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Alexander Hamilton

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Alexander Hamilton

In office
September 11, 1789 – January 31, 1795
President George Washington
Succeeded by Oliver Wolcott, Jr.

In office

Delegate from New York to the Constitutional Convention
In office

In office

Delegate from New York to the Annapolis Convention
In office

Delegate from New York to the Congress of the Confederation
In office

Born January 11, 1755(1755-01-11) or 1757
Nevis, Caribbean (now part of Saint Kitts and Nevis)
Died July 12, 1804 (age 47 or 49)
New York City, New York
Political party Federalist
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton
Children Philip
James Alexander
John Church
William Stephen
Eliza Hamilton Holly
Philip ("Little Phil")
Profession military officer, lawyer, financier, political theorist
Religion Episcopal at his death
Military service
Allegiance Province of New York (began 1775)
State of New York (began 1776)
United States of America (began 1777)
Service/branch New York Provincial Company of Artillery
Continental Army
United States Army
Years of service 1775–1776 (Militia)
Rank Beginning:
US-OF1A.svg Lieutenant (Artillery)
US-O8 insignia.svg Major General (Senior Officer of the United States Army)
Battles/wars American Revolutionary War
Battle of Harlem Heights
Battle of White Plains
Battle of Trenton
Battle of Princeton
Battle of Monmouth
Battle of Yorktown

Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757[1]  – July 12, 1804) was the first United States Secretary of the Treasury, a Founding Father, economist, and political philosopher.

Aide-de-camp to General George Washington during the American Revolutionary War, he called for a new Constitution and has been lauded as one who "more than any other designed the Government of the United States":[2] he was one of America's first constitutional lawyers, and wrote most Federalist Papers, a principal source for Constitutional interpretation. Hamilton was the primary author of the economic policies of the George Washington Administration, especially the funding of the state debts by the Federal government, the establishment of a national bank, a system of tariffs, and friendly trade relations with Britain. He became the leader of the Federalist Party, created largely in support of his views, and was opposed by Democratic-Republican Party, led by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.

A believer in a militarily strong national government, Hamilton helped defeat the tax revolt of western farmers in 1794, and built a new army to oppose France in the Quasi War of 1798, but Federalist President John Adams found a diplomatic solution that avoided war. Hamilton opposed Adams, as well as the opposition candidates Jefferson and Aaron Burr, in the election of 1800; he supported Jefferson over Burr when the House of Representatives had to choose in an electoral tie between them.

Born and raised in the Caribbean, Hamilton attended King's College (now Columbia University) in New York. At the start of the American Revolutionary War, he organized an artillery company and was chosen as its captain. Hamilton became the senior[3] aide-de-camp and confidant to General George Washington, the American commander-in-chief. After the war, Hamilton was elected to the Continental Congress from New York, but he resigned to practice law and found the Bank of New York. He served in the New York Legislature, and he was the only New Yorker who signed the U.S. Constitution. He wrote about half the Federalist Papers, which helped to secure ratification of the Constitution by New York and remain the single most important interpretation of the Constitution.[4] In the new government under President Washington he became Secretary of the Treasury.[5] An admirer of British political systems, Hamilton was a nationalist who emphasized strong central government and successfully argued that the implied powers of the Constitution could be used to fund the national debt, assume state debts, and create the government-owned Bank of the United States. These programs were funded primarily by a tariff on imports and a highly controversial excise tax on whiskey.

Embarrassed by an affair with Maria Reynolds that became public, Hamilton resigned from office in 1795 and returned to the practice of law in New York. He kept his hand in politics and was a powerful influence on the cabinet of President Adams (1797–1801). In 1798, Hamilton called for mobilization against France after the XYZ Affair. The Quasi-War was never officially declared, but it was hard-fought at sea. To prepare for a war on land Hamilton secured control of a new army, which he trained, but no war took place when Adams found a peaceful solution.[6]

Hamilton's opposition to John Adams helped cause Adams' defeat in the 1800 elections. When Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied in the electoral college, Hamilton helped defeat his bitter personal enemy Burr and elect Jefferson as president. He had opposed, in that election, Burr, Jefferson, and Adams, the candidate of his own party; he was left with few political friends. In 1804, as the next presidential election approached, he insulted Burr, who challenged him to a duel; Hamilton declined to fire, and was mortally wounded.


Childhood in the Caribbean

Alexander Hamilton was born in Charlestown, the capital of the island of Nevis in the British West Indies. He was born out of wedlock to Rachel Faucett Lavien, of partial French Huguenot descent, and James A. Hamilton, the fourth son of Scottish laird Alexander Hamilton of Grange, Ayrshire.[7] There is some question about whether the year of Hamilton's birth was 1757 or 1755. Most historical evidence after Hamilton's arrival in New England suggests a year of 1757, and as such, many historians had accepted it. However, evidence from Hamilton's life in the Caribbean, first published in Danish in 1930, has caused more recent historians to opt for a birth year of 1755.[8] Hamilton listed his birth year as 1757 when he first arrived in the Thirteen Colonies; he later tended to give his age in round figures, but celebrated his birthday on January 11. However, probate papers from St. Croix in 1768, after the death of Hamilton's mother, list him as 13 years old,[9] a date that would support a birth year of 1755. There are a number of possible explanations: If 1755 is correct, Hamilton may have been trying to appear younger than his college classmates or to avoid standing out as older; on the other hand, if 1757 is correct, the probate document indicating a birth year of 1755 may have been in error, or Hamilton may have been passing as 13 to be more employable after his mother's death.[10]

Hamilton in his youth

Hamilton's mother had been separated previously from Johann Michael Lavien of St. Croix, a much older German Jewish merchant-planter.[7][11] To escape an unhappy marriage, Rachel left her husband and first son for St. Kitts in 1750, where she met James.[12] They moved together to Rachel's birthplace of Nevis, where she had inherited property from her father.[8] Their two sons were James, Jr., and Alexander. Because Hamilton's parents were not legally married, the Church of England denied him membership or education in the church school. Instead, he received "individual tutoring"[8] and classes in a private Jewish school.[13] Hamilton supplemented his education with a family library of thirty-four books,[14] including Greek and Roman classics.

The house in Nevis, West Indies where Alexander Hamilton was born

James then abandoned Rachel and their two sons, allegedly to "spar[e] [Rachel] a charge of bigamy . . . [after finding out that her first husband] intend[ed] to divorce her under Danish law on grounds of adultery and desertion."[7] Rachel supported the family by keeping a small store in Christiansted. However, she contracted a severe fever and died on February 19, 1768, 1:02 am, leaving Hamilton effectively orphaned. This may have had severe emotional consequences for him, even by the standards of an eighteenth-century childhood.[15] In probate court, Rachel's "first husband seized her estate"[7] and obtained the few valuables Rachel had owned, including some household silver. Many items were auctioned off, but a friend purchased the family books and returned them to the studious young Hamilton.[16]

Hamilton then became a clerk at a local import-export firm, Beekman and Cruger, which traded with New England; he was left in charge of the firm for five months in 1771, while the owner was at sea. He and his older brother James were adopted briefly by a cousin, Peter Lytton, but when Lytton committed suicide, Hamilton was separated from his brother.[17] James apprenticed with a local carpenter, while Hamilton was adopted by Nevis merchant Thomas Stevens. Some evidence suggests that Stevens may have been Hamilton's biological father: his son, Edward Stevens, became a close friend of Hamilton. The two boys looked much alike, were both fluent in French, and shared similar interests.[18]

Hamilton continued clerking, remained an avid reader, developed an interest in writing, and began to long for a life off his small island. Hamilton wrote an essay published in the Royal Danish-American Gazette, with a detailed account of a hurricane that had devastated Christiansted on August 30, 1772. The essay impressed community leaders, who collected a fund to educate the young Hamilton in the much larger American colonies.[19]


Statue of Hamilton outside Hamilton Hall overlooking Hamilton Lawn at his alma mater, Columbia University in New York City

