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15 Interesting Facts About Alexander Hamilton You Might Not Know

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Born out of wedlock and orphaned in his teenage years, Hamilton rose to become one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Famously known as the face on the ten-dollar bill, Alexander Hamilton was a fierce revolutionary who passionately endorsed the Constitution

But that’s not all; this radical statesman wore many hats. Hamilton was a soldier, a lawyer, a congressman, a banker, an economist, and the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury – whew, what a resume! 

And if you think that’s all you didn’t know about Alexander, you’re in for a surprise. Continue reading to uncover 15 interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Alexander Hamilton.

15 Interesting Facts About Alexander Hamilton

These fascinating facts about Alexander Hamilton give insight into the history of the United States. From birth until his death, Hamilton’s persistence shaped his life and the modern world as we know it today.

1. He Was Born in the Caribbean


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Alexander Hamilton was born in Charlestown on the island of Nevis in the British West Indies, now called Saint Kitts and Nevis. He was born out of wedlock to James Hamilton, a Scottish merchant, and Rachel Fawcett, the daughter of a Huguenot physician and planter.

Hamilton was born to the couple on 11/01/1757 (or 1755). Historians often dispute his exact birth year because he was an immigrant and has no records in the U.S.

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2. Hamilton and His Wife Had Eight Children

Alexander Hamilton fathered eight children. Yes, eight! Hamilton and his wife, Elizabeth, raised six boys, Philip, Alexander Junior, James Alexander, John Church, William Stephen, and Philip, and two girls, Angelica and Eliza. The two boys named Philip often confused their parents.

3. Alexander Was a Self-Taught Lawyer


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After resigning from the military, Alexander Hamilton studied the law and passed a legal examination in just six months. It helped that the statesman had been studying the law independently from Nevis and when he got to King’s College (now Columbia College).

Another major advantage Hamilton had was that he studied with two future Supreme Court justices, William Paterson and John Jay.

4. His Excellent Writing Is What Got Him Out of the Caribbean


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On the 31st of August 1772, a hurricane wreaked havoc on the island of St. Croix, where Hamilton was working as a clerk. After surviving the natural disaster, the then-teenager penned a passionate letter that would change his life.

Alexander’s letter was so impeccable that it was published in a local newspaper, The Royal Danish American Gazette. Before long, Hamilton’s letter made such an impression on islanders that they took up a collection and raised a scholarship fund to send him to an American college.

5. He Was George Washington’s Right-Hand Man in the Revolutionary War


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Alexander Hamilton’s efforts as a volunteer in the Revolutionary War saw him quickly climb up the ranks. He served as a captain of artillery and fought many battles until he eventually caught the attention of General George Washington

In 1777, Hamilton was invited to join George Washington’s staff as an “aide de camp”, meaning a personal assistant or right-hand man in the military. He later led an attack at the Battle of Yorktown, which propelled him to War-Hero status.

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6. Alexander Captained the Oldest-Serving Unit in the United States Army


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Before becoming George Washington’s personal secretary, young Alexander Hamilton organized a small artillery militia unit that later became the New York Provincial Company of Artillery. 

To this artillery company, the lineage of the oldest-serving unit in the U.S. Army, Battery D, 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery, 1st Infantry Division, traces back. In March 1776, Hamilton was made leader of the group, and under his leadership, the militia unit saw action in key events like the Battle of White Plains and the Battle of Princeton. 

It’s no doubt that Hamilton’s exceptional military prowess is what caught the attention of the first U.S. President.  

7. Hamilton Wrote Most of the Federalist Papers


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By now, you know that Alexander Hamilton was a prolific writer. With the help of his co-authors, John Jay and James Madison, Hamilton penned the 85-essay Federalist Papers to support the ratification of the proposed U.S. Constitution.

Hamilton reportedly wrote a whopping 51 essays, while his counterparts, Madison and Jay, wrote 29 and five essays, respectively. The papers were written and published between 1787 and 1788. 

These were mass printed and circulated in New York, where they inspired many to vote for the Constitution. But Hamilton’s authorship wasn’t publicized until after his death in 1804.

