President’s day is coming. Are we still intent on replacing Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill? Since he was never President, I suppose most people are ambiguous. He was an orphan from St. Croix Island, now part of US territory, but in the 1750s it was Dutch West Indies. His dad, James Hamilton was Dutch and his mother Rachel Levine was French. So, no Natural Born Citizen and no Presidency. Date of birth was sometime in January 1755 or 1757—we aren’t sure. His mother thought it was January 11. Eventually the Hamiltons went to New York City where James abandoned the family and Alexander’s mother died. He began working as an accountant’s apprentice. Some relatives helped him through school but that got interrupted for the Revolutionary War. He was a Tea Partier in 1775 and enlisted in the Army. At Trenton, he heroically commanded a platoon that kept the Redcoats from crossing the Raritan River, thereby saving Washington’s tiny army. For this valor, Washington made him chief aid-de-camp for the war.
As the war came to an end, Hamilton wrote a series of letters to the Continental Congress with his concerns about the financial future of the nation. Continental dollars were worthless and nobody in Europe would lend to America. He proposed that government bonds be backed by land in the Ohio Valley and that the Articles of Confederation be abolished for a republic. Fresh with a new law degree he set up practice in New York, defending loyalists who had formerly sided with the crown. He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1782. By 1786, the country was in crisis over lack of credit and the Confederation was in great disfavor. Hamilton spearheaded the drive for a new constitution. In May of the following year, a constitutional convention was assembled. By September, they had produced the document. But would it pass the states approvals? Thus Hamilton and Madison cooperated to write 85 essays, known as the Federalist Papers (Hamilton authored 2/3 of them) to advocate the Constitution and the new Republic. Federalist Papers are not only classics, they guide the Supreme Court on Original Intent. Washington named Hamilton his Sec. of Treasury and the act to back bonds with raw land, probably saved USA from being re-conquered by Europeans on behalf of creditors.
Politically, Jefferson (Sec. of State) fought Hamilton because the plan interfered with his foreign policy and thus began the first political parties—Hamilton headed Federalists and Jefferson headed Democratic Republicans. Jefferson favored the French while Hamilton wanted to patch things up with the British. The French Revolution of 1789 descended into chaos and then Napoleon attacked Britain in 1793. Washington sided with Hamilton and declared US neutrality. Hamilton got Federalist John Adams elected in 1796, but they had a falling out and Jefferson was elected in 1800. Hamilton founded a newspaper, The New York Evening Post, to express his views. In 1804 almost all Federalists wanted Aaron Burr to be elected Governor of New York, except Hamilton. Hamilton had changed. During the Revolution, he was a Deist and made jokes about religion. But in his later years he became staunchly Christian, and Burr’s narcissic ego didn’t seem Christian to Hamilton and he thought it might lead to dictatorship or monarchy by Burr. Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel. Witnesses said that Burr took careful aim and shot Hamilton who didn’t intend to shoot for Burr and only discharged his pistol after he had been hit. The bullet went through his chest and Hamilton knew he was dying, spoke to a priest about his faith in God’s mercy and passed away. Burr, true to character, plotted to create a kingdom in the American West, but the plot was uncovered. He was tried for treason, was acquitted, but fled to Europe.
So what do we say about Hamilton? He saved the Revolution at Trenton, the country facing a credit crisis when he was Treasurer, the Constitution and Republic in the Federalist Papers, and took a fatal bullet to save the West from a traitor. Hillary wants to put Rosa Parks on the Ten after she goes to the White House. I think she should go to the Big House.
Or maybe just a Non-President's Day on January 11 to honor Hamilton and MLK