Today, July 12, 2013 marks the 209th anniversary of Alexander Hamilton’s death at age 47. Hamilton died at a significantly younger age than his fellow political luminaries: Jefferson survived until age 83, Madison lived to 85, Adams to 90, and Burr to 80. However, in his 47 years, he fundamentally shaped America’s political and financial foundations. Hamilton rose from obscurity in Nevis and, without a formal education or financial backing, became an influential revolutionary thinker, a military hero, Washington’s most influential aide, the driving force of the Federalist Papers and the push for the Constitution, the architect of America’s financial future as the first Secretary of Treasury, and so much more.
The inscription at Hamilton’s grave site says it well:
The patriot of incorruptible integrity.
The soldier of approved valour.
The statesman of consummate wisdom.
Whose talents and virtues will be admired by grateful posterity long after this marble shall have mouldered into dust.
I also love this excerpt from the Eulogy on General Alexander Hamilton by the citizens of Boston written by Harrison G. Otis:
But in the man whose loss we deplore, the interval between manhood and death was so uniformly filled by a display of the energies of his mighty mind, that this world has scarcely paused to enquire into the story of his infant or puerile years. He was a planet, the dawn of which was not perceived; which rose with full splendor, and emitted a constant stream of glorious light, until the hour of its sudden and portentous eclipse.
If you’re in New York, come join the series of exciting events throughout NYC today to commemorate Hamilton’s passing. If you’re not in the city, check out the live stream of Thomas Fleming’s author talk at Trinity Church here.