Alexander Hamilton

Summary

Alexander Hamilton (Charlestown, Nevis Island, present-day St. Kitts and Nevis, January 11, 1757-New York, July 12, 1804) was an economist, statesman, politician, writer, lawyer, and the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. He was one of the founding fathers of the United States. He was an influential interpreter and promoter of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the founder of the nation”s financial system, the Federalist Party, the U.S. Coast Guard, and The New York Post newspaper. As the first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton was the principal author of the economic policies of George Washington”s administration. He spearheaded the financing of state debts by the federal government, as well as the establishment of a national bank, a tariff system, and friendly trade relations with Great Britain. His vision included a strong central government led by a vigorous executive branch,:3-4 a strong commercial economy, with a national bank and support for manufacturing, plus a powerful military. This was opposed by Virginia agriculturalists Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who formed a rival party, the Democratic-Republican Party. They preferred strong states based in rural America and protected by state militias as opposed to a powerful federal army and navy. They charged that Hamilton was too friendly to Britain and monarchy in general, and too oriented to cities, business and banking.

He was born out of wedlock in Charlestown, Nevis Island. His Scottish-born father, James A. Hamilton, was the fourth son of Alexander Hamilton, laird of Grange, Ayrshire. His mother, Rachel Faucette, was half-British and half-French Huguenot.:8 Orphaned as a child by the death of his mother and the abandonment of his father, Hamilton was raised by an older cousin and later by a prosperous merchant family. He was recognized for his intelligence and talent, and a group of wealthy local men financed his travel to New York City to continue his education. Hamilton attended King”s College (now Columbia University), and chose to stay in the Thirteen Colonies to seek his fortune.

He interrupted his studies before graduating when the college closed its doors during the British occupation of the city, he participated prominently in the War of Independence. At the beginning of the war in 1775, he joined a militia company. Early in 1776, he raised a provincial artillery company, of which he was made captain. He soon became aide-de-camp to General Washington, the commander-in-chief of the army of the Thirteen Colonies. Hamilton carried out numerous missions commissioned by Washington to convey plans to his generals. After the war, Hamilton was elected as a representative to the Confederate Congress from New York. He resigned to devote himself to law, and founded the Bank of New York.

Hamilton was among those dissatisfied with a weak national government. He led the Annapolis Convention, which was instrumental in influencing Congress to issue a call for the Philadelphia Convention to create a new constitution. He took part in the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. To convince New Yorkers of the need to adopt it, he asked James Madison and John Jay to contribute to a series of essays under the pseudonym “Publius,” commonly known as The Federalist Papers. History experts and scholars attribute 51 of the 85 Federalist Papers to Alexander Hamilton, 5 to John Jay and 29 to James Madison; which is why Alexander Hamilton is also known as “The Father of the Federalist Papers”. The “Federalist Papers” are, to date, the single most important reference for constitutional interpretation.

Hamilton became the leading cabinet member in the new administration under President Washington. He was a nationalist who emphasized a strong central government and successfully argued that the implied powers of the Constitution provided the legal authority to charter the national debt, assume the debts of the states, and create a government-backed bank, the Bank of the United States. These programs were financed primarily by a tariff on imports, and later also by a highly controversial whiskey tax.

To overcome localism, Hamilton mobilized a national network of friends of government, especially bankers and businessmen, into what became the United States Federal Party, the first political party in U.S. history, which he led until his death. A major issue in the emergence of the two-party system in the United States was the Jay Treaty, largely designed by Hamilton in 1794. It established friendly trade relations with Great Britain, much to the chagrin of France and the advocates of the French Revolution. Hamilton played a central role in the Federal Party, which dominated national and state politics until it lost the election of 1800 to Jefferson”s Democratic-Republican Party.

Alexander Hamilton is often considered the “patron saint” of the American School which, according to some historians, dominated American economic policy from 1861 onwards. He strongly supported even as early as the fall of 1781 government intervention in favor of national industry and commerce, in the manner of Jean-Baptiste Colbert.

Hamilton opposed the British postulates of free trade, which he considered favored the interests of the colonialist and imperialist powers, in favor of American protectionism, which he believed would favor the industrial development and economy of the emerging nations.

In 1795, he returned to the practice of law in New York. He tried to control the policy of President John Adams (1797-1801). In 1798-99, Hamilton called for mobilization against France after the XYZ Case and became commander of a new army, which he prepared for war. However, the Quasi-War was never officially declared and involved no military action, although there was heavy naval fighting. In the end, President Adams found a diplomatic solution that avoided war with France. Hamilton”s opposition to Adams” reelection helped cause his defeat in the presidential election of 1800. Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied for the presidency in the electoral college in 1801, and Hamilton helped defeat Burr, whom he found unprincipled, and Jefferson”s election despite their philosophical differences.

Hamilton continued his legal and business activities in New York City, and was active in outlawing the international slave trade. Vice President Burr ran for governor of New York State in 1804 and Hamilton campaigned against him, deeming him unworthy. Burr took offense and challenged him to a duel, which took place on July 11, 1804. He suffered mortal wounds and died a day later.

Alexander Hamilton was born and lived part of his childhood in Charlestown, the capital of Nevis Island in the Windward Islands (then part of the British West Indies). Hamilton and his older brother James Jr. (1753 – 1786) were the non-marital children of Rachel Faucette, a married woman of British and French Huguenot descent,:8 and James A. Hamilton, a Scotsman who was the fourth son of the laird Alexander Hamilton of Grange, Ayrshire. Although it has been speculated with some persistence that Hamilton”s mother was of mixed race, there is no verifiable evidence to support this.

It is uncertain whether Hamilton was born in 1755 or 1757. Most of the historical evidence after Hamilton”s arrival in North America supports the idea that he did so in 1757, including Hamilton”s own writings. That is what he claimed when he first arrived in the Thirteen Colonies, and he celebrated his birthday on January 11. At later points in his life, he tended to give his age only in round numbers. Historians accepted 1757 as his birth year until around 1930, when additional documentation of his early years in the Caribbean was published, initially in Danish. A legitimation paper from St. Croix in 1768, in draft form after the death of Hamilton”s mother, states that he was 13 years old, which has led some historians since the 1930s to prefer to give his birth year as 1755.:17

Most historians have speculated about possible reasons for two different birth years on historical documents. If 1755 is correct, Hamilton could be attempting to appear younger than his schoolmates, or perhaps he wished to avoid standing out as older. If 1757 is correct, the only legitimation document that indicated a birth year of 1755 could have simply been included an error, or Hamilton could once have given his age as 13 after his mother”s death in an attempt to appear older and therefore more deserving of employment. Historians have pointed out that the legitimation document contained other proven inaccuracies that would show that it is not entirely trustworthy, and Richard Brookhiser noted that “a man is more likely to know his own birthday than a legitimation court.”

Hamilton”s mother had previously married Johann Michael Lavien on St. Croix of the Virgin Islands, then ruled by Denmark. They had one son, Peter Lavien.:10-12 In 1750, Faucette left her husband and first son, and traveled to St. Kitts where she met James Hamilton.:12 Hamilton and Faucette moved together to Nevis, her birthplace, where she had an estate inherited from his father.:17

James Hamilton abandoned Rachel Faucette and their two sons, James Jr. and Alexander, allegedly to “avoid a charge of bigamy…after discovering her first husband intended to divorce her under Danish law on the grounds of adultery and desertion.” After that Rachel moved with a young Hamilton to St. Croix, where she supported her sons by keeping a small store in Christiansted. She contracted a severe fever and died on February 19, 1768 at 1:02 a.m., leaving Hamilton an orphan. This may have had severe emotional consequences for him, even by the standards of an 18th-century childhood. In probate court, “the first husband seized her estate” and obtained a few valuable assets that had belonged to her, including some household silver. Many items were auctioned off, but a friend acquired the family books and returned them to Hamilton.:25

Hamilton became a clerk in a local import-export firm, Beekman and Cruger, which traded with New York and New England; he was left in charge of the firm for five months in 1771 while the owner was at sea. He and James Jr. were briefly taken in by their cousin Peter Lytton; however, Lytton committed suicide. The brothers were subsequently separated.:26 James was apprenticed to a local carpenter, while Alexander was provided a home by a Nevis merchant, Thomas Stevens. Some clues have led to speculation that Stevens may have been Alexander Hamilton”s biological father: his son Edward Stevens became close friends with Hamilton, the two boys were described as being very similar physically, both were fluent in French, and they shared similar interests.:27-30 However, this allegation, based mostly on Timothy Pickering”s comments on the appearance between the two men, has always been vague or unconfirmed. Rachel Faucette had been living in St. Kitts and Nevis for years at the time Alexander was conceived, while Thomas Stevens was living in Antigua and St. Croix; also, James Hamilton never disavowed paternity, and even in later years, signed his letters to Hamilton with “Your most affectionate father.”

While Hamilton worked as a clerk, he remained an avid reader and later developed an interest in writing. He began to long for a life away from the island where he lived. He wrote a letter to his father that was a detailed account of a hurricane that had devastated Christiansted Christiansted on August 30, 1772. Hugh Knox, a minister and journalist, published the letter in the Royal American-Danish Gazette. Chernow found the letter surprising for two reasons; first, that “for all its grandiloquent excesses, it seems astonishing self-taught employee could write with such verve and enthusiasm,” and second, that a teenage boy would produce an apocalyptic “fire and brimstone sermon” viewing the hurricane as a “divine rebuke to human pomposity and vanity.”:37 The essay impressed community leaders, who raised funds to send Hamilton to the North American colonies for his education.

