Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, was an illegitimate orphan born in the West Indies who grew up to marry Elizabeth Schuyler, daughter of the wealthiest man in New York State. He became General George Washington's aide-de-camp at the age of 22 and became the first Secretary of the Treasury at the age of 34.Continue Reading
Hamilton and his brother were abandoned by their father shortly before their mother died of a fever. Because she was still legally married to her husband, who was not Hamilton's father, her husband was able to seize all of her assets, leaving the boys penniless. Hamilton then found a position as a shipping clerk. He was talented enough that he was left in charge at the age of 16.
He moved to America soon afterward, attending King's College to become a lawyer. Soon he joined the growing independence movement, first gaining fame as a talented speaker and pamphleteer and later joining the Army of the Potomac. His talent did not go unnoticed, and several officers requested his services before Washington. In this social circle, he met General Schuyler, who introduced him to his daughter.
After the war, Hamilton became a New York representative to the Continental Congress. He coauthored The Federalist Papers and became active in politics, always following his own path. When his support for Thomas Jefferson for President helped defeat Aaron Burr, the other man held a grudge. Burr challenged him to a duel four years later, and he shot and killed Hamilton.Learn more about US History