Døde: 12 July, 1804, as the result of an infamous duel with vice president Aaron Burr

Forældre: James Hamilton and Rachel Faucette (the pair were unmarried, making Alexander’s birth illegitimate)

Ægtefælle: Elizabeth ‘Eliza’ Schuyler Hamilton

Børn: Eight. Hamilton’s eldest son, Philip, was also killed in a duel.

Known for: Alexander Hamilton was an indispensable aide to George Washington during the American Revolutionary War (1775-83). Later he was the principal author of the Federalist Papers, becoming a key figure in the ratification of the US constitution and a prolific writer in its defence. He was the nation’s first treasury secretary and a key architect of the modern financial system.

Hamilton was also a central figure in what is commonly referred to as ‘America’s first political sex scandal’, after he was blackmailed by the husband of his mistress, Maria Reynolds. He has since become the subject of an eponymous musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and based on a successful biography by Ron Chernow, in which he is portrayed as a scrappy revolutionary immigrant.

The Hamilton-Burr duel of 1804: what happened and when?

The unique event took place at 7am on 11 July, 1804: the vice president of the United States, Aaron Burr, killed a former secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamliton, in a duel. Bitter political rivals, Burr read that Hamilton had uttered a “despicable opinion” of him (Hamilton had previously called Burr a cheat, an adulterer, corrupt, and unprincipled), and challenged his longtime enemy. Hamilton, combative, foolishly headstrong and fatally obsessed with honour – a product of his illegitimacy – accepted, despite several opportunities to back down. The evening before the duel he wrote to his wife, “rather I should die innocent than live guilty”. Intent only on defending his honour, not on settling scores, Hamilton declared he would “reserve and throw away my first fire” to allow Burr, an expert shot, “to pause and to reflect”.

The duelists, after they “exchanged salutations”, chose their flintlocks, measured their paces, and fired almost simultaneously. Aiming wide, Hamilton probably fired first, but Burr’s reply tore through his target’s liver and diaphragm, embedding itself in his spine. Hamilton, writhing in agony, cried “I am a dead man”, and collapsed. He was taken to Manhattan, where, drugged with laudanum to soothe the pain, he lived for 31 hours. “If they break this union [of states],” he murmured near the end, “they will break my heart”. As for Burr, he did his best by later hatching a bizarre plot to conquer the southwest and set himself up as a king. He stood trial for treason, but was acquitted, and died in 1836, aged 80 and unlamented.

Listen: Ron Chernow, biographer of American founding father Alexander Hamilton, profiles the man whose life story has become a Broadway smash on this episode of the HistoryExtra podcast:

Here, Jem Duducu shares six surprising facts about Alexander Hamilton…

Alexander Hamilton was a fighter

From virtually the first shots fired in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), Hamilton was a volunteer in the rebel militia. By 1776, he had raised a company of artillery in New York and was elected its captain. At the end of the war he had fought in eight separate battles, seven of them between 1776 and 1778, when he became a lieutenant colonel and aide-de-camp to George Washington.

As the war rumbled on, Hamilton became frustrated that he was no longer involved on the front lines. That changed when a reprimand by Washington, which in no way spelled disaster for his military career, was used by Hamilton as an excuse to leave Washington’s personal staff to become a frontline officer again. The decision allowed him to fight alongside French units at the siege of Yorktown in 1781. This battle was to be the final victory of the American rebels and French forces over the British in the American fight for independence.

Hamilton’s taxes started a rebellion

When George Washington became the first president of the United States, he made Hamilton the country’s first secretary of the treasury. This meant that Hamilton was the man who laid the foundations of the US government’s financial mechanisms and systems, including the establishment of a national bank and the US mint.

All governments need to raise revenues through taxation and, as the revolution had shown, Americans didn’t like paying taxes (who does?). One of Hamilton’s earliest tax targets was whiskey (both domestic and imported), which he saw as preferable to taxing land. But the tax was unpopular from the start, especially in rural America where farmers often produced their own whiskey, and opposition became increasingly fierce.

The Whiskey Rebellion lasted for three years from 1791 and forced President George Washington out of military retirement in order to lead troops to quell the uprising. The climax came in July of 1794 at the battle of Bower Hill in Pennsylvania, where hundreds of tax rebels clashed with government troops. Washington and Hamilton both believed that it was imperative to the future of government funding that US troops enforce the government’s authority to collect taxes, and the defeat of the rebellion demonstrated that the government was willing and capable of stopping resistance to the law. Only a handful of people died, but the long, drawn-out affair and its violent climax were due solely to Hamilton’s tax.