The Church of England denied membership to Alexander and James Hamilton, Jr.-and education at the church school-because their parents were not legally married. They received “individual tutoring”:17 and classes at a private school run by a Jewish headmistress. Alexander supplemented his education with a family library of 34 books.:34

In October 1772, he arrived on the continent and began to learn about fundamental subjects that were missing from his education. He attended Elizabethtown Academy, an institute in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. In 1773, he studied with Francis Barber at Elizabethtown in preparation for faculty work. He came under the influence of William Livingston, an intellectual and revolutionary leader, with whom he lived for a time at his Liberty Hall. Hamilton entered The King”s College in New York City (now Columbia University) in the fall of 1773 “as a private student,” and officially matriculated in May 1774. His friend Robert Troup spoke glowingly of Hamilton”s ability to explain clearly and concisely the rights and reasons the patriots had in their case against the British, in what is considered to be the first public appearance on July 6, 1774 at the Liberty Pole at King”s College. Hamilton, Troup, and four other college students formed an unnamed literary society that is considered to be a precursor to the Philolexian Society.

Church of England clergyman Samuel Seabury published a series of pamphlets promoting the Loyalist cause in 1774, to which Hamilton responded anonymously with his early political writings, A Full Vindication of the Measures of Congress and The Farmer Refuted. Seabury essentially attempted to provoke fear in the colonies, and his main goal was to stop potential union among the colonies. Hamilton published two additional pieces attacking the Quebec Act, and may also have authored fifteen installments of “The Monitor” for Holt”s New York Journal. Hamilton was an advocate of the Revolutionary cause at this pre-war stage, although he did not condone mob reprisals against the Loyalists. On May 10, 1775, Hamilton got credit for saving his faculty president Myles Cooper, a Loyalist, from an angry mob by talking to the crowd long enough for Cooper to escape.

Hamilton was forced to suspend his studies before graduation when the college closed its doors during the British occupation of the city. When the war ended, after a few months of self-study by July 1782 Hamilton passed the bar exam and in October 1782 was allowed to argue cases before the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

Beginning of his military career

In 1775, after the first engagement of American troops with the British at Lexington and Concord, Hamilton and other King”s College students joined a New York volunteer militia company called the Corsicans, later renamed or reformed as the Hearts of Oak.

He would drill with the company, before classes, in the graveyard at nearby St. Paul”s Chapel. Hamilton studied military history and tactics himself and was soon recommended for promotion. Under fire from HMS Asia, he led a successful attack on the British guns at the Battery, the capture of which resulted in the Hearts of Oak becoming an artillery company shortly thereafter.:13

Through his connections with influential New Yorkers such as Alexander McDougall and John Jay, Hamilton assembled the New York Provincial Artillery Company of sixty men in 1776, and was elected captain.:72 He intervened in the 1776 campaign around New York City, particularly at the Battle of White Plains; at the Battle of Trenton, he was stationed at the high point of the city, the meeting of what are now Warren and Broad Streets, to keep the Hessians subject to the Trenton Barracks.

Hamilton participated in the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777. After an initial setback, Washington rallied the American troops and led them in a successful charge against the British forces. After holding a brief position, the British fell back, some leaving Princeton, and others taking refuge at Nassau Hall. Hamilton brought up three guns and fired on the building. Then some Americans rushed to the front door, and threw it down. The British subsequently pulled a white flag out of one of the windows. 194 British soldiers came out of the building and laid down their arms, ending the battle in an American victory.

George Washington staff

Hamilton found himself invited to become an aide-de-camp to William Alexander, Lord Stirling and another general, perhaps Nathanael Greene or Alexander McDougall. He declined these invitations, believing that his best chance to improve his position in life was glory on the battlefield. Hamilton eventually received an invitation he believed he could not refuse: to serve as Washington”s aide-de-camp, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Washington considered, “aides-de-camp are persons in whom all confidence must be placed and require men of ability to execute duties with propriety and resolution.”

Hamilton served for four years as Washington”s chief aide-de-camp. He handled letters to Congress, state governors, and the most powerful generals in the Continental Army; he drafted many of Washington”s letters and orders at the latter”s direction; he eventually issued Washington”s orders over Hamilton”s own signature.:90 Hamilton was involved in a wide variety of high-level duties, including intelligence, diplomacy, and negotiating with top Army officers as Washington”s emissary.

During the war, Hamilton became close friends with several fellow officers. His letters to the Marquis de Lafayette and John Laurens, employing late 18th century sentimental literary conventions and alluding to Greek mythology and history, had been read by Jonathan Ned Katz as revealing a homosocial or perhaps homosexual relationship. On the other hand, biographer Gregory D. Massey disdains all speculation about a Laurens-Hamilton relationship as unfounded, describing their friendship as pure platonic camaraderie and placing their correspondence in the context of the florid writing style of the time.

Command in the field

While on Washington”s staff, Hamilton long sought command and a return to active combat. As the war drew to a close, he knew that the opportunities for military glory were diminishing. In February 1781, Hamilton received a mild reprimand from Washington and used this as an excuse to resign from his staff position. He asked Washington and others for a command in the field. This continued until early July 1781, when Hamilton submitted a letter to Washington with his commission included, “thus tacitly threatening to resign if he did not get the desired command.”:159

On July 31, 1781, Washington relented and assigned Hamilton as commander of a battalion of light infantry companies of the 1st and 2nd New York Regiments and two provisional Connecticut companies. In planning for the assault on Yorktown, Hamilton was given command of three battalions, which were to fight alongside their allied French troops in taking Redoubt Nos. 9 and 10 of the British fortifications at Yorktown. Hamilton and his battalions fought bravely and took Redoubt No. 10 with bayonets in a night action, as planned. The French also fought bravely, suffered heavy casualties, and took Redoubt No. 9. These actions forced the British to surrender an entire army at Yorktown (Virginia), effectively ending major military operations in North America.

The confederation”s congress

After the Battle of Yorktown, Hamilton resigned his commission. He was appointed in July 1782 to the Confederation Congress as a representative from New York for the term beginning in November 1782. Prior to his appointment to Congress in 1782, Hamilton was already sharing his criticisms of Congress. He expressed these criticisms in his letter to James Duane dated September 3, 1780. In this part he wrote, “The fundamental defect is a want of power in Congress…the confederation itself is defective and requires to be altered; neither fit for war nor for peace.”

While on Washington”s staff, Hamilton had become frustrated with the decentralized nature of the wartime Continental Congress, particularly its reliance on the states for voluntary financial support. Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress had no power to levy taxes or demand money from the states. This lack of a stable source of funds had made it difficult for the Continental Army to both obtain its necessary supplies and pay its soldiers. During the war, and for some time afterward, Congress obtained what funds it could from grants from the king of France, from aid requested by various states (which were often unable or unwilling to contribute), and from European loans.

Congress and the military

While Hamilton was in Congress, disgruntled soldiers began to pose a danger to the young United States. Most of the army was then located in Newburgh, New York. Those in the army were paying for most of their supplies, and had not been paid for eight months. Moreover, Continental officers had been promised, in May 1778, after Valley Forge, a pension of half their pay when they were discharged. In the early 1780s, because of the structure of the government under the Articles of Confederation, it had no power to impose taxes either to collect or to pay its soldiers. In 1782 after several months without pay, a group of officers organized to send a delegation to lobby Congress, led by Captain Alexander McDougall. The officers had three demands: army pay, their own pensions, and the commutation of those pensions into a lump sum if Congress was unable to afford the half-salary pensions for life. Congress rejected the proposal.

Several congressmen, including Hamilton, Robert Morris and Gouverneur Morris, attempted to use this Newburgh conspiracy as leverage to secure support from the states and in Congress to fund the national government. They encouraged MacDougall to continue his aggressive approach, threatening unknown consequences if his demands were not met, and defeated proposals that would have resolved the crisis without establishing a general federal tax: that the states assume the debt owed to the military, or that a tax be established dedicated for the sole purpose of paying that debt.

Hamilton suggested using the claims of the Army to prevail over the states for the proposed national funding system. The Morrises and Hamilton contacted Knox to suggest that he and the officers defy civilian authority, at least not by disbanding if the Army was not satisfied. Hamilton wrote to Washington to suggest that Hamilton covertly “assume the leadership” of the officers” efforts to secure rectifications, to secure continental funding but keep the army within the bounds of restraint. Washington replied to Hamilton, declining to introduce the army. After the crisis was over, he warned of the dangers of using the army as leverage to gain support for the national funding plan.:177-180

On March 15, Washington defused the situation at Newburgh by giving a speech to the officers. Congress ordered the Army officially disbanded in April 1783. In the same month, Congress passed a new measure for a 25-year tax-against which Hamilton voted-which again required the consent of all the states; it also approved a commutation of officers” pensions to five years” full pay. Rhode Island again opposed these provisions, and Hamilton”s robust assertions of national prerogatives in his preceding letter were widely regarded as excessive.

