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Alexander Hamilton: The Father of the American Economy

Biography: Alexander Hamilton: The Father of the American Economy

The Biographics of "Alexander Hamilton (Father of the American Economy)" is as follows:

From being born as a bastard on Nevis to lying in a pool of blood at Weehawken, Alexander Hamilton's life has risen and fallen as if written by the most imaginative novelist. 

His transformation from a distressed clerk to America's first Secretary of the Treasury is as much a gripping personal story as it is a panorama of American growth.

Few figures in American history have evoked as many eulogies and curses as Hamilton. 

Some people believe that Hamilton's ambition, ego, and arrogance destined him to become the king of the country; others portray him as a running dog of the plutocracy and a potential tyrant. 

However, when looking at politicians who have not served as president in American history, Hamilton may be the most important one. 

His influence on the United States may be more profound than that of many presidents.

About: Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton was a Nevisian-born American military officer, statesman, and Founding Father who served as the first United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1789 to 1795. Born out of wedlock in Charlestown, Nevis, Hamilton was orphaned as a child and taken in by a prosperous merchant. Wikipedia

    • Born: January 11, 1757, Charlestown, Saint Kitts, and Nevis
    • Died: July 12, 1804, Greenwich Village, New York, NY
    • Children: Philip Hamilton, James Alexander Hamilton,
    • Spouse: Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton (m. 1780–1804)
    • Parents: Rachel Faucette Buck, James A. Hamilton
    • Party: Federalist Party
    • Previous offices: Commanding General of the United States Army (1799–1800)

Related Topics: Biography


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Biography: Alexander Hamilton: The Father of the American Economy

Hamilton was both a thinker and a doer. He and James Madison were the main promoters of the U.S. Constitutional Convention, and their work "Federalism" can be regarded as a classic interpretation of the spirit of the U.S. Constitution. 

As America's first secretary of the treasury and the main architect of the new government structure, Hamilton designed a set of mechanisms for the smooth operation of a modern nation-state, including a budget system, a long-term debt system, a tax system, a central bank, a customs system, and a coast guard. 

With these moves, he set a bar for "administrative competence" so high that no one has yet come close. 

If Jefferson wrote the necessary ornate poetry of American political discourse, it was Hamilton who wrote America's statecraft prose.

Hamilton has been called the prophet of the American capitalist revolution. 

Today, as he foresaw, we live in a prosperous world of trade, industry, stock markets, and banks. 

His predictions were equally fulfilled in his vision of the shape and powers of the future federal government. 

Hamilton seems to be a messenger from the future—the age we live in. Our judgment of his legacy is, in many ways, our judgment of modern society.

The Revolutionary War and Building a New Nation

After the victory over the British in the Revolutionary War, the newly independent United States of America found itself in a position to build a new nation from the ground up. 

But that left some pressing questions: how would this nation be governed, how much power should be allocated to the federal government, and how much should be allocated to the individual states? And how could this new country ensure that its citizens would prosper economically? At the center of all three of these questions was Alexander Hamilton.

The Rise of Alexander Hamilton

Hamilton came from the humblest background to rise to the very upper echelons of the new American government. 

In doing so, he became one of the most impactful and controversial public servants the United States has ever had. 

Everything about his life seemed scripted for dramatic purposes, including his vile death at the hands of one of his political opponents. 

Beyond political historians and musical theater fans, few people know anything about Alexander Hamilton beyond the fact that his face adorns the $10 bill.

Childhood and Early Life

We know very little about Alexander Hamilton's childhood because he rarely talked about it. From what we do know, it isn't hard to see why. 

He was born on the 11th of January 1757 on the island of Nevis in the British West Indies. 

Because his parents weren't married, he was declared illegitimate, a label that would follow him all of his life and would normally have greatly impacted his standing in society. 

Things got even worse when Alexander's father, James Hamilton, abandoned the family when he was a child, and soon after his mother, Rachel, died of yellow fever. 

Rachel's jealous husband, Johan Lavian, seized every penny of her estate, leaving Alexander and his brother James Jr. impoverished orphans. The only thing Alexander had going for him was his exceptional intelligence. 

He was an avid reader and, despite receiving little formal education, quickly figured out the merchant's trade when employed as a clerk for an import-export firm in the islands.

Education and Career

In 1772, the 15-year-old Hamilton wrote a letter to his father describing a hurricane that had struck the Caribbean that was so well written that it was published in the newspaper, and community leaders took up a collection to send this exceptional boy to North America to be educated.

Alexander Hamilton in the Revolutionary War

Hamilton had thrown himself wholeheartedly into the patriot cause early on, writing passionate essays under pen names that were published in the winter of 1774-1775. 

When war broke out in the spring of 1775, Hamilton, like many young men, volunteered for service in the various militia companies that would soon be fashioned into the Continental Army. 

