Alexander Hamilton (Magill's Literary Annual 1980)
The Federalist era is important and interesting not only because the present constitutional foundation of the United States was laid in these years, but also because of the personalities who participated in this historic process. The first President of the United States, George Washington, was a man of simplicity and impeccable integrity; his Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, possessed democratic visions; and his Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, was an administrative genius. Washington’s Vice-President and successor as president, John Adams, added the leavening of political cynicism to the times, while the opportunistic scoundrel Aaron Burr lurked in the background. These men established a nation while at the same time embodying every possible political position and argument.
Hamilton was born and reared in the British West Indies, but had the good fortune to escape the sloth of those islands to enroll at King’s College (now Columbia) in New York City in 1773. There he began reading eighteenth century political and economic theory, which inspired him to write in favor of the revolutionary cause of the American colonists. He served in the Revolutionary War and, always anxious to connect himself with persons of importance, managed to get on Washington’s staff and to marry Elizabeth Schuyler, a member of a distinguished New York family. At the termination of the conflict, he set up a law practice in New York City, where he often...
(The entire section is 1963 words.)
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