Heroes of History: Alexander Hamilton

Liberty Street.

It’s possible that everybody in the world has heard of or seen the musical Hamilton. The production helped to blow away the mists of history from this previously obscure Founding Father, but who exactly was he? Heroes of History: Alexander Hamilton sets out to explain just that.

Hamilton’s life began in 1755 on the Caribbean island of Nevis. His illegitimate birth caused him immense difficulties in those intolerant times where it was regarded as socially demeaning. In spite of all this, as a young man Hamilton’s considerable talents gained the attention of prominent islanders who raised a subscription to send him to be educated in the American colonies. He fell into politics and displayed talents for military service and finances that stood him in good stead during the heady days of rebellion and young nationhood. His influential position in government enabled him to set up the first national bank to regulate the new nation’s economy, which saved America from financial ruin. However, his hot headed behavior often led him into difficult situations, including scandals and numerous duels. An enmity with the duplicitous Aaron Burr rumbled on for years until 1804 when it came to a deadly end on a bluff above the river at Weehawken, New Jersey.

Heroes of History: Alexander Hamilton is a clear and concise history of the man and his times. Beautifully laid out and illustrated, its strong narrative succeeds in telling Hamilton’s story without being condescending to the reader. Although aimed specifically at young reader, there is much for older readers to draw from too. All in all, an excellent resource book.