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To some, the name Alexander Hamilton is just another founding father name or the name of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” by Lin-Manuel Miranda. In reality, Hamilton may be one of the most important names in America’s history and it all started with a power and knowledge hungry young man in New York City. Joanne B.
Freeman has written that Hamilton was born on the West Indian Island of Nevis but later moved to St. Croix. He was illegitimate and raised in poverty, when he was young his mother and himself fell extremely ill but he was the only one to survive. With help from a group of supporters he was sent to a charter school and then he went to King’s College, but he was too involved with the Revolution to gain a degree (Freeman, Joanne, page 142).
While he was involved in the Revolution he married Elizabeth Schuyler “daughter of Gen. Phillip Schuyler, a wealthy and influential New Yorker.” (American Eras, page 236). Although it seemed that Alexander and Elizabeth (Eliza) had a loving marriage and many children, Hamilton had an affair with Maria Reynolds which led to the writings of “The Reynolds Pamphlet” by Alexander Hamilton himself. The text cleared his name and protected his legacy, but at the same time he confessed to the affair. Later on in his life his eldest son Phillip died in a dual defending his father’s name, but he was told by Alexander to not fire, this strategy did not work as it failed twice.
Once for Phillip, and the other for Hamilton by the hand of Aaron Burr during a duel from a political dispute (Freeman, Joanne, page 143). Although Hamilton started his life in the Caribbean for the rest and majority of his life he lived in New York. New York was a major started as a base for the French and Indian War from 1754-1763. This soon changed as Britain’s control over New York and the other colonies became too intense for many, with things like the Stamp act (Wikipedia, section 3). Eventually the city became a main center for protesting colonial government and was a main area for people who wanted to participate in the Revolution to fight against Britain to be in.
In New York right before the war many people were fleeing the anticipated battles and war that were going to commence. As far as the economy of New York, it is widely known that back in this time period the city was very wealthy, “a grand city of wealth, a bustling center of commerce, shipbuilding and maritime trade.” (Wikipedia, Section 3). After the war Hamilton decided to pursue a law career, the main areas that he focused on were three groups; local, state, and national politics (International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, page 414).
Since the revolutionary war Hamilton had been, and with much defiance from him, George Washington’s ‘right hand man’, so it didn’t come as much as a shock to many that when Washington became president he appointed Hamilton as Treasurer. Not only was he the Treasurer, he also paid careful attention to all of the flaws and failures that were in the Articles of Confederation. He wrote many essays, which would later be posted in the newspaper, about the revisions and corrections he would include. All of this nationalism and effort he put into these writings allowed the Federal Convention of 1787 to happen, which then led to the Federalist essays. With the essays that were written he and two other men who shared the same views on the Articles of Confederation as he did, James Madison and John Jay, planned on writing eighty-five of them and dispersing the work load among them somewhat evenly. Although it was planned this way, Hamilton ended up writing fifty-one (Freeman, Joanne, page 143).
Another major decision that Hamilton made was choosing to vote for Thomas Jefferson, his political enemy, to be the next president of the United States rather than for his friend Aaron Burr, which led to the dual that ended his life. Although Hamilton’s religious beliefs are not talked about as much when his name is mentioned, they still are somewhat important to discuss. Since he was born illegitimate not many churches wanted him or his family to become members. He also wasn’t a big supporter of established religion because when his mother died she was considered “stained”, by the church on the West Indies Island that he lived on, and wasn’t given a proper burial.
Later on, though, when he became an orphan it is said that he is befriended by a Presbyterian Priest which could be said that he could have been a Presbyterian. Matt. J. Rossano writes that later on in life Hamilton liked to keep his distance from religious institutions, but his wife Elizabeth was a devout Episcopalian and his family rented a pew at one of the Episcopalian churches in New York (Rossano, Matt, paragraph 9). Also as it has been written before in this essay, Hamilton’s biggest moral contribution to the United States was when the corrections written in the Federalists Essays were written because he believed that many changes needed to be made to it.
For the political aspect of his life, it has been written that Hamilton did not like democracy at all, and in fact he thought that a national government would be better for America and he wanted to abolish the states. He also wanted to have a senate and the president elected for life and less control for the House of Representatives so that he could limit democracy as much as he could (American Eras, page 236). Hamilton’s legacy started after his death, which happened because of a duel with Aaron Burr, but the reason his legacy is so great is because of all of the work and contributions he made during his life. One of the biggest, obviously, is his help and hand in the stride to end the American Revolution. Also, since he was the first Treasurer he was an instrumental key in the development of our current economy and currency. The major pieces of work that have been made to honor Hamilton and his legacy are all of the statues made for him and the Broadway Musical, made by Lin-Manuel Miranda, to tell his story and to keep him in the minds of the younger generations “Hamilton” (PBS, page 1).
For important achievements he has made, which are many, the most important ones that he has made are creating the Manumission Society, an organization who wanted to abolish slavery, helping Washington form the foreign policy, and the long list of all of the writings that Hamilton has written in his life because it is widely known that Hamilton loved to write (Begley, Robert, page 1).