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  • Alexander Hamilton came from humble beginnings, but eventually became one of the Founding

  • Fathers of the United States and the first Secretary of the Treasury.

  • While he never became President, he was an incredibly influential figure in the formation

  • of America and an indelible part of its history.

  • Here are 10 things about Lin-Manuel Miranda's muse you may not know

  • 10.

  • He Lied About His Age

  • When Alexander Hamilton's mother, Rachel Fawcett, was a teenager, she was living on

  • the island of Nevis in the British West Indies, and she was forced to marry a much older man

  • named John Lavine.

  • Rachel, who was a descendant of British and French Huguenot parents, wasn't happy in

  • the marriage.

  • Lavine was abusive and spent all the money Rachel had inherited from her father's death.

  • Eventually, Lavine had her locked up in prison for adultery.

  • After getting out of prison, Rachel didn't go back to her husband and the son they had

  • together.

  • Instead she fled to St. Kitts, where she lived with a Scottish trader named James Hamilton.

  • Rachel gave birth to a son in 1753, and then Alexander Hamilton was born on January 11,

  • 1755… even though he told people he was born in 1757.

  • Why Hamilton lied about his age stems from the fact that his father abandoned him, his

  • brother, and his mother shortly after he was born.

  • This left the family in poverty while living in Saint Croix and when Hamilton was 13, his

  • mother died.

  • Now having to support himself, Hamilton needed to find an apprenticeship.

  • He thought that if he was 11, he would make a more desirable apprentice.

  • Luckily for him, it worked and he got a job as a clerk.

  • 9.

  • He Came to America Because He Was a Good Writer

  • In August 1772, when Hamilton was 17 (but telling people he was 15) the West Indies

  • was hit by a horrible hurricane.

  • Hamilton, who was working as a clerk, wrote about the hurricane in a letter that he planned

  • on sending to his father.

  • However, first he showed it to a Presbyterian minister named Hugh Knox, who was also mentoring

  • him.

  • In an interesting side note, Knox was ordained as a minister by Aaron Burr Sr., the father

  • of Vice President Aaron Burr.

  • As you probably know if you ever studied American history, Aaron Burr is going to be a big part

  • of this list.

  • But, back to the letterKnox read it and was impressed with Hamilton's writing.

  • He encouraged Hamilton to publish it in the newspaper where Knox filled in as an editor.

  • It was printed in October along with a foreword by Knox.

  • After the letter was published, several businessmen in St. Croix wanted to know the identity of

  • the writer and when Hamilton came forward, they took up a collection to send him to America

  • to be educated.

  • Several months later, Hamilton was sent to New York where he enrolled in King's College

  • (which is now Columbia).

  • Now, many of you are probably aware that there is a musical about Hamilton aptly named Hamilton.

  • The musicial is told entirely in rap and it features all minority actors.

  • The creator of the play, Lin-Manuel Miranda, said that Hamilton's letter inspired the

  • play.

  • In an interview with Vogue he stated, “It was the fact that Hamilton wrote his way off

  • the island where he grew up.

  • That's the hip-hop narrative.”

  • Also, by immigrating to New York, it makes Hamilton the only key Founding Father who

  • wasn't born in one of the states.

  • 8.

  • He Passed the New York Bar Exam After Studying for Only Six Months

  • During the American Revolution, Hamilton joined the Patriots to fight against the Loyalists.

  • Hamilton quickly caught the attention of General George Washington, who made him an assistant

  • and an adviser.

  • During this time, Hamilton wrote several important letters and reports for Washington.

  • During his tenure as adviser, Hamilton saw a big problem with the fledgling American

  • nation; mainly that the states were resentful and jealous of each other.

  • He thought that a strong central government would improve relations between the states

  • and strengthen the country.

  • To help create a stronger central government, Hamilton decided to become a lawyer.

  • In 1782, he left his post as an adviser to Washington after holding it for five years,

  • and studied to take the bar exam.

  • People can take years to study for the bar, but amazingly, it only took Hamilton six months

  • to prepare.

  • He passed and became a lawyer in New York City in 1782.

  • 7.

  • The Federalist Papers

  • In the last entry, we discussed how Hamilton wanted a central government and to form one,

  • nine of the 13 states had to approve the U.S. Constution to ratify it.

  • In order to generate support for the ratification, Hamilton came up with the idea of writing

  • 25 letters to newspapers that argued for its ratification.

  • To do this, he enlisted the help of statesmen John Jay and James Madison.

  • All of the essays were published under the psydenomPublius.”

  • However, instead of writing 25 letters, between October 1787 and May 1788 they actually wrote

  • 85 essays.