In the autumn of 1772, Hamilton arrived by way of Boston, Massachusetts at Elizabethtown Academy, a grammar school in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. In 1773 he studied with Francis Barber at Elizabethtown, in preparation for college work; there he came under the influence of a leading intellectual and revolutionary, William Livingston.[20] Hamilton applied to the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) with the request that he be allowed to study at a quicker pace and complete his studies in a shorter time.[21] The college's Board of Trustees refused his request.[21][7][22] Hamilton made a similar request to King's College in New York City (now Columbia University), was accepted, and entered the college in late 1773 or early 1774.[23]

Hamilton Lawn separates Hamilton Hall and John Jay Hall at Columbia University

When Church of England clergyman Samuel Seabury published a series of pamphlets promoting the Loyalist cause the following year, Hamilton struck back with his first political writings, A Full Vindication of the Measures of Congress and The Farmer Refuted. He published two additional pieces attacking the Quebec Act[24] as well as fourteen anonymous installments of "The Monitor" for Holt's New York Journal. Although Hamilton was a supporter of the Revolutionary cause at this prewar stage, he did not approve of mob reprisals against Loyalists. Hamilton on May 10, 1775, saved his college president, Loyalist Myles Cooper, from an angry mob, by speaking to the crowd long enough for Cooper to escape the danger.[25]

During the Revolutionary War

Alexander Hamilton in the Uniform of the New York Artillery by Alonzo Chappel (1828–1887)

Early military career

In 1775, after the first engagement of American troops with the British in Boston, Hamilton joined a New York volunteer militia company called the Hearts of Oak, which included other King's College students. He drilled with the company before classes, in the graveyard of nearby St. Paul's Chapel. Hamilton studied military history and tactics on his own and achieved the rank of lieutenant. Under fire from HMS Asia, he led a successful raid for British cannon in the Battery, the capture of which resulted in the Hearts of Oak becoming an artillery company thereafter. Through his connections with influential New York patriots like Alexander McDougall and John Jay, he raised the New York Provincial Company of Artillery of sixty men in 1776, and was elected captain. It took part in the campaign of 1776 around New York City, particularly at the Battle of White Plains; at the Battle of Trenton, it was stationed at the high point of town, the meeting of the present Warren and Broad Streets, to keep the Hessians pinned in the Trenton Barracks.[26]

Washington's staff

Hamilton was invited to become an aide to Nathanael Greene and to Henry Knox; however, he declined these invitations in the hopes of obtaining a place on Washington's staff. Hamilton did receive such an invitation and joined as Washington's aide on March 1, 1777 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.[27] Hamilton served for four years, in effect, as Washington's chief of staff. He handled letters to Congress, state governors, and the most powerful generals in the Continental Army; he drafted many of Washington's orders and letters at the latter's direction; he eventually issued orders from Washington over Hamilton's own signature.[3] Hamilton was involved in a wide variety of high-level duties, including intelligence, diplomacy, and negotiation with senior army officers as Washington's emissary.[28] The important duties with which he was entrusted attest to Washington's deep confidence in his abilities and character, then and afterward. At the points in their relationship where there was little personal attachment, there was still always a reciprocal confidence and respect.

During the war, Hamilton became close friends with several fellow officers. His letters to the Marquis de Lafayette[29] and to John Laurens, employing the sentimental literary conventions of the late eighteenth century and alluding to Greek history and mythology,[30] have been read as revealing a homosocial or perhaps homosexual relationship, but few historians agree.[31]

Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown by John Trumbull, oil on canvas, 1820

Hamilton married Elizabeth Schuyler on December 14, 1780. She was the daughter of Philip Schuyler, a General and wealthy businessman from one of the most prominent families in the state of New York. The marriage took place at Schuyler Mansion in Albany, New York.

Hamilton was also extremely close to Eliza's older sister, Angelica Schuyler Church, who eloped with John Barker Church, an Englishman who made a fortune in the American colonies during the Revolution, and returned with him to London after the war.

While on Washington's staff, Hamilton long sought command in active combat. As the war drew ever nearer to a close, he knew that opportunities for military glory were fading. In February 1781, Hamilton was mildly reprimanded by Washington, and used this as an excuse for resigning his staff position. He immediately began to ask Washington and others incessantly for a field command. This continued until early July 1781, when Hamilton submitted a letter to Washington with his commission enclosed, "thus tacitly threatening to resign if he didn't get his desired command".[32]

On July 31, 1781, Washington relented, and Hamilton was given command of a New York light infantry battalion. In the planning for the assault on Yorktown, Hamilton was given command of three battalions, which were to fight in conjunction with French troops in taking Redoubts #9 and #10 of the British fortifications at Yorktown. Hamilton and his battalions fought bravely and took Redoubt #10 with bayonets, as planned. The French also fought bravely, took heavy casualties, and successfully took Redoubt #9. This action forced the British surrender at Yorktown of an entire army, effectively ending major British military operations in North America.[33]

Hamilton enters Congress

After the Battle of Yorktown, Hamilton resigned his commission. He was elected in July 1782 to the Congress of the Confederation as a New York representative for the term beginning in November 1782.[34] Hamilton supported Congressmen such as superintendent of finance Robert Morris, his assistant Gouverneur Morris (no relation), along with James Wilson, and James Madison to provide the Congress with the independent source of revenue it lacked under the Articles of Confederation.

While on Washington's staff, Hamilton had become frustrated with the decentralized nature of the wartime Continental Congress, particularly its dependence upon the states for financial support. Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress had no power to collect taxes or to demand money from the states. This lack of a stable source of funding had made it difficult for the Continental Army both to obtain its necessary provisions, and to pay its soldiers. During the war, and for some time after, Congress obtained what funds it could from subsidies from the King of France, from aid requested from the several states (which were often unable or unwilling to contribute), and from European loans.[35]

An amendment to the Articles had been proposed by Thomas Burke, in February 1781, to give Congress the power to collect a 5% impost or duty on all imports, but this required ratification by all states; securing its passage as law proved impossible after it was rejected by Rhode Island in November 1782. Madison joined Hamilton in convincing Congress to send a delegation to persuade Rhode Island to change its mind. Their report recommending the delegation argued the federal government needed not just some level of financial autonomy, but also the ability to make laws that supersede those of the individual states. Hamilton transmitted a letter arguing that Congress already had the power to tax, since it had the power to fix the sums due from the several states; but Virginia's rescission of its own ratification ended the Rhode Island negotiations.[36]

Congress and the Army

While Hamilton was in Congress, discontented soldiers began to pose a danger to the young United States. Most of the army was then posted at Newburgh, New York. The army was paying for much of their own supplies, and they had not been paid in eight months. Furthermore, the Continental officers had been promised, in May 1778, after Valley Forge, a pension of half their pay when they were discharged.[37] It was at this time that a group of officers organized under the leadership of General Henry Knox sent a delegation to lobby Congress, led by Capt. Alexander MacDougall (see above). The officers had three demands: the Army's pay, their own pensions, and commutation of those pensions into a lump-sum payment.

Several Congressmen, including Hamilton and the Morrises, attempted to use this Newburgh conspiracy as leverage to secure independent support for funding for the federal government in Congress and from the states. They encouraged MacDougall to continue his aggressive approach, threatening unknown consequences if their demands were not met, and defeated proposals that would have resolved the crisis without establishing general federal taxation: that the states assume the debt to the army, or that an impost be established dedicated to the sole purpose of paying that debt.[38] Hamilton suggested using the Army's claims to prevail upon the states for the proposed national funding system.[39] The Morrises and Hamilton contacted Knox to suggest he and the officers defy civil authority, at least by not disbanding if the army were not satisfied; Hamilton wrote Washington to suggest that he covertly "take direction" of the officers' efforts to secure redress, to secure continental funding but keep the army within the limits of moderation.[40] Washington wrote Hamilton back, declining to introduce the army;[41] after the crisis had ended, he warned of the dangers of using the army as leverage to gain support for the national funding plan.[42]

On March 15, Washington defused the Newburgh situation by giving a speech to the officers.[38] Congress ordered the Army officially disbanded in April 1783. In the same month, Congress passed a new measure for a twenty-five-year impost, which Hamilton voted against,[43] and that again required the consent of all the states; it also approved a commutation of the officers' pensions to five years of full pay. Rhode Island again opposed these provisions, and Hamilton's robust assertions of national prerogatives in his previous letter were widely held to be excessive.[44] The Continental Congress was never able to secure full ratification for back pay, pensions, or their own independent sources of funding.

