Virtual Museum of Art | Virtual Museum of History | Virtual Public Library | Virtual Science Center | Virtual Museum of Natural History | Virtual War Museum
   You are in: Museum of History >> Hall of USA >> US Constitution >> Alexander Hamilton





American’s Four United Republics: Discovery-Based Curriculum

For More Information go to America's Four United Republics Curriculum


 


Alexander Hamilton

1757 - 1804

New York Delegate

Alexander Hamilton was born a British subject on the island of Nevis in the West Indies on January 11, 1755. His father was James Hamilton, a Scottish merchant of St. Christopher. Hamilton’s mother was Rachael Fawcette Levine, of French Huguenot descent. When she was very young, she had married a Danish proprietor of St. Croix named John Michael Levine. Ms. Levine left her husband and was later divorced from him on June 25, 1759. Under Danish law, Ms. Levine was forbidden from remarrying. Thus, Hamilton’s birth was legally illegitimate.

Business failures resulted in the bankruptcy of his father. After the death of his mother, at the age of twelve, Alexander entered the counting house of Nicholas Cruger and David Beekman and served as a clerk and apprentice. By the age of fifteen, Alexander was left in charge of the business. Opportunities for regular schooling were very limited. With the aid of funds advanced by friends, Hamilton studied at a grammar school in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. In 1774, he graduated and entered King’s College (now Columbia University) in New York City and in one year obtained a bachelor’s of arts degree.

The War of Independence had begun, and at a mass meeting held in the fields in New York City on July 6, 1774, Hamilton made a sensational speech attacking British policies. Hamilton’s military aspirations flowered with a series of early accomplishments. On March 14, 1776, he was commissioned captain of a company of artillery set up by the New York Providential Congress. Hamilton’s company participated at the Battle of Long Island in August of 1776. At White Plains, in October of 1776, his battery guarded Chatterton’s Hill and protected the withdrawal of William Smallwood’s militia. On January 3, 1777, Hamilton’s military reputation won the interest of General Nathaniel Greene. General Greene introduced the young Captain to General Washington with a recommendation for advancement. Washington made Hamilton his aide-de-camp and personal secretary with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He served four years as Washington’s personal secretary and confidential aide. Longing for active military service, he resigned from Washington’s staff after a dispute with the general, but remained in the army. At the Battle of Monmouth (June 28, 1778), Hamilton again proved his bravery and leadership and also won laurels at Yorktown (Sept. – Oct. 1781), where he led the American column in a final assault in the British works.

Hamilton married Elizabeth, the daughter of General Philip Schuyler, on December 14, 1780. The Schuylers were one of the most distinguished families in New York. This connection placed Hamilton at the center of New York society. In 1782, he was admitted to legal practice in New York and became an assistant to Robert Morris who was then superintendent of finance.

Hamilton was elected a member of the Continental Congress in 1782. He at once became a leading proponent of a stronger national government than that provided for by the Articles of Confederation. As a New York delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, he advocated a national government that would have virtually abolished the states and even called for a president for life to provide energetic leadership. Hamilton left the convention at the end of June, but he approved the Constitution. He considered it preferable to the Articles of Confederation but not as strong as he wished. Hamilton used his talents to secure the adoption of the Constitution and published a letter in the Constitution’s defense. This article was published in the New York Independent Journal on Oct. 2, 1787.

Hamilton was one of three authors of The Federalist. This work remains a classic commentary on American constitutional law and the principals of government. Its inception and approximately three-quarters of the work are attributable to Hamilton (the rest belonging to John Jay and James Madison). Hamilton also helped win, against great odds, New York’s ratification convention’s vote for the Constitution.

During Washington’s presidency, Hamilton became the first secretary of the Treasury. Holding this office from September 11, 1789 to January 31, 1795, he proved, while organizing the treasury, to be a brilliant administrator. In 1790 Hamilton submitted to the Congress a report on the public credit that provided for the funding of national and foreign debts of the United States and the federal assumption of the states’ revolutionary debts. After some controversy, the proposals were adopted, as were his subsequent reports calling for the establishment of a national bank. He is chiefly responsible for establishing the credit of the United States, both at home and abroad. In foreign affairs his role was almost as influential. He persuaded Washington to adopt a policy of neutrality after the outbreak of war in Europe in 1793, and in 1794 he wrote the instructions for the diplomatic mission to London that resulted in the Anglo-American agreement known as Jay’s Treaty. Hamilton also became the esteemed leader of one of the two great political parties of the time.

