Alexander Hamilton

Written By: Abigail Greenleaf

Introduction

Alexander Hamilton was a successful soldier and politician, but he had to do a lot to get his portrait on the $10 bill. He had a rough and complicated childhood, but the unusual circumstances helped him on later in life. Alexander fought as a Patriot against Great Britain in the Revolutionary War and led battles, eventually becoming Major General and leading his own artillery. Later on in life, Alexander became a lawyer and a politician, taking term as secretary of the treasury.

Those are just a few of the things that Alexander Hamilton did to help shape the country we know today.

Childhood in the West Indies

Sure, Alexander Hamilton had a busy and interesting political and military career, but he had a family and childhood behind the $10 bill. Alexander's father was the 4th in line at Hamilton's grandfather's castle in Scotland. But because he was the 4th child, Alexander's father stood no chance of any inheritance. So James (his father) traveled to St. Kitts in the West Indies as soon as he could. When he got there, he met a local girl named Rachel. Rachel had complications in her last marriage, and they prevented her from marrying again, so she and James just lived together as James and Rachel Hamilton. During that time, Rachel gave birth to their first son, who was named James after his father. They soon moved to Nevis, and Rachel gave birth to their second son, Alexander. Alexander's family had problems with money, and they could not seem to fix them by being farmers. Because of that, they moved to live with Rachel's older sister in St. Croix when Alexander's father was offered a job. Rachel's sister was Ann Lytton, and she lived in a grand house called the Grange. The Lyttons also had problems with money, so soon after the Hamiltons arrived, they had to sell the Grange. The Lyttons moved to Nevis, where the Hamiltons just came from. A year later, James Hamilton saved enough money from his job, so he deserted James, Alexander, and Rachel. Because of that, the three moved to a building where Rachel opened up a shop, making Alexander do the bookkeeping. An epidemic soon broke out, and both Rachel and Alexander got sick. Rachel died after about three weeks, when Alexander was 13 years old. Alexander and James were now legally under guardianship of their cousin Peter Lytton, who later committed suicide. James was old enough to become and apprentice to a carpenter, while Alexander was adopted by a loving, rich, and respected family. Those are just a few parts of Alexander Hamilton's childhood. These events influenced both of his later careers.

Some pictures of Alexander:

Alexander Hamilton had three different careers

Life As A Soldier

You might not know that Alexander Hamilton was more than a politician, but he really did do more than argue over taxes. Alexander Hamilton first started out by studying military history. He then wrote war essays for a New York Paper. He soon joined the war, and in 1776 was commissioned by Alexander McDongall to become Captain Alexander Hamilton of the New York Provincial Company of Artillery. He was responsible for recruiting and supplying uniforms. Alexander fought in the wars of; Trenton, Saratoga, White Plains, and led the Battle of Yorktown. He was offered to join Washington's close staff, but he refused. At one point though, he was Washington's assistant and advisor. He had many ideas, such as the Constitutional Convention. Hamilton was also at Valley Forge with George Washigton. Around this time, he married Elizabth Schuyler. So now you know hat Alexander Hamilton did so much more than argue over taxes.

Political Career

Alexander Hamilton was far more than a soldier, and he had an interesting political career behind his death. He studied law in Albany, New York. He became a lawyer and many people critizied his defendants. Alexander wrote 51 of the 85 Federalist Papers, which had most likely been his idea. Hamilton wrote the first essay, and John Jay wrote the next four. He signed them with his pen name "Publius" and in them he defended the Constitution. He soon became George Washington's first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. When he retired some time later, he became an enemy of Aaron Burr's when when he voted out Burr's presidential campaign, causing Burr to lose. On July 11, 1804, they came across each other while traveling and held a duel. Alexander was shot, and died the next day at 2 p.m. Now you know the political career that influenced the U.S. Treasury and shaped the country we know today.

To Conclude

As you may have just learned, Alexander Hamilton was an influencing politician and soldier. He was born into a very poor, struggling family. He became Major General over the course of 25 years in the military. And yet, after all that, he became the First Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. So now you know all of the things Alexander Hamilton did to make himself a loved part of American History.

Glossary

Artillery- the part of an army that uses large guns to shoot over a great distance. verb


Inheritance- money, property, etc. that is received when that person dies. noun


Commissioned- to be placed in a higher rank by a higher ranking officer. verb


Criticized- to express disapproval of someone or something. verb

Sources

Books:

Alexander Hamilton The Outsider by Jean Fritz


Alexander Hamilton by William Wise


Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr by Russel and Anna E. Crouse



Online:

"Hamilton, Alexander" by Richard Brookhiser


"Alexander Hamilton Biography" by Biography.com Editors


infoplease.com


AllThingsHamilton.com by The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society