Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757 – July 12, 1804) was the first United States Secretary of the Treasury, a Founding Father, economist, and political philosopher. He led calls for the Philadelphia Convention, was one of America's first Constitutional lawyers, and cowrote the Federalist Papers, a primary source for Constitutional interpretation.
Born on the West Indian island of Nevis, Hamilton was educated in North America. During the American Revolutionary War, he joined the American militia and was chosen artillery captain. Hamilton became senior aide-de-camp and confidant to General George Washington, and led three battalions at the Siege of Yorktown. He was elected to the Continental Congress, but resigned to practice law and to found the Bank of New York. He served in the New York Legislature, later returned to Congress, and was the only New York signer at the Philadelphia Convention. As Washington's Treasury Secretary, he influenced formative government policy widely. An admirer of British political systems, Hamilton emphasized strong central government and Implied Powers, under which the new U.S. Congress funded the national debt, assumed state debts, created a national bank, and established an import tariff and whiskey tax.
By 1792, a Hamilton coalition and a Jefferson-Madison coalition had arisen (the formative Federalist and Democratic-Republican Parties), which differed strongly over Hamilton's domestic fiscal goals and his foreign policy of extensive trade and friendly relations with Britain. Exposed in an affair with Maria Reynolds, Hamilton resigned from the Treasury in 1795 to return to Constitutional law and advocacy of strong federalism. In 1798, the Quasi-War with France led Hamilton to argue for, organize, and become de facto commander of a national army.
Hamilton's opposition to fellow Federalist John Adams contributed to the success of Democratic-Republicans Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr in the uniquely deadlocked election of 1800. With his party's defeat, Hamilton's nationalist and industrializing ideas lost their former national prominence. In 1801, Hamilton founded the New York Post as the Federalist broadsheet New-York Evening Post. His intense rivalry with Vice President Burr eventually resulted in a duel, in which Hamilton was mortally wounded, dying the following day. After the War of 1812, Hamilton's former opponents, including Madison and Albert Gallatin, revived some of his federalizing programs, such as a second national bank, national infrastructure, tariffs, and a standing army and navy. Hamilton's federalist and business-oriented economic visions for the country continue to influence party platforms to this day.
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