After he left the Treasury, he returned to the practice of law in New York. Despite his resignation, Hamilton remained Washington’s chief advisor through a continual interchange of letters between the two men. Typical of the relationship, Hamilton wrote Washington’s Farewell Address in 1796.

Following the death of George Washington, the leadership of the Federalist Party became divided between John Adams and Hamilton. Adams had prestige from his varied and great career and from his great strength with the people. Conversely, Hamilton controlled practically all of the leaders of lesser rank and the greater part of the most distinguished men in the country.

Hamilton, by himself, was not a leader for the population. After Adams became President, Hamilton constantly advised the members of the cabinet and endeavored to control Adams’s policy. On the eve of the presidential election of 1800, Hamilton wrote a bitter personal attack on the President that contained confidential cabinet information. Although this pamphlet was intended for private circulation, the document was secured and published by Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s political and legal rival. Based on his opinion of Burr, Hamilton deemed it his patriotic duty to thwart Burr’s ambitions. Burr forced a quarrel and subsequently challenged Hamilton to a duel. The duel was fought at Weehawken, across from New York City, on the New Jersey shore of the Hudson River. On July 12, 1804, at the age of forty-nine, Hamilton was shot, fell mortally wounded, and died the following day. It is unanimously reported that Hamilton himself did not intend to fire, his pistol going off involuntarily as he fell. Hamilton was apparently opposed to dueling following the fatal shooting of his son Philip in a duel in 1801. Further, Hamilton told the minister who attended him as he lay dying, “I have no ill-will against Colonel Burr. I met him with a fixed resolution to do him no harm. I forgive all that happened.” His death was very generally deplored as a national calamity.

Apart from his contributions to The Federalist and his reorganization of the United States Financial system in the 1790’s, Hamilton is best remembered for his consistent emphasis on the need for a strong central government. His advocacy of the doctrine of “implied powers” to advance a broad interpretation of the Constitution has been invoked frequently to justify the extension of federal authority and has greatly influenced a number of Supreme Court decisions.

 

 

Control Number NWL-233-PETITION-PENRV-14AF91-2
Media Textual records
Descr. Level Item
Record Group 233
Series PETITION
Subseries PENRV
File Unit 14AF91
Item 2
Title Alexander Hamilton's "Statement of My Property and Debts, with Remarks"
Dates 07/01/1804
Sample Record(s) Thumbnails of online copies (with links to larger access files)
Creating Org. Congress. House of Representatives. Committee on Pensions and Revolutionary Claims.
Record Type/Genre Statements
Contributors writer, Hamilton, Alexander
See Also File Unit Description
Access Unrestricted.
Use Restrictions None.
Items 1 item(s)
Contact Center for Legislative Archives (NWL), National Archives Building, 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408 PHONE: 202-501-5350 FAX: 202-219-2176

Start your search on Alexander Hamilton.


America's Four United Republics Exhibit - Click Here


Unauthorized Site: This site and its contents are not affiliated, connected, associated with or authorized by the individual, family, friends, or trademarked entities utilizing any part or the subject's entire name. Any official or affiliated sites that are related to this subject will be hyper linked below upon submission and Evisum, Inc. review.

Research Links

  • National Archives Constitution
  • The U.S. Constitution Online
  • The US Constitution Past, Present, and Future

    Copyright© 2000 by Evisum Inc.TM. All rights reserved.
    Evisum Inc.TM Privacy Policy

  • Search:

    About Us

     

     

    Image Use

    Please join us in our mission to incorporate America's Four United Republics discovery-based curriculum into the classroom of every primary and secondary school in the United States of America by July 2, 2026, the nation’s 250th birthday. , the United States of America: We The People Click Here

     

    Childhood & Family

    Click Here

     