In June 1783, a different group of disgruntled soldiers from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, sent Congress a petition demanding their back pay. When they began to march toward Philadelphia, Congress charged Hamilton and two others to intercept the mob.[45] Hamilton requested militia from Pennsylvania's Supreme Executive Council, but was turned down. Hamilton instructed Assistant Secretary of War William Jackson to intercept the men. Jackson was unsuccessful. The mob arrived in Philadelphia, and proceeded to harangue Congress for their pay. The President of Congress, John Dickinson, feared the Pennsylvania state militia was unreliable, and refused their help. Hamilton argued that Congress ought to adjourn to Princeton, New Jersey. Congress agreed, and relocated there.[46]

Frustrated with the weakness of the central government, Hamilton drafted a call to revise the Articles of Confederation while in Princeton. This resolution contained many features of the future U.S. Constitution, including a strong federal government with the ability to collect taxes and raise an army. It also included the separation of powers into the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches.[47]

Return to New York

Hamilton resigned from Congress, and in July 1783 was admitted to the New York Bar after several months of self-directed education.[48] He practiced law in New York City in partnership with Richard Harison. He specialized in defending Tories and British subjects, as in Rutgers v. Waddington, in which he defeated a claim for damages done to a brewery by the Englishmen who held it during the military occupation of New York. He pleaded that the Mayor's Court interpret state law to be consistent with the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which had ended the Revolutionary War.[49]

In 1784, he founded the Bank of New York, now the oldest ongoing banking organization in the United States. Hamilton was one of the men who restored King's College, which had been suspended since the Battle of Long Island in 1776 and severely damaged during the War, as Columbia College. His public career resumed when he attended the Annapolis Convention as a delegate in 1786. While there, he drafted its resolution for a Constitutional convention, and in doing so brought his longtime desire to have a more powerful, more financially independent federal government one step closer to reality.

Constitution and Federalist Papers

Hamilton shortly after the American Revolution

In 1787, Hamilton served as assemblyman from New York County in the New York State Legislature and was the first delegate chosen to the Constitutional Convention. In spite of the fact that Hamilton had been a leader in calling for a new Constitutional Convention, his direct influence at the Convention itself was quite limited. Governor George Clinton's faction in the New York legislature had chosen New York's other two delegates, John Lansing and Robert Yates, and both of them opposed Hamilton's goal of a strong national government. Thus, while the other two members of the New York delegation were present, they decided New York's vote; and when they left the convention in protest, Hamilton remained with no vote (two representatives were required for any state to cast a vote).

Early in the Convention he made a speech proposing a President-for-Life; it had no effect upon the deliberations of the convention. He proposed to have an elected President and elected Senators who would serve for life contingent upon "good behavior", and subject to removal for corruption or abuse; this idea contributed later to the hostile view of Hamilton as a monarchist sympathizer, held by James Madison. During the convention, Hamilton constructed a draft for the Constitution on the basis of the convention debates, but he never presented it. This draft had most of the features of the actual Constitution, including such details as the three-fifths clause. In this draft, the Senate was to be elected in proportion to the population, being two-fifths the size of the House, and the President and Senators were to be elected through complex multistage elections, in which chosen electors would elect smaller bodies of electors; they would hold office for life, but were removable for misconduct. The President would have an absolute veto. The Supreme Court was to have immediate jurisdiction over all law suits involving the United States, and State governors were to be appointed by the federal government.[50]

At the end of the Convention, Hamilton was still not content with the final form of the Constitution, but signed it anyway as a vast improvement over the Articles of Confederation, and urged his fellow delegates to do so also.[51] Since the other two members of the New York delegation, Lansing and Yates, had already withdrawn, Hamilton was the only New York signer to the United States Constitution. He then took a highly active part in the successful campaign for the document's ratification in New York in 1788, which was a crucial step in its national ratification. Hamilton recruited John Jay and James Madison to write a defense of the proposed Constitution, now known as the Federalist Papers, and made the largest contribution to that effort, writing 51 of 85 essays published (Madison wrote 29, Jay only five). Hamilton's essays and arguments were influential in New York state, and elsewhere, during the debates over ratification. The Federalist Papers are more often cited than any other primary source by jurists, lawyers, historians, and political scientists as the major contemporary interpretation of the Constitution.[52]

In 1788, Hamilton served yet another term in what proved to be the last time the Continental Congress met under the Articles of Confederation. When Phillip Schuyler's term ended in 1791, they began by electing, in his place, the attorney-general of New York, one Aaron Burr. Hamilton blamed Burr for this result, and ill characterizations of Burr appear in his correspondence thereafter, although they did work together from time to time on various projects, including Hamilton's army of 1798 and the Manhattan Water Company.[53]

Secretary of the Treasury

President George Washington appointed Hamilton as the first Secretary of the Treasury on September 11, 1789. He left office on the last day of January 1795, and much of the structure of the Government of the United States was worked out in those five years, beginning with the structure and function of the Cabinet itself. Forrest McDonald argues that Hamilton saw his office, like the British First Lord of the Treasury, as that of a Prime Minister; Hamilton would oversee his colleagues under the elective reign of George Washington. Washington did request Hamilton's advice and assistance on matters outside the purview of the Treasury Department.

Within two years, Hamilton submitted five reports:

Report on Public Credit

In the Report on Public Credit, the Secretary made a controversial proposal that would have the federal government assume state debts incurred during the Revolution.[54] This would, in effect, give the federal government much more power by placing the country's most serious financial obligation in the hands of the federal, rather than the state governments.

The primary criticism of the plan was spearheaded by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson[54] and Representative James Madison. Some states, like Jefferson's Virginia, had paid almost half of their debts, and felt that their taxpayers should not be assessed again to bail out the less provident. They further argued that the plan passed beyond the scope of the new Constitutional government.

Madison objected to Hamilton's proposal to lower the rate of interest and postpone payments on federal debt, as not being payment in full; he also objected to the speculative profits being made. Much of the national debt had been bonds issued to Continental veterans, in place of wages the Continental Congress did not have the money to pay; as these continued to go unpaid, many of these bonds had been pawned for a small fraction of their value. Madison proposed to pay in full, but to divide payment between the original recipient and the present possessor. Others, like Samuel Livermore of New Hampshire, wished to curb speculation, and save taxation, by paying only part of the bond. The disagreements between Madison and Hamilton extended to other proposals Hamilton made to Congress, and drew in Jefferson when he returned from France. Hamilton's supporters became known as Federalists and Jefferson's as Republicans. As Madison put it:

"I deserted Colonel Hamilton, or rather Colonel H. deserted me; in a word, the divergence between us took place from his wishing to administration, or rather to administer the Government into what he thought it ought to be..."[55]

Hamilton eventually secured passage of his assumption plan by striking a deal with Jefferson and Madison. According to the terms, Hamilton was to use his influence to place the permanent national capital on the Potomac River, and Jefferson and Madison were to encourage their friends to back Hamilton's assumption plan. In the end, Hamilton's assumption, together with his proposals for funding the debt, overcame legislative opposition and narrowly passed the House on July 26, 1790.[56]

Founding the U.S. Mint

Hamilton helped found the United States Mint; the first national bank; and an elaborate system of duties, tariffs, and excises. In five years, the complete Hamiltonian program replaced the chaotic financial system of the confederation era with a modern apparatus that gave the new government financial stability, and gave investors sufficient confidence to invest in government bonds.

Revenue Cutter Service

Hamilton developed a "System of Cutters", forming the Revenue Cutter Service, (later combined with other government entities to form the United States Coast Guard). Coast Guard vessels are still referred to as "Cutters" today.