8. He Inspired the First Political Party in the U.S.


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Hamilton’s fiscal policies as the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and strong advocacy for a centralized government led to the establishment of the first political party in America. In 1791, the Federalist Party was formed and quickly rose to national popularity. The party created a strong line of public credit and established the First National Bank.

The formation of the Federalist Party led Hamilton’s political opponents, like James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, to create their own political group, the Democratic-Republican Party. This was to directly oppose Hamilton and his ideas. 

9. George Washington’s Last Letter Was Addressed to Alexander Hamilton


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As previously mentioned, Alexander Hamilton was George Washington’s right-hand man, but their relationship was more than that of a superior and subordinate. The two statesmen shared a close friendship, so close that the first President’s last-known letter was addressed to Hamilton.

George Washington sent the letter on 12/12/1799, two days before he died. The contents of the letter proved the late President’s support of Hamilton’s idea of a military academy.

10. Hamilton Founded the New York Post


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In November 1802, Alexander Hamilton created his own newspaper, the New York Evening Post, now known as the New York Post. This publication was often used as a megaphone of anti-Jefferson propaganda and regularly slandered the third president of the United States.

Hamilton wrote a few of the early articles of the anti-Democratic-Republican publication, although it was to the annoyance of his appointed editor, William Coleman. 

The editor has been noted as saying, “… as soon as I see him, he begins in a deliberate manner to dictate and I to note down in shorthand; when he stops, my article is completed.” 

11. He Got His College Degree 214 Years After His Death


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Despite his colossal achievements in the army and as the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton did not have a college degree. He studied a course at  King’s College but did not complete it – instead, he dropped out to fight in the American Revolution.

Fast forward to May 2018, 214 years after his death, Hamilton was awarded a degree by the Albany Law School in New York. His fifth great-grandson, Douglas Hamilton, received the honorary award on his behalf.

12. Alexander Left His Family With a Huge Debt


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When Alexander Hamilton took his last breaths in 1804, he left his family, particularly his wife, in a dire financial situation. Just days before he succumbed to his injuries, Hamilton’s statement explained his financial situation stating what should happen “should any accident befall me”.

In the statement, he ties his public service to the present state of his finances, including debts that would burden his family heavily. Although the exact amount is unknown, we know it was large enough to prompt Alexander’s wife, Elizabeth, to ask for his pension and land from Congress. 

13. He Helped His Political Enemy, Thomas Jefferson, Become President


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The 1800 presidential election was deadlocked between two candidates. The House of Representatives, which at the time was controlled by the Federalists, had two Republican presidential candidates to choose from: Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.

In a private letter that Hamilton wrote to a House member, the statesman urges his political acquaintance to vote for Jefferson, a sworn political enemy. He wrote, “In a choice of evils, let them take the least—Jefferson is in my view less dangerous than Burr.”

14. Hamilton Died in a Duel Against Aaron Burr


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It was an early morning on 11/07/1804 in Weehawken, New Jersey, when the deadly duel occurred between Hamilton and his long-political rival Aaron Burr. After Hamilton would not retract a statement about Burr, the two men and their seconds headed down to “The Garden State” to settle their rivalry.

After misfiring (or wasting his shot – as others report), Hamilton was shot in the abdomen area, right above his right hip. The bullet fractured a rib, tore through his diaphragm and liver, and lodged into his spine — Alexander Hamilton fell to the ground instantaneously. He succumbed to his injuries a day later.

15. Not Only Did Hamilton Die in a Duel, but So Did His Son


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Hamilton’s defeat in the duel against Aaron Burr was nothing short of déjà vu – because his first son Philip was also killed in a duel and in strangely similar circumstances. It was three years before Hamilton’s duel with Burr when a New York lawyer, George Eacker, made a derogatory speech about Philip’s father.

After refusing to retract his words, a duel between Eacker and Philip Hamilton ensued, and can you guess the location? – Weehawken, New Jersey.

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At New Interesting Facts, we have an editorial policy and a 3 step review process to ensure we get our facts straight. However, we are a very small team, and we sometimes get it wrong, or information becomes outdated. Please let us know if you think we’ve gotten something wrong.


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