In June 1783, a separate group of disgruntled soldiers from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, sent Congress a petition demanding their pay back. When they began marching to Philadelphia, Congress charged Hamilton and two others to intercept the mob.:180 Hamilton demanded the militia to the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, but was rebuffed. Hamilton ordered Assistant Secretary of War William Jackson to intercept the men. Jackson was unsuccessful. The mob reached Philadephia, and the soldiers demanded their pay from Congress. The President of the Continental Congress, John Dickinson, feared that the Pennsylvania state militia could not be trusted, and refused their help. Hamilton argued that Congress should meet in Princeton, New Jersey. Congress agreed, and relocated there.:182 Frustrated with the weakness of the central government, while Hamilton was in Princeton he called for a revision of the Articles of Confederation. This resolution contained many features of the future U.S. Constitution, including a strong federal government with the ability to levy taxes and organize an army. It also included the separation of powers in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches: 183

Return to New York

Hamilton resigned from Congress, and in July 1782 he passed the bar and opened a law practice in Albany after six months of self-taught education.:169 When the British left New York in 1783 he worked there in the company of Richard Harison. He specialized in defending Tories and British, as in Rutgers v. Waddington, a case in which he defeated a claim for damages suffered by a brewery by the British who occupied it during the military occupation of New York. He asked the Mayor”s Court to interpret state law in a manner consistent with the Treaty of Paris of 1783 that had ended the Revolutionary War.:64-69

In 1784, he founded the Bank of New York which became one of the longest active banks in American history, remaining in business for more than 220 years after merging with another bank in 2007. Hamilton was one of the men who restored King”s College, which had been suspended since 1776 and severely damaged during the war, as Columbia College. Long dissatisfied with the weak Articles of Confederation, as he had a major leadership role in the Annapolis Convention in 1786. He drafted his resolution for a constitutional convention, and in doing so moved a little closer to his long-held desire for a more powerful, more financially independent federal government.

Constitutional Convention and ratification of the Constitution

In 1787, Hamilton held the office of parliamentarian for New York County in the New York State Legislature and was elected as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention by his father-in-law Philip Schuyler. Even though Hamilton had been a leader in calling for a new Constitutional Convention, his direct influence on the Convention itself was quite limited. Governor George Clinton”s faction in the New York Legislature had elected the other two New York delegates, John Lansing, Jr. and Robert Yates, and both were opposed to Hamilton”s claim to a strong national government. Thus, when either of the other two members of the New York delegation were present, they decided the New York vote, to ensure that no major alterations to the Articles of Confederation occurred.:195

Early in the Convention he delivered a speech proposing President for Life; it had no effect on the deliberations of the convention. He proposed having an elected president and senators holding office for life, dependent on “good behavior” and subject to the possibility of being removed for corruption or abuse; this idea later contributed to a hostile view of Hamilton as a royalist sympathizer, held by James Madison.:232 According to Madison”s notes, Hamilton said that in relation to the Executive, “the English model was the only good one in this respect. The hereditary interest of the king was so interwoven with that of the nation, and his personal income so great, that he was placed above the danger of being corrupted from abroad….. Let an Executive for life be appointed who dares to exercise his power.”

Hamilton argued, “And let me observe that an executive is less dangerous to the liberties of the people when in office he holds it for life instead of for seven years. This may be said to constitute as it were an elective monarchy….. But making the executive subject to impeachment, the term ”monarchy” cannot apply…” During the convention, Hamilton wrote a draft Constitution based on the convention debates, but never submitted it. This draft had most of the features of the actual Constitution. In this draft, the Senate was to be elected in proportion to the population, with two-fifths being the size of the House, and the president and senators were to be chosen by complex elections in several stages, in which chosen electors would elect bodies of lesser electors; they would serve for life, but could be removed if they misbehaved. The president would have an absolute veto. The Supreme Court would have immediate jurisdiction over all litigation involving the United States, and state governors would be appointed by the federal government.

At the end of the Convention, Hamilton was still not satisfied with the final Constitution, but he signed it anyway as a vast improvement over the Articles of Confederation, and urged his fellow delegates to do so as well. Since the other two members of the New York delegation, Lansing and Yates, had already withdrawn, Hamilton was the only New York signer of the U.S. Constitution.:206 He then took a very active part in the successful campaign for the ratification of the document in New York in 1788, which was a crucial step in its national ratification. He first used the popularity of the Constitution by the masses to force George Clinton to sign it, but was unsuccessful. The state convention in Poughkeepsie in June 1788 pitted Hamilton, Jay, James Duane, Robert Livingston, and Richard Morris against the Clintonian faction led by Melancton Smith, Lansing, Yates, and Gilbert Livingston.

The Hamilton faction was against any conditional ratification, under the impression that New York would not be accepted into the Union, while the Clinton faction wanted to amend the Constitution, while maintaining the state”s right to secede if their attempts failed. During the state convention, New Hampshire and Virginia became the ninth and tenth states to ratify the Constitution, respectively, had assured any postponement would not occur and a compromise could be reached. Hamilton”s arguments used for the ratifications were largely reiterations of the work of The Federalist Papers, and Smith ultimately accepted ratification, although it was more out of necessity than Hamilton”s rhetoric. The vote on the state constitution was ratified 30 to 27, on July 26, 1788.

In 1788, Hamilton served another term in what proved to be the last session of the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation. When Philip”s term ended in 1791, the attorney general of New York, one Aaron Burr, was elected in his place. Hamilton blamed Burr for this outcome, and bad images of Burr appeared in his later correspondence. The two men worked together from time to time on various projects, including Hamilton”s army of 1798 and the Manhattan Water Company.

The Federalist Papers

Hamilton recruited John Jay and James Madison to write a series of essays defending the proposed Constitution, now known as The Federalist Papers, and contributed the most to the effort, writing 51 of the 85 published essays (Madison wrote 29, Jay five). Hamilton oversaw the entire project, involved the participants, wrote most of the essays, and supervised publication. During the project each person was responsible for his or her areas of expertise. Jay devoted himself to foreign relations, Madison covered the history of the republics and confederations, along with the anatomy of the new government, and Hamilton devoted himself to the branches of government closest to him: the judicial and executive branches, with some aspects of the Senate, as well as covering military affairs and taxation:247-248 The papers first appeared in The Independent Journal on October 27, 1787.:247

Hamilton wrote the first paper signed Publius (“Publius”) and all subsequent papers were signed with this name.:210 Jay wrote the next four papers to discuss the weaknesses of the confederacy and the need for unity against foreign aggression and against division into rival confederations, and, except for Number 64, was not further implicated. :211 Hamilton”s highlights include discussions that although republics had been guilty of disorders in the past, advances in the “science of politics” had cultivated principles that ensured that those abuses could be avoided, such as the division of powers, legislative checks and balances, an independent judiciary, and legislators who were represented by electors (Numbers 7-9).:254 Hamilton also wrote a broad defense of the constitution (Nos. 23-36), and discussed the Senate and the judicial and executive branches in Numbers 65-85. Hamilton and Madison worked to describe the lawless state of the confederacy in Nos. 15-22, and have been described as not entirely dissimilar in thought during this era in contrast to the outspoken opposition at a later time in their lives.:252-255 Subtle differences with the two appeared when they discussed the need to raise armies:257.

Reconciliation between New York and Vermont

In 1764 King George III had decided in favor of New York in a dispute between New York and New Hampshire over the region that would later become the state of Vermont. New York then refused to recognize claims to property derived from cessions by New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworth during his preceding fifteen years when the territory had been governed as a de facto part of New Hampshire. Consequently, the people of the disputed territory, called the New Hampshire Grants, resisted the forcible application of New York law within the Grants. Ethan Allen”s militia called the Green Mountains Boys, known for successes in the war against the British in 1775, was originally formed for the purpose of resisting colonial rule of New York. In 1777 Grants statesmen declared that it was a separate state to be called Vermont, and by early 1778 had erected a state government.

During 1777-1785, representation in the Continental Congress was repeatedly denied, largely because New York insisted that Vermont was legally part of New York. Vermont took the position that because its petitions for admission to the Union were denied, it was not part of the United States, not subject to Congress, and free to negotiate separately with the British. Haldimand”s subsequent negotiations led to some prisoner-of-war exchanges. The peace treaty of 1783 that ended the war included Vermont within the boundaries of the United States. On March 2, 1784, Governor George Clinton of New York asked Congress to declare war for the purpose of overthrowing the Vermont government, but Congress made no decision.

By 1787 the New York government had all but abandoned plans to subjugate Vermont, but still claimed jurisdiction. As a member of the New York legislature, Hamilton argued forcefully and at great length in favor of the law to recognize the sovereignty of the state of Vermont, against numerous objections to its constitutionality and policy. It was deferred to a later time to consider this law. From 1787 to 1789 Hamilton exchanged letters with Nathaniel Chipman, a lawyer representing Vermont. In 1788 the new U.S. Constitution went into effect, with its plan to replace the unicameral Continental Congress with a new Congress consisting of the Senate and a House of Representatives. Hamilton wrote:

One of the first issues to be deliberated within the new Congress would be the independence of Kentucky [at that time still a part of Virginia], for which the southern states were anxious. Northerners would be pleased to find a counterweight in Vermont.

