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Legacy Library: Alexander Hamilton

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CollectionsYour library (316)

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TagsPolitics and Government (140), United States (130), Law (99), Great Britain (78), Finance (60), Law Reports (27), History (25), Literature (21), Court of King's Bench (20), Essays (17) — see all tags

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About meAlexander Hamilton (11 January 1757 - 12 July 1804), attorney and statesman. Aide-de-camp to George Washington during the Revolutionary War, first American Secretary of the Treasury, and chief author of The Federalist.

About my libraryUnless otherwise indicated (in Comments), the books included in this LT collection are those deposited at Columbia University in 1955 by Alexander Hamilton III (for the use of the Hamilton Papers Publication Project), and in February 1973 given to Columbia by Elizabeth Peltz Hamilton, the widow of Alexander Hamilton III.

The collection as given included a number of books printed after Alexander Hamilton's death in 1804; those have not been included here. Materials in the collection printed prior to Hamilton's death have been included, with the necessary (and vital) caveat that some copies may not have belonged to AH during his lifetime.

Titles from Columbia's collection not included in that main gift, and other titles not at Columbia, are so noted in Comments. These are mostly those titles gleaned from a thorough examination of The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, edited by Harold Syrett et al. (Columbia University Press, 1961-1987) and a list included in The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton, edited by Julius Goebel, Jr. (Columbia University Press, 1964), I:849-867. The most complete list of AH's library is a list of 10 "deficient books" sought by AH in a letter to Richard Varick, 16 June 1795. See LPAH I:851-852.

Note on serials: the collection as given to Columbia includes a number of individual serial publications (usually single issues) which contain articles relating to Hamilton's life and career. These single issues (probably gathered by descendants) are not included in this catalog, but several runs of periodicals which are likely to have been in Hamilton's collection are included.

In his book Origins of Legislative Sovereignty and the Legislative State: Volume Six (American Tradition and Innovation with Contemporary Import and Foreground) (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004), pp. 213-216 (notes pp. 395-397) A. London Fell examines Hamilton's library in general, and notes the troublesome nature of the Columbia collection: "The Columbia books with imprints prior to [AH's] death date in 1804 cannot be assumed to have belonged to him, although they may well have." He concludes, though (n. 57, p. 397), that because other Hamilton books did not make their way to the Library of Congress (which holds many of his papers) it is "all the more likely that the unique Columbia collection of Hamilton books does indeed include the vast bulk of what survives from Alexander's own collection as passed on to his family." Fell adds that Hamilton "undoubtedly had a substantial collection of legal and related books that have not survived either at Columbia or at the Library of Congress."

In the introductory note to the list of law books in The Legal Papers of Alexander Hamilton I:849, the editors note that a list of at least the legal titles may have existed at one time, but if so, it has been lost. Some of AH's books are believed to have been donated to the Irving Library Association in the 1870s, but this organization has not been identified with certainty.

In a "Statement of my property and Debts," made by Hamilton on 1 July 1804, he estimated the value of his "Furniture and Library" at $3,000.

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Questions? Comments? Concerns? Please contact Libraries of Early America coordinator Jeremy Dibbell.

GroupsLibraries of Early America

Real nameAlexander Hamilton

LocationNew York, NY

Favorite authorsNot set

Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/AlexanderHamiltonI (profile)
/catalog/AlexanderHamiltonI (library)

Member sinceNov 16, 2009

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