by Yvonne Starks, January 11th, 2017
January 11. Today is the birthday anniversary of one of my favorites from the American Revolutionary historical times—brilliant and stunning in determination and patriotism, ALEXANDER HAMILTON, birth registered as 1755 (although, because he was illegitimate, date may actually have been 1757) in St. Croix in the Caribbean.
With a very sad life beginning, his history is impressive. He made it to the United States because several men of his community were kind and smart enough to realize his potential, gathered up funds, and bought him passage to the burgeoning country of America when he was only 16 so that he could achieve schooling that would have otherwise been denied him.
And burgeoning America was—so much so that Hamilton chose instead to fight for his new adopted country—and became aide-de-camp to Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, George Washington, after Washington saw the young man’s battle strength and smarts as a Lieutenant within his tattered army. They were both Federalists and when Washington became the first U.S. President, Hamilton became our country’s first U.S. Treasurer.
Witty and handsome, Hamilton’s entire life was one of great turbulence, genius, and interest—married to Eliza, General Philip Schuyler’s daughter (who loved and honored him in life and death), fathering seven children, having an explosive illicit affair (and unlike most politicians, announced his dalliance to get the truth out of the way), brilliant in writing (helped Washington with all his correspondence for years), military strategy, and considered a wunderkind in economics.
A major turbulence for him in the formation of America, after mentally and physically helping Washington win the battles against the British for our freedom, was the controversial and outspoken disagreements on the direction America should take in its early days with legislator ambitious upstarts Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Washington died in December of 1799 at age 67. In July of 1804, after Jefferson had become the third American President and Burr had been his Vice President, Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel (over politics; not women) and (my opinion) openly murdered Hamilton at early age of 49.
Hamilton is a prominent factor in our history–especially today after Lin-Manuel Miranda created a rapper Broadway play hit based on my own favorite Hamilton book, ALEXANDER HAMILTON by famous historian author, Ron Chernow (copyright 2004). Chernow started out to write a book on Thomas Jefferson, but as Alexander Hamilton came into focus in the Jefferson life, Chernow believed that Hamilton was much more interesting, with more character and passion, that he switched his research.
Jefferson lived into his 90s, was, of course, President, and had his own brilliance. Had Hamilton also lived a longer life, I personally believe his story could have possibly even outshone Jefferson in our American history accomplishments.
Burr never was the same—as a man, politician, or American—after the duel.
Eliza’s five surviving Hamilton sons’ careers were in law, government, and the military, following their father’s footsteps. She never remarried and devoutly believed she would be reunited with her love in the afterlife; buried next to him in the popular WDC-area Trinity Churchyard cemetery fifty years after his death.
……..Later this week will be Benedict Arnold’s birthday anniversary. This is one more fascinating—even more controversial—historical figure Americans should know more about—as human nature has not changed—and since very few have their names turned into a noun or adjective…..(much less a traitorous one).