10 Fascinating Facts About Alexander Hamilton (2022)

The main protagonist of one of the most successful musicals of all time, Alexander Hamilton was an invaluable founding father of the United States of America. Not only was he a hugely influential member of the Continental Congress, but he authored The Federalist Papers and became a champion of the U.S. Constitution.

Hamilton was also America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, responsible for founding the nation’s first national bank, managing the country’s finances and helping settle its debts.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s broadway show has since shone a spotlight upon Hamilton’s captivating life and achievements. Here are 10 fascinating facts about the American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker, and economist (…and you thought you were busy!)

1. He was an immigrant of the United States

Despite there being dispute amongst historians on the year that Hamilton was actually born (either 1755 or 1757), we do know that he was not born in the United States. Hamilton was born out of wedlock to Rachel Fauccette and James Hamilton on island of Nevis in the Leeward Islands, then part of the British West Indian colonies.

Hamilton spent much of his early life surrounded by the horrors of enslavement. He worked as a clerk with the St. Croix trading firm Beekman and Cruger, which imported everything needed for a plantation economy — including enslaved people from West Africa.

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Hamilton left this life behind and travelled to Boston, and then New York in 1772 where he sought an education (which was denied to him in the West Indies because his parents were not married). He was accepted into King’s College, now Columbia University, in the same year.

2. He was a hero of the Revolutionary War

In 1775, after the first engagement of American troops with the British at Lexington and Concord, Hamilton and other students from his college joined a New York volunteer militia company called the Corsicans.

Through his efforts as a volunteer, young Hamilton became General George Washington’s aide de camp– his right-hand man. After becoming restless and tired of essentially serving as a high-status clerk, Hamilton resigned from Washington’s inner circle in 1781. After this, however, Hamilton personally led an attack and charge at the Battle of Yorktown that would see him achieve the status of War Hero.

3. He captained the US Army’s oldest serving unit

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Alexander Hamilton in the Uniform of the New York Artillery”. Image Credit: Public Domain

(Video) Top 10 Fascinating Facts About ALEXANDER HAMILTON

In early 1776, a year after the outbreak of the American Revolution, the 20-year-old West Indian immigrant had organised a modest artillery militia unit that became the New York Provincial Company of Artillery.

Battery D, 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery, 1st Infantry Division, which can trace its lineage back to Hamilton’s artillery company, was officially the oldest serving unit in the regular United States Army. On 17 March 1776, Hamilton was made captain of the group, and under his leadership it saw action in several key moments including the Battle of Princeton and the Battle of White Plains.

4. He was involved in the nation’s first public sex-scandal

In 1791, a supposed widow named Maria Reynolds approached Hamilton and begged him for financial support. She played on his heartstrings by claiming that her husband James Reynolds had abandoned her. Blinded by his sympathy and feelings of strong attachment to Maria, Hamilton failed to realise that Maria’s sob story was actually an attempt to manipulate the then Secretary of the Treasury.

After delivering monetary aid to Reynolds for the first time at the house where she was lodging, the two began an illicit affair that would last, with varying frequency, until approximately June 1792.

Dan chats to Emily Brand, a writer, historian and genealogist who specialises in the social history of the eighteenth century and is currently researching the trials and tribulations of romantic (and not-so-romantic) relationships in England.

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It was not long before Maria’s husband found out about the affair and used his knowledge to blackmail Hamilton, who paid him regularly to remain silent.

After James Reynolds was implicated in another financial scandal, he informed investigators that Hamilton had been using government funds as hush money. When confronted with this, Hamilton admitted to the affair, but he also insisted that he had used his own personal funds to cover it up, even showing Monroe his love letters from Maria Reynolds as proof.

(Video) Top 10 Things Hamilton Got Factually Right and Wrong

Monroe gave the letters to his close friend Thomas Jefferson, one of Hamilton’s fiercest political enemies. Jefferson passed them on to publisher James Callender, already notorious as the pre-eminent 19th-century peddler of political gossip.

10 Fascinating Facts About Alexander Hamilton (4)

‘Observations on Certain Documents’ in which the charge of speculation against Alexander Hamilton, late secretary of the Treasury, was fully refuted, 1797. Image Credit: Public Domain.

In 1797, the scandal exploded after Callender printed the Reynolds-Hamilton letters in his paper. Hamilton published his own lengthy pamphlet in which he acknowledged the extramarital relationship. Hamilton was publicly applauded for his honesty, but his political career was effectively destroyed.