In 1790 the New York legislature decided to abandon New York”s claim to Vermont if Congress decided to admit Vermont into the Union and if negotiations between New York and Vermont over the boundary between the two states were satisfactorily concluded. In 1790, negotiators discussed not only the boundary, but also financial compensation from those who ceded land from New York whose cessions Vermont refused to recognize because they clashed with earlier cessions from New Hampshire. A settlement of compensation in the amount of 30,000 Spanish dollars was reached, and Vermont was admitted into the Union in 1791.

President George Washington appointed Hamilton as the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States on September 11, 1789. He left office on the last day of January 1795. Much of the structure of the U.S. government was set in those five years, beginning with the structure and function of the cabinet itself. Biographer Forrest McDonald argues that Hamilton saw his office, like that of the British First Lord of the Treasury, as the equivalent of a prime minister. Hamilton supervised his colleagues under George Washington”s elective reign. Washington required Hamilton”s advice and assistance in matters outside the scope of the Treasury Department. In 1791, while secretary, Hamilton was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Hamilton submitted several financial reports to Congress. Among these were the First Report on the public credit, Operations of the Act establishing duties on imports, Report on a national bank, On the establishment of a mint, Report on manufactures, and Report on a plan for further supporting the public credit. Thus, the great objectives of Hamilton”s project of an administrative republic is the establishment of stability.

Report on public credit

Before the House adjourned in September 1789, they asked Hamilton to prepare a report with suggestions on how to improve the public credit in January 1790. Hamilton had written to Robert Morris as early as 1781 that fixing the public credit would gain his goal of independence. The sources Hamilton used ranged from Frenchmen like Jacques Necker and Montesquieu to British writers like Hume, Hobbes, and Malachy Postlethwayt.:296 While writing the report he also sought suggestions from contemporaries like John Knox Witherspoon, and Madison. Although they agreed on additional taxes such as distilleries and duties on imported liquor and land taxes, Madison feared that government bonds would fall into foreign hands.:244-245

In the report, Hamilton felt that the bonds should be paid at full value to their rightful owners, including those who took the financial risk of buying government bonds that most experts believed would never be redeemed.

Report on a national bank

Hamilton”s report on a national bank was a projection of the first report on public credit. Although Hamilton had been thinking about a national bank as early as 1779,:268 he gathered ideas in various forms over eleven years. These included theories drawn from Adam Smith, extensive studies of the Bank of England, the blunders of the Bank of North America, and his experience in establishing the Bank of New York. He also used American reports from James Wilson, Pelatiah Webster, Gouverneur Morris, and his assistant treasury secretary Tench Coxe.

Hamilton suggested that Congress should charter the National Bank with a capitalization of $10 million, one-fifth of which would be managed by the government. Since the government did not have the money, it could borrow the money from the bank itself, and repay the loan in ten identical annual payments.:194 The remainder was to be available to private investors. The bank was to be governed by a twenty-five-member board of directors representing a large majority of the private unitholders, which Hamilton considered essential for it to be under private management. :268 Hamilton”s bank model closely resembled the Bank of England, except that Hamilton wanted to exclude the government from being involved in public debt, but to provide large, firm, flexible money for the operation of normal business and normal economic development, among other differences.:194-195 To raise tax revenues to start the bank, it was the same as he had proposed earlier; taxes on imported alcoholic beverages: rum, liquor, and whiskey.:195-196

The bill passed through the Senate virtually unchallenged, but objections to the proposal were mounting by the time it reached the House. It was often said by critics that Hamilton was serving the interests of the Northeast through the bank, and that those with an agrarian way of life would not benefit from it.:270 Among those critics was James Jackson of Georgia, who also attempted to dismiss the report by saying taking quotes from The Federalist Papers.:270 Madison and Jefferson also opposed the bank bill. The potential that the capital would not be moved to the Potomac if the bank was to have a firm foothold in Philadelphia (then the capital of the United States) was a more significant reason, and the actions Pennsylvania members of Congress took to keep the capital there made both men nervous.:199-200

Madison warned members of Congress from Pennsylvania that he would attack the bill as unconstitutional in the House, and carried out his threat.:200 Madison made his case for where a bank could be established within the Constitution, but failed in his attempt to convince members of the House, and his authority over the constitution was questioned by a few members.:200-201 The bill eventually passed overwhelmingly 39 to 20, on February 8, 1791.:271

Washington hesitated to sign the bill, as he received suggestions from Attorney General Edmund Randolph and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson dismissed the “necessary and proper” clause as a reason for the creation of a national bank, stating that the enumerated powers “can all be executed without a bank.”:271-272 Along with the objections of Randolph and Jefferson, Washington”s involvement in the Philadelphia capital movement is also believed to have been the reason for his hesitation. :202-203 In response to the objection to the “necessary and proper” clause, Hamilton stated that “Necessity often means nothing more than necessary, indispensable, incidental, useful, or directed to,” and the bank was a “convenient species of medium in which (taxes) are to be paid.”:272-273 Washington would ultimately sign the proposal into law.:272-73

Establishment of the U.S. Mint

In 1791, Hamilton submitted the Report on the Establishment of a mint to the House of Representatives. Many of Hamilton”s ideas for this report came from European economists, decisions from meetings of the Continental Congress of 1785 and 1786, and individuals such as Robert Morris, Gouverneur Morris, and Thomas Jefferson.

Because the most widely circulated coinage in the United States at the time was Spanish currency, Hamilton proposed that a U.S. dollar weighing almost as much as the Spanish peso be minted and that would be the simplest way to introduce a national currency. Hamilton differed from European equivalents in monetary policy in his desire to overvalue gold relative to silver, on the basis that the United States would always receive an influx of silver from the West Indies.:197 Despite his personal preference for a monometallic gold standard, he ultimately issued a bimetallic coinage in a fixed 15:1 ratio of silver to gold.

Hamilton proposed that the U.S. dollar should have fractional coins using decimals, rather than eighths like the Spanish coinage.This innovation was initially suggested by Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris, with whom Hamilton corresponded after examining one of Morris”s Nova Constellatio coins in 1783.He also desired the minting of lower value coins, to reduce the cost of living for the poor.One of his main objectives was to get the general public used to handling money frequently.:198

By 1792, Hamilton”s principles were adopted by Congress, resulting in the Coinage Act of 1792, and the creation of the United States Mint. There was to be a ten-dollar Gold Eagle coin, a silver dollar, and fractional coinage ranging from one-half to fifty cents. There was to be a ten-dollar Gold Eagle coin, a silver dollar, and fractional coinage ranging from one-half to fifty cents. The silver and gold coinage was issued by 1795.

Revenue Cutter Service

Smuggling off the U.S. coast was a problem even before the Revolutionary War, and after the Revolution it became more of a problem. Along with smuggling, lack of ship control, piracy, and fiscal imbalance were also major problems. In response, Hamilton proposed to Congress to form a naval police force called revenue cutters to patrol the waters and assist customs collectors with the seizure of contraband. :340 This idea was also proposed to aid in tariff control, boost the U.S. economy, and promote the merchant marine. It is believed that his experience, gained while apprenticed to Nicholas Kruger, greatly influenced his decisions.:32

Regarding the details of the “Cutter System,” Hamilton wanted the first ten cutters in different areas in the United States, from New England to Georgia. Each of those cutters was to be armed with ten muskets and bayonets, twenty pistols, two burins, a broad axe, and two lanterns. The sail material was of domestic workmanship;:340 and provision was made for the provision of food for employees and etiquette when boarding vessels.:340 Congress established the Revenue Cutter Service on August 4, 1790, which is seen as the birth of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Whisky and tax revenues

One of the main sources of revenue Hamilton got Congress to approve was an indirect tax on whiskey. In his first Tariff Act in January 1790, Hamilton proposed raising the three million dollars needed to pay for government expenditures and interest on domestic and foreign debt through increased duties on imported wines, distilled spirits, tea, coffee, and domestic liquors. It failed, with Congress complying with most of the recommendations excluding the excise tax on whiskey (the Madison tariff of the same year was a Hamilton modification involving only imported goods and was passed in September).

In response to the diversification of tax revenue, as three-quarters of the revenue collected was from trade with Great Britain, Hamilton tried again during his Report on the Public Credit when he presented it in 1790 to implement an excise tax on both domestic and imported liquors. The degree of taxation was graduated in proportion to the proof of whiskey, and Hamilton intended to equalize the tax burden on imported and domestic liquors. In lieu of taxes on production citizens could pay 60 cents per gallon of dispensing capacity, along with an exception on small stills used exclusively for home consumption. He realized the hatred the tax would receive in rural areas, but thought the liquor tax more reasonable than land taxes.:342

Opposition initially came from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives protesting the tax. William Maclay had pointed out that even Pennsylvania legislators had not been able to enforce excise taxes in the western regions of the state.:342-343 Hamilton was aware of the potential difficulties and proposed that inspectors could have the ability to search buildings that distillers had devised to store their liquor, and would be able to search suspected places of storing illegal liquor to confiscate contraband with a warrant. Although the inspectors were not allowed to search houses and cellars, they would visit twice a day and write weekly reports in extensive detail.:343 Hamilton warned them against expeditious judicial means, and favored a jury trial with potential offenders. As early as 1791 locals began to threaten or avoid the inspectors, as they felt the inspection methods were intrusive.:343 Inspectors were also tarred and feathered, blinded and flogged. Hamilton had tried to appease the opposition with low tax levels, but it was not enough.:468

Strong opposition to whiskey taxes by artisanal producers in rural and remote regions erupted in the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794; in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, whiskey was the staple export and was central to the local economy. In response to the rebellion, believing that enforcing the laws was vital to establishing federal authority, Hamilton accompanied President Washington, General Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, and more federal troops than had ever been assembled in one place during the Revolution to the site of the rebellion. This impressive show of force intimidated the leaders of the insurrection, ending the rebellion virtually without bloodshed.

