Discover the Life and Legacy of Alexander Hamilton, One of America’s Founding Fathers
Alexander Hamilton’s contributions to the United States are hard to ignore when considering the history of the nation.
He served on the front lines of the Revolutionary War and was Washington’s most trusted advisor, he authored The Federalist Papers and established America’s first central bank.
Initially misunderstood by historians, who attributed Jefferson with a larger role in developing the new republic, Ron Chernow presents a balanced view of Hamilton’s larger-than-life life story.
This work delves into his troubled childhood as an illegitimate orphan in the Caribbean, as well as his various endeavors in politics, literature and militarily during his time in America.
It adds further insight into his passionate essays and speeches which helped push for American independence, his quarrels with other founding fathers, His turbulent love life, and ultimately leading up to his tragic death at the hands of Aaron Burr during their duel.
In sum then, there is no shortcut to understanding Hamilton’s legacy – it must take into account all of these details which paint a full narrative that informs not just how Hamilton shaped US history but how US history evolved through such an individual – thus making this an ultimate Hamiltonian history of America.
Alexander Hamilton’s Writing Talent Helps Him Escape a Life of Hardship and Find Opportunity in the American Colonies
Alexander Hamilton had a difficult start in life: born out of wedlock on the Caribbean island of Nevis, and then tragically losing his mother while still in his teens.
Despite these hardships, his intellect shone through early on.
As a bookish child, he already had an affinity for English and French language which he picked up from his mother.
Moreover, at just 11 years old, he started working as a clerk at Beekman and Cruger—an impressive feat of mental acuity and work ethic.
His skills attracted the attention of Henry Knox, an inspiring church minister who took him under his wing.
Not only did Knox offer up access to his personal library which surely expanded Hamilton’s knowledge further, he even used one of Hamilton’s letters as an example to raise funds for Alexander’s educational expenses!
His ability to write expertly was instrumental in getting him out of the Caribbean and setting him on a path to greatness that most could never even imagine.
Alexander Hamilton, the Revolutionary War Patriot Who Found His Voice Through Debate
When Alexander Hamilton arrived in the American colonies in 1772, they were already on the brink of revolution.
Relations between the colonies and Britain had been strained for some time, with new taxes being imposed on them without their input, causing widespread anger and unrest.
This reached a boiling point when the Boston Tea Party, a protest against these new taxes, was carried out in 1773.
With the tensions between Britain and its American colonies set to explode, people began demonstrating in New York.
Hamilton joined then, giving his first public speech defending the protesters of the Boston Tea Party and encouraging colonists to unite against British rule.
The fight for independence from Britain received an even bigger boost when Samuel Seabury published a pamphlet arguing that revolution would ruin colonial farmers — only to be met with an intense 35-page rebuttal written by Hamilton under the pseudonym “A Friend to America.” In just two months, this finally erupted into full-scale conflict at Lexington and Concord — showing how close America was to taking action and gaining their freedom with Alexander Hamilton’s help.
Hamilton’s Rise From Revolutionary Writer to Commanding Officer: A Journey of Ambition and Friendship
When he arrived in the United States, Alexander Hamilton was determined to make his mark.
He showed his talents on the ideological battlefield as a talented polemical writer, but it wasn’t long before he was fighting in the real-life theater of war – serving in a New York militia and bravely securing Manhattan’s heavy artillery from enemy capture.
His outstanding performance soon caught the attention of George Washington and he was consequently made aide-de-camp to the general – which essentially meant that Hamilton became Washington’s right-hand man.
Hamilton’s confidence, wit and energy appealed to George Washington who utilized him for strategic planning, writing of letters & requests to Congress and other duties such as convincing John Laurens, an abolitionist from South Carolina, to join the revolution.
In addition, their close friendship has led some historians to suggest that there may have even been a romantic relationship between them.
Who knew what danger would come with success for this self-made man!
Alexander Hamilton: A Military Hero of the American Revolution
Alexander Hamilton’s experience of the American Revolutionary War was not only intertwined with his love life and desire to make a name for himself, but also his thirst to feed his intellect.
As an aide-de-camp to Washington giving him an insider view of the war, Hamilton spent his days writing and reading correspondence from Congress, generals and diplomats.
His nights were spent voraciously devouring philosophical texts and literary works by candlelight; one of which included a 6,000 word essay on how to govern a country.
However, it was in early 1780 when Hamilton truly arrived at a crossroads in his life – he not only found himself immersed in military matters and philosophical musings but also came across Elizabeth Schuyler, whom he soon asked for marriage.
Five years later this too would be entwined with Hamilton’s experience of the war after Washington exposed him to battlefield duty where he took the lead in breaking through British defensive lines during the Battle of Yorktown and securing America’s victory against British forces In doing so he left an everlasting impression behind of himself as a patriot.
Alexander Hamilton Finds a Solution for the Struggling Thirteen Colonies
After the war ended, Alexander Hamilton was ready to get back to work.
He returned to his studies at Kings College and passed the bar in a mere six months.