5. He received George Washington’s last written letter

Two days before his death on 14 December 1799, the first president of the United States, George Washington had sent his last written letter to Alexander Hamilton.

In the letter, Washington (who had been a mentor to Hamilton throughout his entire political career) praised his apprentice’s idea regarding the establishment of a national military academy.

Washington wrote that to Hamilton that such an institution would be of “primary importance to the country”.

10 Fascinating Facts About Alexander Hamilton (5)

(Video) Hardcore Facts About Alexander Hamilton

George Washington on his Deathbed. Image Credit: Public Domain

6. He pledged to waste his shot when duelling Burr

A result of personal bitterness and a long fought political feud, Alexander Hamilton was challenged to a duel by the American politician and lawyer Aaron Burr. The duel took place in Weehawken, New Jersey early in the morning of 11 July 1804 and resulted in Hamilton’s death. Burr’s shot hit Hamilton in the abdomen area above the right hip, fractured a rib, tore through his diaphragm and liver, and lodged in his spine. Hamilton fell instantly.

Interestingly, before the duel Hamilton had already told confidants and made clear in valedictory letters that he intended to throw away his shot, possibly by purposefully shooting wide of Burr. In any case, Hamilton certainly fired his pistol, missing Burr’s head and snapping a branch behind him.

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Duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Image Credit: Public Domain

Burr’s reaction to Hamilton’s death somewhat confirmed Hamilton’s sincerity, the politician moving toward his dead rival in a speechless manner seemingly indicative of regret. The Hamilton-Burr duel has become the most famous duel in the nation’s history.

7. His son died 3 years prior, at the exact same location

While Hamilton had managed to avoid confrontation and duel challenges throughout most of his life, his eldest son Philip was not so lucky. Three years before his duel with Burr, Philip had confronted a New York lawyer George Eacker after witnessing Eacker’s speech denouncing his father.

When Eacker refused to retract his damning statements, a duel was set for the 20 November in Weehawken, New Jersey – the exact same location where his father would be shot almost three years later.

Eacker escaped unscathed, but Philip was shot above the right hip and died an agonizing death the following day. The loss devastated the Hamilton family, and many historians believe it led to Hamilton’s own reluctance to fire directly at Aaron Burr during their legendary duel just three years later.

8. He founded the New York Post

Hamilton’s close friend and associate John Adams lost the 1800 election to Thomas Jefferson – another man Hamilton consistently clashed with throughout his political career. In November 1801, Hamilton decided to create The New York Evening Post – an anti-Democratic-Republican publication which regularly slandered Jefferson.

Today the newspaper is known as the New York Post, a publication owned by Rupert Murdoch, the multi-media tycoon, since 1976.

9. He left his family in debt

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Mrs. Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton. Image Credit: Public Domain

When Hamilton died in 1804, he had actually left his family in a precarious financial situation. Days before he died, Hamilton’s statement explained his financial circumstances “if an accident should happen” to him. In it, he tied his public service to the present state of his finances, which included debts that would prove a burden to his family.

In fact, the state of the debts prompted Eliza, his wife, to ask Congress for money and land that was given to him for his service in the Revolutionary War that he previously forfeited.

(Video) Alexander Hamilton Facts!

10. He authored The Federalist Papers

Hamilton will be remembered for a host of achievements. Not only were his accomplishments so plentiful and revolutionary but his life was considered fascinating enough for someone to write an award-winning, almost three hour long musical about it.

If we are to remember Hamilton for one thing however, it must be for his championing of the US Constitution and his authorship of The Federalist Papers. 85 essays were written between October 1787 and May 1788 by John Jay, James Madison and Hamilton. John Jay became ill and only wrote 5 essays. James Madison wrote 29, and Hamilton wrote the other 51.

Thanks to their efforts and Hamilton’s extraordinary work-ethic to produce so many endorsing works, the Constitution became ratified on 21 June 1788, after 9 of 13 states approved it.

FAQs

What 51 things did Hamilton write? ›

Hamilton's constitutional legacy was the Federalist Papers

Hamilton wrote roughly 51 of the 85 essays, which are still consulted today by scholars and the Supreme Court. Hamilton's authorship wasn't made public until after his death in 1804.