Manufacturing and industry

Hamilton”s next report was his Report on Manufactures. Although it was a request from Congress on January 15, 1790 for a report on manufactures that would expand the independence of the United States, the report was not submitted until December 5, 1791.:274, 277 In the report, Hamilton quoted from The Wealth of Nations and used the French physiocrats as an example to reject agrarianism and physiocratic theory; respectively. :233 Hamilton also rejected Smith”s ideas of government noninterference, as it might have been detrimental to trade with other countries.:244 Hamilton also thought that the United States, being primarily an agricultural country, would be at a disadvantage in dealing with Europe. In response to agricultural detractors, Hamilton asserted that the interests of farmers would be enhanced by manufactures,:276 and that agriculture would be as productive as manufacturing.:276

Among the ways in which the government could help manufacturing, Hamilton mentioned the application of protective taxes on imported foreign goods that were also manufactured in the United States, to remove obligations created on raw materials needed for domestic manufacturing,:277 and encouraged immigration for people to improve similar employment opportunities. Congress shelved the report without much debate (except for Madison”s objection to Hamilton”s formulation of the general welfare clause, which Hamilton liberally interpreted as a legal basis for his extensive programs).

Subsequently, in 1791, his ideas about manufactures being a major influence, Hamilton, along with Coxe and other New York and Philadelphia entrepreneurs helped form the Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures, a private industrial corporation. In May 1792, the directors decided to seek out The Passaic Falls. On July 4, 1792, the directors of the society met Philip Schuyler at Abraham Godwin”s hotel along the Passaic River, where they would lead a tour surveying the area for domestic manufactures. It was originally suggested that they dig trenches a mile long and build the factories away from the falls, but Hamilton argued that it would be too costly and laborious.

The location of the Great Falls of the Passaic River in New Jersey was selected because of access to raw materials, being densely populated, and with access to water power from the Passaic Falls.:231 The industrial city was named Paterson after New Jersey Governor William Paterson, who signed the charter. Profits would be derived from specific corporate entities rather than the benefits being vested in the nation and citizens, which was different from the report. Hamilton also suggested the first offering be at half a million dollars and eventually increased to a million, and welcomed both the state and the national government. The company never succeeded: numerous stockholders reneged on the payments, some members soon went bankrupt, and William Duer, the governor of the program, was sent to prison for debt. Despite Hamilton”s efforts to clean up the mess, the company would disappear by 1796.

Emergence of political parties

While serving as Secretary of the Treasury, political factions began to emerge. A congressional caucus, led by James Madison and William Branch Giles, began as a group opposing Hamilton”s financial programs, and Thomas Jefferson joined this group when he returned from France. Hamilton and his allies began calling themselves Federalists. The opposition group, now called the Democratic-Republican Party by political scientists, was at that time known as Republicans.

Hamilton assembled a national coalition to rally support for the administration, including financial expansion programs Hamilton had made administration policy and especially the president”s policy of neutrality in the European war between Britain and France. Hamilton”s public relations campaign attacked French minister Edmond-Charles Genêt (he called himself “Citizen Genêt”) who tried to appeal directly to the voters, which the Federalists denounced as foreign interference in American affairs. If Hamilton”s administrative republic was to succeed, Americans had to see themselves as citizens of the nation, and experience an administration that proved to be firm and concepts that could be found within the U.S. Constitution. The Federalists imposed some direct internal taxes but shied away from most of the implications of Hamilton”s administrative republic as risky.

The Jeffersonian Republicans opposed the banks and cities, and favored France. They built their own national coalition to oppose the Federalists. Both sides won the support of local political factions; each side developed its own partisan newspapers. Noah Webster, John Fenno, and William Cobbett were energetic editors for the Federalists; Benjamin Franklin Bache and Philip Freneau were fierce Republican editors. All the newspapers were characterized by intense personal attacks, gross exaggerations, and invented claims. In 1801, Hamilton established a daily newspaper, the New York Evening Post and brought in William Coleman as editor. It is still published (as is the New York Post).

The best known dispute is the one between Hamilton and Jefferson, and historically it is the most important in American history. The incompatibility between Hamilton and Jefferson was enhanced by an undisguised desire of each to be Washington”s chief, most trusted advisor.

Jay Treaty and Great Britain

When France and Britain waged war in early 1793, the four cabinet members were consulted on what to do. They and Washington unanimously agreed to remain neutral, and send Genêt home.:336-341 However, in 1794 policy toward Britain became a point of contention between the two parties. Hamilton and the Federalists wanted more trade with Britain, the new nation”s main trading partner. The Republicans saw Britain as the main threat to republicanism and proposed instead a trade war.:327-328

To avoid war, Washington sent Chief Justice John Jay to negotiate with the British; Hamilton largely wrote Jay”s instructions. The result was the Jay treaty. It was denounced by Republicans, but Hamilton mobilized support throughout the land. The Jay treaty passed the Senate in 1795 by exactly the required two-thirds majority. The treaty resolved issues that had remained outstanding since the Revolution, averted war, and made possible ten years of peaceful trade between the United States and Great Britain.:Ch 9 Historian George Herring notes the “remarkable and fortuitous diplomatic and economic gains” produced by the treaty.

Several European nations had formed a League of armed neutrality against incursions on their neutral rights; the cabinet was also consulted on whether the United States should join it, and decided against it. He kept his situation secret, but Hamilton revealed it privately to George Hammond, the British minister to the United States, without telling Jay or anyone else. His act remained unknown until Hammond”s dispatches were read in the 1920s. This “startling revelation” may have had a limited effect on the negotiations; Jay threatened to join the League at one point, but the British had other reasons for not seeing the League as a serious threat.

Second report on public credit and resignation from office

Hamilton resigned from office on December 1, 1794, giving Washington two months” notice, following in the footsteps of his wife Eliza”s abortion while he was away during his armed suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion. Before leaving office on January 31, 1795, Hamilton proposed a Report on a Plan for the Further Support of the Public Credit to Congress to deal with the debt problem. Hamilton became increasingly dissatisfied with what he saw as a lack of a comprehensive plan to fix the public debt. He wanted new taxes passed making the old ones permanent and asserted that any additions to the excise tax on liquor and whiskey would be committed to a lower public debt. His proposals were included in a bill before Congress within a little more than a month after his departure as secretary of the treasury.:480 A few months later Hamilton returned to practice law in New York to remain close to his family.

1796 Presidential Election

Hamilton”s resignation as Secretary of the Treasury in 1795 did not remove him from public life. With the resumption of work at the firm, he remained close to Washington as an advisor and friend. Hamilton included Washington in the composition of his Farewell George Farewell Address writing drafts for Washington to compare with the latter”s draft, although when Washington contemplated retirement in 1792, he had consulted with James Madison for a draft that was used similarly to Hamilton”s.

In the election of 1796, under the Constitution as it then stood, each of the presidential electors had two votes, which they could cast for different men. The one who received the most votes became president, the second vice-president. This system was not designed for a party system, as they had been considered disreputable and factious. The Federalists planned to deal with this by having all their electors vote for John Adams, the vice president, and all but a few went to Thomas Pinckney of South Carolina.:117

Adams resented Hamilton”s influence over Washington and considered him overly ambitious and scandalous in his private life; Hamilton compared Adams unfavorably with Washington and believed he was too emotionally unstable to be president.:510 Hamilton took the election as an opportunity: he urged all northern electors to vote for Adams and Pinckney, so that Jefferson would not get in; but he cooperated with Edward Rutledge to get South Carolina electors to vote for Jefferson and Pinckney. If all this worked, Pinckney would have more votes than Adams, Pinckney would become president and Adams would be vice president, but it didn”t work. The Federalists discovered the plot (even the French minister to the United States knew about it), and the Northern Federalists voted for Adams but not for Pinckney, in sufficient numbers for Pinckney to come in third and Jefferson to become vice president. Adams was upset by the intrigue as he felt his service to the nation was far greater than Pinckney”s.

The Reynolds scandal

In the summer of 1797 Hamilton became the first major American politician publicly involved in a sex scandal. Six years earlier, in the summer of 1791, a 34-year-old Hamilton began an affair with 23-year-old Maria Reynolds. According to Hamilton”s account, Maria approached him at his Philadelphia home, pretending that her husband, James Reynolds, had deserted her and wished to return to his relatives in New York but lacked the means.:366-69 Hamilton retrieved her address and delivered thirty dollars to her personally at her boarding house where she took him to her room and “there was some conversation from which it soon became apparent that some other consolation besides pecuniary would be acceptable.” The two began an extra-marital relationship that lasted, with varying frequency, until about June 1792.

