- NAME: Alexander Hamilton
- OCCUPATION: Economist, Lawyer, Military Leader, Political Scientist, Journalist, Government Official
- BIRTH DATE: c. January 11, 1755
- DEATH DATE: July 12, 1804
- EDUCATION: King's College, Columbia University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Nevis, British West Indies (Caribbean Islands)
- PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
- Full Name: Alexander Hamilton
Best Known For
Alexander Hamilton, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and major author of the Federalist papers, was the United States' first secretary of the treasury.
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Alexander Hamilton was born circa January 11, 1755 or 1757 (the exact date is unknown), on the island of Nevis, British West Indies. In 1777, Hamilton became General George Washington's assistant. In 1788, he convinced New Yorkers to agree to ratify the U.S Constitution. He then served as the nation's first secretary of the treasury, from 1789 to 1795. On July 12, 1804, in New York City,
"I never expect to see a perfect work from imperfect man."
Hamilton died of a gunshot wound that he sustained during a duel with Aaron Burr.
Founding Father Alexander Hamilton was born circa January 11, 1755 or 1757 (the exact date is unknown), on the island of Nevis in the British West Indies. Hamilton was the product of an adulterous affair. His mother, a Frenchwoman named Rachel Fawcett Lavine, was married to someone else when Hamilton was born.
When Rachel's husband threw her out of the house, she moved in with Hamilton's father, a Scottish trader named James. But the living arrangement did not last long. James abandoned the family when Hamilton was still a baby, leaving him and his mother impoverished. John Adams would one day come to illustrate Hamilton's rise from humble beginnings by describing the young Hamilton as "the bastard brat of a Scottish peddler."
Determined to improve his lot in life, Hamilton took his first job at the tender age of 11. Working as a clerk in an accounting firm in St. Croix, the bright and ambitious young lad quickly impressed his employer. Hamilton's boss, businessman Nicolas Cruger, pooled his resources with a minister named Hugh Knox to send Hamilton to America for an education.
In 1773, when he was around 16 years old, Hamilton arrived in New York, where he enrolled in King's College (later renamed Columbia University). Despite his gratitude toward his generous patrons, with the American colonies on the brink of a revolution, Hamilton was drawn more to political involvement than he was to academics. In 1774, he wrote his first political article defending the Patriots' cause against the interests of pro-British Loyalists.
A quick learner, Hamilton deemed himself quite capable of becoming a self-made man. Intent on learning through hands-on experience, he left King's College before graduating to join forces with the Patriots in their protest of British-imposed taxes and commercial business regulations.
In 1775, when the Revolutionary War began, Hamilton became part of the New York Provincial Artillery Company and fought in the battles of Long Island, White Plains and Trenton.
In 1777, after Hamilton fought in that year's battles of Brandywine Creek, Germantown and Princeton, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the Continental Army. During his early service in the fight for American independence, he caught the attention of General George Washington, who made Hamilton his assistant and trusted adviser. For the next five years, Hamilton put his writing skills to work. He wrote Washington's critical letters, and composed numerous reports on the strategic reform and restructuring of the Continental Army.
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