- 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
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Alexander Hamilton, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and major author of the Federalist papers, was the United States' first secretary of the treasury.
Paul Revere - Mini Biography (3:13)
Alexander Hamilton was the first United States Secretary of the Treasury. After using his influence to disparage Vice President Aaron Burr's run for Governor of New York, Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel. Hamilton was short and died.
James Madison drafted the U.S. Constitution and sponsored the Bill of Rights, earning him the nickname "Father of the Constitution."
John Quincy Adams was the eldest son of President John Adams and the sixth president of the United States. Before his presidency, Adams was one of America's greatest diplomat; after, he fought against the expansion of slavery.
Paul Revere took part in the Boston Tea Party and was principal rider for Boston's Committee of Safety. He devised a system of lanterns to warn the minutemen of a British invasion, setting up his famous ride on April 18, 1775.
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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,
"A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one."
"And it is long since I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value."
"A national debt, if it is not excessive, will be to us a national blessing."
"The passions of a revolution are apt to hurry even good men into excesses."
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
"Men are rather reasoning than reasonable animals, for the most part governed by the impulse of passion."
"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments."
"Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice, without constraint."
"When the sword is once drawn, the passions of men observe no bounds of moderation."
"In politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution."
"Civil liberty is only natural liberty, modified and secured by the sanctions of civil society."
"Constitutions should consist only of general provisions: the reason is, that they must necessarily be permanent, and that they cannot calculate for the possible change of things."
"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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