Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: The 17th and 18th Centuries)
Article abstract: Hamilton served as aide-de-camp to Washington during the American Revolution and was a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 and signer of the Constitution. An early advocate of a strong national government, he coauthored The Federalist and was the United States’ first secretary of the treasury.
Alexander Hamilton was the illegitimate son of a Scottish ne’er-do-well and a woman previously arrested for adultery. He was probably born in 1755, although at times he claimed that his birth year was 1757. Hamilton spent his early years in abject poverty on the Caribbean island of his birth, Nevis. After his mother’s death, he worked for a merchant family on St. Croix, where he flourished, as his unusual abilities brought him to the attention of his employers. Hamilton quickly rose to be something more than a clerk but less than a partner. By age sixteen, he was giving orders to ship captains, making decisions on when cargoes should be sold, and firing and hiring company lawyers. When not working, he studied on his own.
In 1773, Hamilton’s employers, recognizing his precocious genius, sent him to the mainland for his first formal education. From 1773 to 1774, he lived with Elias Boudinot, a future president of the...
(The entire section is 3070 words.)
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Alexander Hamilton was the illegitimate son of James Hamilton and Rachel Fawcett Levein. At the age of thirteen, a penniless orphan, he was apprenticed to a merchant. His 1772 newspaper account of a hurricane influenced charitable islanders to finance his education at Elizabethtown, New Jersey, and at King’s College from 1772 to 1776, where he was a premedical student; during this time, he became interested in debate and wrote newspaper essays, among them A Full Vindication of the Measures of the Congress, in which, while professing moderation, he appealed to racial, religious, and economic prejudice against Parliament’s pretensions.
A revolutionary militia captain in 1776, Hamilton became a lieutenant-colonel as aide-de-camp to George Washington. He was a good secretary and confidential adviser, but he coveted personal glory in combat. After a disagreement with Washington, he resigned in 1781 and was given a colonelcy and command of an assault at Yorktown. Hamilton supplied secret war news to certain individuals in New York, including Philip Schuyler, whose daughter Elizabeth he married in 1780.
Retiring from active service in 1782, Hamilton successfully prepared himself for the bar, served briefly as Continental tax collector in New York, and was elected to Congress in 1782-1783 and 1788-1789. In pamphlets and in Congress,...
(The entire section is 1079 words.)
Biography (World Philosophers and Their Works)
Article abstract: Hamilton, with James Madison and John Jay, made significant contributions to the United States’ public life before 1820. Together they wrote The Federalist to market the 1787 Constitution during the bitter ratification struggle.
Alexander Hamilton was born an illegitimate child on the island of Nevis in the British West Indies and migrated to the American colonies in 1772. He worked hard to attain the social status John Jay and James Madison enjoyed from birth. Perhaps because of his background, Hamilton was a risk taker throughout his life. Although he died a member of the Episcopal Church, he had periods of religious skepticism unknown to Jay and Madison. Although Jay and Madison were loyal, devoted husbands, Hamilton’s insecurity led him into sex scandals.
Both Hamilton and Jay were lawyers who graduated from King’s College in New York City, which later became Columbia University. Madison, a graduate of Princeton University, did not pursue specialized professional training because his chronic ill health led him to expect an early death. However, Madison was exceptionally learned in history, religion, and political theory by the time he left Princeton.
Hamilton served as a...
(The entire section is 1126 words.)