Alexander Hamilton was undoubtedly one of the greatest founding fathers. He deserves to be mentioned among other famous historical founding fathers such as George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. His contributions to this government still affect the United States to this day.
Although he was an intellectual giant who helped create the United States of America, he is absent from the national consensus. He is mentioned in history books, but sadly he is most remembered for being killed in a duel. He is not as venerated as George Washington or Thomas Jefferson. For good reason, both these men are seen as ideal Americans, but Hamilton should be among them. In fact, Hamilton exemplifies the American dream more than any other founding father.
Unlike Washington or Jefferson, who were born into lives of luxury, Hamilton was born a poor boy in the West Indies. His early life was marred by constant tragedy with the death of his family members. Through hard work and determination he managed to travel to America where he found great success. What is more American than that? Detractors paint Hamilton as an elitist, but his life story shows the truth. His humble origins gave him a deep respect for the meritocracy, the philosophy that hard work, not birth status or wealth, determine success. He also opposed anti-Semitism and took a harsh stance against slavery. Hamilton was a man of great convictions, matched only by his accomplishments.
During the Revolutionary War, Hamilton fought alongside George Washington. Through the ups and downs of the times, they retained a close friendship. After the war, he was one of the main authors of the “Federalist Papers.” These papers became the blueprint for the Constitution. Therefore, Hamilton deserves credit for his involvement in one of the most important documents in United States history.
During the Washington Administration, Hamilton was Secretary of Treasury. Many of the accomplishments from the Washington Administration can be attributed to Hamilton, such as the national bank he created. Even his rival, John Adams, marveled at the system Hamilton created. Adams mused the bank “operated like enchantment.” Before Hamilton came to office, the nation was bankrupt. When he left, revenues flourished and the nation’s credit rating equaled any European nation. His accomplishments do not stop there. He created the tax system, Customs Service, and the Coast Guard. With these breathtaking accomplishments, Hamilton earns his spot among the greatest founding fathers and American citizens in all of history.
Nevertheless, Hamilton was by no means a perfect man. He was prone to pessimism, likely due to his unhappy upbringing. He did not trust the masses to do the right thing, most likely the reason for his reputation as an elitist. He also failed to compromise. During the Washington Administration, Hamilton had free reign, but this changed when Adams became president, causing trouble in the capitol. Despite his flaws, Hamilton was still a brilliant man in founding times. Because of Hamilton’s remarkable influence on the foundation of America, historian Ron Chernow dubbed him “the father of the American government.” Every American should know, and thank, Alexander Hamilton for making the United States the great country it is today.
Jack Barnett is a fourth-year student majoring in history and political science. He can be reached at JB723722@wcupa.edu.