He also picked up his writing, publishing four of the five famous Continentalist essays that drew on history and his own experiences in the military.
His essays caught the eye of Congress, who asked him to become a delegate from New York shortly afterwards.
While he tried to push forward legislation, it was no easy job – dissent abounded, and salaries of soldiers were going unpaid.
In this storm of chaos, he met James Madison from Virginia.
They shared similar views towards government, both wishing for a strong central government and a standing army..
This relationship would prove to be very fruitful in finding solutions during the post-war years.
Hamilton’s Vision of a Powerful Central Government, Frame the United States Constitution, and Writing the Federalist Papers Led to the Birth of a New Republic
Alexander Hamilton was instrumental in drafting and defending the new Constitution.
He played an extremely important role in the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when the regional governments of the Thirteen Colonies had to decide what type of government to adopt.
Hamilton pushed for a strong central government with mechanisms for removing bad elements – a position that resulted in multiple disagreements with other delegates at the Convention.
Fortunately, his six-hour speech persuaded many of them, ultimately leading to an agreement on how to proceed with the drafting of the new Constitution.
In addition, he was one of only five people chosen as members of a newly established Committee of Style tasked with finalizing the text of the document.
To secure its ratification by all 13 colonies, Hamilton worked alongside James Madison and John Jay to write The Federalist Papers – a series of 85 essays published under various pseudonyms – which convinced skeptical readers why they should support it.
Together they wrote 175,000 words in seven months!
Through his influence and hard work, Alexander Hamilton succeeded in crafting and protecting our nation’s first Constitution – a monumental accomplishment that paved the way for America’s birth as a sovereign republic.
George Washington and Alexander Hamilton Unite the Young Nation with Reinvigorated Federal Power
When the new United States was established, it was vital that the nation agreed on its first president.
After a hard-fought campaign in 1789, George Washington ended up being elected as the first president of the new republic.
His election marked a shift from party politics to focus on unifying the nation, and Alexander Hamilton was placed in a central role: he was appointed by Washington as his Secretary of Treasury.
Hamilton found himself at the heart of power and with many responsibilities, most notably shaping how the government would pay off debts accrued during and after the Revolutionary War.
As part of this responsibility, he had to produce a report outlining how he would dispose of public credit and debt within just 110 days.
He pulled it off, though his proposals did not sit well with everyone and some political enemies were made along the way.
Nevertheless, Hamilton’s success certainly cemented his place at the pinnacle of power under President Washington’s leadership.
The Conflict Between Hamilton and Jefferson Made the United States What it is Today
Alexander Hamilton had long been a contentious figure for his insistence on pushing through his proposals.
His efforts to manage the enormous debt accrued by the United States during the Revolutionary War only worsened things.
He wanted the federal government to take responsibility for paying back old debts and restore credibility in the eyes of foreign investors, but this was unpopular with Jefferson and Madison from Virginia who already paid off their own debts.
His plan meant that Virginia would have to shoulder other states’ debt, potentially raising taxes on exports like whiskey.
This led to a bitter rivalry between Hamilton and Jefferson which would last until Hamilton’s death.
In addition, his willingness to keep New York as the de facto capital city of the United States clashed with Virginians’ ambitions for their state.
Despite this tension, relations were smooth at a dinner attended by only the three men where Hamilton ultimately agreed to concede his plan about New York being recognized as the capital of the U.S., cementing his rogues gallery of enemies due to his debt crisis solution..
Alexander Hamilton’s Reforms Established the Coastguard and the Central Bank, Securing America’s Financial Future
Alexander Hamilton understood that the new nation needed secure revenue sources in order to finance his plans, so he oversaw the establishment of a national coastguard.
This was necessary in order to prevent smuggling, which would allow imported goods taxes remain uncompromised and bring in additional sources of revenue for the new nation.
Although his plan faced opposition from those who believed it gave him too much power, it paid off in the end as the coastguard increased revenue for the country, eventually resulting in a budget surplus.
He also created one of America’s greatest legacies, by establishing the first central bank.
He chose to do this because a commercial market policy was more beneficial than an agricultural market policy according to Hamilton’s belief.
The main purpose of this institution was to provide access to credit, debt management and create a national currency – making doing business across state lines easier and promoting economic growth.
Despite some resistance from Madison and other opponents, his strategy passed with 39 votes in favor, 20 against.
The Ongoing Struggle between Hamilton and Jefferson: Navigating Washington’s First Term in Office
At the end of President Washington’s second term, Alexander Hamilton faced a very uncertain future.
While he had been an adviser to Washington during his presidency, the cabinet was now split due to the disagreements between Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson resigned from the cabinet and ran against Washington in the presidential election; while it seemed unlikely that he would win, he ended up against John Adams instead.
Adams resented Hamilton’s influence on Washington and his ambition; this caused him to be increasingly isolated despite serving as vice-president under Adams’ presidency.
After much consideration, Hamilton decided to leave the administration in 1795 due to both financial and personal reasons.
This marked the beginning of a period where Hamilton was essentially politically “in the wilderness”.
