Alexander Hamilton was born on January 11, 1755, on Nevis, an island in the West Indies. Before he was born, his father, James Hamilton abandoned his mother, Rachael Faucett Lavien. Soon after, she opened a general store, where Alexander worked as a young boy. He eventually became a clerk for Beekman and Cruger, a merchant firm. (Leffler).
Before the Constitution was written, Hamilton was an active member as a proponent for the freedom of the country. He dropped out of King’s College in New York City due to the American Revolution when he joined the military in 1775. He rose to the rank of captain, and served alongside George Washington. However, due to a dispute, he left Washington, however, he was given command of a light infantry battalion. The force left to confront Cornwallis, until his final loss at Yorktown, when Hamilton resigned. (Leffler).
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Hamilton began his life as a statesman when he was elected as a delegate to Congress by the New York Assembly. His career was short lived, as he attempted to work with the Preliminary Treaty of Peace with Britain. However, one of his most significant contributions as a delegate, was one that would result in a movement that would change the country to form the United States: a call to correct the Articles of Confederation. This led to the Annapolis Convention – a large scale failure with only twelve delegates from five states. Due to the inability for such a small group to do anything, Hamilton proposed a convention in Philadelphia – one that initially was made to edit the Articles of Confederation – but led to the creation of the Constitution. Hamilton was a key figure in generating the movement and support that created the footings of the country, as a Founding Father of the country. This resulted in the short term effect of the Constitutional Convention. (Leffler).
Hamilton made significant contributions to support the Constitution’s ratification in his state of New York. One of greatest ones was the collection of essays named The Federalist, written by himself, James Madison, and John Jay in support of the Constitution, and to convince the people to ratify it; to either adopt “the new Constitution, or a dismemberment of the Union” (Kaminski et al 2009, 13:3494-97). This helped many people side with the Federalist cause, however the Anti-Federalists still won the New York election. But, with the newfound agreement to review the Constitution by clause, the ratification by Massachusetts and Virginia, and Hamilton’s compelling arguments, New York passed the Constitution. (Leffler). The fact that Hamilton led the way in garnering NY’s support, proves himself as a Founding Father – securing one of the key votes necessary for the formation of the United States under the law we still follow to this day.
Hamilton resumed his role as a statesman, furthering his role as a Founding Father during Washington’s presidency, when he became the first Secretary of the Treasury in 1789. In this position, Hamilton greatly impacted the formation of the country in its original stages; his ideas were based around a strong, central government to unite all of the states, detailed through three reports for economic policy. In general, he focused on business, industry, and trade: making them governmentally associated with the belief that ordinary people could not do this for themselves. The major opposition to this idea was by Jefferson, with, in a sectional and class struggle, believed that small farmers were the basis of democracy as opposed to democratic principles. (“The George Washington Administrations”).
Hamilton’s contributions as Secretary were detailed through seven major plans: 3 dealing with debt and the other 4 with money management.
To begin, in terms of debt, Hamilton dealt with foreign debts, domestic debts, and state debts. On the foreign level, roughly $11.6 million were owed to various European countries from the Revolutionary War. Hamilton contributed the plan of paying interest via taxes and borrow capital to repay the loans’ principles. In terms of domestic debt, Hamilton had to deal with the $42.4 million from the Continental Congress and Confederation government borrowing money from state governments and individuals. He had a two part plan: 1) trade notes and bonds with various interest rates and time durations (a confused mess) for federal bonds with a fixed interest rate for the long-term and 2) making the federal government involved in domestic debts on the fiscal platform based on public securities – all at face value. Although many opposed his plan due to inflation and high debt, Hamilton’s convincing argument, trustworthiness, and the fact that many congressmen owned that debt, agreed with him. Finally, in terms of state debt, a total of $25 million, Hamilton was abl
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