The New Student's Reference Work/Hamilton, Alexander
Hamilton, Alexander, one of the greatest of American statesmen, was born on Jan. 11, 1757, in the West Indian island of Nevis. His father, a Scotch merchant, failed in business, and Alexander, when 12 years of age, entered the employ of a merchant at St. Croix. His marked abilities at the same time secured him the interest of friends, who sent him to a school at Elizabeth, N. J., and in 1774 he entered King's (now Columbia) College, New York. While at college and but 18 years old, he wrote a series of papers in defense of the colonies which were at first credited to the eminent statesman, John Jay, and at once brought him to the notice of the public.
When the War of the Revolution began, Hamilton was made a captain of artillery, and in 1777 was appointed aid-de-camp by Washington and became his valued friend and adviser. In 1780 he married a daughter of General Schuyler. At the close of the war he studied law, and soon became one of the most eminent lawyers of New York. He was elected to Congress in 1782, and in 1787 was a leader in the convention at Philadelphia which framed the constitution of the United States. In October of the same year he began a series of articles explaining the scope and power of the constitution, which were published under the name of The Federalist. Of the 85 essays in the collection, 51 were written by Hamilton, and these deservedly gave him his widest fame. When Washington became president of the new government in 1789, he appointed Hamilton secretary of the treasury. Here his able management, which raised the public credit from utter prostration to the highest point, gained for him the reputation of a great financier. In 1795 he resigned his office, but later was active in politics as a leader of the Federal party. In 1804, through a political difference, he was involved in a duel with Aaron Burr, in which he was mortally wounded, July 11, and died the next day. See Lives by Morse and by Lodge.