Sources of revenue

One of the principal sources of revenue Hamilton prevailed upon Congress to approve was an excise tax on whiskey. Strong opposition to the whiskey tax by cottage producers in remote, rural regions erupted into the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794; in Western Pennsylvania and western Virginia, whiskey was the basic export product and was basic to the local economy. In response to the rebellion, believing compliance with the laws was vital to the establishment of federal authority, he accompanied to the rebellion's site President Washington, General Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, and more federal troops than were ever assembled in one place during the Revolution. This overwhelming display of force intimidated the leaders of the insurrection, ending the rebellion virtually without bloodshed.[57]

Manufacturing and industry

Statue of Hamilton by Franklin Simmons, overlooking the Great Falls of the Passaic River in Paterson, New Jersey, where Hamilton envisioned using the falls to power new factories

Hamilton's next report was his "Report on Manufactures". Congress shelved the report without much debate, except for Madison's objection to Hamilton's formulation of the General Welfare clause, which Hamilton construed liberally as a legal basis for his extensive programs. It has been often quoted by protectionists since.[58]

In 1791, while still Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton worked in a private capacity to help found the Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures, a private corporation that would use the power of the Great Falls of the Passaic River to operate mills. Although the company did not succeed in its original purpose, it leased the land around the falls to other mill ventures and continued to operate for over a century and a half.

Emergence of parties

During Hamilton's tenure as Treasury Secretary, political factions began to emerge. A Congressional caucus, led by James Madison and William Branch Giles, began as an opposition group to Hamilton's financial programs, and Thomas Jefferson joined this group when he returned from France. Hamilton and his allies began to call themselves Federalists. The opposition group, now referred to as the Democratic-Republican Party, was then known by several names, including Republicans,[59] republicans,[60] Jeffersonians, and Democrats.

The Federalists assembled a nationwide coalition to garner support for the Administration, including the expansive financial programs Hamilton had made Administration policy; the Democratic-Republicans built their own national coalition to oppose these Federalist programs. Both sides gained the support of local political factions; each side developed its own partisan newspapers. Noah Webster, John Fenno, and eventually William Cobbett were prominent editors for the Federalists. Benjamin Franklin Bache and Philip Freneau edited major publications for the Democratic-Republicans. Newspapers of both parties were characterized by frequent personal attacks and information of questionable veracity.

In 1801, Hamilton established a daily newspaper the New York Evening Post under editor William Coleman. It is now known as the New York Post.[61]

French Revolutionary wars

When France and Britain went to war in early 1793, all four members of the Cabinet were consulted on what to do. They unanimously agreed to remain neutral, and both Hamilton and Jefferson were major architects in working out the specific provisions that maintained and enforced that neutrality.[62]

During Hamilton's last year in office, policy toward Britain became a major point of contention between the two parties. Hamilton and the Federalists wished for more trade with Britain, which would provide more revenue from tariffs; the Democratic-Republicans preferred an embargo to compel Britain to respect the rights of the United States and give up the forts they still held on American soil, contrary to the Treaty of Paris.[63]

To avoid war, Washington sent Chief Justice John Jay, late in 1794, to negotiate with the British; Hamilton helped to draw up his instructions. The result was Jay's Treaty, which, as the State Department says, "addressed few U.S. interests, and ultimately granted Britain additional rights".[64] The treaty was extremely unpopular, and the Democratic-Republicans opposed it for its failure to redress previous grievances, and for its failure to address British violations of American neutrality during the war.

Several European nations had formed a League of Armed Neutrality against incursions on their neutral rights; the Cabinet was also consulted on whether the United States should join it, and decided not to, but kept that decision secret. Hamilton revealed this decision in private to George Hammond, the British Minister to the United States, without telling Jay—or anyone else; it was unknown until Hammond's dispatches were read in the 1920s. This "amazing revelation" may have had limited effect on the negotiations; Jay did threaten to join the League at one point, but the British had other reasons not to view the League as a serious threat.[65]


In 1791, Hamilton became involved in an affair with Maria Reynolds that badly damaged his reputation. Reynolds's complicit husband, James, blackmailed Hamilton for money, threatening to inform Hamilton's wife. When James Reynolds was arrested for counterfeiting, he contacted several prominent members of the Democratic-Republican Party, most notably James Monroe and Aaron Burr, touting that he could expose a top level official for corruption. Presuming that James Reynolds could implicate Hamilton in an abuse of his position in Washington's Cabinet, they interviewed Hamilton with their suspicions. Hamilton insisted he was innocent of any misconduct in public office, but admitted to an affair with Maria Reynolds. Since this was not germane to Hamilton's conduct in office, Hamilton's interviewers did not publish about Reynolds. When rumors began spreading after his retirement, Hamilton published a confession of his affair, shocking his family and supporters by not merely confessing but also by inexplicably narrating the affair at an unexpected level of detail. The public revelation thus damaged Hamilton's reputation for the rest of his life.

1796 presidential election

Hamilton's resignation as Secretary of the Treasury in 1795 did not remove him from public life. With the resumption of his law practice, he remained close to Washington as an advisor and friend. Hamilton influenced Washington in the composition of his Farewell Address; Washington and members of his Cabinet often consulted with him.

In the election of 1796, under the Constitution as it stood then, each of the presidential Electors had two votes, which they were to cast for different men. The one with most votes would be President, the second, Vice President. This system was not designed for parties, which had been thought disreputable and factious. The Federalists planned to deal with this by having all their Electors vote for John Adams, the Vice President, and all but a few for Thomas Pinckney of South Carolina (who was on his way home from being Minister to Spain, where he had negotiated a popular treaty); Jefferson chose Aaron Burr as his vice presidential running mate.

Hamilton, however, disliked Adams and saw an opportunity. He urged all the Northern Electors to vote for Adams and Pinckney, lest Jefferson get in. He cooperated with Edward Rutledge to have South Carolina's Electors vote for Jefferson and Pinckney. If all this worked, Pinckney would have more votes than Adams; Pinckney would be President, and Adams would remain Vice President. It did not work. The Federalists found out about it (even the French minister to the United States knew), and Northern Federalists voted for Adams but not for Pinckney, in sufficient numbers that Pinckney came in third and Jefferson became Vice President.[66] Adams resented the intrigue, since he felt his service to the nation was much more extensive than Pinckney's.[67] Adams also resented Hamilton's influence with Washington and considered him overambitious and scandalous in his private life; Hamilton compared Adams unfavorably with Washington and thought him too emotionally unstable to be President.


During the Quasi-War of 1798–1800, and with Washington's strong endorsement, Adams reluctantly appointed Hamilton a major general of the army (essentially placing him in command since Washington could not leave Mt. Vernon). If full scale war broke out with France, Hamilton argued that the army should conquer the North American colonies of France's ally, Spain, bordering the United States.[68]

To fund this army, Hamilton had been writing incessantly to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., his successor at the Treasury; William Loughton Smith, of the House Ways and Means Committee; and Senator Theodore Sedgwick of Massachusetts. He directed them to pass a direct tax to fund the war. Smith resigned in July 1797, as Hamilton scolded him for slowness, and told Wolcott to tax houses instead of land.[69]

The eventual program included a Stamp Act like that of the British before the Revolution and other taxes on land, houses, and slaves, calculated at different rates in different states, and requiring difficult and intricate assessment of houses. This provoked resistance in southeastern Pennsylvania, led primarily by men who had marched with Washington against the Whiskey Rebellion, such as John Fries.[70]

Hamilton aided in all areas of the Army's development, and officially served as the Senior Officer of the United States Army as a Major General from December 14, 1799 to June 15, 1800. The army was to guard against invasion from France. Hamilton also suggested that its strategy involve marching into the possessions of Spain, then allied with France, and potentially even taking Louisiana and Mexico. His correspondence further suggests that when he returned in military glory, he dreamed of setting up a properly energetic government, without any Jeffersonians. Adams, however, derailed all plans for war by opening negotiations with France.[71] Adams had also held it right to retain Washington's cabinet, except for cause; he found, in 1800 (after Washington's death), that they were obeying Hamilton rather than himself, and fired several of them.[72]

1800 presidential election

Statue of Hamilton in the United States Capitol rotunda

In the 1800 election, Hamilton worked to defeat not only the rival Democratic-Republican candidates, but also his party's own nominee, John Adams. In New York, which Burr had won for Jefferson in May, Hamilton proposed a rerun of the election under different rules, with carefully drawn districts, each choosing an elector,[73] so that the Federalists would split the electoral vote of New York. John Jay, a Federalist, who had given up the Supreme Court to be Governor of New York, wrote on the back of the letter the words, "Proposing a measure for party purposes which it would not become me to adopt," and declined to reply.[74]

John Adams was running this time with Pinckney's elder brother Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. On the other hand, Hamilton toured New England, again urging Northern Electors to hold firm for this Pinckney, in the renewed hope to make Pinckney President; and he again intrigued in South Carolina. This time, the important reaction was from the Jeffersonian Electors, all of whom voted both for Jefferson and Burr to ensure that no such deal would result in electing a Federalist. (Burr had received only one vote from Virginia in 1796.)

In September, Hamilton wrote a pamphlet called Letter from Alexander Hamilton, Concerning the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq. President of the United States that was highly critical of Adams, though it closed with a tepid endorsement. He mailed this to two hundred leading Federalists; when a copy fell into Democratic-Republican hands, they printed it. This hurt Adams's 1800 reelection campaign and split the Federalist Party, virtually assuring the victory of the Democratic-Republican Party, led by Jefferson, in the election of 1800; it destroyed Hamilton's position among the Federalists.[75]

On the Federalist side, Governor Arthur Fenner of Rhode Island denounced these "jockeying tricks" to make Pinckney President, and one Rhode Island Elector voted for Adams and Jay. Jefferson and Burr tied for first and second; and Pinckney came in fourth.[76]

Jefferson had beaten Adams, but both he and his running mate, Aaron Burr, received 73 votes in the Electoral College. With Jefferson and Burr tied, the United States House of Representatives had to choose between the two men. (As a result of this election, the Twelfth Amendment was proposed and ratified, adopting the method under which presidential elections are held today.) Several Federalists who opposed Jefferson supported Burr, and for the first 35 ballots, Jefferson was denied a majority. Before the 36th ballot, Hamilton threw his weight behind Jefferson, supporting the arrangement reached by James A. Bayard of Delaware, in which five Federalist Representatives from Maryland and Vermont abstained from voting, allowing those states' delegations to go for Jefferson, ending the impasse and electing Jefferson President rather than Burr. Even though Hamilton did not like Jefferson and disagreed with him on many issues, he was quoted as saying, "At least Jefferson was honest." Hamilton felt that Burr was dangerous. Burr then became Vice President of the United States. When it became clear that he would not be asked to run again with Jefferson, Burr sought the New York governorship in 1804 with Federalist support, against the Jeffersonian Morgan Lewis, but was defeated by forces including Hamilton.[77]

In 1801, Hamilton announced his intention to withdraw from the Federalist party if Burr became their presidential candidate in 1804. In 1802, he began to organize "The Christian Constitutional Society", the first principle of which, even before supporting the Constitution, was "the support of the Christian religion".[78]

Burr–Hamilton duel

Hamilton fighting his fatal duel with Vice President Aaron Burr (the depiction is inaccurate: only the two "seconds" actually witnessed the duel)
Hamilton's tomb in the graveyard of Trinity Church at Wall Street and Broadway

Soon after the 1804 gubernatorial election in New York—in which Morgan Lewis, greatly assisted by Hamilton, defeated Aaron Burr—the Albany Register published Charles D. Cooper's letter, citing Hamilton's opposition to Burr and alleging that Hamilton expressed "a still more despicable opinion" of the Vice President at an upstate New York dinner party.[79][80] Burr, sensing an attack on his honor, and surely still stung by the political defeat, demanded an apology. Hamilton refused on the grounds that he could not recall the instance.

Following an exchange of three testy letters, and despite attempts of friends to avert a confrontation, a duel was scheduled for July 11, 1804, along the west bank of the Hudson River on a rocky ledge in Weehawken, New Jersey. This was the same dueling site where Hamilton's eldest son, Philip, was killed three years earlier.

At dawn, the duel began, and Vice President Aaron Burr shot Hamilton. Hamilton's shot broke a tree branch directly above Burr's head. A letter that he wrote the night before the duel states, "I have resolved, if our interview [duel] is conducted in the usual manner, and it pleases God to give me the opportunity, to reserve and throw away my first fire, and I have thoughts even of reserving my second fire", thus asserting an intention to miss Burr. The circumstances of the duel, and Hamilton's actual intentions, are still disputed. Neither of the seconds, Pendleton or Van Ness, could determine who fired first. Soon after, they measured and triangulated the shooting, but could not determine from which angle Hamilton fired. Burr's shot, however, hit Hamilton in the lower abdomen above the right hip. The bullet ricocheted off Hamilton's second or third false rib, fracturing it and caused considerable damage to his internal organs, particularly his liver and diaphragm before becoming lodged in his first or second lumbar vertebra. Chernow considers the circumstances to have indicated Burr to have fired second, and taken deliberate aim.

If a duelist decided not to aim at his opponent there was a well-known procedure, available to everyone involved, for doing so. According to Freeman, Hamilton apparently did not follow this procedure; if he had, Burr might have followed suit, and Hamilton's death may have been avoided. It was a matter of honor among gentlemen to follow these rules. Because of the high incidence of septicemia and death resulting from torso wounds, a high percentage of duels employed this procedure of throwing away fire.[79] Years later, when told that Hamilton may have misled him at the duel, the ever-laconic Burr replied, "Contemptible, if true."[81]

The paralyzed Hamilton, who knew himself to have been mortally wounded, was ferried back to New York.[82] After final visits from his family and friends and considerable suffering, Hamilton died on the following afternoon, July 12, 1804. Gouverneur Morris, a political ally of Hamilton's, gave the eulogy at his funeral and secretly established a fund to support his widow and children. Hamilton was buried in the Trinity Churchyard Cemetery in Manhattan.


Alexander Hamilton on the Series 2004A $10 Federal Reserve Note, based on an 1805 portrait by John Trumbull

From the start, Hamilton set a precedent as a Cabinet member by formulating federal programs, writing them in the form of reports, pushing for their approval by appearing in person to argue them on the floor of the United States Congress, and then implementing them. Hamilton and the other Cabinet members were vital to Washington, as there was no president before him (under the Constitution) to set precedents for him to follow in national situations such as seditions and foreign affairs.

Another of Hamilton's legacies was his pro-federal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Though the Constitution was drafted in a way that was somewhat ambiguous as to the balance of power between national and state governments, Hamilton consistently took the side of greater federal power at the expense of states. As Secretary of the Treasury, he established—against the intense opposition of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson—the country's first national bank. Hamilton justified the creation of this bank, and other increased federal powers, with Congress's constitutional powers to issue currency, to regulate interstate commerce, and anything else that would be "necessary and proper". Jefferson, on the other hand, took a stricter view of the Constitution: parsing the text carefully, he found no specific authorization for a national bank. This controversy was eventually settled by the Supreme Court of the United States in McCulloch v. Maryland, which in essence adopted Hamilton's view, granting the federal government broad freedom to select the best means to execute its constitutionally enumerated powers, specifically the doctrine of implied powers.

