On this day in 1804, our namesake Alexander Hamilton was shot in a duel with his political opponent Aaron Burr. Hamilton is famous as one of the founding fathers of the United States and an advocate for the Constitution. Beyond these accomplishments (and a new hit musical), here are five lesser-known facts about Alexander Hamilton.
- Hamilton was George Washington’s right-hand-man in the Revolutionary War. After coming to New Jersey in 1772 to further his education, Hamilton joined the Continental Army and was appointed as Washington’s aide in 1777. The two founding fathers formed a lifelong friendship.
- Hamilton became a lawyer without graduating law school. Normally, lawyers were required to complete a three-year internship before taking the bar exam. However, because of his experience as an aide to Washington, the New York Supreme Court allowed Hamilton to take the bar exam after just over six months of study. Hamilton passed the exam in July 1782 and was licensed in October.
- Hamilton was an author of the Federalist Papers. He wrote 51 of the 85 papers, amounting to nearly two-thirds of these foundational documents that urged ratification of the Constitution. Hamilton’s co-authors and fellow Federalists included James Madison (after whom our capital city is named) and John Jay. The papers were effective, and Hamilton went on to sign the ratified Constitution in 1787.
- Hamilton was appointed the country’s first secretary of the Treasury. As secretary, Hamilton founded the first national bank and essentially laid the groundwork for today’s economy. He believed that government can best benefit society by supporting, not burdening, commerce and industry.
- Hamilton was a strong proponent of manufacturing. He presented a Report on Manufactures to Congress in 1791, and proposed the Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures, a privately financed corporation to promote manufacturing and develop one of the first industrial centers in the country.