Alexander Hamilton was a great man that will be remembered for being a great major general of the armed forces of the United States of America. As well as the secretary of the treasury. In 1769, at twelve years old he had a job as a clerk in a general store and Alexander dreaded spending the rest of his life there. He wanted something more for his future. He wished for a war to occur. He wanted to prove himself to be more worthy then a clerk. To his thinking, only some brilliant and heroic act on the battle field would give me a chance to achieve his hopes. He seemed to be doomed to a life of clerking. For one thing, he was at the bottom of a social ladder. His parents, who never married, separated when Hamilton was nine, and his mother was forced to support her two sons by running a grocery from one of the rooms in their tiny home. When she died two years later, the boys were all alone. There was not even a cousin who could afford to take them in.
Hamilton’s future was also limited by lack of education. Fortunately though, he had one great gift that could overcome all his disadvantages that was his genius. He got involved with a well to do merchant named Nicolas Cruger and earned his room and board as he learned the grocery business. He also learned how to bargain, how to figure foreign exchange rates, and how to evade the hundred of customs regulations.
He also put his spare time to good use. When not at his desk, he wrote sentimental love poems and political essays. Many of these were published in the island newspaper. Hamilton published one of his letters, that captured a description of a storm that he witnessed. The editor of the newspaper Royal-Danish-American Gazette was impressed and not long after that, Hamilton found himself going to North America to attend college.
Hamilton’s island education was not enough to earn him a place at an American college. He needed at least a year to study before he new enough Latin, Greek, and mathematics to enter Harvard, Yale, or the college of New Jersey at Princeton.
Getting that extra education proved no problem for him. He had arrived in New York with letters of introduction to prominent citizens from Cruger. These people in turn introduced Hamilton to their friends and associates. One of these new acquaintances enrolled Hamilton in Dr. Barber’s Academy in Elizabethtown, New Jersey.
Hamilton worked hard at his studies. He often stayed up past midnight doing his homework by candlelight. In 1773, after less then a year of study, he was ready for college. So Hamilton packed up his books and clothes and ferried back across the Hudson to King’s college. Hamilton intended to become a doctor and worked even harder then he had at Dr. Barber’s school. He found other interests at King’s as well. The college library was the largest Hamilton has ever seen, and soon he was reading his way through it. Stories about great emperors and their wars thrilled him, but he was most fascinated by books about politics and economics. Besides the classic works on those subjects, Hamilton also loved to read copies of debates in both the British parliament and the colonial assemblies. He even founded a debating society to discuss the issue he had read about.
By the start of his second year at King’s college, politics and debate had become a far more important part of Hamilton’s life then a medicine or mathematics. The North American colonies were becoming very angry about the way the British Parliament kept making up new taxes for them to pay. By law, Englishmen could only be taxed by a legislature of their elected representatives, yet the Parliament taxing the colonies had no American members. Up and down the east coast, patriots claimed it was time for the colonies to rule themselves.
Hamilton, a British citizen by birth, had been brought up to be loyal to the King and the Parliament. But the influence of his new American friends and the reading he had done converted him to the patriot cause. If Britain could brake her own laws, argued Hamilton, then Americans had no reason to obey them. Hamilton published his opinions in New York newspaper in 1774. That summer he aired his views in person at a huge rally in New York City’s Hall. Despite his strong feelings, Hamilton could not tolerate mobs, he was very loyal to his friends no matter what their politics. One main night in 1775, a group of King’s college students rioted on campus. Hamilton was afraid of what they would do to his friend if they caught him. He forced his way through the crowd and climbed the stoop in front of the President’s house. Sternly, he told his classmates that their behavior was disgraced the very freedom they claimed to serve. A noble cause ,he reminded them deserved noble actions.
Hamilton did more than make speeches and write pamphlets for the colonies cause. He also joined a militia company. Every school day in 1774-1775 he and his debating society friends turned out to practice their marching in the local churchyard. Hamilton’s unit cold themselves “The hearts of oak.” They wore short green jackets and leather caps which bore the patriotic words “Freedom or Death.” By May 1775, the American war for Independence had begun.
The war Hamilton had wished for when he was twelve was there for him at eighteen, and he embraced it eagerly. As a boy he had wanted to fight only to improve his luck in life. As a young man, however, Hamilton had more then a personal glory on his mind. He now wanted to free America from the tyranny of the British government. Hamilton’s war began in New York in August 1775 when the heart’s of oak captured the British cannon from the fort on Manhattan’s southern tip and brought them to the American camp farther north. Despite the cover of silence and darkness, the British new what happened. They were not about to let a group of young rebels steal their guns. From a warship in the harbor they bombed the Americans.
The panic and confusion of his fellow New Yorker’s did not stop Hamilton. He calmly pulled his gun to American ground, and then returned to the fort to get another. Soon after thi
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