Hamilton's policies as Secretary of the Treasury have had an immeasurable effect on the United States Government and still continue to influence it. In 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States Navy was still using intership communication protocols written by Hamilton for the Revenue Cutter Service. His constitutional interpretation, specifically of the Necessary and Proper Clause, set precedents for federal authority that are still used by the courts and are considered an authority on constitutional interpretation. The prominent French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, who spent 1794 in the United States, wrote "I consider Napoleon, Fox, and Hamilton the three greatest men of our epoch, and if I were forced to decide between the three, I would give without hesitation the first place to Hamilton", adding that Hamilton had intuited the problems of European conservatives. Talleyrand, who helped demolish the First French Republic, would have preferred to have a coalition of European monarchies curtail the solitary republicanism of the United States, which would permit the peaceful recreation of the French colonial empire of Louis XIV; he believed himself and Hamilton in general agreement.[83]

Opinions of Hamilton have run the gamut: both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson viewed him as unprincipled and dangerously aristocratic. Herbert Croly, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Theodore Roosevelt directed attention to him at the end of the 19th century in the interest of an active federal government, whether or not supported by tariffs. Several nineteenth and twentieth century Republicans entered politics by writing laudatory biographies of Hamilton.[84]

By the time of the American Civil War, Hamilton's portrait began to appear on U.S. currency, including the $2, $5, $10, and $50 notes. His likeness also began to appear on U.S. Postage in 1870. His portrait has continued to appear on U.S. postage and currency, and most notably appears on the modern $10 bill. </ref> Hamilton also appears on the $500 Series EE Savings Bond. The source of the face on the $10 bill is John Trumbull's 1805 portrait of Hamilton, in the portrait collection of New York City Hall.[85] On the south side of the Treasury Building in Washington, D.C. is a statue of Hamilton.

On March 19, 1956, the United States Postal Service issued the $5 Liberty Issue postage stamp honoring Hamilton.

Hamilton's upper Manhattan home is preserved as Hamilton Grange National Memorial, with a statue of Hamilton at the entrance.[86] The historic structure, already removed from its original location many years ago, was moved in 2008 to a spot in a park on land that was once part of the Hamilton estate.[87] It is expected to reopen to the public in 2011.[88]

Many towns throughout the United States have been named after Hamilton.


Grave of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton (1757–1854) at Trinity Church

Hamilton's widow, Elizabeth (known as Eliza or Betsy), survived him for fifty years, until 1854; Hamilton had referred to her as "best of wives and best of women". An extremely religious woman, Eliza spent much of her life working to help widows and orphans. After Hamilton's death, Eliza sold the country house, the Grange, that she and Hamilton had built together from 1800 to 1802. She co-founded New York's first private orphanage, the New York Orphan Asylum Society. Despite the Reynolds affair, Alexander and Eliza were very close, and as a widow she always strove to guard his reputation and enhance his standing in American history.

Hamilton and Elizabeth had eight children, including two named Phillip. The elder Philip, Hamilton's first child (born January 22, 1782), was killed in 1801 in a duel with George I. Eacker, whom he had publicly insulted in a Manhattan theater. The second Philip, Hamilton's last child, was born on June 2, 1802, right after the first Philip was killed. Their other children were Angelica, born September 25, 1784; Alexander, born May 16, 1796; James Alexander (April 14, 1788 – September 1878);[89] John Church, born August 22, 1792; William Stephen, born August 4, 1797; and Eliza, born November 26, 1799.[citation needed]

On slavery

Rob Weston has described modern scholarly views on Hamilton's attitude to slavery as viewing Hamilton as anything from a "steadfast abolitionist" to a "hypocrite"; Weston's view is that he was deeply ambivalent.

Hamilton's first polemic against King George's ministers contains a paragraph that speaks of the evils that "slavery" to the British would bring upon the Americans. McDonald sees this as an attack on actual slavery; such rhetoric was quite common in 1776, and varied from the stand that slavery was wrong for free-born Americans of British descent to a recognition of the evils of black slavery.[90]

During the Revolutionary War, there was a series of proposals to arm slaves, free them, and compensate their masters. In 1779, Hamilton's friend John Laurens suggested such a unit be formed under his command, to relieve besieged Charleston, South Carolina; Hamilton proposed to the Continental Congress to create up to four battalions of slaves for combat duty, and free them. Congress recommended that South Carolina (and Georgia) acquire up to three thousand slaves, if they saw fit; they did not, even though the South Carolina governor and Congressional delegation had supported the plan in Philadelphia.[91]

Hamilton argued that blacks' natural faculties were as good as those of free whites, and he answered objections by citing Frederick the Great and others as praising stupidity in soldiers; he argued that if the Americans did not do this, the British would (as they had elsewhere). One of his biographers has cited this incident as evidence that Hamilton and Laurens saw the Revolution and the struggle against slavery as inseparable.[92] Hamilton later attacked his political opponents as demanding freedom for themselves and refusing to allow it to blacks.[93]

In January 1785, he attended the second meeting of the New York Manumission Society (NYMS). John Jay was president and Hamilton was secretary; he later became president.[94] He was a member of the committee of the society, which put a bill through the New York Legislature banning the export of slaves from New York;[95] three months later, Hamilton returned a fugitive slave to Henry Laurens of South Carolina.[96]

Hamilton never supported forced emigration for freed slaves; it has been argued from this that he would be comfortable with a multiracial society, and this distinguished him from his contemporaries.[97] In international affairs, he supported Toussaint L'Ouverture's black government in Haiti after the revolt that overthrew French control, as he had supported aid to the slaveowners in 1791—both measures hurt France.[98]

He may have owned household slaves himself (the evidence for this is indirect; McDonald interprets it as referring to paid employees). He supported a gag rule to keep divisive discussions of slavery out of Congress, and he supported the compromise by which the United States could not abolish the slave trade for 20 years.[99] When the Quakers of New York petitioned the First Congress (under the Constitution) for the abolition of the slave trade, and Benjamin Franklin and the Pennsylvania Abolition Society petitioned for the abolition of slavery, the NYMS did not act.[100]

On economics

Alexander Hamilton is sometimes considered the "patron saint" of the American School of economic philosophy that, according to one historian, dominated economic policy after 1861.[101] He firmly supported government intervention in favor of business, after the manner of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, as early as the fall of 1781.[102]

Hamilton opposed the British ideas of free trade, which he believed skewed benefits to colonial/imperial powers, in favor of U.S. protectionism, which he believed would help develop the fledgling nation's emerging economy. Henry C. Carey was inspired by his writings. Some say[who?] he influenced the ideas and work of German Friedrich List.

From the 1860s onwards Japan's Meiji leadership embraced Hamilton's words and work as being valid to their own modernization requirement after touring America's post-Civil War political and industrial landscape. Within the Grant Administration they found Hamiltonian advocates who opened up American financial and manufacturing operations for Japanese inspection. The Meiji leadership sent their sons to study American finance and industry in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and other centres of commerce. These same Japanese leaders found Hamilton's words and work also being utilized by Bismarck's administration in Germany, having been brought to Germany by Friedrich List in the 1840s after List had spent time in exile in Philadelphia. Later Hamilton's reports to Congress could be found in libraries not only in Japan, but Taiwan and Korea, as they came under the colonial rule of Meiji Japan. Post-1945 leaders in both countries (South Korea is a divided nation) utilized Hamilton's Report on Credit to establish their own modern financial systems [Austin. 2009].

Hamilton's religion

Hamilton, as a youth in the West Indies, was an orthodox and conventional Presbyterian of the "New School" evangelical type (as opposed to the "Old School" Calvinists); he was being taught by a student of John Witherspoon, a moderate of the New School.[103] He wrote two or three hymns, which were published in the local newspaper.[104] Robert Troup, his college roommate, noted that Hamilton was "in the habit of praying on his knees night and morning."[105]

From 1777 to 1792, Hamilton appears to have been completely indifferent, and made jokes about God at the Constitutional Convention.[106] During the French Revolution, he had an "opportunistic religiosity", using Christianity for political ends and insisting that Christianity and Jefferson's democracy were incompatible.[107] After his misfortunes of 1801, Hamilton began to assert the truth of Christianity; he also proposed a Christian Constitutional Society in 1802, to take hold of "some strong feeling of the mind" to elect "fit men" to office, and he wrote of "Christian welfare societies" for the poor. He was not a member of any denomination. After being shot Hamilton spoke of his belief in God's mercy, and of his desire to renounce dueling; Bishop Moore administered communion to Hamilton.[108]

Hamilton on U.S. postage

Few people other than U.S. presidents are ever honored more than once on U.S. Postage, and Alexander Hamilton is one of them. The first postage stamp to honor Hamilton was issued by the U.S. Post Office in 1870. The portrayals on the 1870 and 1888 issues are from the same engraved die which was modeled after a bust of Hamilton by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Ceracchi[109] The Hamilton 1870 issue was the first U.S. Postage stamp to honor a Secretary of the Treasury. The 3-cent red commemorative issue was released on the 200th anniversary of Hamilton's birth in 1957. Upon close examination of this issue one can discern the accurate engraved rendition of the Federal Hall building, located in New York City.[110]


Memorial at colleges

Alexander Hamilton served as one of the first trustees of the Hamilton-Oneida Academy. When the academy received a college charter in 1812 the school was formally renamed Hamilton College. There is a prominent statue of Alexander Hamilton in front of the school's chapel (commonly referred to as the "Al-Ham" statue) and the Burke Library has an extensive collection of Hamilton's personal documents.

