Katiebabs is a self-proclaimed present day bluestocking with her head always in a book. She runs her own book blog called Babbling about Books and More!
The reason I decided to read this specific biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow is because I have a better chance of getting hit by lightening than winning tickets to the Broadway show, Hamilton (the show is based on this book). Anyone who is a history buff, especially American history must read this bio of Alexander Hamilton. I was aware of Alexander Hamilton, and his part in the revolution, as well as his duel with Aaron Burr, the vice president under Jefferson, but I never understood how important Hamilton was, and why we should hold him in high regard next to Washington and the like.
Hamilton is responsible for so much in how the US government is run, including many aspects of culture, society and money. Hamilton is the perfect example of an immigrant who came to America and excelled in so many ways. He’s a man many can admire, starting with his rough childhood all because of his mother, who left her first husband and first born son (her husband was abusive), and met Alexander’s father when she may or may have not been still married to her first husband. This was in the Caribbean, where Alexander learned many life lessons, such as the importance of family, reading, become a learned individual, and the rights of all people, including slavery, which he detested.
Alexander came to the colonies and worked alongside some great men. Washington was his father figure. Not all was roses with the founding fathers and Alexander. He tumultuous relationships with Jefferson, Madison and Adams. Hamilton was a big family man with his devoted wife Eliza, who is just as great as her husband. She lived to be 97 years old and found the first private orphanage in NY. She and Alexander had 8 children. Alexander adored Eliza and his children, but his biggest mistake, which make me want to hit him, was having a short term affair at 35 with a 23 year old married woman. Because of that mistake, it has haunted his legacy, even though Eliza forgave him for his indiscretion. He learned from that mistake and tried to live a moral and humble life. Alexander was humble, forsaking big money to work in the new American government when he could have lived big working in a law office. Alexander spent his entire life to making the US government excel in ways that still echo today. He started the Bank of America, which is the oldest stock on the NYE stock exchange, among other amazing ventures that we still use today.
Poor Alexander had as many friends as he did enemies. Aaron Burr became one of them. He was the total opposite of Alexander in politics and in the personal. Burr lived life as one big party, always in debt and a big man-ho. He was very manipulative. He becomes the villain of this piece because some would say he murdered Alexander in cold blood during their duel. I found Jefferson was also up there in terms of villains because of the hate he and Alexander had toward one another. Jefferson and Adams are not portrayed fondly here. Alexander thought Jefferson was a hypocrite because he owned slaves and constantly raped Sally, his concubine sex slave, or what have you about that relationship.
What I didn’t know was two years before Alexander’s duel with Burr, his eldest son, Phillip was also in a duel, and died. Alexander was heartbroken over Phillip and never recovered. Some say Alexander dueled Burr because he wanted to die. He wasn’t going to shoot Burr, but Burr shot him, and Alexander died as his son did. Burr was an outcast who lived to the grand old age of 80. Alexander died at 49.
History has treated Alexander Hamilton kindly. He had his faults like most people do, but he made up for those faults, including cheating on Eliza, by sacrificing himself for the good of the American people. He is one of the reasons America came to be. I can understand why he was so beloved by many, especially his family, specifically his in-laws. Much can be said about a person when their spouse, children and extended family admires and loves them so, and announces it to all.
This is one biography I recommend people read. There are many sections about the Revolutionary War, and Alexander’s part in it. You also feel very patriotic reading about Alexander Hamilton, and want to applaud all his hard work. A truly great man.