Hamilton became captain of an artillery company and saw action against the British in the campaigns around New York City, which the British occupied after a successful invasion in July 1776. 

Hamilton's talent soon attracted the attention of Continental Army commander George Washington, who promoted him to lieutenant colonel and appointed him as his chief of staff in early 1777.

Hamilton's Role as Washington's Chief of Staff

As a member of Washington's military family, Hamilton was far more than a mere aide. 

In many respects, Hamilton was Washington's right-hand man, drafting orders and letters on behalf of the commander-in-chief, negotiating with the Continental Congress and senior army commanders on his behalf, 

and becoming involved in detailed matters of diplomacy, intelligence, supply, and logistics, and everything else needed to keep an army in the field. It was the start of a relationship that would persist for the rest of their lives.

Hamilton's Field Command and the Battle of Yorktown

Hamilton spent four years as Washington's chief of staff, becoming well-known throughout the army as Washington's man. 

But Hamilton was a young man with a young man's thirst for glory, and he desperately wanted a field command. 

He finally got one in August 1781, just in time to participate in the most important battle of the Revolutionary War. 

Washington's army, in conjunction with America's French allies, had surrounded the British army of Lord Cornwallis in Yorktown, Virginia, to complete their encirclement of Cornwallis's position. 

Two small forts known as Redoubts 9 and 10 needed to be seized. Colonel Hamilton was named commander of the American effort to recapture Redoubt Number 10, while the French seized Number Nine. 

In a nighttime action on October 14th, 400 American soldiers led by Hamilton stormed the redoubt, capturing the position after heavy hand-to-hand fighting, with the French also succeeding in capturing their target. Cornwallis's fate was sealed. Five days.

Hamilton's Role in the Creation of the United States Constitution

The United States was in crisis. The federal government was incredibly weak under the Articles of Confederation, and there was no way to mitigate disputes between states. 

Alexander Hamilton served in the Congress of the Confederation and knew exactly how poor it was. 

In May 1787, Hamilton was chosen as one of three representatives from New York to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. 

Hamilton's influence at the convention was limited by the two other New York delegates who belonged to a faction controlled by New York Governor George Clinton that was opposed to any reform that would take power away from his state. 

Despite this, the other delegates, headed by convention president George Washington, hammered out a brand new United States Constitution over the course of four months that created a new federal government made up of an elected president and a congress who would make laws that covered all the states.

The Federalist Papers

The new constitution would only go into effect if nine of the 13 states ratified it in state conventions, something that wasn't guaranteed. 

Hamilton wanted to help convince the American people that the new constitution was not only necessary but it benefited them. Then they would put pressure on their legislators to ratify it. 

Hamilton enlisted the help of two other passionate supporters of the Constitution, fellow New Yorkers John Jay and Virginian James Madison, and they would write a series of articles explaining it to the public. 

Written under the pseudonym Publius, the series of 85 articles were published in major newspapers between October 1787 and April 1788.

The Federalist Papers, as they are known today, explained in painstaking detail all of the flaws of the Articles of Confederation, as well as an in-depth explanation of each article of the new constitution, including how it benefited the average American citizen. 

The Federalist Papers were an immediate sensation, being widely read across the country and eventually published in a two-volume book in 1788. 

The barrage of well-written and explained arguments in favor of the Constitution overwhelmed any opposition. 

The people began to clamor for their state legislatures to adopt the new document. 

On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the constitution, officially putting it into effect one month later. 

Hamilton's home state of New York finally ratified it rather than risk being left out of the union of the other.

Hamilton's Role in the Creation of the United States Government

On July 11, 1804, Alexander Hamilton was mortally wounded in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr and died the following day. But Hamilton's legacy as a founding father of the United States lives on. 

Hamilton was not only a key figure in the creation of the United States Constitution, but he also played a vital role in the establishment of the new government.

On April 30, 1789, George Washington took the oath of office as the first president of the United States. 

Washington asked Congress to create three new government departments: State, War, and Treasury. 

Hamilton, Washington's trusted wartime aide, was selected to serve as the first Secretary of the Treasury. The department was to oversee the fledgling country's fragile economy.

Hamilton's Contributions as Secretary of the Treasury

Hamilton's contributions as Secretary of the Treasury were significant. The first problem he faced was the government's lack of money to pay for its business. 

Hamilton proposed to create a public debt using debts incurred by the various states during the Revolutionary War, which the federal government would assume. 

If he could show the U.S. could pay back its internal debt, then foreign banks would feel confident that it was a safe investment.

Hamilton's plan was met with opposition, but he was able to get it passed. He also established the first national bank, which would issue paper currency and provide credit to businesses. 