Throughout the course of that year, as the mess developed, James Reynolds was well aware of his wife”s infidelity. He continually supported their relationship in order to extort money from Hamilton. The usual practice at the time was for the offended husband to seek retribution in a gun duel, but Reynolds, realizing how much Hamilton had to lose if his activity became publicly known, insisted on monetary compensation. After an initial request for a thousand dollars to which Hamilton agreed, Reynolds invited Hamilton to renew his visits to his wife “as a friend” only to get obligatory “loans” after each visit that the probably complicit Maria asked for in her letters. In the end the blackmail payments totaled over $1300 including the initial extortion.:369 Possibly by this time Hamilton was already aware that the two Reynolds were involved in this blackmail and welcomed and strictly complied with Reynolds” request to end the affair.

In November 1792 James Reynolds and his associate Jacob Clingman were arrested for forgery and profiteering in back wages of veterans. Clingman was released on bail and revealed information to James Monroe that Reynolds had evidence that would incriminate Hamilton. Monroe consulted with Congressmen Muhlenberg and Venable on what action to take and the Congressmen confronted Hamilton on December 15, 1792. Hamilton dismissed the suspicions of profiteering by exposing his affair with Maria and presenting as evidence letters from both Reynolds, showing that his payments to James Reynolds were related to blackmail over his adultery, not treasury misconduct. The trio would keep the documents privately in the utmost confidence.:366-369

In the summer of 1797, however, when the “notoriously libelous journalist” James T. Callender published A History of the United States for the Year 1796, it contained allegations that James Reynolds was an agent of Hamilton, using documents from the confrontation of December 15, 1792. On July 5, 1797, Hamilton wrote to Monroe, Muhlenberg and Venable asking them to confirm that there was nothing that could damage the perception of his integrity while he was Secretary of the Treasury. All complied with Hamilton”s request except Monroe, and after several arguments, the two almost came to a duel. When Hamilton did not get an explicit response from Monroe, he published a hundred-page pamphlet, later usually called the Reynolds Pamphlet, to preserve his public reputation, and discussed the matter in exquisite detail. His wife Elizabeth eventually forgave him, but not Monroe. Although he faced ridicule from the Republican-Democratic faction, he maintained his availability for public service.:334-336

Near-war

During the military escalation of the Quasi-War of 1798-1800, and with the strong support of Washington (who had been brought out of retirement to lead the army if a French invasion materialized), Adams reluctantly appointed Hamilton as major general of the army. At Washington”s insistence, Hamilton was named the senior major general, prompting Henry Knox to decline the appointment to serve as Hamilton”s second (Knox had been a major general in the Continental Army and believed it would be demeaning to serve below him).

Hamilton served as inspector general of the U.S. Army from July 18, 1798, to June 15, 1800. Because Washington was unwilling to leave Mount Vernon unless it was to command an army in the field, Hamilton was de facto head of the army, to Adams” deep dissatisfaction. If full-scale war broke out with France, Hamilton argued that the army should conquer the American colonies of France”s ally Spain, which bordered the U.S. Hamilton was prepared to march his army across the southern U.S. if necessary, possibly also using his army in Virginia to crush opposition to Adams and himself.

To obtain funds for his army, Hamilton wrote regularly to Oliver Wolcott Jr, his successor in the Treasury William Loughton Smith of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Senator Theodore Sedgwick of Massachusetts. He directed them to pass a direct tax to finance the war. Smith resigned in July 1797, since Hamilton reproached him for his slowness, and told Wolcott to tax houses instead of land. The eventual program included a Stamp Act like that of the British before the Revolution and other taxes on land, houses, and slaves, assessed at different rates in different states, and requiring a difficult and intricate valuation of houses. This provoked resistance in southeastern Pennsylvania, led mainly by men like John Fries who had marched with Washington against the whiskey rebellion.

Hamilton assisted in all areas of the army”s development, and after Washington”s death he was by default the Chief Officer of the United States Army from December 4, 1799 to June 15, 1800. The army was the safeguard against an invasion by France. Adams, however, altered all plans for the war by entering into negotiations with France. Adams had seen fit to retain members of Washington”s cabinet, except for cause; he discovered, in 1800 (after Washington”s death), that they were obeying Hamilton more than himself, and dismissed several of them.

Presidential election of 1800

In the election of 1800, Hamilton worked to defeat not only rival Democratic-Republican candidates, but also his own party”s nominee, John Adams. :392-399 By November 1799, the Alien and Sedition Acts had left one Republican-Democratic newspaper operating in New York; when the latter, the New Daily Advertiser, reprinted an article claiming that Hamilton had attempted to acquire the Philadelphia Aurora and shut it down, Hamilton had the publisher prosecuted for seditious libel, and the prosecution forced the owner to close the paper.

Aaron Burr had won New York for Jefferson in May; now Hamilton proposed a rerun election under different rules-with carefully drawn districts each choosing an elector-so that the Federalists would split New York”s electoral vote. (John Jay, a Federalist who had surrendered the Supreme Court to become governor of New York, wrote on the back of the letter the words, “Proposing a measure for partisan purposes which it would not be well for me to adopt,” and declined to respond).

John Adams was running this time with Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of South Carolina (the older brother of candidate Thomas Pinckney of the 1796 election). Hamilton then toured New England, again urging northern electors to stand firm for Pinckney in the renewed hope of making Pinckney president; and again he intrigued in South Carolina.:350-351 Hamilton”s ideas involved tricking mid-state Federalists into confirming their lack of support for Adams if there was no support for Pinckney and writing to more of Adams”s more modest supporters regarding his alleged misconduct while president. :350-351 Hamilton was confident of seeing southern states such as the Carolinas cast their votes for Pinckney and Jefferson, and this would result in the former being ahead of both Adams and Jefferson.:394-395

In accordance with the second of the above plans, and a recent personal discussion with Adams,:351 Hamilton wrote a pamphlet called Letter from Alexander Hamilton, Concerning the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq. President of the United States which was highly critical of him, though it closed with lukewarm praise.:396 He mailed this to two hundred prominent Federalists; when a copy fell into the hands of Republican-Democrats, they printed it. This hurt Adams” reelection in 1800 and split the Federalist party, virtually assuring the victory of the Republican-Democratic party, led by Jefferson, in the election of 1800; it destroyed Hamilton”s position among the Federalists.

Jefferson had defeated Adams, but both he and his running mate, Aaron Burr, had received 73 votes in the Electoral College (Adams finished third, Pinckney fourth, and Jay received one vote). With Jefferson and Burr tied, The U.S. House of Representatives had to choose between the two men.:399 Several Federalists who opposed Jefferson supported Burr, and for the first 35 ballots, Jefferson was denied a majority. Before ballot 36, Hamilton threw his full weight behind Jefferson, supporting the arrangement reached by James A. Bayard of Delaware, in which five Federalist representatives from Maryland and Vermont abstained from voting, allowed the delegations from those states to go for Jefferson, ending the impasse and electing Jefferson president over Burr.:350-351

Even though Hamilton disliked Jefferson and disagreed with him on many issues, he saw Jefferson as the lesser of two evils. Hamilton said that Jefferson was “by far a not so dangerous man,” and that Burr was a “harmful enemy” to the main measure of the past administration. It was because of this, along with the fact that Burr was a Northerner and not a Virginian, that many Federalist representatives voted for him.

Hamilton wrote a large number of letters to friends in Congress to convince members to see it differently.:401 The Federalists rejected Hamilton”s diatribe as the reason not to vote for Burr.:401 Regardless, Burr would become vice president for the United States. When it became clear that Jefferson had developed his own concerns about Burr and would not support his return to the vice presidency, Burr sought to become governor of New York in 1804 with Federalist support, against Jeffersonian Morgan Lewis, but was defeated by forces including Hamilton.

Duel with Burr and death

Shortly after the 1804 gubernatorial election in New York-in which Morgan Lewis, aided largely by Hamilton, defeated Aaron Burr-the Albany Register published letters from Charles D. Cooper, citing Hamilton”s opposition to Burr and alleging that Hamilton had expressed ”an even more despicable opinion” of the vice president at a dinner in upstate New York. Cooper noted that the letter was intercepted after transmitting the information, but claimed that he was ”unusually cautious” in gathering the information from the dinner:680-681

Burr, feeling that his honor was being attacked, and recovering from his defeat, demanded an apology in the form of a letter. Hamilton wrote a letter in response and ultimately declined because he could not remember on what occasion he insulted Burr. Hamilton would also have been accused of retracting Cooper”s letter out of cowardice.:423-424 After a series of attempts to reconcile them were unsuccessful, a duel was arranged through acquaintances on June 27, 1804.:426

Before the duel, Hamilton wrote a defense of his decision to duel while, at the same time, pretending to waste his shot. Hamilton saw that he was a father and a husband, putting his creditors at risk, placing his family”s welfare at risk, and his religious and moral convictions were reasons not to duel, but he felt it was impossible to avoid it because he had attacked Burr who was not capable of recanting, and because of Burr”s behavior before the duel. He tried to reconcile his moral and religious reasons and the codes of honor and politics. He intended to accept the duel and waste his shot to satisfy both his moral and political codes, respectively. His desire to be available for future political affairs also played a role.