  • Hamilton wrote two-thirds of them – 51 in all; Madison wrote 29 (three of which were

  • possibly co-written by Hamilton), and Jay wrote 5.

  • What a slacker.

  • Then on June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to approve the Constitution,

  • offically ratifying it.

  • 6.

  • He Was Involved in a Sex Scandal

  • In the summer of 1791, Alexander Hamilton was 34 (really 36) and living in Philadelphia

  • with his wife and children.

  • At the time, he was the secretary of the United States Treasury.

  • One day, a 23-year-old woman named Maria Reynolds knocked on Hamilton's door while his wife

  • and children were out of town on vacation.

  • Reynolds told Hamilton that her husband, James Reynolds, had abandoned her, but she was ultimately

  • better off because he was a horrible man.

  • She said that she didn't have money and was wondering if Hamilton would help her out

  • so she could travel to New York to stay with some family.

  • Hamilton agreed to help and told her that he would bring her the money that night.

  • That evening, Hamilton went to her house, and then they went into her bedroom.

  • Presumably that's when Marvin Gaye stepped out of a time machine to set the mood, and

  • Hamilton realized thatother than pecuniary consolation would be acceptable.”

  • Hamilton and Maria carried on the affair into the fall, but in the winter her husband James

  • returned home and discovered the adultery.

  • So James wrote a letter to Hamilton accusing him of breaking up a happy marriage.

  • James also wrote that it was clear that Maria loved Hamilton and not him, so Hamilton could

  • visit his wife every time that he left town, if Hamilton were to pay him $1,000.

  • Hamilton agreed and paid.

  • Maria would then tell Hamilton when James was leaving town, and then Hamilton would

  • visit her.

  • After the visits, James would write to Hamilton reminding them that they are friends, and

  • then he would ask for some money, usually around $30 or $40.

  • It's believed at this point Maria was involved in her husband's scam.

  • In November 1792, James Reynolds was arrested for a different financial scam and asked Hamilton

  • for help.

  • Hamilton refused, but word got around quickly that Reynolds had dirt on Hamilton.

  • Three Congressmen (James Monroe, Frederick Muhlenberg, and Abraham Venable) visited James

  • in prison and Maria at home.

  • The couple told the Congressmen that Hamilton was a homewrecker who forced James to share

  • Maria.

  • Monroe and Muhlenberg confronted Hamilton and he admitted to the affair and paying James

  • the extortion money.

  • He also showed them the letters.

  • Monroe and Muhlenberg realized that Hamilton was just guilty of an affair and decided not

  • to make it public, but they didn't keep it secret.

  • Monroe gave Hamilton's main political adversary, Thomas Jefferson, a copy of a letter Maria

  • sent to Hamilton.

  • The affair may have stayed quiet had it not been for the fact that Hamilton forgot the

  • first rule of accusing other people of nefarious deeds, which is that people who live in glass

  • houses shouldn't throw rocks.

  • In 1796, a year after Hamilton stepped down as secretary of the treasury, he wrote an

  • essay questioning the morality of Jefferson's personal life.

  • Then in 1797, a Republican muckraker named James Callender published The History of the

  • United States for 1796.

  • The book not only featured the letters between Reynolds and Hamilton, but it also accused

  • Hamilton of being a part of the financial scam for which James had been arrested.

  • A financial scam would have been disastrous for Hamilton and also quite possibly for the

  • fledgling American Treasury, because Hamilton was the architect for early American fiscal

  • policy.

  • The problem was that if he denied both allegations and one could be proven, then it would make

  • him look like a liar.

  • Without another option, Hamilton admitted to the affair and published his own pamphlet

  • explaining that he was the victim of an elaborate scam.

  • He was guilty of making bad choices, but he was not involved in the scam.

  • While people believed him, his reputation took a hit and it humiliated both Hamilton

  • and his wife, Elizabeth, who was from a prominent New York family.

  • Despite the scandal, Elizabeth ultimately stayed with Hamilton.

  • However, she always blamed Madison, who would go on to become the fourth President, for

  • the scandal.

  • The Reynolds' filed for divorce and Maria was represented by none other than future

  • Vice President Aaron Burr.

  • 5.

  • He Founded The New York Post

  • In the Presidential election in 1800, the candidates were Thomas Jefferson, who was

  • the Democratic-Republicans candidate, and then-President John Adams, who was the candidate

  • from the Federalist Party.

  • The Federalist Party was the first American political party and it was based on Hamilton's

  • fiscal policies.

  • They promoted a strong national government, loose interpretation of the Constitution,

  • and a harmonious relationship with Britain.

