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Hamilton, Alexander (1757?-1804).

American army officer and statesman. Principal war: American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). Principal battles: Long Island, White Plains, Trenton (1776); Princeton (1777); Yorktown (1781).

Born on Nevis in the Caribbean (January 11, 1757 or 1755); entered King's College (now Columbia University) in New York City (1773); commissioned a captain of the Provisional Company of New York Artillery (March 17, 1776); saw action at Long Island (August 27, 1776), White Plains (October 28, 1776), Trenton (December 25, 1776) and Princeton (January 3, 1777); became Washington's secretary and aide-de-camp and received promotion to lieutenant-colonel, just several months after his twentieth birthday (March 1777); married Elizabeth, daughter of Gen. Philip Schuyler (December 1780), so gaining important political capital; he left his position on Washington's staff after an argument with the commander in chief (1781); was given command of a light battalion in Lafayette's division (July 1781); at Yorktown he led the attack on Redoubt 9 (October 14, 1781); breveted colonel (September 30, 1783), he soon left the army (December 23, 1783); following the war he served as a congressman (1782-1783) and began practicing law in New York; instrumental in gaining support for the ratification of the Constitution; a principal author, with James Madison and John Jay, of the series of essays in defense of the Constitution published in The Federalist known as The Federalist Papers (1787-1788); was the first Secretary of the Treasury under Washington (1789-1795); his policies helped the United States remove the heavy debt incurred during the war; resigned from public service to return to his law practice (January 31, 1795); he died at the age of forty-seven, mortally wounded in the famous duel with Aaron Burr on the Weehawken Heights in New Jersey (July 12, 1804).

Renowned for his achievements as Secretary of the Treasury and as an author of The Federalist Papers (although many of his policies earned him great public enmity); this reputation should not obscure his exemplary military activities as a very young man during the American Revolutionary War. <BL>

Boatner, Mark M., III. Encyclopedia of the American Revolution.
     1966. Reprint. New York, 1969.
Dupuy, Trevor N., and Gay M. Hammerman, People and Events of the
     American Revolution. New York, 1974.
Encyclopaedia Britannica. 24 vols. Chicago, 1966.


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Author:Dupuy, Arnold C.
Publication:The Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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