Birth of Alexander Hamilton
Birth of Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was born on January 11, 1755 (or 57 – the year is unknown), in Nevis in the British West Indies.
Hamilton began working as a clerk in an accounting office when he was about 11 years old. When his employer realized how bright Hamilton was, he sent him to America for an education. In 1773, Hamilton arrived in New York and attended King’s College. His focus soon turned from education to politics. The following year, he wrote his first article in defense of the patriots’ protests of British taxes.
As the Revolutionary War began, Hamilton commanded the New York Provincial Company of Artillery. He became an assistant to General George Washington, writing many of his letters and reports. In 1781, Hamilton led a charge at the Battle of Yorktown that helped end the war. After the war, Hamilton studied law, then opened a practice in New York City. He represented many Loyalists who had supported England during the Revolution. Hamilton’s cases helped establish the principle of due process in America.
Even before the war had ended, Hamilton realized the Articles of Confederation – the first U.S. Constitution – were too weak to hold the colonies together. He was a delegate for New York to the 1787 convention, which eventually rejected the Articles in favor of a new Constitution. When the Constitution was completed, Hamilton, along with John Jay and James Madison, wrote a series of essays to encourage the ratification. The Federalist Papers explained the document, outlining the new government and answering arguments by those who opposed it. New York ratified the Constitution in 1788.
Shortly after Washington was elected the first President of the U.S., he appointed Hamilton as his secretary of the treasury. The nation was deeply indebted to other countries and to the Americans who had supported the war. In 1791, Hamilton presented a bill calling for the formation of the First Bank of the United States. He proposed a system to collect federal taxes, began repayment of war bonds, and had the Federal Government assume the states’ debts. His policies helped establish credit with foreign nations. However, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson disagreed with the bill. He felt that creating such an institution was not within the power of the Federal Government. Hamilton argued that because the power was not forbidden by the Constitution, it was within the right of the government. Political parties formed around these men. Hamilton’s supporters became known as Federalists, while Jefferson’s supporters became the Anti-Federalists, or Democratic-Republicans.
Hamilton also proposed an excise tax on distilled spirits to raise revenue to pay Revolutionary War debts. After it was passed, whiskey producers began a campaign of harassment against federal tax collectors. This civil disobedience turned to armed rebellion in a series of loosely organized uprisings. Hamilton joined President Washington in leading a militia to end the violence. During his term as treasury secretary, Hamilton also composed the Jay Treaty (settling tensions from the Revolution), established public credit and circulating currency, and created a military branch to protect against contraband, which became the U.S. Coast Guard.
In 1804, after Aaron Burr announced his candidacy for the governorship of New York State, Hamilton joined the race and campaigned vigorously against him. Years of animosity culminated in a duel on July 11, 1804. It’s unsure who fired first. Hamilton’s shot hit a branch above Burr’s head, while Burr hit him in the lower abdomen, causing extensive internal injuries. Hamilton died of his injuries the following day, and Burr was charged with murder.
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12 responses to "Birth of Alexander Hamilton"
12 thoughts on “Birth of Alexander Hamilton”
Once again a concise but great historically founded summary of the highlights in Alexander Hamilton’s life. Although not in the list of the early US Presidents, Hamilton, a great founding father deserves his place on one of the US dollar bills. Thank you Mystic Stamp company for making US stamp collecting a more worthwhile activity.
It is presented that Hamilton came from Nevis…but his ethnicity is not mentioned. Why?
I am assuming that if he was not French, or Spanish, he must have been English.
For the previpos response, a number of people born in the islands were BRITISH. Not
everyone who was born outside the original 13 colonies were “foreigners”. I assume he was
white having come from a British background, but if he wasn’t and your at least
middle age, you’d know that a lot of people from European nations helped our cause.
Not to be the least, by any means, a number of Black Americans helped our cause, AND
gave their lives.
P.S. I’m retired military and a conservative. However, I could care less about
the “breed” of people who helped form our country. They gave it all and
many times their lives. Don’t confuse today’s world with that of even less
than a generation ago.
