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Alexander Hamilton

Important Terms, People, and Events

Summary

Early Life: 1757–1772

Terms

A Farmer Refuted -   · Hamilton published this essay as a follow-up to his A Full Vindication of the Measures of the Congress to defend the Continental Congress in Philadelphia from an anonymous essay signed by "A. Westchester Farmer."
A Full Vindication of the Measures of the Congress -   · Hamilton wrote A Full Vindication of the Measures of the CongressIn Answer to A.W. Farmer in 1774 to defend the American delegates in Philadelphia from the charges of the unknown author "A.W. Farmer". "Farmer" attacked the men in Philadelphia for their willingness to threaten Great Britain with economic sanctions. The following year, Hamilton wrote a follow-up to this essay entitled A Farmer Refuted.
[A] Report on the Public Credit  -   · Hamilton wrote two Reports on the Public Credit while serving as Secretary of the Treasury. In these reports, Hamilton argued that the United States Government should assume the debts of all the states, and pay interest on the debts owed to the nation's creditors.
Anti-Federalist  -   · The Anti-Federalists were those in the government who did not favor a strong national government and wanted to see more power go to individual states. Thomas Jefferson and George Clinton were among the most prominent Anti- Federalists.
Articles of Confederation -   · The Articles of Confederation was the first constitution of the people of the United States. It established a confederation of sovereign states and a national Congress comprised of representatives from each state. It failed to outline a strong central government, a defect that prompted Alexander Hamilton to call for another convention to amend them.
College of New Jersey  -   · The College of New Jersey, now known as Princeton University, was one of the most distinguished colleges in the American colonies in the 1700s. With the recommendation of the Reverend Hugh Knox, Hamilton was interviewed by the school's president, John Witherspoon. When Witherspoon refused to admit Hamilton as a Special Student, Hamilton decided not to attend the college.
Constitution -   · The Constitution of the United States of America is the document that established the current American system of government. It was drafted to correct the mistakes in the previous Articles of Confederation.
Farewell Address -   · Alexander Hamilton helped George Washington write his Farewell Address to the Union in 1796. Many of the passages in the speech have a distinctly Hamiltonian flair.
Federalist  -   · The Federalists were those who favored a strong national government over a union of strong state governments. They believed that a strong central government was the only method to ensure the stability of the Union. Hamilton was an ardent Federalist.
Federalist Papers -   · The Federalist Papers were written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay to convince the American people to ratify the Constitution. Their arguments were extremely persuasive, and the collected essays are regarded as one of the most valuable works on American political philosophy.
King's College  -   · Hamilton attended King's College as a special student from 1774 through 1776. The university later changed its name to Columbia University.
Loose Interpretation  -   · Alexander Hamilton and his followers favored a loose interpretation of the Constitution, which meant they believed that the document permitted everything that it did not expressly forbid. This contrasted sharply with Thomas Jefferson's strict interpretation.
Mint Act -   · Hamilton succeeded in convincing Congress to pass the Mint Act of 1791 to establish a single national currency.
Neutrality Proclamation -   · Alexander Hamilton convinced President George Washington to issue a Neutrality Proclamation in 1793 that announced that the United States would not participate in the Napoleonic Wars in Europe.
On the Subject of Manufactures  -   · As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton wrote a report entitled On the Subject of Manufactures in an attempt to convince Congress that manufacturing, and not agriculture, was the future of the nation's economy.
Practical Proceedings in the Supreme Court of New York -   · Hamilton wrote his Practical Proceedings in the Supreme Court of New York in 1882 to help him prepare for his bar exam. The work was used for several decades after its original publication date as the standard text on New York law.
St. Croix -   · St. Croix is an island in the Caribbean Sea that is now a part of the United States Virgin Islands. Alexander Hamilton spent most of his boyhood years on this island.
Strict Interpretation  -   · Thomas Jefferson favored a strict interpretation of the Constitution, which he interpreted as forbidding everything it did not expressly permit. In contrast, Hamilton favored a loose interpretation.
Tory  -   · Tories were those Americans who remained loyal to the British during the Revolutionary War. Those who remained in the United States after the war's end were criticized heavily for their disloyalty to the Union.