Columbia University, Hamilton's alma mater, has official memorials to Hamilton. The college's main classroom building for the humanities is Hamilton Hall, and a large statue of Hamilton stands in front of it. The university press has published his complete works in a multivolume letterpress edition. Columbia University's student group for ROTC cadets and Marines officer candidates is named the Alexander Hamilton Society.

The main administration building of the Coast Guard Academy is named Hamilton Hall to commemorate Hamilton's creation of the United States Revenue Cutter Service, one of the entities that was combined to form the United States Coast Guard.


  1. ^ See below for more information
  2. ^ United States Senate. SENATE RESOLUTION 368—RECOGNIZING THE IMPORTANCE OF RELOCATING AND RENOVATING THE HAMILTON GRANGE, NEW YORK. Congressional Record 106th Congress (1999–2000), October 6, 2000, Page: S10095
  3. ^ a b Chernow, p. 90.
  4. ^ Ira C. Lupu, "The Most-Cited Federalist Papers." Constitutional Commentary (1998)
  5. ^ John Steele Gordon "10 Moments That Made American Business," American Heritage, February/March 2007.
  6. ^ Forrest McDonald, Alexander Hamilton: a biography, (1982), p. 342
  7. ^ a b c d e Practical Proceedings in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Alexander Hamilton. Forward by Williard Sterne Randall. p. ix. 2004. New York Law Journal.
  8. ^ a b c Chernow, p. 17.
  9. ^ From St. Croix records. Ramsing's 1930 Danish publication entered late among Hamilton literature.
  10. ^ Chernow; Flexner; Mitchell's Concise Life. McDonald, p. 366, n. 8, favors 1757 but acknowledges its minority status, saying that the probate clerk's alternate spelling of "Lavien" suggests unreliability.
  11. ^ Chernow, p. 10; Hamilton's spelling "Lavien" may be a Sephardic version of "Levine". The couple may have lived apart from one another under an order of legal separation, with Rachel as the guilty party, meaning remarriage was not permitted on St. Croix.
  12. ^ Chernow, p. 12.
  13. ^ Levine, Yitzchok (May 2, 2007). "The Jews Of Nevis And Alexander Hamilton". The Jewish Press. http://www.jewishpress.com/pageroute.do/21464. Retrieved October 18, 2008. 
  14. ^ Chernow, p. 24.
  15. ^ E.g., Flexner, passim.
  16. ^ Chernow, p. 25.
  17. ^ Chernow, p. 26.
  18. ^ Chernow, pp. 27–30.
  19. ^ Gordon, John Steele. "The Self Made Founder" 'American Heritage, April/May 2004.
  20. ^ Adair and Harvey.
  21. ^ a b Chernow, p. 63.
  22. ^ The earliest source for this anecdote is a posthumous collection of anecdotes about Hamilton by an acquaintance of his, one Hercules Mulligan, who wrote that John Witherspoon refused Hamilton's demand to advance from class to class at his own speed. Mulligan's collection has been found unreliable by some biographers, including Mitchell and Flexner. Elkins and McKitrick comment that Witherspoon may have refused because he had just overseen similar programs for James Madison, whose health may have suffered from overwork, and for Joseph Ross, who had died less than two years after his graduation. (See Princetonians, 1769–1775. Ross was in Madison's class of 1771, and died before October 13, 1772. Madison's ill-health depends on his recollections in old age; his letters home at the time do not mention it.) Randall suggests that Witherspoon denied Hamilton admission because of his illegitimate birth.
  23. ^ Chernow, p. 51.
  24. ^ Mitchell 1:65–73; Miller, p. 19.
  25. ^ McDonald, p. 14; Mitchell, p. I:74–75; Chernow, p. 63. Flexner, p. 78, noting that Cooper's poem about the incident did not mention Hamilton, suggests that Hamilton was in front of the building and that Cooper did not see him while escaping out the back.
  26. ^ Stryker, p. 158.
  27. ^ Lefkowitz, Arthur S., George Washington's Indispensable Men: The 32 Aides-de-Camp Who Helped Win the Revolution, Stackpole Books, 2003, pp. 15 & 108.
  28. ^ Lodge, pp. 1:15–20; Miller, pp. 23–6.
  29. ^ Flexner, Young Hamilton, p. 316.
  30. ^ Trees, Andrew S., "The Importance of Being Alexander Hamilton", Reviews in American History 2005, pp. 33(1):8–14, finding Chernow's inferences to be overreading the contemporary style.
  31. ^ Katz, Jonathan Ned, Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A., Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1976, ISBN 978-0-690-01164-7, p. 445.
  32. ^ Chernow, p. 159.
  33. ^ Mitchell, pp. I:254–60
  34. ^ Syrett, p. III:117; for a one-year term beginning the "first Monday in November next", arrived in Philadelphia between the November 18 and 25, and resigned July 1783.
  35. ^ Kohn; Brant, p. 45; Rakove, p. 324.
  36. ^ Brant, p. 100; Chernow, p. 176.
  37. ^ Martin and Lender, pp. 109, 160: at first for seven years, increased to life after Arnold's treason.
  38. ^ a b Kohn; Ellis 2004, pp. 141–4.
  39. ^ Kohn, p. 196; Congressional minutes of January 28, 1783.
  40. ^ Hamilton's letter of February 13, 1783; Syrett, pp. III:253–5. For interpretation, see Chernow, p. 177; cf. Martin and Lender, pp. 189–90.
  41. ^ Washington to Hamilton, March 4 and March 12, 1783; Kohn; Martin and Lender, pp. 189–90.
  42. ^ Chernow, pp. 177–80, citing Washington to Hamilton, April 4, 1783. Retrieved on May 20, 2008.
  43. ^ Rakove, pp. 322, 325.
  44. ^ Brant, p. 108.
  45. ^ Chernow, p. 180.
  46. ^ Chernow, p. 182.
  47. ^ Chernow, p. 183.
  48. ^ Chernow, p. 160.
  49. ^ Chernow, pp. 197–9; McDonald, pp. 64–9.
  50. ^ Mitchell, pp. I:397 ff.
  51. ^ Brant, p. 195.
  52. ^ Lupu, Ira C., "The Most-Cited Federalist Papers", Constitutional Commentary 1998, pp. 403 ff.; using Supreme Court citations, the five most cited were Federalist No. 42 (Madison, 33 decisions), Federalist No. 78 (Hamilton, 30 decisions), Federalist No. 81 (Hamilton, 27 decisions), Federalist No. 51 (Madison, 26 decisions), Federalist No. 32 (Hamilton, 25 decisions).
  53. ^ Lomask, pp. 139–40, 216–7, 220.
  54. ^ a b Stelzer, Irwin. "Who Is the Euro Zone's Alexander Hamilton?". Agenda. Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703667904576071542587390056.html?mod=WSJEUROPE_hps_MIDDLETopStories. Retrieved January 10, 2011. 
  55. ^ Farrand, Max, ed., The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, 4 vols. (New Haven, CT, 1937), 3:533–4.
  56. ^ Miller, John (2003). Alexander Hamilton and the Growth of the New Nation. New Brunswick, USA, and London, UK: Transaction Publishers. p. 251. ISBN 978-0-7658-0551-5. 
  57. ^ Mitchell, I:308-31.
  58. ^ Stephen F. Knott, Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth (2002), pp 43, 54, 56, 83, 108
  59. ^ "Madison to Jefferson". March 2, 1794. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mjm&fileName=05/mjm05.db&recNum=591. Retrieved October 14, 2006. "I see by a paper of last evening that even in New York a meeting of the people has taken place, at the instance of the Republican party, and that a committee is appointed for the like purpose."  See also Smith, p. 832.
