HSE 2: Period 1
09 May 2019
“How does a bastard, orphan son of a whore, and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean. By providence, impoverished, in squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?”(Lin-Manuel Miranda, 2015)
At the beginning of his musical, Lin Manuel Miranda poses a very good question; How did Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant, an orphan, become arguably one of the most influential people on our government and banks today? Well, first you must know a little bit about Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton grew up in the West Indies. His childhood was full of sorrow and despair;
“Born in 1755, Hamilton was an illegitimate child. He had a difficult upbringing in the West Indies. His father, an aristocratic but unsuccessful Scottish trader, abandoned the family when the boy was about 10 years old. At age 11 Hamilton began work in the West Indies office of a New York mercantile firm. When his mother died in 1768, he was taken under the wing of her relatives. They and other sponsors recognized the boy's exceptional intelligence and energy and arranged for him to attend preparatory school in New Jersey; he was then enrolled at King's College (now Columbia University) in 1773.”(Alexander Hamilton, 1999).
George Washington was a very influential person in Hamilton’s life; “These very influential writings brought the young man to the attention of General George Washington (1732-1799).”(Alexander Hamilton, 1999). One thing Hamilton had a very big impact on the United States’ financial system: “Hamilton's three great reports to Congress (the Report on the Public Credit of 1790, the Report on the Bank of the United States of 1790, and the Report on Manufactures of 1791) laid down the basic economic principles on which the U.S. government has, in general, operated ever since. Hamilton believed that the states should be subordinate to the federal government. The federal government, in turn, should protect the states from foreign intervention and from each other through a single military force.”(Alexander Hamilton, 1999).
Aaron Burr was a very important person in Hamilton’s life. They were not friends but not enemies.“Aaron Burr (1756-1836), a Republican and Jefferson's Vice President. In 1804 Hamilton opposed Burr's unsuccessful bid to be governor of New York. On the grounds of some insulting remarks Hamilton had allegedly made about him, Burr challenged his old rival to a duel following the election.”(Alexander Hamilton, 1999). James Madison and John Jay helped Hamilton write the Federalist Papers: “With James Madison (1751-1836), a delegate from Virginia, and John Jay (1745-1829), the secretary for foreign affairs, Hamilton wrote a series of essays which were published in a New York newspaper between October 1787 and May 1788. These essays, comprising The Federalist Papers, effectively argued the case for a strong national government. They were enormously influential among the framers of the Constitution and they remain relevant more than 200 years later. Hamilton is credited with two-thirds of the 85 essays.”(Alexander Hamilton, 1999). After the revolutionary war Hamilton married Elizabeth Schuler: “Following the war, Hamilton married Elizabeth Schuyler, a member of one of New York's wealthiest and most distinguished families, and he settled down to practice law in New York City.”(Alexander Hamilton, 1999).
After reading Ron Chernow’s biography about Alexander Hamilton, Lin Manuel Miranda was inspired to create a musical about the lesser known founding father: “Public interest in Hamilton's legacy surged in the early twenty-first century thanks to the 2015 debut of Hamilton, a Broadway musical about the titular Founding Father's life. Written by and starring composer and playwright Lin Manuel Miranda (1980-), the play recounts Hamilton's dramatic rise to power and abrupt fall and sets the events to a soundtrack of hip-hop, rap, and jazz. In addition to winning eleven Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize for drama, Hamilton helped to revive American interest in one of the nation's most important early leaders.”(Alexander Hamilton, 1999). When someone is ambitious they will stop at nothing until they have accomplished what they have set their mind to. Alexander Hamilton was resilient and ambitious therefore he is a hero.
Alexander Hamiltonhttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Trumbull_-_Alexander_Hamilton_-_Google_Art_Project.jpgTo be a hero a person has to be resilient. A person who is resilient is able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. Alexander Hamilton was born illegitimately. His mother died when he was 12, making him an orphan. “Born in 1755, Hamilton was an illegitimate child. He had a difficult upbringing in the West Indies. His father, an aristocratic but unsuccessful Scottish trader, abandoned the family when the boy was about 10 years old. At age 11 Hamilton began work in the West Indies office of a New York mercantile firm. When his mother died in 1768, he was taken under the wing of her relatives. They and other sponsors recognized the boy's exceptional intelligence and energy and arranged for him to attend preparatory school in New Jersey; he was then enrolled at King's College (now Columbia University) in 1773.”(Alexander Hamilton, 1999). Usually, when someone that a person loves dies, they are very impacted by that person's death and usually don't become prosperous for a few years. But Alexander Hamilton’s mother died in front of him when he was only 12 years old. He probably grew up feeling guilty. That he should have died. Not his mother. “I was twelve when my mother died. She was holding me. We were sick and she was holding me”(Lin Manuel Miranda, 2015). When Hamilton was 17 hurricane hit the town he was living in. Hamilton wrote down about what he saw. When his employer Nicholas Cruger read what he wrote, he helped Hamilton raise enough money to get to America so that he could get an actual education. “In 1772, Hamilton gained a measure of fame with his so-called "Hurricane Letter" in The Royal Danish American Gazette in which he described in vivid terms the devastating tropical storm which destroyed much of St. Croix. Perhaps because opportunities were limited in the West Indies, and because of his acknowledged precociousness, Hamilton was encouraged and financed by his employer Nicholas Cruger and Presbyterian minister Hugh Knox to move to the mainland. By 1773, Hamilton was productively residing with the eminent William Livingston family in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, and attending Francis Barber's grammar school.”(Alexander Hamilton, 1994). This is a crucial part of his life because, without his amazing writing skills, George Washington may have never noticed him. The war was the turning point in Hamilton’s life. He was noticed by a lot of generals for his writing capability and for stealing British cannons with Hercules Mulligan during one of the battles. Washington then hired Hamilton to be his secretary even though Hamilton wanted to “fight not write”(Lin Manuel Miranda, 2015). If he was never noticed he wouldn’t have gone on to be the first Treasury Secretary of the United States of America. Hamilton used all the struggles that he was faced with and used it to become motivated.