Alexander Hamilton’s Redemption Through Military Service
Alexander Hamilton’s reputation and career were nearly ruined when a journalist revealed his past affair with Maria Reynolds.
Six years after the flirtation began, details of the extramarital escapades were released and the public scandal that followed threatened to destroy Hamilton’s image.
He managed to weather the storm by responding with an apologetic pamphlet, but it came with a heavy cost – humiliation for his wife Elizabeth.
However, despite all this bad press, Hamilton eventually found his way back into public office.
In 1798, diplomatic tensions between the United States and France meant that the government needed to prepare for war.
Knowing that he had Washington’s ear, Hamilton wrote letters to cabinet members urging them to form a provisional army of 10,000 men- and requested Washington take charge of these forces himself!
Washington agreed – on one condition; Hamilton would join him as second in command!
With this offer on the tableHamilton saw his opportunity to make big comeback in public life – and he wasn’t going to refuse it.
After overcoming a difficult scandal, Alexander Hamilton once again rejoined the army!
Alexander Hamilton’s Plan to Defeat his Political Rivals Backfires Spectacularly
The conflict between Adams and Hamilton quickly became the focal point of the presidential election in 1800.
Hamilton, who had been appointed by Adams as second-in-command, was now seen as a figure of ridicule whose virtue was questioned.
Despite this, Adams still sent a diplomatic envoy to France and managed to avoid a war – but their relationship went beyond repair.
In an effort to defeat his opponents – namely Jefferson, who he believed wanted to undo all his work for a strong federal government – Hamilton worked out a plan to take out both candidates with one stroke during the next presidential election.
Knowing that if an electoral college member voted against Adams then Charles C Pinckney would be elevated into office, Hamilton composed a scathing critique of Adams and put it into circulation among fellow Federalists.
This leaked and created yet another scandal, prompting Hamilton to release his own 54 page pamphlet in October of 1800 describing Adams as vain, unstable, and power-hungry.
Although this plan backfired horribly, it further demonstrated how bad the rift had become between these two former colleagues.
It’s no surprise then that this conflict dominated discussion leading up to the election in 1800.
Alexander Hamilton’s Mutually Destructive Relationship With Aaron Burr Led to Unexpected Consequences in the 1800 Election
After the 1800 election, Alexander Hamilton found himself in a difficult situation.
His old enemy, Aaron Burr, had been chosen as Jefferson’s running mate and it caused Hamilton to take action.
Even though they had many disagreements in the past, Hamilton was forced to side with Jefferson due to his mutual dislike for Burr.
He knew that Burr had ambition above his principles, so he threw his support behind Jefferson in order to prevent him from taking office.
Thanks to the Electoral College tie, the decision went to Congress which was still dominated by Federalists like Hamilton at that time.
And when people asked for their opinion on the matter Hamilton surprised many by announcing his support of Jefferson instead of Burr.
Hamilton’s Legacy of Ambition is Marred by His Son Philip’s Tragic Death in a Duel
Alexander Hamilton suffered a devastating personal loss shortly after the 1800 election.
His oldest son, Philip, who was 19 years old at the time, found himself embroiled in a political dispute with lawyer George Eacker.
When Hamilton tried to diffuse the situation, Eacker refused to back down and only one option was left: a duel.
Hamilton had warned Philip not to participate in such an event and advised him to fire his pistol into the air as a form of peaceful resolution.
Unfortunately, Eacker drew first and fatally wounded Philip who died that night from his injuries in bed with his parents beside him.
The tragedy of this loss deeply affected Hamilton’s family, especially Hamilton himself.
He had risked so much for the sake of helping establish America’s independent government and he had never gotten a chance to fully benefit from it as his son tragically passed away shortly afterwards.
Alexander Hamilton’s Service to the Nation Costs Him His Life in Duel with Aaron Burr
The persistent political and personal rivalry between Hamilton and Burr ended in a fatal duel.
Everything came to a head in 1804 when Jefferson decided to drop Burr from the Democratic-Republican ticket, prompting Burr to run for governor instead.
Hamilton set out on an energetic campaign against him throughout the state, publicly denouncing him as an opportunist with no real principles—a statement which Burr saw as slanderous and challenged him over.
Burr eventually demanded a duel to defend his honor, and Hamilton accepted.
The two men met on July 11, 1804 in New Jersey at the same spot where Hamilton’s son had been fatally shot three years earlier.
Despite all his years of warning others about duelling, Hamilton carried through with his intention of participating in one himself, even taking measures to de-escalate the situation by writing Burr a letter requesting he do the same.
But sadly, that wasn’t what happened; instead, Burr fired at Hamilton and struck him in his lower abdomen mortally wounding him.
Hamilton died shortly thereafter surrounded by his family.
It was a sad turn of events that marked the end of a long-standing rivalry between two very influential figures in American history.
News of Hamilton’s death sent shockwaves throughout New York City, with many considering it to be comparable to that of Washington’s passing–almost as if he had achieved some kind of divine status during his lifetime.