In part two of this this series we will discuss Alexander Hamilton and uncover the means by which this Founding Father rose from obscurity to the world stage.
Hamilton’s rise from obscurity is probably the most striking of all the Founding Fathers. In 1772, A devastating hurricane swept through the West Indies and exposed in its wake the brilliance of a young man from the obscure island of Nevis. Hamilton wrote an essay about the hurricane caught the eye of community leaders who decided to fund his continued education in the United States.
Hamilton’s intense ambition for martial glory led him to the Continental Army where he caught the eye of George Washington. Washington had knack for spotting talent (an immeasurable leadership quality of his) and in this young man he saw a sharp mind, sound principle and a mastery of the French language. Hamilton would be a one of Washington’s closets advisors and lifelong friends. He was an invaluable asset to Washington. The young aid helped court the French empire and pacify the glut of French officers who arrived almost daily with expectations to take command of continental troops.
Using his influence, Hamilton finally secured a battlefield command at the end of the war. He led the assault of redoubt number 9 at Yorktown. His bravery under fire and willingness to lead the charge helped cement his reputation as a courageous leader and Revolutionary War hero.
Hamilton’s brilliance was of course, not just military. He continued his rise to fame by temporarily overcoming Jefferson’s skepticism and establishing the first national bank. Hamilton was a master financier and politician. The real genius of the bank was that it consolidated government power by assuming state debts. In a dangerous monarchical world where nations took advantage of disunity and division in small backwater nations, this was a paramount achievement. The country needed a strong executive branch and unified government to face the growing spectre of European war.
Hamiltons’ rise to fame was perhaps the most unlikely of any of the Founding Fathers. This unknown bastard child from the West Indies used his talents and ambition to climb onto the world stage before being tragically torn down by his own self destructive tendencies and the pistol of Aaron Burr.