In Lin Manuel-Miranda’s eponymous musical, the founding father is remembered as a scrappy revolutionary immigrant, a hero of the American dream. But is the musical a realistic portrayal of Alexander Hamilton? Tom Cutterham argues that the real Alexander Hamilton was an elitist anti-democrat, who used violence to crush dissent…

Hamilton (and the Americans) didn’t always pay their bills

The French contribution to the rebel cause during the American Revolution wasn’t just another excuse for the French to annoy the British: the help came at a cost. Therefore, after independence had been achieved, France expected America to pay its bills. As the first secretary of the treasury, Hamilton ensured that America honoured its debt.

However, by 1798, two things had changed: firstly, Hamilton was no longer in charge of the treasury secondly, and more importantly, the French regime that had come to the aid of the rebels had changed. Even after the French monarchy had been overthrown, the United States had continued to pay its debts. Revolutionary France received money from revolutionary America, but by 1798, it had dawned on America that it was honouring a debt that – technically speaking – didn’t exist anymore.

Unsurprisingly, the French saw things differently and when the money stopped coming, the so-called Quasi-War followed. This was a period (1798–1800) under the presidency of John Adams, when French and American ships fought unofficial naval battles in the Atlantic. Although he saw no action, Hamilton came out of retirement and was one of the leaders of the American forces during this period of uncertainty and violence. The reality was that France had bigger fish to fry (such as fighting the Royal Navy threat in the Mediterranean) and hostilities had petered out by 1800, when it was Napoleon who wanted to end what had become an annoyance. The conflict came to an end when both sides signed the Convention of 1800.

Hamilton was an intellectual

Hamilton was a key contributor to the brand-new Constitution of the United States, but almost as importantly, he initiated a project called ‘The Federalist Papers’. This was a collection of essays to explain and support the provisions of the historic document.

During the writing of the Constitution, Hamilton had argued for the president and the senators to have lifetime tenure. This made James Madison, the future president, suspicious of Hamilton, arguing that he was trying to introduce monarchy to the fledgling republic. The debates, while heated, were constructive and as a result, Hamilton signed the final draft and argued eloquently for its implementation.

Along with laying the foundations of US financial institutions, Hamilton established the Revenue Cutter Service to protect the country’s coasts from smugglers who were thwarting another revenue stream for the government the service was later to become the United States Coast Guard. Starting all of these from scratch, as well as being a vital contributor to the country’s Constitution, shows a remarkably sharp intelligence.

The long feud between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton began in the 1790s, when the former was President George Washington’s secretary of state, and the latter his treasury secretary.

Read more about the Jefferson-Hamilton feud

Hamilton was a media mogul

So far we have looked only at Hamilton’s astonishing achievements while he was in government, but he kept himself busy in retirement too. In 1801 he managed to secure $10,000 from a group of investors to fund the launch of the New York Evening Post. Although the name has since changed to the New York Post, it is America’s oldest continuously published daily newspaper.

Hamilton’s motives in starting the newspaper were not entirely philanthropic, and he used the paper to push his political agenda. In 1804, there were a number of articles attacking vice president Aaron Burr. These regular verbal muggings enraged Burr so much that they led to one of the most bizarre moments in American history… in the summer of 1804, when Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel. Hamilton himself said he was “strongly opposed to the practice of duelling”, but Burr had no such qualms and seems to have been intent on killing Hamilton.

Hamilton is on the money

The debate about which historic figures should appear on currency is an argument that never pleases everyone. Though Hamilton was undoubtedly a key figure in shaping America and its constitution, and the country’s financial system owes him a huge debt of gratitude, he was not that well remembered in America prior to the hit musical which opened in New York in 2015. He had been on the $10 bill since 1928 but, by the new millennium, this was seen as a rather old-fashioned choice, and the decision was made to replace him with a woman. However, the currency decisions were taking place at the same time as Hamilton the musical was becoming a monster hit. Therefore, in 2016 it was announced that he would remain where he had been and that a woman from American history would appear on the $20 bill instead (bad news for president Andrew Jackson).

Alexander Hamilton was a founding father, statesman, veteran, political intellectual, economist and media tycoon. While all of this is impressive, it may seem like none of it screams ‘hit Broadway musical’. But the rest, as they say, is history.

Jem Duducu is author of The American Presidents in 100 Facts (Amberley Publishing, 2016). You can find Jem on Twitter and Facebook.

This article was first published by HistoryExtra in September 2017


Se videoen: Hamilton: the animated musical