"I never expect perfect work from an imperfect man."
"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything."
Alexander Hamilton was one of the major Founding Fathers of the United States. He was an aide-de-camp for General George Washington, and was one of the main proponents for the United States Constitution, organizing and being the primary writer of The Federalist Papers with John Jay and James Madison. As the first US Secretary of the Treasury, he was a proponent for a strong national government, a national bank, a standing army, and a national debt. He also established the New York Manumission Society with John Jay to promote the abolition movement in New York state, the Bank of New York(Mellon) that is the oldest operating banking institution in the United States, as well as establishing a college, named Hamilton College, in upstate New York.
He was bitter enemies with Thomas Jefferson, but the two temporarily became allies during the 1800 presidential election when Aaron Burr, another enemy of Hamilton's, decided to run for the presidency. Four years later, Hamilton and Burr would be involved in a duel, resulting in Hamilton's death. He is memorialized on the U.S. $10 bill.
Tropes Exemplified by Alexander Hamilton:
- Ambiguously Jewish: Alexander Hamilton was not Jewish (indeed, he was a Protestant Christian of variable denomination, observance, and piety over the course of his life), but he was educated in a Jewish school before going to King's College (later renamed Columbia University). Interestingly, Hamilton's mother, Rachel Faucett Lavien, is described by the other wiki as being "of partial French Huguenot descent", while her husband, Johann Michael Lavien, who was not Alexander Hamilton's father, was Jewish. (After Rachel and Johann separated, she lived with James Hamilton, Alexander's father.) One has to wonder, though, if Rachel Faucett was partially Huguenot, what was the other part?
- Badass Bookworm
- Broken Ace: He was the patron saint of this trope. *See The Determinator and The Woobie.*
- Dark and Troubled Past
- The Determinator: One of the few famous Founders not to come from a land-wealthy family. Hamilton went from a poor orphan boy in the West Indies to Revolutionary War hero and father of American finance out of his sheer force of will.
- Duel to the Death: The Burr v. Hamilton duel.
- Enemy Mine: During the 1800 election in the United States, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson both decided that they hated Aaron Burr more than they hated each other, thus leading to Alexander Hamilton persuading the Electoral College to vote for Jefferson instead of Burr.
- Hamilton had a lot of political enemies, but few he hated more than George Clinton, Governor of New York. Clinton did everything he could to try to stop the Constitution from being ratified by New York and was among the first to paint Hamilton as an evil aristocrat out to hurt farmer citizens. For this, Hamilton spent years working to destroy Clinton's career, though it didn't work (Clinton became VP to Thomas Jefferson).
- Fiery Redhead
- Gentleman and a Scholar
- Guile Hero
- Heartbroken Badass
- Heterosexual Life Partners: He, John Laurens, and the Marquis de Lafayette were so close that Alexander's son John would call them the "three musketeers".
- Historical Beauty Update: When the ten-dollar bill was upgraded, Alexander Hamilton, despite already being handsome by many measures, was still given a streamlined face lift. Compare old vs. new. It's relatively subtle idealizing, but nonetheless...
- Ho Yay: There are some amateur historians who think that he and John Laurens may have had at the very least a romantic friendship between each other; the same could be said between Hamilton and LaFayette, who were life-long friends until Hamilton's death. However, it's also worth mentioning that Hamilton had eight children with his wife, and his one known extramarital affair was with a woman.
- It's hardly just the amateur historians. Ron Chernow, an extremely well-respected historian, supports the theory. He shows an avid interest in Hamilton's sexuality throughout the course of his biography, and really likes to point out how feminine Hamilton was, especially for someone with a military background, to slightly amusing results.
- Heroic Bastard: Look at a $10 bill. That's Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and founder of the Bank of the United States. But, uh, some of his contemporaries might class this under Your Mileage May Vary.
- Literally the case, since Hamilton's parents weren't married thanks to 18th century divorce laws. Of course, it wasn't a good idea to say this within his earshot.
- Honey Trap: The first sex scandal in the history of the US government: a man set his wife to seduce Alexander Hamilton, and then pretended to be outraged and threatened to go to the newspapers in order to extort money.