10 Dollar Billhttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hamilton_Alexander_Portrait_10_dollar_banknote.JPGTo be ambitious a person must do anything in their power to get what they have set their mind to accomplished. The Federalist Papers were very influential in getting multiple important people to sign the United States of America. “Ever a proponent for a strong central government, during his tenure as treasury secretary, Hamilton butted heads with fellow cabinet members who were fearful of a central government holding so much power. Lacking their state loyalties, Hamilton went so far as to turn down New York’s opportunity to house the nation's capital in favor of securing backing for his economic program, dubbed the "dinner table bargain." It was Hamilton's belief that the Constitution gave him the authority to create economic policies that strengthened the central government. His proposed fiscal policies initiated the payment of federal war bonds, had the federal government assume states' debts, instituted a federal system for tax collection and would help the United States establish credit with other nations.” In this meeting Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton negotiated over dinner Hamilton’s Financial Plan. When they walked out of the room Hamilton had Jefferson and Madison's word that they will get other people to vote for it. Jefferson and Madison get to decide where to put the capital of the United States of America. Hamilton only let them decide where to put the capital because it wouldn't affect where he lived because he had the banks. Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton were the only people in that room and we hear Jefferson’s version of the events but not Hamilton’s or Madison’s. This unfair negotiation prompted Aaron Burr to run for Senate knocking Phillip Skylaur, Hamilton’s father in law, out of his Senate seat. Thus adding more fuel to the fire that was Burr and Hamilton’s previous debates.
The Federalist Papers are an amazing work of literature. “With James Madison (1751-1836), a delegate from Virginia, and John Jay (1745-1829), the secretary for foreign affairs, Hamilton wrote a series of essays which were published in a New York newspaper between October 1787 and May 1788. These essays, comprising The Federalist Papers, effectively argued the case for a strong national government. They were enormously influential among the framers of the Constitution and they remain relevant more than 200 years later. Hamilton is credited with two-thirds of the 85 essays. In his essays, he described the proposed powers of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. He also explained how, as a final check on legislative powers, the Supreme Court would be able to declare unconstitutional even those laws passed by Congress and signed by the executive.”(Alexander Hamilton, 1999). Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay came together to write a series of essays defending the United States Constitution, which at the time had no amendments and needed some work. The plan was to write 25 essays each of them writing 1/3. They ended up writing 85 essays in the span of 6 months. John Jay got sick after writing 5. James Madison wrote 29. Alexander Hamilton wrote 51. No one was asking them to do this. They volunteered. Hamilton’s ambition may have some people look at him like he was greedy and self-centered. But as history shows, we might have not had a constitution or a treasury secretary.
Alexander Hamilton was ambitious and resilient. Alexander Hamilton has taught me that no matter the afflictions I am going through that I can still accomplish great things. Hamilton also taught me that, no matter the risks, if you believe something is right you should fight for it until you can’t anymore. Now just think about where we would be today without Alexander Hamilton.
Page created on 5/8/2019 3:47:12 PM
Last edited 5/15/2019 6:13:47 PM
Miranda, Lin-Manuel, and Jeremy McCarter. Hamilton: the Revolution. Melcher Media, 2016.
"Alexander Hamilton." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History, edited by Thomas Carson and Mary Bonk, Gale, 1999. Biography In Context, https://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/K1667000078/BIC?u=powa9245&sid=BIC&xid=45ad4b56. Accessed 29 Apr. 2019.
"Alexander Hamilton." Historic World Leaders, edited by Anne Commire, Gale, 1994. Biography In Context, https://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/K1616000258/BIC?u=powa9245&sid=BIC&xid=93ea50db. Accessed 1 May 2019.
“Alexander Hamilton.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 18 Apr. 2019, www.biography.com/political-figure/alexander-hamilton.
"Alexander Hamilton." Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936. Biography In Context, https://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/BT2310012024/BIC?u=powa9245&sid=BIC&xid=a0ba8bb9. Accessed 1 May 2019.