“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything. ” This is quoted by Alexander Hamilton. Throughout our legacy unit we have been looking at different celebrities, political figures, and many others to see how they have impacted our world. One of those legacies is Alexander Hamilton. Alexander Hamilton was the first secretary of the treasury and has left a huge legacy in the U. S. On January 11th 1757 Alexander Hamilton was born in the British West Indies on the Island of Nevis(“Alexander Hamilton: Biography”). At this time, the caribbean was a desolate place of famine and disease.
Alexander’s mother was Rachel Fawcett Lavie, the wife to John Lavien a farmer. They had a son together named Peter, Alexander’s step-brother. Alexander’s mom had an affair with James Hamilton a scotsman. She was imprisoned for adultery. Once John Lavien thought that she had learned her lesson, he freed her from the prison expecting her to come back with him. But instead she fled with James Hamilton to St. Kitts where Alexander’s older brother, James whom was born in 1753. The Hamilton’s family moved to St. Croix in 1767 and James Hamilton Sr. abandoned his family. This left Hamilton’s family impoverished.
Hamilton began to work at age 11 to support his family. Soon Alexander’s mom and brother got ill and died in 1768 at age 38 and 15. Hamilton now an orphan, moved in with his cousin. This cousin later committed suicide over the death of his wife. Hamilton began to work as an accounting clerk, impressing all around him (“Alexander Hamilton Biography. ”). Hugh Knox, a minister and newspaper editor, saw how skilled he was through his eloquent letter around the horrific hurricane which had struck the island in 1772. He raised enough money to send Hamilton to New York City to get his education.
Hamilton arrived in New York City when he was 16. An enrolled into King’s College (Modern Day Columbia University). Though Hamilton was sent to New York for academic purposes, with a evolution brewing Hamilton found himself more interested in politics. In 1774 Hamilton wrote his first political letter. This letter was pro-patriot and was against the British loyalists(“Alexander Hamilton Biography”). Hamilton left King’s College before graduating to join the patriot army. In 1775 he joined the New York Artillery Company and fought in the battles of Long Island, White Plains, and Trenton.
In 1777 he fought in the battles of Brandywine Creek, Germantown, and Princeton. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the continental army in 1780. Later that year on December 14th Hamilton would marry Elizabeth (Eliza or Betsy) Schuyler at the Schuyler Mansion (“Eliza Schuyler Hamilton: Alexander Hamilton’s Beloved Wife”). He had only met Eliza a few months prior. Eliza Schuler was the daughter of the wealthy general Philip Schuyler. Her sibling include Angelica, Margarita, Philip, and John. In the eyes of many of the townspeople, they were the perfect couple.
Sometime during this Alexander was promoted to being aide-de-camp to George Washington. While Hamilton was working his desk job he meant John Laurens, a patriot from South Carolina. John was an abolitionist just like Hamilton, they became great friends fast. Hamilton also met Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, Marquis de Lafayette. He was commonly known as Gilbert or Lafayette. Lafayette was a French immigrant who supported the American cause. Many historians believe that Hamilton had a romantic relationship with both Laurens and Lafayette.
These are some quotes from letters Hamilton to John Laurens, “Cold in my professions, warm in my friendships, I wish, my Dear Laurens, it might be in my power, by action rather than words to convince you that I love you. ” You should not have taken advantage of my sensibility to steal into my affections without my consent. But as you have done it,and as we are generally indulgent to those we love, I shall not scruple to pardon the fraud you have committed, on condition that for my sake, if not for your own, you will always continue to merit the partiality, which you have artfully instilled into me.
“In spite of Schuyler’s black eyes, I have still a part for the public and another for you; so your impatience to have me married is misplaced; a strange cure by the way, as if after matrimony I was to be less devoted than I am now. ”(“The Hamilton-Laurens Relationship”) But in spite of Hamilton’s fondness to hang around with his fellow revolutionaries, he began to grow restless of his office job and started to ask Washington for a place in the army as a general. But before he could move up in the ranks, he was involved in a duel between John Laurens and Charles Lee.
Charles Lee had been previously promoted to get a general spot. Hamilton was enraged when he found out that Charles Lee had to his place, but it infuriated him more after the battle of Monmouth. In the battle of Monmouth General Lee went against the orders of Washington, resulting in the deaths of thousands of soldiers. Charles Lee also tried to blame Washington for his cowardness. In aid of Hamilton, John laurens challenged Lee to a duel, Laurens won the duel when he shot him in the hip. Washington found out about this and sent Hamilton home.
Once Hamilton was allowed to come back he was given command of his own battalion in the battle of Yorktown. Once the Americans won the war for independence, the new question was, how should America be shaped so it guards against tyranny. After the war Hamilton finishes college and practices law. In the war John Laurens was killed and after the war ended Lafayette was sent back to France where the French Revolution was brewing. While Hamilton was serving as an advisor for Washington he realized that Congress’ state allegiance was caused by the flawed Articles of Confederation.