The concept of honor was central to Hamilton”s vision of himself and the nation. Historians have noted, as evidence of the importance honor had in Hamilton”s value system, that Hamilton had previously been involved in seven “affairs of honor” as a principal, and in three others as an advisor or second. Such affairs often ended before reaching their final stage, a duel.

The duel began at dawn on July 11, 1804, along the western bank of the Hudson River on a rocky rim in Weehawken, N.J. Coincidentally, the duel took place at a site relatively close to the location of the duel that ended the life of Hamilton”s eldest son, Philip, three years earlier. After seconds measured the paces, Hamilton, according to both William P. Van Ness and Burr, raised his pistol “as if to test the light” and had to put on his glasses to keep his vision from being obscured. Hamilton also refused the spiral set of dueling pistols (which would make the trigger pull lighter) offered by Nathaniel Pendleton.

Vice President Burr fired at Hamilton, achieving what would prove to be a fatal wound. Hamilton”s shot broke a tree branch directly over Burr”s head.:117 Neither of the seconds, Pendleton nor Van Ness, could determine who fired first, for each maintained that it was the other who had fired first.

Shortly thereafter, they measured and triangulated the shot, but were unable to determine from what angle Hamilton had fired. Burr”s shot struck Hamilton in the lower abdomen above the right hip. The bullet ricocheted to the second or third false rib, fracturing it and causing considerable damage to his internal organs, particularly his liver and diaphragm, before lodging in his first or second lumbar vertebrae. Biographer Ron Chernow considered the circumstances to indicate that, after deliberately aiming, Burr fired second,:704 while biographer James Earnest Cooke suggested that Burr took great care to aim and fired first, and Hamilton fired second as he fell, after being struck by Burr”s bullet.

Hamilton, paralyzed, who knew he was mortally wounded, was transported to the Greenwich Village home of his friend William Bayard Jr. who had been waiting on the wharf. After final visits from family and friends, and considerable suffering, Hamilton died at 2 p.m. the next day, July 12, 1804, at Bayard”s home at what is now 80-82 Jane Street. Gouverneur Morris delivered the eulogy at his funeral and secretly established a fund to support his widow and children.:712-713, 725 Hamilton was buried in Trinity Church Cemetery in Manhattan.

Family

While Hamilton was stationed at Morristown (New Jersey) in the winter of December 1779 to March 1780, he met Elizabeth Schuyler, daughter of General Philip Schuyler and Catherine Van Rensselaer. The two were married on December 14, 1780, at the Schuyler mansion in Albany, New York.:128-129

Elizabeth and Alexander Hamilton had eight children, although there is often confusion because two sons were named Philip:

After Hamilton”s death in 1804, Elizabeth succeeded in preserving his legacy. She reorganized all of Alexander”s letters, papers and writings with the help of her son, John Church Hamilton, and persevered despite many setbacks in getting his biography published. She also dedicated to Alexander”s memory that she wore a small package around her neck containing the pieces of a sonnet Alexander wrote to her during the early years of their courtship.

Hamilton was also close to Elizabeth”s sisters. During his lifetime he was even rumored to have an affair with his wife”s older sister Angelica, who three years before Hamilton”s marriage to Elizabeth had eloped with John Barker Church, an Englishman who made a fortune in North America during the Revolution and later returned to Europe as his wife and with their children between 1783 and 1797. Even though the style of their correspondence during Angelica”s 14-year stay in Europe was flirtatious, some historians such as Chernow and Fielding agree that despite contemporary gossip there is no conclusive evidence that Hamilton”s relationship with Angelica was ever physical or went beyond a strong affinity between brothers-in-law. Hamilton also corresponded with Elizabeth”s younger sister Margaret, nicknamed Peggy, who was the recipient of his first letters praising her sister Elizabeth at the time of their courtship in the early 1780s.

Religion

As a young man from the West Indies, Hamilton was a conventional, orthodox Presbyterian of the “New Light” evangelical type (there he was taught by a student of John Witherspoon, a New School moderate. He wrote two or three hymns, which were published in the local newspaper.:38 Robert Troup, his college roommate, noted that Hamilton was “in the habit of praying on his knees night and day.”:10

According to Gordon Wood, Hamilton abandoned his youthful religiosity during the Revolution and became “a conventional liberal with theistic leanings who went to church at most irregularly”; however, he returned to religion in his later years. Chernow wrote that Hamilton was nominally an Episcopalian, but:

He was not clearly affiliated with the denomination and does not appear to have attended church regularly or taken communion. Like Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson, Hamilton had probably fallen under the influence of deism, which sought to substitute reason for revelation and abandoned the notion of an active god who would intervene in human affairs. At the same time, never doubting the existence of god, he embraced Christianity as a system of morality and cosmic justice.:205

Stories circulated that Hamilton had made two jokes about God at the time of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. During the French Revolution, he showed a utilitarian approach to using religion for political purposes, such as slandering Jefferson as “the atheist,” and insisting that Christianity and Jeffersonian democracy were incompatible. :316 After 1801, Hamilton later affirmed the truth of Christianity; he proposed a Christian Constitutional Society in 1802, to appropriate “some strong sentiments of the mind” to elect “suitable men” to office, and wrote of “Christian welfare societies” for the poor. After he was shot, Hamilton spoke of his belief in the mercy of God.

On his deathbed, Hamilton asked the Episcopalian bishop of New York, Benjamin Moore, to give him Holy Communion. Moore initially declined to do so, on two grounds: that participating in a duel was a mortal sin, and that Hamilton, while undoubtedly sincere in his faith, was not a member of the Episcopalian denomination. After leaving, Moore was persuaded to return that evening by the urgent requests of friends of Hamilton”s friends, and upon receiving Hamilton”s solemn assurance that he repented of his intervention in the duel, Moore gave him communion. Bishop Moore returned the next morning, stayed with Hamilton for several hours until his death, and presided at the funeral service at Trinity Church.

Hamilton was born on Nevis, an island that had a large Jewish community which, in the 1720s, accounted for a quarter of Charlestown”s white population.:17 He often had contact with Jews; Jewish was the headmistress of the school that taught him as a child, and he learned to recite the Ten Commandments in the original Hebrew.

Hamilton showed a degree of respect for the Jews that was described by Chernow as “lifelong reverence. “18 He believed that Jewish achievement was the result of divine providence:

The state and progress of the Jews, from their earliest history to the present time, has been so entirely out of the ordinary course of human affairs, that the proper conclusion would be to regard the cause also as extraordinary – in other words, is it not the effect of some great providential plan? The man who comes to this conclusion will look for the solution in the Bible. Whoever does not consider it so, should give us another just explanation.

Hamilton”s interpretation of the Constitution in the Federalist Papers remains highly influential, as seen in scholarly studies and judicial rulings.

Although the Constitution is ambiguous about the exact balance of power between the national and state governments, Hamilton often opted for greater federal power at the expense of the states. As Secretary of the Treasury, he established, over the strong opposition of Secretary of State Jefferson, the nation”s first national bank. Hamilton justified the creation of this bank, and other increased federal powers, under the constitutional power of Congress to issue currency, to regulate commerce among the states, and to do what was “necessary and proper” to carry into effect the constitutional provisions.

Jefferson, on the other hand, took a stricter view of the Constitution: dissecting the text carefully, he found no specific authorization for the establishment of a national bank. This controversy was finally resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court in McCulloch v. Maryland, which essentially adopted Hamilton”s view, granting the federal government wide latitude to select the best means to execute its constitutionally enumerated powers, specifically the doctrine of implied powers. Nevertheless, the Civil War and the Progressive Era demonstrated the kind of crisis and politics that Hamilton”s administrative republic sought to avoid.

Hamilton”s policy as Secretary of the Treasury greatly affected the U.S. government and still continues to influence it. His constitutional interpretation, specifically on the Necessary and Proper Clause, established a precedent for federal authority that is still used in the courts and is considered an authority on constitutional interpretation. The prominent French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, who spent the year 1794 in the United States, wrote, “I consider Napoleon, Fox, and Hamilton to be the three great men of our time, and if I were obliged to choose between the three, I would certainly give the first place to Hamilton,” adding that Hamilton had intuited the problems of European conservatives.

Opinions about Hamilton have run the gamut: both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson saw him as unprincipled and dangerously aristocratic. Hamilton”s reputation was mostly negative in the era of Jeffersonian democracy and Jacksonian democracy. In the Progressive era, Herbert Croly, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Theodore Roosevelt praised his leadership for strong government. Several 19th and 20th century Republicans entered politics writing biographies praising Hamilton.

In more recent years, according to Sean Wilentz, favorable views of Hamilton and his reputation have decidedly taken the lead among scholars, who depict him as the visionary architect of the modern liberal capitalist economy and of a dynamic federal government headed by an energetic executive. Modern scholars favoring Hamilton have depicted Jefferson and his allies, by comparison, as naïve, idealistic dreamers. The old Jeffersonian view attacked Hamilton as a centralist, sometimes to the point of accusing him of advocating monarchy.:397-398

Monuments and memorials

Since the beginning of the Civil War, Hamilton has been depicted on more denominations of U.S. currency than anyone else. He has appeared on $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $1,000 bills. Hamilton also appears on the $500 EE Savings Bond series.