What are 3 things Alexander Hamilton is known for? ›

Alexander Hamilton was a founding father of the United States, who fought in the American Revolutionary War, helped draft the Constitution, and served as the first secretary of the treasury. He was the founder and chief architect of the American financial system.

What is unique about Alexander Hamilton? ›

Alexander Hamilton, born into obscurity in the West Indies, 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 ratifying the U.S. Constitution.

Did Alexander Hamilton own a dog? ›

Not every American Founding Father became president, but all played a big role in our country's infancy. Alexander Hamilton owned a Newfoundland dog called Earl Grey.

What did Hamilton fear most? ›

Hamilton feared that if most power was given to states or peoplewould determine decisions, not what was best for everyone. Not surprisingly, Hamilton was a sharp critic of the Articles of Confederation precisely because it gave too much power to the individual states and not enough to the central government.

How many words did Hamilton write? ›

Hamilton is thought to have written a 15,000-word essay laying out the counter doctrine of implied powers in just one night, an essay that would convince Washington to approve the creation of the first bank of the United States.

What was Alexander Hamilton's favorite food? ›

The apples and crust, made with flour and butter, are also representative of items his mother sold in the bodega. Additionally, ice cream is widely known to have been one of Alexander Hamilton's favorite treats. It is even known that Alexander and his wife, Eliza, introduced the dessert to George and Martha Washington!

What did Hamilton do good? ›

As resident Washington's first treasury secretary, Hamilton advocated for a national banking system, established the U.S. Mint and a system of tariffs and international trade agreements, and crafted monetary policies that assured financial security for the new nation.

Is Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill? ›

This led to the Treasury Department stating that Hamilton would remain on the bill in some way. The $10 bill was chosen because it was scheduled for a regular security redesign, a years-long process.

What's a fun fact for the day? ›

Fun Facts and Trivia
  • It is impossible for most people to lick their own elbow. ...
  • A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out.
  • A shrimp's heart is in its head.
  • It is physically impossible for pigs to look up into the sky.

How did Hamilton change the world? ›

He shaped the young country's financial, political, and legal systems according to this vision. His ideas on racial equality and economic diversity were so far ahead of their time that it took America decades to catch up with them. Hamilton made the early republic work, and set the agenda for its future.

Was Hamilton a good person? ›

An overbearing orator and politically tactless, Hamilton made fast enemies. He is often remembered less fondly in the American psyche despite being a founding father and a great scholar of government. It was Hamilton's political naïveté that led him astray and made it easy for those around him to exploit his failings.

Did Alexander Hamilton have money? ›

Alexander Hamilton, who created the financial system of the U.S., was so broke when he died in a duel that his friends had to take up a collection for his funeral.

Is Hamilton dog vegan? ›

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Hamilton said: “This is me and my dog Roscoe, my bulldog. “He's like nine years old [and] he's vegan. He eats quinoa and vegetables every day and it's literally changed his life – he's like a puppy again, at nine years old.”

Who shot first Hamilton? ›

In some accounts, Hamilton shot first and missed, followed by Burr's deadly shot. One theory, stated in a 1976 Smithsonian magazine article, is that Hamilton's pistol had a hair trigger that let him get off the first shot. But Burr claimed in his autobiography that he supplied the pistols and not Hamilton.

What was Hamilton's weakness? ›

Hamilton's life, notes his new biographer, Ron Chernow, provides “a case study in the profitable use of time.” Despite all of that, Hamilton struggled through fierce political warfare, feelings of inadequacy and an inflamed sense of honor that ultimately got him killed in a duel over nothing.

What were Hamilton's weaknesses? ›

One of the most controversial men of his age, Alexander Hamilton was a gifted statesman brought down by the fatal flaws of stubbornness, extreme candor, and arrogance.

What is longest song in Hamilton? ›

"Non Stop" is the longest song in the Broadway musical "Hamilton" with its 6 minutes and 25 seconds.

How fast did Alexander Hamilton write? ›

At one point Hamilton wrote 21 essays in two months; three times he wrote five or more in a week.

How long did Hamilton take to write? ›

Composed over a seven-year period from 2008 to 2015, the musical tells the story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. Miranda said that he was inspired to write the musical after reading the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Miranda says Hamilton was originally a hip hop album in his head.