When Hamilton was sent to the Constitutional Convention he made a speech, that was 6 hours, presenting the very form of government we run today. It was a three branched government with an Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The only variation is that the president would serve for all of his life. This is eventually is developed into the constitution after Hamilton and his fellow Federalists (James Madison and John Jay wrote the Federalist papers. The federalist papers were a series of essays that are trying convince the American public to accept Hamilton’s democracy.
John Jay got sick after writing 5 of the federalist papers, James Madison wrote 29, Hamilton wrote the other 51(“Alexander Hamilton Biography”). Soon after George Washington is unanimously elected as the first President of the United States. George Washington nominates his group of advisors, his cabinet members. He nominates Alexander as secretary of the treasury. For secry of state he nominates a diplomat who had just returned from a diplomatic trip to France, Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson and Alexander were political enemies.
They were in different parties, Alexander, a Federalist and Jefferson, a Democratic-Republican. Their views differed on many subjects, Hamilton was an abolitionist, while Jefferson was said he was an abolitionist but owned hundreds of slaves. Jefferson was pro-French while Hamilton was Pro-British. Hamilton’s views on having a strong central government were so strong that he traded away the Nationals Capital in exchange for him being able to activate his debt plan. This plan was bargained on over a dinner, Hamilton was there for the Federalists and James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were there for the Democratic-Republicans.
This event is also known as the “dinner table bargain”(“Alexander Hamilton Biography”). Hamilton life had also begun to change in a different way, he was now the father of eight kids with Eliza Hamilton. They are (in order of birth) Philip Hamilton, Angelica Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton Jr. , James Alexander Hamilton, John Church Hamilton, William S. Hamilton, Eliza Hamilton, and Philip Hamilton II. (Hamilton’s kids were his pride and joy)(“Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton: Alexander Hamilton’s Beloved Wife”).
But in all of Hamilton’s success he did one unspeakable thing. He began to see a woman named Mariah Reynolds. His was one of the first political sex scandals in American history. He had a one year affair with Mariah while paying money to her husband, who was blackmailing him. Once Hamilton was confronted on these charges by future president James Monroe he came clean to the world. He published a very long pamphlet telling the whole public, in explicit detail, his encounters with Mariah Reynolds. This poisoned Hamilton’s political career.
Eliza was so shocked and heartbroken that she did not make any public comment on the pamphlet. The Hamilton’s moved uptown to try and get away from the taunting and the gazes that the family was receiving. The Reynolds pamphlet soon caused even more damage to the Hamilton family when Hamilton’s first bon, Philip challenged george Eacker to a duel because he was taunting his father. This duel would end up in the death of Philip and the heartbreak of the entire family. But soon the election of 1800 came and Hamilton was starting to be pestered by his fellow federalists.
This election was a particularly nasty one. It was between John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Aaron Burr. Aaron Burr had a teetering relationship with Hamilton. One day they would best friends and the next day they would be at each others necks. But what drove Burr over the edge was when Hamilton endorsed Thomas Jefferson for president, and he won. Burr ended up challenging Hamilton to a duel which would result in the death of Hamilton. This left a heartbroken Eliza all alone with only her seven kids(“Alexander Hamilton Biography”).
But Eliza didn’t just resent Hamilton for the rest of her life, she continued to tell his story. She interviewed every who fought by his side, she spoke out against slavery, she raised funds for the Washington Monument, she saved his thousands of letters. Eliza Hamilton keep his legacy alive. Now in the 21st century Hamilton has been turned into a rap musical on Broadway that makes around $500,000 every week in ticket sales. This 42 song musical was made by Lin-Manuel Miranda and has won 11 Tonys, a Pulitzer prize, and a Grammy.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, just like Eliza Schuyler continues to tell Hamilton’s to millions of people. Alexander Hamilton has left a legacy of the Federal Banking system and the workings of our branches of government. Though he has been forgotten over many years and was about to be taken off the 10 dollar bill, he was brought back to life by Lin Manuel Miranda. Lin Manuel Miranda wrote a 42 song Broadway hit, that has reached the top of the charts all over the world. Lin Manuel Miranda has brought fame to Hamilton’s story.
Today, though Hamilton may not be alive and not know the legacy that he left but he has definitely played a huge part in the shaping of our country. Alexander Hamilton was the first secretary of the treasury and has left a hug legacy in the U. S. When Alexander quoted “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything. ” He was stating that if a person doesn’t have strong beliefs that person will not be able to achieve anything, therefore they will not leave a legacy. For more information about Alexander Hamilton read the biography about him by Ron Chernow.