People

John Adams -  John Adams served as the first Vice President of the United States under George Washington from 1790 to 1796, and later became the second President of the United States from 1796 to 1800. He and Alexander Hamilton were bitter enemies.
Benedict Arnold -  Benedict Arnold was an American military officer who defected to the British Army during the Revolutionary War. Hamilton tried to capture Arnold in New York, arriving minutes after Arnold escaped.
Aaron Burr -  Aaron Burr served as Thomas Jefferson's Vice President from 1800 to 1804. Hamilton loathed Burr because he believed Burr was involved in politics only to benefit himself. When Burr ran for Governor of New York in 1804, Hamilton wrote a series of essays denouncing Burr. Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel. The two men fought on July 11, 1804, and Burr shot Hamilton once. Hamilton died from his wounds the next day.
George Clinton -  George Clinton served for many years as the Governor of New York. He was Hamilton's primary political rival for many years.
Nicholas Cruger -  Nicholas Cruger was a merchant on the island of St. Croix. The young Alexander Hamilton served as Cruger's clerk for a time during his teenage years. When Cruger realized that Hamilton possessed a keen intellect, he encouraged Alexander to attend college and receive an education.
Rachel Fawcett  -  Rachel Fawcett was Alexander Hamilton's mother. She left her first husband, the abusive John Lavien, and later met James Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton's father. Rachel died in 1768 from fever.
Citizen Genet -  Citizen Genet was the French ambassador to the United States in the 1790s. Genet attempted to recruit American soldiers to fight for France in their wars in Europe and used American ports to launch French naval attacks against the British. Hamilton eventually convinced George Washington to expel Genet, but Genet feared reprisals in his own country and requested to remain in the United States.
James Hamilton, Sr.  -  James Hamilton, St. was Alexander Hamilton's father. He left Rachel and Alexander in 1766 after discovering that Rachel was still technically married to her husband John Lavien. Although Alexander never saw his father again, the two continued to write until James, Sr.'s death.
Philip Hamilton  -  Both Alexander Hamilton's first and last sons were named Philip. Hamilton's first son was shot to death in a duel at King's College at the age of nineteen. In honor of his firstborn, Hamilton christened his last child Philip as well.
John Jay -  John Jay helped Alexander Hamilton write the Federalist Papers to convince the American people to ratify the new Constitution. In 1794, Jay traveled to Great Britain to represent the United States in settling several disputes between the two nations. Jay was also involved in the XYZ Affair when he went to Paris in 1797 to discuss terms of peace with France. He later became the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Thomas Jefferson -  Thomas Jefferson was Alexander Hamilton's chief political rival when they both served in George Washington's cabinet. They disagreed on how the Constitution should be interpreted. Jefferson later served as the third President of the United States.
Reverend Hugh Knox -  The Reverend Hugh Knox was a Presbyterian minister on the island of St. Croix in the Caribbean. Knox and Nicholas Cruger encouraged Hamilton to attend college in the American colonies, and Knox even arranged an interview for Hamilton at the College of New Jersey, now known as Princeton University.
John Lansing -  John Lansing, along with Robert Yates, worked against Hamilton at the Philadelphia Convention.
John Lavien -  John Lavien was Rachel Fawcett's first and only husband. Together they had one son named Peter. When Rachel died, Lavien took all of her money and gave it to Peter without leaving any to help support the young Alexander Hamilton.
Charles Lee -  Hamilton testified at the court-martial of American General Charles Lee for having disobeyed several of George Washington's direct military commands at the Battle of Monmouth. Hamilton's testimony helped convict Lee.
James Madison -  James Madison helped Hamilton and John Jay author the Federalist Papers. He also served as Thomas Jefferson's Secretary of State and was later elected the fourth President of the United States.
James Monroe -  James Monroe confronted Hamilton in 1792 with rumors of Hamilton's affair with Maria Reynolds. Hamilton convinced Monroe to keep the affair quite, but Monroe broke his word in 1797, forcing Hamilton to issue a public apology. Monroe served as a prominent member of Congress before eventually becoming the fifth President of the United States.
Maria Reynolds -  Alexander Hamilton had an affair with Maria Reynolds in 1791 and 1792. The affair was made public by James Monroe in 1797.
Elizabeth Schuyler  -  Hamilton married Betsey Schuyler, the daughter of a prominent American general, in 1780. The couple had eight children altogether.
Robert Troup -  Robert Troup attended King's College with Hamilton. The two served together in the King's College volunteer militia and Troup later helped Hamilton prepare to become a lawyer in New York City.
George Washington -  George Washington served as the commander-in-chief of the United States Army and Navy during the Revolutionary War. Washington later served as the first President of the United States. Hamilton and Washington were close friends, and Washington often relied upon Hamilton's wisdom and judgment.
John Witherspoon -  John Witherspoon was the president of the College of New Jersey when Hamilton applied to the school in the 1770s. In 1776, Witherspoon also signed the Declaration of Independence.
Robert Yates -  Robert Yates helped John Lansing derail Hamilton's influence at the Philadelphia Convention.

Events

Battle of Monmouth  -  Hamilton led a charge at the Battle of Monmouth. Although he was not injured, Hamilton had his horse shot out from under him during the attack.
Battle of Princeton -  Hamilton participated in the Battle of Princeton in 1777 as an artillery captain.
Battle of Yorktown  -  Hamilton achieved his dream for glory when he led a charge of 400 men against the British at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781.
Lexington and Concord -  The Battle at Lexington and Concord was the first major skirmish in the Revolutionary War against Great Britain.
Philadelphia Convention -  The Philadelphia Convention was a conference originally held to amend the Articles of Confederation. Hamilton called the delegates from each state to the convention after the Annapolis Convention failed.
Rutgers v. Waddington -  Rutgers v. Waddington was one of Hamilton's biggest cases as a New York attorney. Although Hamilton lost the case, the judge agreed with his argument that the national government has authority over the state governments.
Shay's Rebellion -  Daniel Shays, along with other farmers in western Massachusetts, rebelled against the U.S. Government under the Articles of Confederation. Although Shays' rebellion did not seriously threaten the Union, it prompted a revision of the inadequate Articles.
Valley Forge -  Hamilton stayed with George Washington and the Continental Army during the bitter winter of 1777 and 1778 at Valley Forge.
Whiskey Rebellion -  When depressed farmers in western Pennsylvania threatened to march on Philadelphia and possibly secede from the Union, Alexander Hamilton convinced George Washington to give him command of a task force of 15,000 troops to fight the rebels. When the insurgents in the Whiskey Rebellion saw Hamilton and his men, they promptly ended their revolt.
XYZ Affair -  The XYZ Affair occurred in 1797 when John Jay and two other diplomats went to Paris to negotiate a peace treaty between the United States and France. Three unnamed French diplomats demanded a bribe of $250,000 simply to receive the American delegates. The XYZ Affair greatly angered the American people.

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