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Alexander Hamilton

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Essay title: Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804)

The solid reputation of Alexander Hamilton places him among but a handful of figures in the history of America. No single figure was ever a stronger advocate of our Constitution; and only a few people have made a comparable contribution to the substance of American government. Because of his fame, few Americans have been as widely controversial as Hamilton. To this day, his importance remains unsurpassed in the areas of sharp finance, principled politics, romantic scandal, hard work, intellectual acuteness, and bravery. Hamilton’s visage on the $10 bill is the only non-presidential face besides Benjamin Franklin to appear on our common currency.

A chronology of his life

Alexander Hamilton was born as a British subject on the island of Nevis in the West Indies on the 11th of January 1755. His father was James Hamilton, a Scottish merchant of St. Christopher. His grandfather was Alexander Hamilton, of Grange, Lanarkshire. One of his great grandfathers was Sir R. Pollock, the Laird of Cambuskeith. Hamilton’s mother was Rachael Fawcette Levine, of French Huguenot descent. When she was very young, she married a Danish proprietor of St. Croix named John Michael Levine. Ms. Levine left her husband and was later divorced from him on June 25, 1759. Under Danish law, the (the court ordering the divorce) Ms. Levine was forbidden from remarrying. Thus, Hamilton’s birth was illegitimate. Alexander Hamilton had one brother, James Hamilton.

Heavy burdens fell upon Hamilton’s shoulders during childhood. Business failures caused Hamilton’s father to become bankrupt. Soon thereafter, his mother died in 1768. At twelve, Alexander entered the counting house of Nicholas Cruger and David Beekman. There, young Alexander served as a clerk and apprentice. At the age of fifteen, Mr. Cruger left Alexander in charge of the business. Early on, Hamilton wished to increase his opportunities in life. This is evidenced by a letter written to his friend Edward Stevens at the age of fourteen on Nov. 11, 1769 where he stated, "[m]y ambition is prevalent, so that I condemn the groveling condition of a clerk or the like … and would willingly risk my life, though not my character, to exalt my station."

During adolescence, Hamilton had few opportunities for regular schooling. However, he possessed a commanding knowledge of French, due to the teaching of his late mother. This was a very rare trait in the English continental colonies. Hamilton was first published in the Royal Danish-American Gazette with his description of the terrible hurricane of August 30th, 1772 that gutted Christiansted. Impressed by this, an opportunity to gain his education was provided by family friends. Seizing this, Hamilton arrived at a grammar school in Elizabethtown, New Jersey in the autumn of 1772. One year later, in 1774, Hamilton graduated and entered King’s College in New York City. There, Hamilton obtained a bachelor’s of arts degree in just one year.

As the War of Independence began, Hamilton took a trip to Boston, which seems to have solidified his loyalties with the colonists. At a mass meeting held in the fields in New York City on July 6, 1774, he made a sensational speech attacking British policies. In addition, he wrote a series of letters for John Holt’s New-York Journal. When an Anglican clergyman, Samuel Seabury, denounced the first Continental Congress

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