Alexander Hamilton

Topics: Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, John Adams Pages: 8 (3006 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Alexander Hamilton was born as a British subject on the island of Nevis in the West Indies on the 11th of January 1755. His father was James Hamilton, a Scottish merchant of St. Christopher. His grandfather was Alexander Hamilton, of Grange, Lanarkshire. One of his great grandfathers was Sir R. Pollock, the Laird of Cambuskeith. Hamilton's mother was Rachael Fawcette Levine, of French Huguenot descent. When she was very young, she married a Danish proprietor of St. Croix named John Michael Levine. Ms. Levine left her husband and was later divorced from him on June 25, 1759. Under Danish law, the (the court ordering the divorce) Ms. Levine was forbidden from remarrying. Thus, Hamilton's birth was illegitimate. Alexander Hamilton had one brother, James Hamilton. Heavy burdens fell upon Hamilton's shoulders during childhood. Business failures caused Hamilton's father to become bankrupt. Soon thereafter, his mother died in 1768. At twelve, Alexander entered the counting house of Nicholas Cruger and David Beekman. There, young Alexander served as a clerk and apprentice. At the age of fifteen, Mr. Cruger left Alexander in charge of the business. Early on, Hamilton wished to increase his opportunities in life. This is evidenced by a letter written to his friend Edward Stevens at the age of fourteen on Nov. 11, 1769 where he stated, "[m]y ambition is prevalent, so that I contemn the groveling condition of a clerk or the like … and would willingly risk my life, though not my character, to exalt my station." During adolescence, Hamilton had few opportunities for regular schooling. However, he possessed a commanding knowledge of French, due to the teaching of his late mother. This was a very rare trait in the English continental colonies. Hamilton was first published in the Royal Danish-American Gazette with his description of the terrible hurricane of August 30th, 1772 that gutted Christiansted. Impressed by this, an opportunity to gain his education was provided by family friends. Seizing this, Hamilton arrived the grammar school in Elizabethtown, New Jersey in the autumn of 1772. One year later, in 1774, Hamilton graduated and entered King's College in New York City. There, Hamilton obtained a bachelor's of arts degree in just one year. As the War of Independence began, Hamilton took a trip to Boston, which seems to have solidified his loyalties with the colonists. At a mass meeting held in the fields in New York City on July 6, 1774, he made a sensational speech attacking British policies. In addition, he wrote a series of letters for John Holt's New-York Journal. When an Anglican clergyman, Samuel Seabury, denounced the first Continental Congress in several Westchester Farmer letters, Hamilton replied with two powerful pamphlets. His military aspirations also flowered with a series on early accomplishments. At King's College he joined a patriot volunteer band known as the "Corsicans" and drilled every morning before classes. In August of 1775, the "Corsicans" participated in a raid to seize the cannon from the Battery. On March 14th, 1776, he was commissioned captain of a company of artillery set up by the New York Providential Congress. Some sources state that Hamilton's company participated at the Battle of Long Island in August of 1776. At White plains, in October of 1776, his battery guarded Chatterton's Hill and protected the withdrawal of William Smallwood's militia. On January 3, 1777, Hamilton's military reputation won the interest of General Nathaniel Greene. His cannon were brought to rear on Nassau Hall, and Hamilton gave the order to fire when the British troops there refused to surrender. Impressed by this, General Greene introduced the young Captain to General Washington. The proficiency and bravery Hamilton displayed around New York City impressed General Washington. He joined Washington's personal staff in March of 1777 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He served four years as Washington's personal secretary...

Bibliography: COLLIER 'S ENCYCLOPEDIAvol. 11, 608 (1995). FLEXNER, JAMES T., THE YOUNG HAMILTON: A BIOGRAPHY (Little 1978). HENDRICKSON, ROBERT A., THE RISE AND FALL OF ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1981). Jack Hitt, America 's First Lecher: Sex romps? Cover-ups? Questions of character? Public confessions? You 'd think Bill Clinton would have learned something from Alexander Hamilton, GENTLEMEN 'S QUARTERLY 347 (Nov. 1998). LODGE, HENRY CABOT, ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1898; reprint, AMS Press 1972). LODGE, HENRY CABOT, HAMILTON 'S WORKS (New York, 9 vols. 1885-86, and 12 vols., 1904).
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