Alexander Hamilton

Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot
In the Caribbean by providence, impoverished, in squalor,
Hamilton, is that Alexander Hamilton was a man of rare intellectual gifts, determination, and, in particular, extraordinary rhetorical abilities. Hamilton first came to public notice at the age of seventeen when a letter to his father describing a hurricane on St. Croix was published in a local newspaper. The account was so vivid and remarkable that businessmen on the island raised money to send Hamilton to the mainland to get the kind of formal education that was impossible in the Caribbean. Hamilton went first to a boarding school in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and then to King’s College in New York City (the ancestor of Columbia University).

Federalist. Modeled, as so many eighteenth-century periodicals were, on Addison and Steele’s The Spectator, the Federalist was, like its predecessor, written by a small group of writers: Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, all of whom would publish under an eidelon, the common name “Publius.” The essays, published originally in New York city newspapers from October 27, 1787 to August 16, 1788 and immediately issued in a separate printed volume, joined in a vigorous debate about whether New York should ratify the recently-passed U. S. Constitution. Many elite New Yorkers were openly skeptical, and the Federalist was designed to sway opinion in the direction of ratification. The essays were published anonymously, and it was only in recent decades that the authorship of individual issues has been determined. Of the eighty-five issues, Hamilton was responsible for fifty one; Madison for twenty six, and the rest were written by Jay (who had fallen ill and was unable to participate after the first few issues). The Federalist lays out the theory behind the Constitution, and remains one of the most rigorous works of political theory written in English.

Portrait of Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury.
John Trumbull (American, Lebanon, Connecticut 1756–1843 New York)
Alexander Hamilton, 1792
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York