When people think of the brave men who founded our country, the main people that come to mind are George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. Alexander Hamilton was a man who was non-stop, but commonly forgotten. He didn’t stop for anything, including people’s opinions of him. There were social, economic, and cultural influences on Alexander Hamilton which affected his lifetime achievements. First U. S secretary of treasury, Alexander Hamilton was the leader of the Federalist party, started America’s bank, had one of the biggest scandals of his time, and his famous fatal duel with Aaron Burr.
Although his birth date is fought over, most people believe it to be circa January 11th 1755 or 1757. He was born on the Island of Nevis in the British West Indies. He was born illegitimate which meant his parents were not married. His father was James Hamilton who left when Alexander was only ten years old. This left his mother and their two sons in poverty, actively affecting Alexander’s economic and social life. He went to school until his father left, and then worked to support his family.
He was bullied a lot in school, being called “the bastard brat of a Scottish peddler. (Magnet) His mother was Rachel Faucette who was married to another man when Alexander was born. Her and her son were very close but she sadly died of a fever when he was thirteen, leaving him and his brother James Jr. orphaned. When his mother died, his cousin took them in but she killed herself two years later. This left Alexander and James destitute, only having their mothers tiny estate and a few other things which were taken away from them by her other son who didn’t want her two obscene children having it.
A couple years later he was working for a trading company which introduced him to the great big world beyond his little island that affected him culturally and socially. In August 1772, a large hurricane swept through the town Hamilton called home. He took to the only thing he saw fit, writing. He wrote of the death and destruction, his own personal fears and beliefs of religion(Magnet). His writings were published from this traumatic experience in a local newspaper. This caused Hamilton’s employees and and a clergyman to raise money, sending him to the colonies for college.
In late 1773, he took passage on a ship that was New York bound to attend King’s College. Once he reached Manhattan, people around him and himself seemed to realize his brilliance. Hamilton had no tolerance for people who couldn’t keep up with his top notch brain. When he was 19, the already partly successful undergrad started joining revolutionary politics. (Biography) The revolution was just what Hamilton had wanted since he was a kid. Alexander always wished for a war to prove his worth and here was his opportunity.
In 1777 he became a lieutenant colonel in the continental army also assistant to the commanding general, George Washington. Alexander wanted to fight but Washington realized that although he was a great lieutenant his skills were even greater with the quill. Hamilton began drafting everything for Washington, from important letters to reports of the army. Washington was a very important figure in his life, him being more like a father to him than his actual father. Socially, George Washington is probably one of the top people that influenced his life. During his time in the army, he became close with Marquis de Lafayette and John Laurens.
Historians call them a “band of brothers” but Laurens and Hamilton seemed to cross that line, their letters to each other being more affectionate than brotherly. Laurens and Lafayette were some of closest friends he had throughout his life and his first, having a very big social impact on him. In early 1780, Hamilton met his wife, Elizabeth Schuyler while he stationed with Washington and his men in Morristown, New Jersey. They connected immediately and their relationship grew quickly. By December of that year they were married and had a short honeymoon in Eliza’s hometown.
Eliza was described by Martha Washington, her close friend throughout their husbands political careers, as “my ideal of a true woman. ” She was also a member of New York’s most high profile families, the daughter of Philip Schuyler. They were one of the richest families in the area so with this marriage, Hamilton earned some financial gain. After their honeymoon, Alexander returned to the war. In July of 1781, George Washington finally granted Hamilton the command and glory he craved. (Magnet) Hamilton organized the Battle of Yorktown which was the last big battle of the revolutionary war. His tactics took less poise and more blood.
The British surrendered on October 19th, 1781 although they did not leave New York for another two years. After the war he went back to New York and moved into the Schuyler mansion with Eliza. When he returned to normal civilization, he wanted to help this new nation form properly. In the area, he studied law in a way in which he learned everything he needed to know in six months, this usually taking three years. (Magnet) He is known as being one of the greatest lawyers of all times. Once the British got out of New York, Alexander, Eliza, and their baby boy Philip moved into a place of their own.
Within his first year of being back he accomplished a lot, one of those achievements being founding The Bank of New York. In 1782, Hamilton was elected into Congress. He went to the constitutional convention in 1786 to fight the right for immigrants like himself and also deliver a six hour speech showing his ideal form of government. He proposed the idea for a House of Representatives and the idea of checks and balances between the rich and the other people. He said, “Give the power to few, they will oppress the many” which is a statement proven to be true.
The Federalist Papers are some of the most important documents in our history. A collection of 85 essays defending the U. S constitution. Hamilton wrote 50 out of 85 of these essays. These essays were basically propaganda in favor of the constitution so that the document could replace the Articles of Confederation, they needed nine out of thirteen states to vote in favor of it. In June of 1788 the Constitution took effect. In 1789, George Washington became the President of the United States of America. He appointed Hamilton as Secretary of Treasury and Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State.
Hamilton and Jefferson disagreed on almost everything possible. Washington, on most situations, would take Hamilton’s side of the argument. Their father son relationship stayed the same. One of the only time Jefferson and Hamilton agreed on anything was on their famous deal in 1790. The deal was that Jefferson and Madison would provide him with the votes to have the federal government’s assume state debts and Hamilton would deliver the votes for the nation’s capitol to Virginia In 1791, Hamilton did something so awful that it eventually ruined his entire career.
A 23 year old girl named Maria Reynolds came knocking on Hamilton’s door while his wife and children were upstate staying with her father. Hamilton offers to walk her home and also starts an affair with her. A month into this affair, Maria’s husband got involved and blackmailed Hamilton for a job and money. He intended to break off the affair but that was before Maria threatened to kill herself. He continued seeing her and continued paying James Reynolds. This whole thing took place over the course of nearly a year. The information spread to his enemies and they questioned him.
Not only did he commit adultery, they accused him of spending money that was not his. This caused him to write the Reynold’s Pamphlet to clear his name but ruin both his career and his marriage. Aaron Burr, although not very important in the rest of Hamilton’s life, was very very important at the end of it. The Election of 1800 for the second president of our country was one of Hamilton’s last political influences. Although he did not agree with Jefferson’s beliefs, he had more than Burr. He expressed who he was planning to vote for to the public, basically deciding the election in Jefferson’s favor.
In 1801, his first born out of seven children and most promising son, Philip, died in a duel from a fatal wound to the gut. 3 years later, Hamilton would die in a similar manner. Within the years leading up to his death, Alexander would talk bad about to attempt to ruin his career. Burr finally got sick of this and challenged him to a duel. Although Hamilton didn’t agree with duels, he agreed to this one. Hamilton told his friends that he was going to fire his weapon in the air which his friends disagreed with, telling him that Burr intended to kill him.
When the duel took place, the shot by Aaron Burr did indeed kill him. Alexander Hamilton was a very interesting man who many people overlook. His life story embodies the ideals of our nation. He accomplished so much over the course of his life, most of which people forget about. Socially, economically, and culturally Hamilton had many influences that definitely changed and defined him as a person. He was one of our most important founding father, starting some of the most important things in our country.