Alexander Hamilton recently came back to life again in the hit Broadway production “Hamilton.” With a record-breaking 16 Tony Award nominations, the production brings interest in Alexander Hamilton into the modern-day limelight. With “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda playing the lead role, people likely come away from seeing Hamilton on Broadway knowing much more about Alexander Hamilton than they remember learning in the past. Hamilton receives credit for his great political leadership, helping to create the first national bank and the U.S. Mint. However, there are some things not commonly known about Alexander Hamilton.
Alexander Hamilton Facts
1. Hamilton Born Of Adulterous Affair
Alexander Hamilton was not born from two loving parents legally married to each other. Instead, his British West Indies mother, Rachel Faucett, conceived Alexander Hamilton as a result of a tryst with a Scottish immigrant man while married to another man.
Born on January 11, on Nevis, a Caribbean Island, his mother died when Hamilton was approximately 13 years old.
2. His Father Did Not Willfully Abandon Hamilton
While juicy stories make for juicy gossip that has the potential to last throughout history, Alexander Hamilton’s father, James did not abandon his son simply because he wanted no part of the product of his affair with Hamilton’s mother. History states that James abandoned the family because Alexander Hamilton’s mother was married to another man. James did not want her charged with bigamy.
As with many details in history, there are other accounts of why James did not remain an active presence in his son’s life. US History claims that the reason that James “Remained in Scotland during Hamilton’s childhood due to a debt, forcing his mother to rely on friends and relatives for financial support.” Whatever the reason that James Hamilton returned to Scotland, Alexander never saw his father again.
3. He Intentionally Lied About His Birth Date
Alexander Hamilton’s mother died of yellow fever when he was around 13 years old, which led to Hamilton’s decision to lie about his age. Actually born in 1755, he lied about his age, changing his birth date to 1757. It is believed that by making himself two years younger, Hamilton became “A more desirable candidate for an apprenticeship to a local businessman.”
Hamilton caught on quickly as a young apprentice, speaking fluent French and demonstrating an outstanding level of ambition and intelligence. His benefactors established an educational fund for Alexander Hamilton, sending him to New York, still unaware of his actual age.
4. Hamilton Helped Thomas Jefferson Defeat Aaron Burr
It was no secret that Alexander Hamilton did not like Thomas Jefferson. In fact, Thomas Jefferson made it no secret that he, along with James Madison did not approve of Hamilton’s policies. This actually led to the formation of the first political party system in the nation, with Alexander and the Federalists opposite Jefferson, Madison, and the Democratic-Republicans.
However, Hamilton set aside his differences with Jefferson at the 1800 Presidential election. When both Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr received an equal number of electoral votes, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) points out that “Hamilton threw valuable support to Jefferson.” Sadly, this would not be the last time that a battle ensued with Hamilton and Burr facing one another.
5. Refused To Fire On Burr
After both Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson opposed Aaron Burr’s bid for New York governor, Burr demands an explanation from Hamilton, which Alexander Hamilton refused to provide. Escalating tensions over a period of several days led to the setting of a duel, on July 11, 1804, at Weehawken. Weehawken is the same location where Hamilton’s son died in a duel defending his father’s honor just three years earlier.
Hamilton agreed to the duel, yet did not fire directly at Burr. Aaron Burr mortally wounded Hamilton. PBS explains that Alexander Hamilton died the following day, “After suffering considerable physical agony.”