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Hamilton Alexander

Hamilton, Alexander (1757-1804), American statesman, was born at Nevis in the West Indies, and received his education at Elizabethtown, New Jersey, and Columbia College, New York. He had hardly reached his 19th year when he published an able series of papers in support of the rights of the American colonists. When the war with the mother country broke out, he received a commission as captain of artillery, and in 1777 was selected by Washington as his aide-de-camp. After the close of the war he practised as a lawyer in New York.

He represented the state of New York in the Congress of 1782, and took a leading part in the proceedings of the Convention at Philadelphia in 1787, in which a final decision was arrived at as to the form to be given to the constitution. In accordance with a scheme formed by Hamilton a series of essays in support of the constitution, which afterwards became widely known as The Federalist, was published in the New York Daily Adrertiser. More than half the essays were written by Hamilton himself. In 1789 he became secretary of the Treasury in the new Federal Government under Washington. This post he resigned in 1795, after completely restoring the public credit by his skill as a financier. He still remained the virtual head of the Federal party, and was invariably consulted whenever a difficulty arose. In 1799 he succeeded Washington as commander-in-chief of the United States army. He was killed in a duel by his political rival, Aaron Burr.