Alexander Hamilton is among a group of men extolled as the founders of America. These framers, as they are best known, tend to be grouped, by modern Americans, into a single, homogeneous aggregate of people, with identical beliefs, political tactics, and goals.
This generalization is far from reality, however. This is demonstrated in Forrest McDonald’s book, Alexander Hamilton: A Biography. Perhaps the most interesting part of the life of Alexander Hamilton was its first half. During this time, Hamilton formed many of the beliefs and practices that would guide the rest of his life and our nation, first, as the Secretary of the Treasury, and, later, as President of the United States of America. Hamilton’s early life can be divided into three main sections: his childhood, his education, and his public service.
Hamilton was the son of a respectable French woman, Rachel Faucett, and a Scottish nobleman, James Hamilton. Alexander’s parents separated when he was two. His mother took custody of himself and his brother. Living in a single parent home, truly a rarity in the 18th century, young Hamilton was forced to labor tirelessly as a child to help support the family. It was this hard work, however, that gave Hamilton the work ethic that he would later so frequently employ. His mother died nine years later. Hamilton, thus, continued his pattern of self-reliance. Most revealingly, the boy longed for fame. This lust, a direct result of his romanticism, would act as the motivation for Hamilton’s later political work.
Hamilton’s formal education began at King’s College in New York, which would later become Columbia University. There, he nearly completed nearly all of the necessary courses in less than two and a half years. Despite all of his toil, and reflective of his romantic nature, Hamilton never took a degree from the university. This marked the end of his establishmentarian education. He gained the rest of his expertise, the vast majority of which would be used to guide him through the weighty affairs of his later life, independently. His education in politics, law, and philosophy of government came from the writings of many intellectual giants, the most impacting of which were Hume, Locke, Blackstone, and Necker. Hamilton also learned a great deal by interpreting the many events...