This history tidbit is just one individual in the cast of hundreds, if not thousands of earlier day (patriots) citizens that formed a benchmark for what modern society sets their standards by. What Mr. London says is compelling however I would describe the populace as a newborn nation of folks from all over the world, with different skillsets and ambitions, rather than “breed of people” who helped the country.
America today probably has the most diverse citizenry and immigrant (legal or not) populations where practically all worldwide languages are spoken amongst ourselves more so than anywhere else in the world. That is what makes this country strong. Superstars, economists, professors, scientists, journeymen…. just to name a few (skillsets) all allowed to work and think freely. Back then and Now they are coming to America as Harrison did. During his place in time, Harrison identified certain idiosyncrasies in the monetary and constitution legal dialogue that needed better clarity and was extremely helpful in laying the practical, useful, political and economic groundwork for future generations.
HArrison’s skillset was available in the right form, time and place in history, and he was a foriegn exchange student. That is part of the miracle of “Coming To America” that many then, now and in the future idolize this nation for. Hamilton should not be removed from the paper bill but perhaps added to a coin in addition.
Most sources give his year of birth as 1755.
For the very reasons you mention, ethnicity and country or location of origin are even more interesting. I think that descriptors, when available, enrich the history of the nation. It took everyone, of every background, to create the nation we are today.
Why this discourse. Alexander Hamilton was a statesman and patriot.
At the time, it does not matter where he was from. What does matter is
that he helped the United States become a great country. Without his
contribution, we might not have made it through our early independence.
By the way, Nevis is a member of the British Commonwealth and many
colonists came from England and other countries. The Native Indians were
also an important asset to the colonists in the War. It is a shame that we do
not honor their contribution to our independence more.
At least he was NOT a slaveholder in the US like most of those other hypocrites who wanted “all men are created equal” as long as they are WHITE. That makes them all phonies who must have been illiterate not to know what they said was hollow while mistreating slaves and cheating Native Americans out of almost a whole country. So much for our”perfect Constitution” dreamed up by hypocrites. Almost makes the Republicans look righteous since they love that document so much in that many of them are racists. They are following in the tradition of taking care of the whites and the rich and ignoring or mistreating poor and non whites. Hamilton didn’t own slaves like 10 of the first 18 Presidents, so he was an improvement in some ways.
Unfortunately the diatribe written by several responders detracts from the greatness of the man and his accomplishments. Alexander Hamilton was one of the most intelligent, brave, skilled, and influential men of his times. The quick summary under states his contributions to the Continental Army during the War for Independence from Britain. He was General Washington’s adjutant – the guy who translated George’s ideas and intent into orders to subordinate commanders, the man who corresponded with Congress and helped convince them to appropriate money for food, clothing, munitions and supplies for the Army. Near the end of that 8 year war, when most of the Soldiers had never been paid for their service, he asked General Washington to give him a command. The very young lieutenant colonel Hamilton as a battalion commander led a bayonet attack on one of the most important British fortifications around Yorktown and won a great victory by capturing the fortifications with extraordinarily few casualties. Then he was the First Secretary of the Treasury and established the taxation and banking system that allowed the new country to financially survive. Next he was one of the visionary authors of the Federalist Papers – those documents framed the rationale for creating the United States of America under a federal representative republic form of government with a strong central government – not a collection of individual states. His contributions to America are enormous and cannot be understated.
Well said! I’m retired military and liberal, if anyone cares. Too often this replies tend to the political and to less than the historical. Alexander Hamilton was a man of great courage and performed many great acts as the above essay shows.
A valuable informing and history-sharing explanation involving the stand-out Alexander Hamilton’s service, understandings and commitment to helping make the USA the GREATEST free and open Nation on Earth that it is today.
… and 60 years AGO … we proved that … by being the first Nation on Earth to land on the Moon !!
Thanks again, Mystic, for sharing such background information on issued American stamps featuring a true American patriot and a US President, Alexander Hamilton, this time … you guys are GREAT !