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    The Life and Contributions of Alexander Hamilton

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    Founding father Alexander Hamilton was born January 11, 1755, on the island of Nevis in the British West Indies. Hamilton’s parents were Rachel Fawcett Lavien, who was of British and French Huguenot descent, and James Hamilton, a Scottish trader. Orphaned early, Hamilton worked for a merchant on the island of St. Croix. Although Hamilton had very little formal education while growing up in the Caribbean, he did receive practical business experience as a clerk for the merchant Nicholas Cruger. While Cruger was away on business, Hamilton would often run the company’s day-to-day operations and conduct business with the local government and other merchants. This greatly improved Hamilton’s business sense and administrative ability, which he would later use in the government, especially as Secretary of the Treasury. His precocity and business acumen were quickly noted, and he was sent to the American colonies to be educated. Hamilton enrolled at King’s College in New York (now Columbia University) after being rejected by Princeton University, but his studies were cut short with the start of the American Revolutionary War. Which forced him to form his own militia of 25 men at the age of 20 to fight for the cause.

    Quickly rising through the ranks battle after battle, Hamilton began to get noticed by other high-ranking officials such as George Washington (commander of the Continental Amy), Nathanael Greene (a major general in the Continental Army) and General Alexander McDougall. On March 14, 1776 the New York Provincial Congress appointed Hamilton “Captain of the Provincial Company of Artillery” after successfully defending the New York colony and managing to capture the cannons from retreating redcoats. Due to his courageous acts and his bravery while under siege by the British, Hamilton gained his commision. Despite knowing the fact that all commision would go to “native colonists of wealth and social positions [he] leaped at the opportunity.”

    As Captain of the New York Artillery Hamilton later wrote to the New York provincial congress requesting a pay that is equal to that of the members of the Continental Congress, explaining that by doing so would encourage the members of his company to try their hardest and even encourage others to join. As Hamilton predicted, three weeks later, after his request was accepted, Hamilton’s company went up to 69 men, “double the required numbers.”Under the leadership of Hamilton these men on July 4, 1776, fought viciously in the Battle of the White Plains, even though they were tremendously outnumbered since the British had “480 battleships with approximately 39,000 troops”, while Hamilton’s militia had only under 100 men. Upon losing successive battles in the city of New York, he covered the Continental Army’s rear in a number of withdrawals. Initially, Hamilton’s company was placed at Fort George on the waterfront of Manhattan. During the Battle of White Plains Hamilton placed his cannon in such a place as to turn back a significantly sized Hessian advance. This decisive movement left a good impression of Hamilton among the American high command and delayed in part the British offensive, thus giving the Continental Army preciously needed time to perform an orderly retreat. When the Continental Army evacuated New York City, Forts Washington and Lee fell to a victorious British force. With much of the army’s enlistment expiring at the beginning of and throughout December, Washington led a desperate retreat through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. Hamilton’s artillery company was specifically selected to cover the hasty retreat from New Brunswick, New Jersey.

    Before George Washington retreated to Manhattan, he and many of his prominent Patriots including Nathaniel Greene and John Jay advocated burning New York City in 1776 in order to prevent it from falling into the hands of the British. This would have been an effective plan by the fact that most of the American Patriots had already left or were leaving the city and the majority of the population were Loyalists. Not to mention, burning New York would have destroyed the sole purpose behind the British plan to siege New York harbors. However, even though burning Manhattan could have given the Continental Army an edge over the British forces, General George Washington retreated the “city unharmed when he decamped.” This retreat from Manhattan was necessary as the Continental Army was outnumbered and thinly stretched out in the city of Manhattan. Not to mention, the standoff against the British forces would have been near suicide as British troops were highly trained and disciplined, unlike the American troops which included farmers and unskilled soldiers.

    During the retreat of the Continental Army in September 1776, Hamilton and his militia were ordered by General Henry Knox to make a stand against the British Army. However, Aaron Burr, counteracted Knox’s decision and led “Hamilton with little but the clothes on his back and his men.”Under this circumstance, Aaron Burr should be credited with saving the life of Alexander Hamilton, because without his warning Hamilton would have made a stand and would have most likely been killed in battle, as the British outnumbered Hamilton’s army three to one. This is ironic because the man who saves Alexander Hamilton in battle, later on, kills him in a duel that was set up to settle political issues.

    When the British Amy defeated the Continental Army in New Jersey, General Howe “left a brigade of Hessians… under the command of] Col. Johann Gottlieb Rall, whose troops slaughtered retreating Americans on Long Island and Fort Washington.”This is a decision that General Howe would later regret because the Hessian regiments, that camped in and around Trenton, were attacked and decisively defeated by the American Continental Amy in the Battle of Trenton. After the Hessians had let their guard down to celebrate the Christmas holiday.

    At the Battle of Trenton, Alexander Hamilton and his artillery played a major role in causing the Hessian troops to retreat and eventually surrender. This is because Hamilton even though was sick on Christmas Day, rallied to join the Army as they crossed the Delaware River to attack the Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey. He and his company that is almost cut in half (as a result of diseases) swarmed into Trenton alongside the Continental infantry, surprising the Hessians. He and his company set up two guns and ordered his men to fire at Trenton’s streets clear of the counterattacking Hessian infantrymen and artillery gunners.

    When George Washington was elected president of the United States in 1789, he appointed Alexander Hamilton as the first secretary of the treasury. At the time, the nation was facing great foreign and domestic debt due to expenses incurred during the American Revolution. Under the presidency of George Washington, Hamilton helped establish the U.S. Mint, and Navy, and helped gain support for the adoption of the constitution. As a statesman, Hamilton was talented in his ability to help President Washington, during the time when they developed a strong mutual relationship, like that of a father and son. This is due to the fact that Hamilton lost both of his parents, while Washington had no biological children of his own, thus they were dependent on each other’s skills in governing a newly founded nation.

    It is true that George Washington set the mold for the presidency since he helped create the government system in the United States. However, the only reason George Washington was able to build a strong government was due to the efforts of Alexander Hamilton who helped shape and create the economic system. The U.S. Mints that he helped create was a necessary concept that had already existed in the minds of many, producing and distributing coins was a necessity that would’ve still happened without him. The U.S. Navy that he helped established had already existed just not formally, without Hamiton the progress of the United States wouldn’t have been as great as it was, but it still would’ve been formed without him. This is because Navy is something that nations that are surrounded by large bodies of water need in order to defend themselves from foreign nations.

    Summary:

    Alexander Hamilton was a son of Scottish merchant and a mother who died shortly after his father had abandoned them had grown to be a significant figure in the American History. As a result since early on he had studied feverishly to improve his life. Which later on helped him to secure a scholarship to eventually study at King’s College in the United States. This is a very inspirational story, as it shows that even though Hamilton grew in a very difficult environment, he was able to overcome these situations by making best of what he already had. This also showed the work ethic that he possessed because of the great length he went through to come to the United States and attend King’s College.

    When the American Revolution broke out he left King’s College in hopes of forming his own militia to fight for the cause. He worked his way up and later became the Captain of the Artillery Company of New York, and his talent was instantly recognized by many prominent leaders, including George Washington. When the war finally came to an end the United States still had problems to sort out, Washington therefore chose Hamilton as one of the members in the cabinet. Hamilton’s contributed greatly to the institutions that have become the center of our government. As Hamilton helped to design and establishment of Federal institutions, and above all for the financial system which helped consolidate the states into a nation, and then put that nation on its path toward an industrial economy.

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    The Life and Contributions of Alexander Hamilton. (2023, Mar 03). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/the-life-and-contributions-of-alexander-hamilton/

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