Alexander Hamilton

Article

July 5, 2022

Alexander Hamilton (Charlestown, January 11, 1755 - New York, July 12, 1804) was an American politician, general and economist. Considered one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, he was the first Secretary of the Treasury of the new American nation. Portrayed on the ten-dollar bill, he is one of two characters, along with Benjamin Franklin, to have the privilege of appearing on a common note, despite not having been President of the United States.

Biography

He was born in Charlestown, capital of the island of Nevis in the Caribbean, then part of the British West Indies. His father was James A. Hamilton, of an important Scottish family and his mother Rachel Faucett Lavien, partly of Franco-Huguenot descent. Her mother, already married and separated, could not remarry James Hamilton. The exact year of his birth is not known; Alexander claimed as an adult that he was born in 1757, but many historians opt for 1755 due to various evidence dating back to the period of his life he was in the Caribbean. Young Hamilton is described as thin, with thin shoulders and a distinctly Scottish appearance, with reddish-brown hair and bright purple-blue eyes. Due to his birth out of wedlock, he was unable to study in Charlestown religious institutes, but was home schooled. His mother's French ancestry may also have contributed to Hamilton's education, as he spoke French. In 1772 Hamilton was sent to North America to study at the university. He enrolled in King's college in New York. While studying, he supported the cause of the American Revolution, and like other students he volunteered in 1775. A friend and confidant of George Washington, he became one of his six aides-de-camp in 1777 and commanded three battalions at the siege of Yorktown in 1781. In 1780 he married Elizabeth Schuyler, daughter of General Philip Schuyler, with whom he had eight children Philip (1782–1801), who died in a duel, just as his father would three years later. Angelica (1784–1857) Alexander Jr. (1786–1875) James Alexander (1788–1878) John Church (1792–1882) William Stephen (1797–1850) Eliza (1799–1859) Philip, also called Little Phil (1802–1884), named after his older brother who died a year before his birth.

Early career

One of Hamilton's earliest jobs after earning his law degree in 1782 was as an advisor to Robert Morris, head of the "Bank of North America". This experience marked him in a profound way. He was later secretary to President Washington and from 1783 the representative of the State of New York to the United States Congress. Having become a prominent exponent of the federalists, under the pseudonym of Publius he published together with John Jay and James Madison a series of articles in defense of the Philadelphia constitutional project. These articles first appeared in New York newspapers and then from 1788 were collected under the title The Federalist. He participated significantly in the formulation of the United States Constitution in 1787 and subsequently worked to ensure that it was approved by the individual states.

Political life

Becoming Prime Minister of the Treasury in 1789, he fought with the support of President Washington for the strengthening of federal power, for the establishment of a national bank and for the creation of a single monetary system. The National Bank would have flanked a system of private banks which were granted the right to expand credit with an amount of loans above the stock of gold and silver contained in the deposits. This is recognized as having the social utility of being a means for economic growth, while denying that the circulating money supply represented the wealth of the nation. Hamilton also believed that the state needed one