  • The Democratic-Republican party was the first opposition party and they pretty much wanted

  • the opposite.

  • They wanted more state rights and a more strict interpretation of the Constitution.

  • Hamilton was troubled that Jefferson won the election in 1800, so in November 1801, he

  • founded The New York Post, which was originally called The New York Evening Post, with a $10,000

  • investment.

  • The newspaper was obviously anti-Jefferson and anti-Democratic-Republicans.

  • The newspaper is still in print today.

  • It was purchased by Rupert Murdoch in 1976, and it's terrible.

  • As comedian John Mulaney says, “I like reading the New York Post because reading the New

  • York Post is like talking to someone who heard the news, and now they're trying to give

  • you the gist.”

  • Hopefully that isn't how Hamilton envisioned its legacy.

  • 4.

  • He Worked With Andrew Burr

  • The first recorded murder trial in the United States was called the Manhattan Well Murder.

  • The case revolved around a young unmarried couple named Levi Weeks and Elma Sands.

  • Weeks lived in New England, but moved to New York to work for his brother as a carpenter.

  • In July 1799, he moved into a boarding house run by the aunt and uncle of Elma Sands.

  • Soon, Weeks and Sands were meeting up in secret at night.

  • Trying to avoid getting in trouble for fooling around without being married, and possibly

  • because Sands was pregnant, the couple got engaged on December 22, 1799.

  • That night, they went out, and only Weeks returned home.

  • He said that he didn't know where she was and that he had simply lost track of her.

  • A few days later, her body was found at the bottom of a well.

  • A short time later, the Grand Jury indicted Weeks.

  • Weeks' brother was a prominent citizen and he hired three of the best lawyers in the

  • city: Henry Brockholst Livingston, Alexander Hamilton, and

  • Aaron Burr.

  • The trial started on March 31, 1800, and went all the way until 2:00 am the next morning.

  • The jury spent five minutes dilberating and came back with an acquittal.

  • The jury was criticized for the verdict and Weeks became a social pariah.

  • After the trial, he was forced to move away from New York City.

  • 3.

  • He Lost His Son in a Duel

  • Obviously, Hamilton wasn't enthusiastic about Thomas Jefferson's win in 1800, but

  • no matter how unhappy he was about the election, he accepted the results.

  • After all, he was one of the Founding Fathers, and to suggest otherwise would have been very

  • insulting.

  • On July 4, 1801, a 27-year-old lawyer named George Eacker, a supporter of Jefferson, gave

  • a speech at Columbia University, where he claimed that Hamilton wanted to take the Presidency

  • by force and suggested that he preferred the monarchy over democracy.

  • Hamilton's oldest son, 19-year-old Philip, read about the speech in the newspaper and

  • four months later, he and a friend named Richard Price were at the theater when they spotted

  • Eacker in one of the boxes.

  • The two young men, who were possibly drunk, stormed the box and started to insult Eacker.

  • They later got into an argument in the lobby.

  • Eacker supposedly called the two boysdamned rascals.”

  • Later that night, Price sent a letter to Eaker demanding a duel and Philip sent a similar

  • letter a short time later.

  • Eacker agreed to both duels.

  • First up was Price.

  • He and Eacker dueled on November 22, 1801.

  • Both missed, and according to the terms of the duel, honor was satisfied.

  • The next day, Philip and Eacker met at the dueling grounds in Weehawken, New Jersey,

  • just across the Hudson River from New York City.

  • Duels were held there because they were illegal in New York, but not in New Jersey.

  • Both Eacker and Philip fired, but only Philip was hit.

  • He spent a day in agony and then died.

  • His death devastated the Hamilton family.

  • One of his sisters had a nervous breakdown and Hamilton was so stricken with grief that

  • he could barely stand.

  • Yet this death wouldn't stop a similar tragedy from unfolding just three years later.

  • 2.

  • The Infamous Duel

  • The roots of the duel that would claim the life of Alexander Hamilton can be traced back

  • to the 1800 election.

  • At the time, there was a flaw in the Constitution of the United States, which led to a unique

  • political situation.

  • Members of the electoral college were supposed to vote for two people for President.

  • The problem was everyone voted for the same two men for the Democratic-Republican party:

  • Thomas Jefferson, and the man he asked to be his running mate, Aaron Burr.

  • Hamilton, who was the inspiration for the Federalist Party and one of its most important

  • members, thought that Jefferson was the lesser of two evils, so he helped campaign for Jefferson.

  • However, then-President John Adams and the other Federalists wanted Burr to be the Presidential

  • candidate.