Hamilton's financial system helped establish the U.S. as a stable financial power and paved the way for future economic growth.

Hamilton's contributions to the United States did not end with his work as Secretary of the Treasury. He also played a key role in the creation of the United States Constitution. 

Hamilton was a strong advocate for a strong central government, and his arguments in favor of the Constitution in the Federalist Papers helped convince the American people to ratify it.

Hamilton's life and legacy have been celebrated in recent years through the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton. 

The musical tells the story of Hamilton's life, from his early days as an orphan in the Caribbean to his role in the creation of the United States government. 

The musical has helped introduce a new generation to the life and legacy of Alexander Hamilton, one of the most important figures in American history.

The Political Divide between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson

Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson were two of the most influential founding fathers of the United States. However, they had vastly different ideas about the direction the country should take. 

Hamilton believed in a strong federal government with broad authority, while Jefferson favored a weak federal government that was subordinate to the whims of state government.

Hamilton's Financial Vision for the United States

Hamilton's financial vision for the United States was based on the idea that the country's future lay not in farming but in commerce through manufacturing and trade. 

He believed that a strong central government was necessary to establish a stable and prosperous economy. Hamilton's financial system helped establish the U.S. as a stable financial power and paved the way for future economic growth.

Jefferson's Agrarian Ideal and Opposition to a Strong Federal Government

Jefferson, on the other hand, believed that a largely agrarian nation populated by small-holding farmers was the most democratic form for an economy to take. 

He favored a weak federal government that was subordinate to the whims of state governments, particularly large ones like Virginia. 

Jefferson and his supporters formed a faction called the Democratic-Republicans, which opposed the Federalists led by Hamilton.

The political divide between Hamilton and Jefferson was not just about economic policy. 

Jefferson believed in a strict interpretation of the Constitution, while Hamilton believed in a loose interpretation that allowed for a strong federal government. 

Jefferson also favored France in foreign policy, while Hamilton favored Great Britain because he believed it benefited the U.S. economically.

The two men were fairly similar to each other and in another life they could have probably been close friends. 

But both men were stubbornly committed to their principles, believing the future of the nation was at stake. 

The divide between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans would shape American politics for decades to come.

In the end, Hamilton's vision for the United States won out. The country became an industrial and commercial power, and the federal government became stronger over time. 

But Jefferson's agrarian ideal and opposition to a strong federal government also left a lasting legacy in American politics. 

Today, the Democratic and Republican parties can trace their roots back to the political divide between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.

The political divide between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson continued to grow, with both men using newspapers to attack each other's policies. 

Hamilton continued to work towards his vision for the American economy, founding a national bank, establishing a U.S. mint in Philadelphia, forming the U.S. Coast Guard, and expanding domestic manufacturing. 

Washington generally sided with Hamilton, which incensed Jefferson to the point that he resigned from a post in 1793.

Hamilton's Economic Vision and Policies

Hamilton's policies came under increasingly personal attacks, portraying him as an evil shadow lurking behind the chair of Noble Washington. Some of the more vicious attacks criticized his foreign origins and even his illegitimacy. 

Hamilton felt underappreciated and heavily in debt, unable to support his family on his government salary. 

Finally, on January 31, 1795, Hamilton resigned as treasury secretary, returning to private life.

Hamilton's Resignation and the Election of John Adams

In 1796, George Washington decided not to run for a third term as president, setting up the first competitive election in the country's history. 

Hamilton and the Federalists supported vice president John Adams, believing him to be the only person who could defeat Thomas Jefferson. However, Adams was not George Washington. 

He spent months at a time outside of the capital in his home of Massachusetts, dictating his orders via letters, and he wanted nothing to do with Hamilton, scorning his advice.

Hamilton chafed at the loss of influence and looked for a way to get back into the action. Revolutionary France provided him with that opportunity. 

The United States had concluded a trade deal with Great Britain a few years earlier, the controversial J Treaty. 

The French, who were at war with Britain, viewed this as a betrayal, and a series of diplomatic skirmishes threatened to descend into war. President Adams felt he had no choice but to raise an army to defend the country.

Hamilton saw this as an opportunity to lead the army himself and engage in a military adventure that would restore his reputation and influence. However, Adams appointed someone else to lead the army, and Hamilton's plan fell apart. 

Adams' presidency was marked by political turmoil, with the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans fighting for power. 

In the end, Adams lost the election of 1800 to Jefferson, and Hamilton's political career was over. Despite his short political

The Political Decline of Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton's political career suffered a decline in the late 1790s. He was appointed a major general in 1798 to defend the country in the face of a possible French invasion. 

With George Washington ailing at his home in Mount Vernon, Hamilton effectively ran the army, taking charge of training, organization, and supplies. 

