Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 12247
Do you have a piggy bank, bank account, or somewhere to store your money? Imagine managing the money for a whole country! Read about the first banker for the United States and the sad way he died.
Throughout this series, The Founding Fathers, you are learning about some of the Founding Fathers who had the biggest impact on the American Revolution and the founding of the United States of America.
In the previous lesson, found under Related Lessons in the right-hand sidebar, you learned about John Jay. Tell your teacher or parent two facts you learned about John Jay.
In this lesson, you will learn about Alexander Hamilton. Today, in 2017, when people hear about Alexander Hamilton, they often think of the popular Broadway musical, Hamilton, but Alexander Hamilton’s legacy consists of much more than catchy songs.
As you read about the life and legacy of Alexander Hamilton, write a list of all of his accomplishments.
Alexander Hamilton was attending college in New York when the American Revolution began. He was drawn to the excitement of the time and favored American independence. In 1774, he wrote his first article that defended the patriot’s cause.
When the Revolutionary War began in 1775, Hamilton left college and joined the Continental Army. The leader of the Continental Army, George Washington, quickly noticed Hamilton’s passion and talents. Washington made Hamilton his assistant, and over the years, Hamilton became one of his most trusted advisors.
Throughout the war, Hamilton wrote Washington’s letters and numerous military reports. He also fought at the Battle of Yorktown, where the British surrendered.
After the war, Hamilton returned to school to study law. He became a lawyer and opened his own practice in New York. Becoming a lawyer caused Hamilton to become even more interested in politics.
In 1787, he was asked to be a delegate, or representative, at the Constitutional Convention. During the Constitutional Convention, Hamilton advocated for two things; creating a strong centralized government and developing ways for paying off America’s debts.
Hamilton also played an important role in helping to get the new constitution ratified. Hamilton helped John Jay and James Madison by writing some of The Federalist Papers.
The Federalist Papers were printed in newspapers across the country and explained why the new constitution was valuable.
When George Washington was elected president in 1789, he made Hamilton the first American Secretary of the Treasury. The Secretary of the Treasury is responsible for overseeing currency, or money, and economic affairs in the United States.
At the time, the United States had a lot of debt from the Revolutionary War. This means they owed more money than they actually had to other countries. As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton helped create a federal tax collection system, a system to help the United States establish credit with other nations, and the national bank. These measures helped to pay off the debts the United States owed.
When the United States was first founded, presidents and vice presidents ran separately. People voted for who they wanted to be president, and they also voted for who they wanted to be vice president.
In 1800, Thomas Jefferson was elected president, and Aaron Burr was elected to be his vice president. Throughout the election, Hamilton opposed Burr and wrote negative articles about him in newspapers.
In 1804, Jefferson was elected to a second term, but Burr was not elected to the vice presidency again. Then, Burr tried to get elected as the governor of New York, but he lost that election too. Burr began to blame Hamilton’s negative newspaper articles for his losses. That year, Burr became so upset that he challenged Hamilton to a duel.
In the 1700s and 1800s, when men had a disagreement, they could challenge one another to a duel. In a duel, both men would face one another and fire a weapon. Typically, at least one of the men would be killed.
During the duel against Burr, Hamilton was shot and killed. Even though Hamilton’s life was cut short, he still accomplished many great things during the American Revolution and the early years of the United States.
To continue learning about Alexander Hamilton, watch the video below and continue adding to the list of accomplishments you have been creating.
When you have finished watching the video, use the information from your list to help you answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper.
When you are ready, move on to the Got It? section to research more about the life and legacy of Alexander Hamilton.