WHO WAS ALEXANDER HAMILTON?
Thanks to a ludicrously popular, critically worshipped and multi-award winning stage musical, the name of Alexander Hamilton is more recognisable than ever. As the opening number of Hamilton begins, he was “a bastard, orphan, son of a whore” who grew up to be a “hero and a scholar”, the “tendollar Founding Father without a father”.
Hamilton was born in either 1755 or 1757 in the British West Indies to a Scottish trader, who abandoned the family, and a married woman. Ambitious and intelligent, he went to New York to be educated, but rose to prominence writing pamphlets supporting the colonies. He joined the militia and joined Washington’s staff, which saw him lead an assault at Yorktown.
After the war, he helped set up the convention that wrote the Constitution, saw it ratified by writing the majority of the influential Federalist Papers and became the first Secretary of the Treasury. There, he founded the national bank.
A passionate advocate for a strong, centralised government, Hamilton made enemies over the years. The sitting Vice President, Aaron Burr, challenged him to a duel, which was fought on 11 July 1804. Hamilton missed – Burr did not.
Hamilton has won several Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama