The details of the birth of this renowned Founding Father are notably vague, as there is confusion regarding his parentage. Alexander Hamilton is generally supposed to have been born illegitimately to the Scotsman James Hamilton and Rachael Fawcette Levine, a lady who was at that time married to another man. He was born in Nevis, the West Indies, on January 11, in either 1755 or 1757. Hamilton's father eventually abandoned Rachael, whose own death in 1768 left him and his older brother parentless. After his mother's death, Hamilton, then aged twelve, became a clerk at a counting house before going on to King's College, where he took a bachelor's degree in merely a year's time. His earlier education, what he could get of it due to his illegitimacy, consisted of tutoring, lessons at a Jewish school, and some formal grammar school.
Young Hamilton became a sensation on the battlefield during the War for Independence, and was soon noticed by General George Washington himself. He spent four years serving Washington as a secretary and confidante, although he returned eventually to the active service that he preferred. In between his military career and his ascent to the political realm, he married Elizabeth Schuyler, and together they had eight children. Hamilton entered the Continental Congress in 1982, advocating with firm voice the formation of a strong central government. Although he left the 1787 Constitutional Convention, he approved and defended the newly drafted Constitution. Among his most renowned achievements are his contribution to The Federalist Papers and his service as President Washington's Secretary of State, where he was influential in sorting out national debt and credit as well as in foreign affairs.
When John Adams ascended to the presidency, Hamilton remained in his cabinet, causing dynamics that divided the Federalist Party to which both men belonged. Due to an indescretion on Hamilton's part concerning a personal, bitter written critique on Adams and some cabinet information, Hamilton fell into a quarrel with Col. Aaron Burr. This rival of Hamilton's, intending to use the letter against him, eventually challenged him to a duel. This event, which occurred on July 11, 1804, wounded Hamilton mortally, and he died the following day. A gravestone in Trinity churchyard, New York, marks the burial place of this distinguished statesman, soldier, writer, and Founder of the United States.
Did you find this review helpful?