    Historic Documents

    Articles of Association

    Articles of Confederation 1775

    Articles of Confederation

    Article the First

    Coin Act

    Declaration of Independence

    Declaration of Independence

    Emancipation Proclamation

    Gettysburg Address

    Monroe Doctrine

    Northwest Ordinance

    No Taxation Without Representation

    Thanksgiving Proclamations

    Mayflower Compact

    Treaty of Paris 1763

    Treaty of Paris 1783

    Treaty of Versailles

    United Nations Charter

    United States In Congress Assembled

    US Bill of Rights

    United States Constitution

    US Continental Congress

    US Constitution of 1777

    US Constitution of 1787

    Virginia Declaration of Rights

     

    Historic Events

    Battle of New Orleans

    Battle of Yorktown

    Cabinet Room

    Civil Rights Movement

    Federalist Papers

    Fort Duquesne

    Fort Necessity

    Fort Pitt

    French and Indian War

    Jumonville Glen

    Manhattan Project

    Stamp Act Congress

    Underground Railroad

    US Hospitality

    US Presidency

    Vietnam War

    War of 1812

    West Virginia Statehood

    Woman Suffrage

    World War I

    World War II

     

    Is it Real?



    Declaration of
    Independence

    Digital Authentication
    Click Here

     

    America’s Four Republics
    The More or Less United States

     
    Continental Congress
    U.C. Presidents

    Peyton Randolph

    Henry Middleton

    Peyton Randolph

    John Hancock

      

    Continental Congress
    U.S. Presidents

    John Hancock

    Henry Laurens

    John Jay

    Samuel Huntington

      

    Constitution of 1777
    U.S. Presidents

    Samuel Huntington

    Samuel Johnston
    Elected but declined the office

    Thomas McKean

    John Hanson

    Elias Boudinot

    Thomas Mifflin

    Richard Henry Lee

    John Hancock
    [
    Chairman David Ramsay]

    Nathaniel Gorham

    Arthur St. Clair

    Cyrus Griffin

      

    Constitution of 1787
    U.S. Presidents

    George Washington 

    John Adams
    Federalist Party


    Thomas Jefferson
    Republican* Party

    James Madison 
    Republican* Party

    James Monroe
    Republican* Party

    John Quincy Adams
    Republican* Party
    Whig Party

    Andrew Jackson
    Republican* Party
    Democratic Party


    Martin Van Buren
    Democratic Party

    William H. Harrison
    Whig Party

    John Tyler
    Whig Party

    James K. Polk
    Democratic Party

    David Atchison**
    Democratic Party

    Zachary Taylor
    Whig Party

    Millard Fillmore
    Whig Party

    Franklin Pierce
    Democratic Party

    James Buchanan
    Democratic Party


    Abraham Lincoln 
    Republican Party

    Jefferson Davis***
    Democratic Party

    Andrew Johnson
    Republican Party

    Ulysses S. Grant 
    Republican Party

    Rutherford B. Hayes
    Republican Party

    James A. Garfield
    Republican Party

    Chester Arthur 
    Republican Party

    Grover Cleveland
    Democratic Party

    Benjamin Harrison
    Republican Party

    Grover Cleveland 
    Democratic Party

    William McKinley
    Republican Party

    Theodore Roosevelt
    Republican Party

    William H. Taft 
    Republican Party

    Woodrow Wilson
    Democratic Party

    Warren G. Harding 
    Republican Party

    Calvin Coolidge
    Republican Party

    Herbert C. Hoover
    Republican Party

    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Democratic Party

    Harry S. Truman
    Democratic Party

    Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Republican Party

    John F. Kennedy
    Democratic Party

    Lyndon B. Johnson 
    Democratic Party 

    Richard M. Nixon 
    Republican Party

    Gerald R. Ford 
    Republican Party

    James Earl Carter, Jr. 
    Democratic Party

    Ronald Wilson Reagan 
    Republican Party

    George H. W. Bush
    Republican Party 

    William Jefferson Clinton
    Democratic Party

    George W. Bush 
    Republican Party

    Barack H. Obama
    Democratic Party

    Please Visit

    Forgotten Founders
    Norwich, CT

    Annapolis Continental
    Congress Society


    U.S. Presidency
    & Hospitality

    © Stan Klos

     

     

     

     


    Virtual Museum of Art | Virtual Museum of History | Virtual Public Library | Virtual Science Center | Virtual Museum of Natural History | Virtual War Museum