Author of The Federalist Papers, Hamilton Died in a Historic Duel

Born in the late 1750’s, Alexander Hamilton was an American Founding Father and is now portrayed on the 10 dollar bill. He grew up on the Caribbean island of St. Croix. His father left when he was only 10-years old and two years later, his mother died of an illness.

Despite--or perhaps because of--the adversity he faced at a young age, Hamilton developed powerful communication skills. After writing a letter about the devastating hurricane that hit St. Croix in 1772, he caught the attention of a St. Croix newspaper editor named Hugh Knox. Knox sent the then 16-year-old Hamilton to New York City. Here he attended King’s College but soon dropped out to help the Patriots protest British impositions.

After fighting in a few Revolutionary War battles, Hamilton caught General George Washington’s eye. Washington hired Hamilton as an assistant. In this role, he handled important desk work. However, staying behind the desk wasn’t enough for him. Hamilton convinced Washington to let him fight, and he was then promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the Continental Army. Around this time, Hamilton also married Elizabeth Schuyler, and in 1781, he led the American charge to victory during the Battle of Yorktown.

Once the war had ended and peace treaties were signed, Hamilton studied law in New York City. He became one of the city’s most prestigious attorneys. Hamilton also assisted in founding the Bank of New York. In fact, the financial system we use today was created by him.

Hamilton was a very political man. He wrote 51 out of 85 of The Federalist Papers, in which he defended the new United States Constitution. Appointed by Washington, Hamilton also became the newly-independent country’s first Secretary of Treasury. Many opposed his belief in a centralized financial system, particularly James Madison, but the Founding Fathers reached a compromise in 1790.

During the election of 1800, Hamilton relentlessly supported Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr. Jefferson ultimately won the election and Burr became vice president. Furious, Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel. Hamilton only accepted Burr’s offer because he believed it could benefit him in the future. However, Hamilton and Burr took out their guns and fired at each other, Hamilton was wounded fatally.

Hamilton’s wife, Elizabeth lived for another 50 years following her husband's death, she dedicated her remaining years to the protection and telling of her husband’s legacy.

Hamilton’s legacy has always been a large part of American history. But in 2015, when his life was turned into a hip-hop musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, he gained even more fame. The musical, to say the least, has been a huge hit. The musical, “Hamilton,” won eleven Tony awards and no doubt reignited a national interest in Alexander Hamilton’s influence an American history.

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