Born into obscurity in the British West Indies, Alexander Hamilton made his reputation during the Revolutionary War and became one of America's most influential Founding Fathers. He was an impassioned champion of a strong federal government and played a key role in defending and ratifying the U.S. Constitution.
Alexander Hamilton was born on St. Croix in 1755. His father was a wealthy merchant who owned much of the island. When he died when Hamilton was only 11 years old, he left his son little choice but to go to Britain to seek his fortune. The boy was educated at a private school in London and then traveled to the United States, where his uncle lived in New York City. There he joined another cousin and established himself as a lawyer. In 1775, just before the start of the American Revolution, he married Maria Reynolds. She was from a well-to-do family in New York and they had four children together.
During the war, Hamilton served in the military under General George Washington. After the war ended in 1783, he returned to New York City where he resumed his practice as a lawyer. That same year, he was elected to the New York State Assembly. In 1787, he was chosen by the Congress to be one of the first 10 members of the Federalist Party, which was formed to promote ratification of the U.S. Constitution. He helped draft the document and also wrote many important articles for the New York Journal newspaper.
During the American Revolutionary War (1775–1833), Alexander Hamilton was a vital assistant to George Washington. Later, he was the primary author of the Federalist Papers, and he was a crucial role in the adoption of the US constitution, as well as a prolific writer in its defense. All this before he went to work for the government full time.
Hamilton was born in Ulster County, New York on January 11, 1757. His parents were immigrants from Scotland. He had four siblings. His father died when he was only nine years old and his mother soon followed. Since there were no other children left to support, he became responsible for the family business which wasn't doing very well.
At the age of 22, while working as an attorney, he met with success when Congress appointed him to be the first United States Minister to Austria. However, less than a year later, in 1781, he lost his post when it was discovered that he had previously been engaged in espionage for the British.
After his resignation, he returned home to find his sister living with them. She had married a wealthy man named John Church. With their help, he bought a house in Manhattan and started making more money as an attorney. He also invested all his money in some land in upstate New York and made a huge profit when it was sold a few years later.
Alexander Hamilton was a founding father of the United States who served as the first secretary of the Treasury, fought in the American Revolutionary War, and helped create the Constitution. He was the architect and originator of the American financial system. By proposing a plan to establish a national debt office to issue government bonds to finance the Revolution, he created a mechanism that provided the funds necessary for the new country to begin its existence.
Hamilton's plans were adopted by the Continental Congress and he played an important role in drafting the Constitution. He argued for a strong federal government that would be able to defend itself against attacks from foreign nations but also favored a central government with powers reserved to it by the people. These views represented a compromise between those who wanted a completely independent nation without any connection to other countries (the so-called "no alliance" faction) and those who supported making treaties with other countries like France ("treaty faction").
After the signing of the Constitution, Hamilton went back to his law practice in New York City but remained active in politics. He was elected to the First Congress from New York but died before taking his seat. His death caused a political battle over whether Thomas Jefferson or James Madison should replace him. The resolution of this conflict was settled when John Jay became the third president under the terms of the Constitution.