- Ivy League: Attended Columbia when it was still called King's College.
- The Lancer: Hamilton served as George Washington's Number Two during the Revolutionary War and Washington's time as president. While Washington was stoic, deliberative, and against bare knuckle politics, Hamilton was brash, quick witted, and famously one of the most vicious political fighters of his generation. This proved useful to Washington, who relied on Hamilton's intricate thinking and writing skills to serve as his Army chief of staff and most trusted secretary, much to the annoyance of others on Washington's staff.
- Officer and a Gentleman
- Parental Abandonment: His father left the family when he was ten, and his mother died two years later.
- Showdown At High Noon: Perhaps the most famous example of such a duel is the 1804 duel in which American Vice President Aaron Burr killed Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. The difference here is that dueling pistols were not at all accurate nor meant to be accurate — the point of the duel was to prove you cared enough about the grievance to risk your life. That Aaron Burr actually hit and killed Hamilton was a freak occurrence.
- According to the book Founding Brothers, the two witnesses they had brought along agreed in writing that Hamilton fired first and missed, then Burr fired two or three seconds later, fatally wounding Hamilton. Whether Hamilton missed deliberately or Burr intended to miss but hit by accident is a matter for speculation.
- Power Trio: Hamilton as the Superego, Washington as Ego, and Jefferson as the Id.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red to Washington's blue
- The Rival: Aaron Burr. Ended in a duel, Hamilton was killed, and the resulting public outcry destroyed Burr's political career. Thomas Jefferson would also count.
- Teen Genius: Growing up in the Caribbean, Alexander Hamilton was so brilliant that his employer trusted him to run his import-export business for months at a stretch. He was either 15 or 17 at the time, depending on whether or not he'd lied about his age to improve his employment prospects.
- Thanatos Gambit: There is some debate regarding whether Alexander Hamilton did this prior to his duel with Aaron Burr, in which Hamilton was killed. He wrote a letter the night before declaring he did not intend to fire; when Burr actually killed him (not knowing about this letter) he thus could be made to look murderous when Hamilton merely wanted to preserve his honor.
- Trauma Conga Line: Hamilton went through a lot terrible events throughout his life, especially when he was younger.
- What Beautiful Eyes!: One contemporary of Alexander Hamilton stated that "These [Hamilton’s eyes] were of deep azure, eminently beautiful, without the slightest trace of hardness or severity, and beamed with higher expressions of intelligence and discernment than any others that I ever saw…"
- The Woobie: Where to start. His father left the family when Alexander was ten, his mother died of yellow fever two years later, his cousin who was supposed to take care of him and his brother committed suicide, one of his best friends died in battle, his eldest son died in a duel, causing his eldest daughter to become mentally unstable.
Alexander Hamilton in fiction and pop culture:
- He's a character in the webcomic The Dreamer by Lora Innes, in which he's a captain of the New York artillery.
- He appears in the cartoon Liberty's Kids.
- On the Mythpunk blog, there's a story centering around him where he battles the God of Economics with Adam Smith's katana.
- The infamous Burr/Hamilton duel was featured in Got Milk? TV commercial.
- Lin-Manuel Miranda performed a year ago at the White House Poetry Jam a song from his in-progress project The Alexander Hamilton Mixtape, and it's also on youtube.
- Hamilton appears in the HBO miniseries John Adams, portrayed by Rufus Sewell.
- Hamilton appears in the novel Burr by Gore Vidal.
- He gets mentioned twice in "Lazy Sunday".
- He was Cahill from the Ekatrina branch in The 39 Clues. The duel with Burr (a Lucien here) was consider the Mardigals' worst nightmare.
- Hamilton is a key character in Lucia St. Clair Robsons's novel Shadow Patriots.
- Hamilton is the second Lord President of the Empire of North America in Look to the West, and his son Philip is an adventurer in Africa.
- Hamilton naturally appears in John Adams, particularly during the bit on the Washington Administration. Adams doesn't much care for him, despite being allies against Jefferson; on the other hand, Adams doesn't much care for a whole lot of people.