Today, January 11th, marks Alexander Hamilton’s 256th (0r 258th) birthday!
I find it amazing to think about where Hamilton came from and what he accomplished. Hamilton was born in Nevis, 1,3000 miles from New York and worlds away. He was born out of wedlock at a time where illegitimacy was considered a moral failing, and was shunned by other children because of his status. Hamilton’s father James became bankrupt and abandoned the family. Hamilton’s mother died of yellow fever in 1768, and the Hamilton brothers were taken in by a cousin, Peter Lytton, who committed suicide 17 months later. Hamilton had all the odds stacked against him, but with a combination of brilliance and luck, he not only made his way to America, he helped make America.
Hamilton’s own words in Federalist No. 36 seem fitting:
“There are strong minds in every walk of life that will rise superior to the disadvantages of situation, and will command the tribute due to their merit, not only from the classes to which they particularly belong, but from the society in general. The door ought to be equally open to all…”
If you happen to be in either Nevis or New York, check out the birthday events that the AHA Society has organized. The events include a blessing at Trinity Church, a simultaneous cake cutting in New York and Nevis, and events at Hamilton Grange and the Museum of American Finance. Looks like a great program.