Alexander Hamilton

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Alexander Hamilton was the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and is seen as the ideological progenitor of contemporary American conservatism--believing that human nature was essentially egoistic. Unlike Pres. Thomas Jefferson, he is not revered. Hamilton spent much of his political career sucking up to George Washington. His most laudable belief was opposition to the institution of African slavery. The quarrel between Hamilton and Adams caused the Federalists to lose the elction of 1800 to Thomas Jefferson.

Contents

Origins

Alexander Hamilton was born on the island of Nevis in the British West Indies on January 11, 1757. His mother was from the American colonies and his father was British. Alexander Hamilton arrived in New York at the age of sixteen to attend King's College (later Columbia University). At seventeen, his published essays attracted the attention of public figures of the time, including celebrated lawyer and jurist John Jay. At eighteen, Hamilton entered the American Army and eventually became a military aide to General George Washington.

Congress

At the close of the Revolutionary War, Hamilton returned to New York and began the study of law. He was a Delegate to the Continental Congress from New York in 1782, 1783 and 1788, a member of the Annapolis Convention of 1786, and served in the New York State assembly in 1787. In that year, he was appointed to the Constitutional Convention and emerged as a chief figure in the subsequent debates and as a member of the State ratification convention in 1788. At this time, he also published the Federalist Papers, which were to significantly influence the shape of the emerging US government.

Secretary of the Treasury

During the administration of George Washington, in which Hamilton served as Secretary of the Treasury, conflicts arose with Thomas Jefferson to such a degree that the two men displayed open hostility. Among the controversies that divided them were the issue of Federal versus state authority and the course of diplomatic relationships with France.

Hamilton was one of the chief proponents of a strong Federalism, in which a powerful central government would dominate the narrower interests of the citizens in individual states. Hamilton used his position as Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington to solidify and enact a Federalist monetary policy against debtors in favor of creditors and against rural agricultural interests in favor of urban, commerical trading interests. Like other Federalists he looked across the Atlantic to Britain for political alliance and toward the Eastern Hemisphere for economic opporunties. In contrast the Republicans (the Democrats of that era) looked to revolutionary France for political alliances and toward the American West for economic opportunities.

Private life

Included in Hamilton's several accomplishments were the founding of the Bank of New York and the independent New York Post. Both institutions are still in existence.

John Adams described Hamilton as a man who's excesive production of secreetions no number of whores could draw off.

Death

In 1804, Hamilton was wounded in a duel with Colonel Aaron Burr, then the U.S. Vice President, in Weehawken, New Jersey. He died from his wounds shortly thereafter, on July 12th. Shortly therafter, Thomas Jefferson and his party won the election of 1804 in a landslide.

References

  • Richard Buel, Jr. 2005. America on the Brink: How the Political Struggle Over the War of 1812 Almost Destroyed the Young Republic. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1403962383.
  • Lodge, Henry Cabot, Alexander Hamilton. The Works of Alexander Hamilton (1904)

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