Who was Hamilton's lover? ›

The mistress of Alexander Hamilton and the wife of a con man, Maria Reynolds played a central role in one of the first sex scandals in American political history. Hamilton became involved with Mrs. Reynolds in 1791, when she requested his help after her husband James supposedly abandoned her.

How did Hamilton get so smart? ›

Hamilton was extremely smart. He went to a grammar school in Elizabethtown, New Jersey from 1772-1773. He then enrolled at King's College, New York (now Columbia University) either late in 1773 or early in 1774. He later practiced law along with being a huge part in the founding of the United States.

Did Hamilton fight for slaves? ›

The Founding Father opposed slavery, but he bought and sold enslaved people for his in-laws—and possibly even his own household. Alexander Hamilton abhorred slavery and at a few points in his life worked to help limit it. But any moral objections he held were tempered by his social and political ambitions.

Who did Hamilton betray? ›

The Hamilton–Reynolds affair was the first major sex scandal in American political history. It involved Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who conducted an affair with Maria Reynolds from 1791 to 1792, during the presidency of George Washington.

What was Hamilton main goal? ›

Hamilton's main goals were to achieve the financial stability necessary to fight another war should one arise with the foreign threats of Britain and Spain, and to dull assertions of state power that might diminish national power.

Who is on $2 bill? ›

Issued 1976 - Present

The first use of Thomas Jefferson's portrait on $2 notes was on Series 1869 United States Notes. The same portrait has been used for all series of $2 United States Notes as well as for all $2 Federal Reserve notes.

Was there a $1000 bill? ›

Like its smaller cousin, the $500 bill, the $1,000 bill was discontinued in 1969. 4 And like the $500 bill, the $1,000 bill would seem to have a lot more use now than it did then. Why? Inflation, of course.

Who is on the $1000 bill? ›

$1,000: Grover Cleveland, 22nd president, 24th prez. $5,000: James Madison, fourth president, helped write Federalist Papers. $10,000: Salmon P. Chase, not a president, Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury.

What are 10 amazing facts? ›

Interesting Unknown Facts
  • Hot water will turn into ice faster than cold water. ...
  • The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows. ...
  • The strongest muscle in the body is the tongue. ...
  • Ants take rest for around 8 Minutes in 12-hour period. ...
  • "I Am" is the shortest complete sentence in the English language. ...
  • Coca-Cola was originally green.

Did you know facts for 7 year olds? ›

Your eyes blink all day long to keep them clean. Each of your hands has 14 finger bones. After about age 30, people start shrinking – they get a bit shorter every year. People can go without drinking water for as long as a week without dying.

What are 5 amazing facts? ›

5 amazing science facts that will blow your mind
  • A teaspoonful of neutron star. ...
  • Metals that explode when in contact with water. ...
  • Hawaii is moving closer to Alaska by 7.5cm every year. ...
  • Sunflowers are known as hyperaccumulators. ...
  • A cockroach can live for up to one week without its head.
15 Nov 2021

Did Hamilton throw his shot away? ›

Hamilton did fire his weapon intentionally, and he fired first. But he aimed to miss Burr, sending his ball into the tree above and behind Burr's location. In so doing, he did not withhold his shot, but he did waste it, thereby honoring his pre-duel pledge.

What made Hamilton a success? ›

In addition, a major reason Hamilton is a success is in the way the show promotes multiculturalism in its portrayal of the diversity in America, emphasizes interculturalism in how it depicts the story's protagonist and antagonist, and celebrates transculturalism by infusing known characters with new ethnic groups to ...

Why is Hamilton such a success? ›

A combination of hip hop and rap songs made the music more relevant to a younger audience. He had taken a historical piece and made it modern — and relevant. It opened up the potential audience to those outside the regular mainstream musical audience.

Who was Hamilton best friend? ›

South Carolina's Revolutionary abolitionist, Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens, was Alexander Hamilton's closest friend.

Who is the hero of Hamilton? ›

Hamilton is a musical about the founding father Alexander Hamilton, who played an important role in the American Revolution and helped form the nation's government. However, Eliza Schuyler is the character who ends up being the true hero of the story.

Who are the 7 founding fathers? ›

Fact #1: These seven men are the principle Founding Fathers: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison. While there were many others who contributed to the founding of the United States, these seven are considered by most as the Founding Fathers.

What president is on the $10 bill? ›

Ten-dollar bill: Alexander Hamilton.

