Alexander Hamilton – first U.S. treasury secretary
Alexander Hamilton was one of the youngest and brightest of the founders of the United States. He was the first secretary of the treasury. He worked to create a strong U.S. government.
Hamilton was born on January 11, probably in 1755, in the British West Indies. He was the illegitimate son of James Hamilton, a Scotsman, and Rachel Fawcett Lavien, daughter of a French Huguenot physician. At the age of 12 he worked as a clerk in a trading firm in St. Croix. The boy went to school in New Jersey and New York. In 1776 he left college without graduating. Hamilton joined the military during the American Revolution. From 1777 to 1781 he served with General George Washington. Noticed by Washington, Hamilton became the general’s trusted aide-de-camp. After the war Hamilton became a lawyer.
On December 14, 1780, he had married the daughter of Philip Schuyler, a member of one of New York’s most distinguished families.
Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote a famous series of essays to explain the Constitution, which were later called the Federalist papers. Hamilton wrote 51 of the 85 essays.
In 1789 George Washington made Hamilton secretary of the treasury. In 1795 Hamilton resigned. He proposed a controversial economic plan based in part on the ideas of pioneering British economist Adam Smith. Many of Hamilton’s ideas contradicted much of his era’s traditional financial wisdom and religious teachings. Hamilton’s First Bank of the United States was chartered in 1791, and the U.S. Mint approved in 1792.
Hamilton’s role in the presidential campaign of 1800 seriously wounded the Federalist party.
On July 11, 1804 Aaron Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel and shot him. Hamilton was carried back to New York City, where he died the next afternoon.
Burr, never even tried for illegal dueling, resumed his seat as president of the Senate in the next congressional session. Elizabeth Hamilton would outlive her husband by 50 years. She was buried alongside him in Trinity Churchyard near Wall Street.
Now America considers him one of its founders. Hamilton’s monuments are installed in many cities of the country, and recently in New York, on Broadway, on the motives of his life a musical was staged.