Hamilton”s portrait has appeared on the $10 bill since 1928. The source of the engraving is John Trumbull”s 1805 portrait of Hamilton in the New York City Hall Portrait Collection. In June 2015, the U.S. Treasury announced its decision to replace the engraving of Hamilton with that of a woman. Before the bill was redesigned, the decision changed due to the unexpectedly popular success of the 2015 Broadway musical Hamilton.

The first postage stamp honoring Hamilton was issued by the United States Post Office in 1870. The depictions on the 1870 and 1888 issues are from the same engraved matrix, which was modeled after a bust of Hamilton by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Ceracchi. The 1870 Hamilton issue was the first U.S. postage stamp to honor a Secretary of the Treasury. The red three-cent commemorative issue, which was released on the 200th anniversary of Hamilton”s birth in 1957, includes a depiction of the Federal Hall building in New York. On March 19, 1956, the U.S. Postal Service issued five-dollar Liberty Issue stamps honoring Hamilton.

The Grange is the only house that was owned by Alexander Hamilton. It is a Federal-style mansion designed by John McComb Jr. It was built on Hamilton”s 32-acre country estate in Hamilton Heights in upper Manhattan, and was completed in 1802. Hamilton named his house “The Grange” after his grandfather Alexander”s estate in Ayrshire, Scotland. The house remained in the family until 1833, when his widow Eliza sold it to Thomas E. Davis, a British-born real estate developer, for $25,000. Eliza used part of the price to purchase a new townhouse that Davis sold her in Greenwich Village (today known as the Hamilton-Holly House, where Eliza lived until 1843 with her adult children Alexander and Eliza, and their spouses).

The Grange was first moved from its original location in 1889, and was moved again in May 2008, to its current site in St. Nicholas Park in Hamilton Heights, on land once owned by the Hamilton estate, through an hours-long process of sliding the entire structure 50 feet into the air, using hydraulic jacks, chains, wooden supports and more. The historic structure, now called the Hamilton Grange National Memorial, was restored to its original 1802 appearance in 2011, and is preserved by the National Park Service.

Columbia University, Hamilton”s alma mater, has official commemorations dedicated to Hamilton on its campus in New York City. The college”s main classroom building for the humanities is Hamilton Hall, and a large statue of Hamilton stands in front of it. The university press has published his complete works in a multi-volume letterpress edition. Columbia University”s student group for ROTC cadets and naval officer candidates is named the Alexander Hamilton Society.

Hamilton served as one of the first administrators of Hamilton-Oneida Academy in Clinton, New York, which was renamed Hamilton College in 1812 after being endowed with a college charter.

The main administrative building at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, is named Hamilton Hall to commemorate Hamilton”s creation of the United States Revenue Cutter Service, one of the predecessor services to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Hamilton”s birthplace in Charlestown, Nevis, the Alexander Hamilton Museum is housed in Hamilton House, a Georgian-style building reconstructed on the foundation of the house where Hamilton is believed to have been born and lived during his childhood. The second floor of Hamilton House houses the offices and meeting place of the island”s legislature, the Nevis Island House of Assembly.

In 1880, Hamilton”s son John Church Hamilton commissioned Carl Conrads to sculpt a statue in granite, now located in Central Park, New York City.

A bronze statue of Hamilton by Franklin Simmons, dating from 1905-06, stands above the Great Falls of the Passaic River in New Jersey”s Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park.

In 1990, the U.S. Custom House in New York was renamed Hamilton.

The U.S. Army”s Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn is named for Hamilton.

In Washington, D. C., the south terrace of the Treasury Building displays a statue of Hamilton by James Earle Fraser, which was dedicated on May 17, 1923.

In Chicago, a nearly 4-meter statue of Hamilton by sculptor John Angel was cast in 1939. It was not installed in Lincoln Park until 1952, due to problems with the shelter to protect it, controversial, 23-meter tall columns, and later demolished in 1993. The statue has remained in public, and was restored and gilded again in 2016.

A bronze sculpture of Hamilton titled The American Cape, by Kristen Visbal, was unveiled at Journal Square in downtown Hamilton, Ohio, in October 2004.

Numerous towns and cities throughout the United States honor the figure of Alexander Hamilton, including Hamilton (Kansas), Hamilton (Missouri), Hamilton (Massachusetts), and Hamilton (Ohio). In eight states, there are counties named after Hamilton.

On slavery

As a young man on St. Croix, Hamilton worked for a company that traded in goods that included slaves.:17 In New York, Hamilton was a slave owner and trader. Throughout his career, Hamilton bought or sold slaves for others as their legal representative.

By the time Hamilton began to participate in the American War of Independence, his abolitionist sensibilities had become evident. Hamilton was active during the Revolution in attempting to raise black troops for the army on the promise of freedom. In the 1780s and 1790s he generally opposed pro-slavery Southern interests, which he saw as hypocritical of the values of the American Revolution. In 1785 he joined with his close associate John Jay to found the New-York Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves, and Protecting Such of Them as Have Been, or May be Liberated, New York”s leading antislavery organization. The society successfully promoted the abolition of the international slave trade in New York and (shortly after his death) passed a law that ended slavery in New York through a process that took decades of emancipation, ending slavery in the state on July 4, 1827.

At a time when most white leaders doubted the ability of blacks, Hamilton believed that slavery was morally wrong and wrote that “their natural faculties are as good as ours.” Unlike contemporaries such as Jefferson, who viewed the banishment of freedmen (to western territory, the West Indies, or Africa) as essential to any emancipation plan, Hamilton pushed for emancipation without such plans for the future. :22 Hamilton and other Federalists supported Toussaint Louverture”s revolution against France in Haiti, which had originated as a slave revolt.:23 Hamilton”s suggestions helped draft the Haitian constitution, and when Haiti became the first independent black nation in the Western hemisphere in 1804, Hamilton urged closer economic and diplomatic ties.:23

About the economy

Hamilton has been portrayed as the “patron saint” of the American School of economic philosophy that, according to one historian, dominated economic policy after 1861. He strongly supported government intervention in the economy in favor of business, in the style of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, as early in his career as the fall of 1781. Hamilton opposed British ideas of free trade, which he believed distorted profits for imperial and colonial powers, in favor of protectionism, which he believed would help develop the emerging economy of the new nation. Henry C. Carey was inspired by his writings. Hamilton influenced the ideas and work of the German Friedrich List.In Hamilton”s view, a strong executive, coupled with the support of the people, could become the linchpin of an administrative republic.The dominance of executive leadership in policy formulation and execution was essential to resist the deterioration of republican government.Ian Patrick Austin has explored the similarities between Hamiltonian recommendations and the development of Meiji Japan after 1860.

In popular culture

Aside from the ten-dollar bill, a 1917 play, and a 1931 film, Hamilton did not attract much attention for American popular culture until the huge success in 2015 of the Broadway show Hamilton: An American Musical.

In 2009, Tony winner, singer, actor and Broadway performer Lin-Manuel Miranda read the book Hamilton by Ron Chernow. The book inspired him to write a rap about Hamilton for the “White House Poetry, Music and the Spoken Word Night” in front of President Obama, his wife Michelle, and other guests on May 12, 2009. Lin-Manuel Miranda, accompanied by Alex Lacamoire on piano, would introduce his performance as “Alexander Hamilton,” a song from what he would call the “Hamilton Mixtape.”

The musical Hamilton, with music, lyrics, and libretto by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is based on Chernow”s biography. The New Yorker called the show “an achievement of cultural and historical reimagining. In Miranda”s account, the dashing rise of a self-made immigrant becomes the story of the U.S.” It sold more than $30 million in tickets before its official premiere in July 2015. The Off-Broadway production of Hamilton won the 2015 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical as well as seven other Drama Desk Awards. In 2016, Hamilton received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a record 16 Tony Award nominations, winning 11 of them, including Best Musical. Tickets for Hamilton are among the most sought-after and prized on account of selling out completely within hours of going on sale. The musical has been attended by President Barack Obama twice, once as part of a Democratic Party of the United States fundraising event.

Hamilton has also appeared as a significant figure in popular works focusing on other American political figures of the era. He was a major character in Gore Vidal”s 1973 historical novel Burr and in episodes of the 1976 PBS miniseries The Adams Chronicles, and a prominent villain in L. Neil Smith”s libertarian alternative history series North American Confederacy. Hamilton was a major character in the 1986 television series George Washington II: The Forging of a Nation, where he was played by Richard Bekins. In 2008, Rufus Sewell played Hamilton in two episodes of the seven-part HBO miniseries John Adams.

The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society, a non-profit organization, was founded in October 2011, which through educational tools, events, research, conferences and social networking, raises awareness of the importance and legacy of Alexander Hamilton”s contributions to the vision and foundations of the United States. The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society, or AHA Society as it is also known, has been working in partnership with the National Park Service, American Museum of Finance and the U.S. Coast Guard among others.

In October 2014, the exhibition “Alexander Hamilton, Visionary and Indispensable Founder” opened at the Museum of American Finance on Wall Street in New York. Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner cut the inaugural ribbon in the Hamilton environment, exclusive to the exhibit, which remains in place to this day.

In English

Sources

  1. Alexander Hamilton
  2. Alexander Hamilton