Although he never served as president, Alexander Hamilton still played a major role in our nation's history. He served in the Revolutionary War as an aide to George Washington and is one of our Founding Fathers.

How much was $1000 in Hamilton's time? ›

$1,000 in 1791 is worth $31,575.32 today.

When was Alexander Hamilton put on the $10 bill? ›

The Series of 1928 notes, all the same size with similar design features, went into circulation in 1929. Since then, the $10 note has featured Hamilton as the sole portrait.

Can dogs be 100% vegan? ›

However, dogs still need an easily digestible diet that is rich in protein so that nutrients can be rapidly absorbed into their bodies. For this reason, vegan dogs will struggle to digest the high fibre of plant-based diets and are at risk of vitamin D and B deficiencies.

Do vegan dogs exist? ›

With lots of research and careful preparation of meals, it is possible to get dogs all of the nutrients they need without meat. For dogs with particularly sensitive stomachs or serious allergies, a vegetarian or vegan diet, under the supervision of a veterinarian, can be life-saving.

Can I turn my dog into vegan? ›

The short answer is that yes, technically speaking, dogs can survive and even do well on a vegan or vegetarian regimen, says Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University.

What were Hamilton's last words? ›

Hamilton gasped, “I am a dead man” and collapsed. He lapsed in and out of consciousness while being rowed back across the Hudson River to New York. He was taken to a friend's mansion, his family rushing to his side.

Did Hamilton fire in the air? ›

According to Hamilton's “second”—his assistant and witness in the duel—Hamilton decided the duel was morally wrong and deliberately fired into the air. Burr's second claimed that Hamilton fired at Burr and missed.

Was Hamilton wearing his glasses? ›

According to witnesses, Hamilton then fished his glasses from his pocket, put them on, and took some sightings with his dueling pistol, including several aimed Burr's way.

Is it true that Hamilton wrote 51 essays? ›

The Federalist, commonly referred to as the Federalist Papers, is a series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison between October 1787 and May 1788. The essays were published anonymously, under the pen name "Publius," in various New York state newspapers of the time.

How many essays did Hamilton write? ›

Madison wrote a total of 29 essays, while Hamilton wrote a staggering 51.

How many of the 85 essays did Hamilton write? ›

Between October 1787 and August 1788, "Publius" wrote 85 essays in several New York newspapers. Hamilton wrote over 60 percent of these essays and helped with the writing of others.

What was Hamilton's purpose in writing no 78? ›

It was written to explicate and justify the structure of the judiciary under the proposed Constitution of the United States; it is the first of six essays by Hamilton on this issue.

How many songs were removed from Hamilton? ›

There are nearly 20 deleted Hamilton tunes and demos scattered across the internet.

Does Hamilton swear a lot? ›

Swearing infrequently occurs throughout the musical in 3 songs, including abuses of "Christ" and "Jesus." One of the songs (Yorktown) mutes the use of the 'f' word. There is an implied 'f' word during the song "Say No to This" but is never finished being said.

How long did it take to write the first song in Hamilton? ›

It took a long time to create

Still, it took Miranda a full year to write the first song, and another year to write the second. Long before the show ever hit the stage, however, Miranda performed that first rap at an evening of music and spoken word at the White House in 2009. He was just 29 years old.

Who wrote the Bill of Rights? ›

The American Bill of Rights, inspired by Jefferson and drafted by James Madison, was adopted, and in 1791 the Constitution's first ten amendments became the law of the land.

What were Hamilton's main goals? ›

Hamilton's main goals were to achieve the financial stability necessary to fight another war should one arise with the foreign threats of Britain and Spain, and to dull assertions of state power that might diminish national power.

What is the main theme of Hamilton? ›

As I've come to know and love Miranda's music, lyrics, story and portrayal as Hamilton, I've noticed three central themes: storytelling, time and legacy. Hamilton was gifted with the intellect and willpower to rise up from poverty and become one of the most notable figures in history.

What was Hamilton's main idea? ›

Hamilton's vision for reshaping the American economy included a federal charter for a national financial institution. He proposed a Bank of the United States. Modeled along the lines of the Bank of England, a central bank would help make the new nation's economy dynamic through a more stable paper currency.

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4. #1474 Ten Things About Alexander Hamilton
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5. 16 FUN FACTS ABOUT ALEXANDER HAMILTON
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6. Alexander Hamilton Facts That Aren't In 'Hamilton' - US 101
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