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Alexander Hamilton (1) [1755–1804]

This page covers the author of The Federalist Papers.

For other authors named Alexander Hamilton, see the disambiguation page.

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Alexander Hamilton was born on January 11, 1757 on the West Indian Island of Nevis. His mother died in 1769, around the same time his father went bankrupt. Hamilton joined a counting house in St. Croix where he excelled at accounting. From 1772 until 1774, he attended a grammar school in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, and went on to study at King's College. Hamilton entered the Revolutionary movement in 1774 at a public gathering in New York City with a speech urging the calling of a general meeting of the colonies. That same year, he anonymously wrote two pamphlets entitled, A Full Vindication of the Measures of Congress from the Calumnies of Their Enemies and The Farmer Refuted. When the Revolutionary War began, Hamilton joined the army and became a Captain of artillery, where he served with distinction in the battles of Long Island, White Plains, Trenton and Princeton. He was introduced to George Washington by General Nathaniel Greene with a recommendation for advancement. Washington made Hamilton his aide-de-camp and personal secretary. He resigned in 1781 after a dispute with the General, but remained in the army and commanded a New York regiment of light infantry in the Battle of Yorktown. Hamilton left the army at the end of the war, and began studying law in Albany, New York. He served in the Continental Congress in 1782-83, before returning to practice law, becoming one of the most prominent lawyers in New York City. In 1786, Hamilton participated in the Annapolis Convention and drafted the resolution that led to assembling the Constitutional Convention in 1787. He then helped to secure the ratification of the Constitution of New York with the help of John Jay and James Madison, who together wrote the collection of 85 essays which would become known as The Federalist. Hamilton wrote at least 51 of the essays. In 1789, Washington appointed him the first Secretary of the Treasury, a position at which he excelled at and gained a vast influence in domestic and foreign issues, having convinced Washington to adopt a neutral policy when war broke out in Europe in 1793. In 1794, Hamilton wrote the instructions for a diplomatic mission which would lead to the signing of Jay's Treaty. He returned to his law practice in 1795. President John Adams appointed Hamilton Inspector General of the Army at the urging of Washington. He was very much involved with the politics of the country though, and focused his attentions on the presidential race of 1800. Hamilton did not like Aaron Burr and went out of his way to make sure that he did not attain a nomination. Similarly, when Burr ran for mayor of New York, Hamilton set about to ruin his chances for that position as well. Burr provoked an argument with Hamilton to force him to duel. Hamilton accepted and the two met on July 11, 1804 at Weehawken, New Jersey. Hamilton was shot and mortally wounded and died on July 12, 1804. (Bowker Author Biography)
— biography from The Federalist Papers
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The Federalist Papers 8,569 copies, 57 reviews
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Short biography
Alexander Hamilton was born on the island of Nevis in the British West Indies. His parents, a married Frenchwoman and a Scottish trader, lived together for a while after Hamilton was born. When Hamilton was a small child, his father abandoned the family, leaving them in poverty. He got his first job at age 11 as a clerk in an accounting firm. His employer, thinking Hamilton a promising boy, sent him to the British colony of America for an education when he was 15. In 1773, he arrived alone in New York City and enrolled in King's College (later Columbia University). He wrote his first political article to defend the cause of American self-rule from the British. He dropped out of school before graduating at the start of the Revolutionary War. He joined the New York militia and fought in the battles of Long Island, White Plains and Trenton.

In 1777, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the Continental Army. During his early service in the army, he caught the attention of General George Washington, who made Hamilton his chief aide and adviser. Around this time, he married Elizabeth Schuyler, from an affluent New York family.
After studying law and passing the bar exam, in 1783 he set up a law practice in New York City. Hamilton believed that the Articles of Confederation, the new USA's first, informal constitution, was inadequate, and that a strong central government was the key to achieving true independence and freedom. In 1787, he served as a New York delegate to the Constitutional Convention; although he did not have a large role in writing the Constitution, he heavily influenced its eventual ratification by writing 51 of 85 persuasive essays in its favor under the collective title The Federalist (later known as The Federalist Papers), along with James Madison and John Jay. After George Washington was elected president of the USA in 1789, he appointed Hamilton as the first Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton stepped down in 1795, after helping establish a more centralized federal government and a stronger economy, but remained active in public and political affairs. It was in an argument over politics that Vice President Aaron Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel and killed him.

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