Alexander Hamilton was a scholar, soldier, lawyer, statesman, banker, and economist who served as one of America’s founding fathers. Hamilton was born on the Caribbean island of Nevis on January 11, 1755, or 1757 (currently known as St. Kitts and Nevis). His most important accomplishments include contributing to the defeat of the British in the Revolutionary War, assisting in the passage of the U.S. Constitution, acting as the country’s first Secretary of the Treasury, and modernizing the nation’s financial system. Let us take a closer look at how Hamilton was able to create a constitution that still serves as a foundation today, and celebrate his birthday!
Alexander Hamilton was born in the Caribbean; his mother and father never married, and his father abandoned the family when Alexander was still a child. Alexander’s mother died when he was just 11 years old, leaving him orphaned. He later settled down with a prosperous merchant Thomas Stevens. He worked as a clerk at a trading firm, where he learned a lot about the business world. Hamilton was 15 when he sent a letter describing a cyclone that had hit the island. Local officials were so taken with the work that they decided to send him to New York for further schooling. Hamilton attended King’s College in New York, where he became interested in colonial politics. He frequently gathered with fellow patriots at King’s College’s Liberty Pole to discuss current concerns. Hamilton also produced his first political essays during this period, in which he supported the patriot’s cause.
Hamilton’s studies at King’s College were cut short by the Revolutionary War and he joined the U.S. regiment. Hamilton’s capabilities were instantly recognized by high-ranking officers, and he was hired as an aide to General George Washington. Hamilton was part of a critical battle that secured victory at the Siege of Yorktown, thereby bringing the war to a close. He then left the service after the war and returned to New York. He studied on his own for six months before passing the test and becoming a lawyer. He became a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and took part in publishing a series of writings known as ‘The Federalist Papers’ to assist states to comprehend the necessity for the Constitution, and to have the Constitution passed. There were 85 essays in these publications, each arguing a different provision of the Constitution. The Federalist Papers were critical to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
In the 1804 election for governor of New York, Hamilton backed Morgan Lewis, who was running against the despised Aaron Burr. After Morgan Lewis won the election, there were reports that Hamilton had made disparaging remarks about Aaron Burr. Hamilton refused to apologize when Aaron Burr demanded one. Aaron Burr challenged Hamilton to a battle because each man thought his honor had been violated. On July 11, 1804, a duel was fought between the two men using pistols. Each man fired a shot. Hamilton’s bullet struck a tree branch just over Burr’s head. Burr’s shot struck Hamilton in the abdomen, resulting in Hamilton’s death the following day. Hamilton was survived by his wife Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton and their eight children.
Hamilton's work as a clerk at a St. Croix house pleases the owner, Nicholas Cruger, to such a degree that he pays for Hamilton's schooling.
Hamilton moved to New York to study at King's College (which became Columbia University).
When the American Revolutionary War began, he enrolls in the army, and his abilities are instantly recognized by high-ranking officers.
Hamilton becomes a senior adviser to Commander-in-Chief General George Washington.
After leaving Congress, Hamilton returns to practice law and establishes his own legal business, forms the Bank of New York, and assists in the formation of Columbia College.
Hamilton is the nation’s first Secretary of Treasury and a key architect of the modern financial system.
Why We Love Alexander Hamilton
He had clear visions of the future
Hamilton formed the world's monetary, political, and judicial institutions, as well as various views on racial rights and economic equality. He also set the framework for its future with his early republic work that was so far ahead of its time it took the nation decades to catch up.
He was a self-taught personality
Hamilton studied much of his law on his own. Later on, he learned under future Supreme Court Justices John Jay and William Paterson.
He made the U.S. financially strong
Hamilton established the Treasury Department as a powerful division. He also established the First Bank of the United States, convincing other countries that the United States was financially solid.
5 Surprising Facts
A military hero in every sense
At the Battle of Yorktown, Hamilton actively launched an attack and charge that earned him the title of War Hero.
Nation’s first scandal
A phony widow named Maria Reynolds approached Hamilton for financial aid which ended in an affair that tarnished Hamilton’s reputation and career.
Shot not meant to be shot
Before the duel, Hamilton had made it clear to friends and allies, as well as in valedictory writings, that he intended to squander his shot, possibly by shooting wide of Burr on purpose.
The real name of New York Post
In November 1801, Hamilton founded a publication called “The New York Evening Post,” which often libeled Jefferson.
Letter from the first president
George Washington addressed his final written letter to Hamilton, applauding his apprentice's proposal to establish a national military school.
Alexander Hamilton’s birthday dates