Happy Birthday, Hamilton!

Happy birthday to the founding father without a father!  On January 11, 1757, Alexander Hamilton was born in uncertain circumstances on the island of Nevis in the West Indies.  However, by sheer brilliance, luck, and a relentless drive and ambition, Hamilton became (among many other accomplishments) an influential Revolutionary thinker, invaluable aide-de-camp to General Washington, creator of the Federalist Paper, Secretary of Treasury, and a celebrated lawyer

When Hamilton was 12, he wrote to his friend Edward Stevens who was studying in King’s College and described the extent to which his ambition made him unable to accept the circumstances of his birth as something that could limit him to a menial position for the rest of his life:

“my Ambition is prevalent that I contemn the grov’ling and condition of a Clerk or the like, to which my Fortune &c. condemns me and would willingly risk my life tho’ not my Character to exalt my Station. Im confident, Ned that my Youth excludes me from any hopes of immediate Preferment nor do I desire it, but I mean to prepare the way for futurity. Im no Philosopher you see and may be jusly said to Build Castles in the Air. My Folly makes me ashamd and beg youll Conceal it, yet Neddy we have seen such Schemes successfull when the Projector is Constant I shall Conclude saying I wish there was a War.”

In describing Hamilton’s ambition to John Adams in September of 1798, George Washington stated:

“By some he is considered as an ambitious man, and therefore a dangerous one.—That he is ambitious I shall readily grant, but it is of that laudable kind which prompts a man to excel in whatever he takes in hand.—He is enterprising,—quick in his perceptions,—and his judgment intuitively great:—qualities essential to a great military character, and therefore I repeat, that his loss will be irreparable.”

Image from Mental Floss

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s