However, Adams didn't want war with France or anyone else, which brought him into conflict with Hamilton, who still clung to boyish notions of military glory.

Hamilton's Military Career and Personal Scandals

Things started to go wrong for Hamilton when his great friend and patron George Washington died in 1799. 

Adams stripped funding for the army, privately worrying that Hamilton wanted to march on the Capitol and set himself up as a dictator. 

America's first political sex scandal came to light as newspaper reports revealed the spicy details of an affair Hamilton had in 1792 with a woman named Maria Reynolds, who it appeared was extorting him for money to keep the affair a secret.

Hamilton wanted to defend himself from corruption charges, but the pamphlet he published just made things worse. 

Things came to a head in 1800 when Hamilton, furious at John Adams for dismantling his army after a peace deal with Napoleon was reached, turned his pen on the president, attacking his fitness for office and endorsing a South Carolina Federalist, Charles Pickney, instead. 

Many people privately agreed with Hamilton about Adams' character, but the attack on Adams split the Federalist vote, ensuring the election of Hamilton's greatest rival, Jefferson, to the highest office.

Hamilton's Feud with Aaron Burr

In 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr was a man with no friends. In the election of 1800, he had been the Jeffersonian candidate for vice president. 

The problem was that whoever got the most electoral votes became president, and the runner-up became vice president. 

When Jefferson and Burr tied in the electoral vote, throwing the election to the House of Representatives, Burr used the tie votes to try and gain the office for himself at the expense of Jefferson, courting disgruntled Federalists to try and vote for him instead.

This didn't work, and the newly elected vice president found himself shut out of Jefferson's government. 

Everyone knew that when Jefferson came up for re-election in 1804, Burr was going to be dropped from the ticket.

The Death and Legacy of Alexander Hamilton

On July 11th, 1804, Alexander Hamilton was mortally wounded in a pistol duel with Aaron Burr. 

Hamilton had campaigned against Burr in the New York gubernatorial race, and Burr felt that Hamilton had derailed his political ambitions for a second time. 

Duels were illegal in New York, so the two men met across the river in New Jersey. 

Hamilton intended to throw away his shot by firing his gun in the air, but Burr shot him in the abdomen, causing major damage to his internal organs and lodging in his spine. 

Hamilton died the next day at the age of 49, saying goodbye to his wife, children, and friends.

Hamilton's death proved to be the death knell for the Federalist Party that he led. Jefferson's party now held unchallenged ascendancy as Jeffersonian Republicans held the presidency from 1800 to 1824. 

However, Hamilton's financial system, which Jefferson hated so much, survived because it was so perfectly constructed. Any attempt to dismantle it would harm the country. 

In fact, when President James Madison allowed the first Bank of the United States to expire during his administration, it precipitated a financial crisis that forced him to sheepishly find the second Bank of the United States to restore American finance.

Hamilton's Duel with Aaron Burr

Hamilton's death also killed the political career of Aaron Burr. Though he escaped murder charges filed against him, he never held another office after his term as vice president ended in 1805. 

He spent the rest of his life moving from place to place as a pariah, never showing remorse for killing Hamilton.

Hamilton's Impact on American Politics

Hamilton was widely mourned, especially in New York City. His funeral on July 14th was the largest in the city's long history. 

Every business in New York was closed that day, and so many people marched in the funeral procession that it took hours to complete. Not everyone was sorry to see Hamilton die, though. 

His two longtime political antagonists, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, lived two decades after Hamilton's death, and their long-standing grievances against the man made their way into their writings. 

Re-evaluating Alexander Hamilton's Legacy

Alexander Hamilton's legacy has undergone a re-evaluation in recent years, particularly through the widely successful Broadway musical based on his life. Hamilton's predictions about the American economy were remarkably accurate. 

He believed that commerce was the key to the new country's future and predicted the rise of manufacturing to replace farming, the primacy of cities over rural areas, the power of stock trading and banking, and the national debt. In short, he laid the foundation for modern capitalism.

Equally important, every president after George Washington has built on the power of the executive branch first proposed by Alexander Hamilton. 

The United States has a robust federal government that keeps the many states bound together precisely because men like Hamilton believed that this was the only way to keep the country from inevitably splitting itself apart.

Whether you think the legacy he left makes him a hero or a villain, you have to admit that few of the founding fathers achieved more than he did. 

Few other Americans have ever started as lowly as he did and risen as high. The tragedy of his life is that we'll never know what else he might have been able to achieve had he not been cut down in his prime. 

Conclusion: The Biographics of "Alexander Hamilton"

In conclusion, Alexander Hamilton's impact on the American economy and politics cannot be overstated. 

His predictions and ideas have stood the test of time and continue to shape the country today. 

Despite his controversial legacy, there is no denying the impact he had on the United States and its history.

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