  60. ^ "Jefferson to Washington". May 23, 1792. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mtj:@field%[email protected]%28tj060237%29%29. "The republican party, who wish to preserve the government in its present form, are fewer in number. They are fewer even when joined by the two, three, or half dozen anti-federalists...." 
  61. ^ Emery, Michael, and Emery, Edward, The Press and America, 7th ed., Simon & Schuster, 1992, p. 74.
  62. ^ Thomas, Charles Marion, American neutrality in 1793; a study in cabinet government, Columbia, 1931, a survey of the process before Jefferson resigned at the end of 1793.
  63. ^ Combs, Jerald A., "John Jay", American National Biography (ANB), February 2000. Retrieved on May 14, 2008.
  64. ^ John Jay’s Treaty, 1794–95, U.S. State Department.
  65. ^ Bemis, Samuel Flagg, Jay's Treaty (quoted); Elkins and McKitrick, pp. 411 ff.
  66. ^ Elkins and McKitrick; Age of Federalism, pp. 523–8, 859. Rutledge had his own plan, to have Pinckney win with Jefferson as Vice President.
  67. ^ Elkins and McKitrick, p. 515.
  68. ^ Morison and Commager, p 327; Mitchell II:445
  69. ^ Newman, pp. 72–3.
  70. ^ Newman, pp. 44, 76–8.
  71. ^ Mitchell II:483
  72. ^ ANB, "James McHenry"; he also fired Timothy Pickering.
  73. ^ The May 1800 election chose the New York legislature, which would in turn choose electors; Burr had won this by making it a referendum on the presidency, and by persuading better-qualified candidates to run, who declared their candidacy only after the Federalists had announced their ticket. Hamilton asked Jay and the lame-duck legislature to pass a law declaring a special federal election, in which each district would choose an elector. He also supplied a map, with as many Federalist districts as possible.
  74. ^ Monaghan, pp. 419–421.
  75. ^ Elkins and McKitrick, like other historians, speak of Hamilton's self-destructive tendencies in this connection.
  76. ^ Elkins and McKitrick, pp. 734–40.
  77. ^ ANB, "Aaron Burr".
  78. ^ Phau, Donald (January 1992). "HAMILTON'S FINAL YEARS: The Christian Constitutional Society". Executive Intelligence Review. http://american_almanac.tripod.com/hamphau.htm. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  79. ^ a b Freeman, Joanne B (April 1996 1996). "Dueling as Politics: Reinterpreting the Burr–Hamilton Duel" (subscription). The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture) 53 (2): 289–318. doi:10.2307/2947402. JSTOR 2947402. 
  80. ^ Kennedy, Burr, Hamilton, and Jefferson, p. 72.
  81. ^ Wheelan, Joseph, Jefferson's Vendetta: The Pursuit of Aaron Burr and the Judiciary, New York, Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005, ISBN 978-0-7867-1437-7, p. 90.
  82. ^ Dr. David Hosack to William Coleman, August 17, 1804
  83. ^ Adams, pp. 238–43, quoting Talleyrand from Études sur la République: Je considère Napoleon, Fox, et Hamilton comme les trois plus grands hommes de notre époque, et si je devais me prononcer entre les trois, je donnerais sans hesiter la première place à Hamilton. Il avait deviné l'Europe.
  84. ^ Flexner, Introduction; Lodge, Henry Cabot, Alexander Hamilton, written while a junior professor; Vandenburg, Arthur H., The Greatest American, 1922, while still a newspaper editor; for the effect on his career of his "advocacy of his party's views", see ANB, "Arthur H. Vandenburg".
  85. ^ The New York Times, "In New York, Taking Years Off the Old, Famous Faces Adorning City Hall", December 6, 2006.
  86. ^ "Hamilton Grange National Memorial (U.S. National Park Service)". Nps.gov. http://www.nps.gov/hagr/. Retrieved March 14, 2009. 
  87. ^ Hamilton Home Heads to a Greener Address
  88. ^ "Hamilton Grange National Memorial (U.S. National Park Service)". Nps.gov. http://www.nps.gov/hagr/. Retrieved April 14, 2010. 
  89. ^ James Alexander Hamilton obituary, The New York Times, September 26, 1878.
  90. ^ McManus; "Many national leaders including Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, John Adams, John Jay, Gouverneur Morris, and Rufus King, saw slavery as an immense problem, a curse, a blight, or a national disease"; David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage, p. 156; for a wider discussion of the rhetoric of "slavery to the British", see David Hackett Fisher: Liberty and Freedom, chapters I and II.
  91. ^ Mitchell, pp. I:175–7, I:550 n. 92, citing the Journals of the Continental Congress, March 29, 1779; Wallace, p. 455. Congress offered to compensate the masters after the war.
  92. ^ Hamilton to Jay, March 14, 1779; Chernow, p. 121; McManus, pp. 154–7.
  93. ^ McDonald, p. 34; Flexner, pp. 257–8.
  94. ^ McManus, p. 168.
  95. ^ Chernow, p. 216.
  96. ^ Littlefield, p. 126, citing Syrett, pp. 3:605–8. Mention in Wills, p. 209, that as Treasury Secretary Hamilton arranged to recapture one of Washington's slaves a decade later, is a chronological error; it was his successor, Oliver Wolcott of Connecticut.
  97. ^ Horton, p. 22.
  98. ^ Horton; Kennedy, pp. 97–8; Littlefield; Wills, pp. 35, 40.
  99. ^ Flexner, p. 39.
  100. ^ McDonald, p. 177.
  101. ^ Lind, Michael, Hamilton's Republic, 1997, pp. xiv–xv, 229–30.
  102. ^ Chernow, p. 170, citing Continentalist V, published April 1782, but written in fall 1781; Syrett, p. 3:77.
  103. ^ McDonald, Alexander Hamilton p 11; Adair and Harvey (1974)
  104. ^ Chernow, p. 38.
  105. ^ Hamilton, John Church (1834). The life of Alexander Hamilton, Volume 1. the New York Public Library: Halsted & Voorhies. p. 10. http://books.google.com/books?id=G-cEAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA10#v=onepage&q&f=false. 
  106. ^ Adair and Harvey (1974) p. 147
  107. ^ Adair and Harvey (1974) p. 147
  108. ^ Adair and Harvey, "Christian Statesman?"; Quotes on the Christian Constitutional Society are from Hamilton's letter to James A. Bayard of April 1802, quoted by Adair and Harvey, who see this as a great change from the military preparations and Sedition Act of 1798. For Bishop Moore, see also Chernow, p. 707. See McDonald, p. 3, on Hamilton's secular ambition, who adds, p. 356, that Hamilton's faith "had not entirely departed" him before the crisis of 1801.
  109. ^ Smithsonian National Postal Museum
  110. ^ Scotts US Stamp Catalogue


"The long tradition of Hamilton biography has, almost without exception, been laudatory in the extreme. Facts have been exaggerated, moved around, omitted, misunderstood and imaginatively created. The effect has been to produce a spotless champion...Those little satisfied with this reading of American history have struck back by depicting Hamilton as a devil devoted to undermining all that was most characteristic and noble in American life." James Thomas Flexner, The Young Hamilton, pp. 3–4.

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Political offices
Preceded by
New office
United States Secretary of the Treasury
Served under: George Washington

Succeeded by
Oliver Wolcott, Jr.
Military offices
Preceded by
George Washington
Senior Officer of the United States Army
Succeeded by
James Wilkinson
Preceded by
Thomas H. Cushing (acting)
Inspector General of the U. S. Army
July 18, 1798 – June 15, 1800
Succeeded by
Thomas H. Cushing (acting)

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