Portrayed by Ian Rose
Seen the musical? Read the book? Now at Chautauqua you can personally duel wits with Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who mastered the arts of wit, war, and wealth, long before becoming the subject of Broadway’s Hamilton: An American Musical.
An illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, Hamilton epitomizes the American dream — poor immigrant makes good. He went on to help win the Revolutionary War and ratify the Constitution, create the country’s financial system, charm New York’s most eligible ladies, and land his face on our $10 bill.
What did Alexander Hamilton ever do besides get shot in a duel by Aaron Burr? Why did Adams and Jefferson hate him so much? Disputes that arose during America’s first decades continued through American history to our present day. The duel of wits of our Founding Fathers fought illustrates that after the American Revolutionary War was won – the real Revolution began.
Ian has interpreted historical figures since 1994 for presenters such as History First Hand and American Historical Theatre. For the past 15 years he has portrayed Alexander Hamilton across the United States at venues such as Valley Forge, Washington’s Crossing, the New York Historical Society, Federal Hall and Hamilton’s home, the Grange, in New York City.
Father afield, Ian has portrayed General Hamilton at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in California, argued Constitutional cases before “The People’s Court” Judge Marilyn Milian in New York City, as well as in presentations for the State Department, before the actual Constitution at the National Archives and at the White House.
Ian has appeared as Col. Hamilton in the documentaries; First Faith, Rediscovering Alexander Hamilton, and Fractured Union for Mount Vernon. Ian is a graduate of Western Illinois University and a veteran of many Shakespeare Festivals.
Born in 1755 or 1757, Alexander Hamilton is one of the most prolific and most misunderstood of our founding fathers. A West Indian native, Hamilton came to America just prior to the American Revolution. He was one of the early advocates of independence and a Captain of Artillery in the battles in and around his adopted home New York and in the battles of Trenton and Princeton. He was Aide de Camp to General Washington, serving him throughout the Philadelphia Campaign, Valley Forge and the winters at Morristown.
A delegate to the Confederation Congress, under the Articles of Confederation, Hamilton fought for the army’s rights and pay, calling for a convention for governmental reform. Hamilton and James Madison as members of the Annapolis convention were able to muster up resolve to get a constitutional convention in Philadelphia in 1787. Hamilton worked alongside General Washington, Edmund Randolf, his friend Gouvernor Morris, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and (at that time) friend James Madison to form our new constitution. In order to get our new constitution ratified, Hamilton, Madison and longtime friend John Jay wrote a series of articles that came to be known as the Federalist Papers. Hamilton wrote the lion’s share.
When the new government went into effect President Washington asked Hamilton to be our first Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton called on then innovative and novel ideas of finance to handle the new country 80 million dollars debt. His financial plans included: selling stock, encouraging moneyed men to help with our country’s early finances, a national assumption of the war debt and his advocacy of a national bank. These “revolutionary ideas” are now basic financial principals.
HIs very often misunderstood plans brought him many enemies; chief among these was then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Speaker of the House, James Madison.
Arguments with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison led to our nation’s capitol being established on the banks of the Potomac, a more centralized government and exploration into what and what is not allowable in our constitution.
Though members of the same political party, the leading Federalists, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, were sometime allies but became Hamilton’s bitter enemies. John Adams despised Hamilton for his influence over Adam’s cabinet, Hamilton having been forced on him as a Major General in the Quazi-war with France and for his “shameful birth.” After their very public break during the election of 1800, the presidency was tied between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Hamilton supported his old enemy Jefferson rather than let Burr be elected, saying Burr was a man who “ought not to be trusted with the reigns of power.”
Since his arrival on these shores in 1774 Alexander Hamilton managed to be at almost every great event in early American history until his death in a duel with then Vice President Aaron Burr in 1804.
- 1755 or 1727 (Jan 11) – born Nevis, British West Indies
- 1774 – traveled to Boston and New York.
- 1775 – attended Kings College (Columbia University) and enlisted in local Militia. Made Captain of New York Provisional Company of Artillery and served in actions at Crossing of Raritan, Trenton, Princeton
- 1776 – 80 – served as Aide-de-camp to General Washington. Served as one of Washington’s principal aides and letter writers, acting in Washington’s name several times during the War of Independence
- 1780 – meets Elizabeth “Eliza” Schuyler, daughter of General Philip Schuyler and gets engaged. (Sep 25) Day of Blackest Treason. On route from the French army at Hartford, CN, Washington and Lafayette, Hamilton encountered Gen. Arnold at West Point when his treason was discovered (Dec 14) marries Eliza Schuyler.
- 1781 – commissioned Lt. Colonel and given command of the New York Light Infantry under command of Gen. Lafayette. Hamilton leads his troops in taking Redoubt #10, one of the decisive actions in the battle of Yorktown, prior to Cornwallis’ surrender.
- 1781 – passes the bar and begins to practice law in Albany, NY.
- 1782-3 – elected delegate from New York state to Confederational Congress
- 1783 – returns with family to New York City, where he argues cases in favor of Loyalists. Argues Rutgers vs. Waddington, a case that defines national law over state law.
- 1787 – along with Judge Yates and John Lancing attends Constitutional convention in Philadelphia. Hamilton ends up signing Constitution.
- 1787 (Oct) – 1788 (Aug) – John Jay, James Madison and Hamilton write the Federalist Papers to better explain and endorse the Constitution. Hamilton writes 56 of the 85 letters.
- 1789-1795 –appointed Secretary of the Treasury by President Washington.
- 1790 – creates a financial system that comes to be acknowledged as one of the best ever created – advocates Assumption of War debt, creation of a National Bank and creation of shares that are traded on the open market – comes into open conflict with Thomas Jefferson, who vehemently opposes the Bank.
- 1794 – supports the Jay Treaty
- 1798 – commissioned Major General in US Army and made Inspector General
- 1799 – upon Washington’s death becomes US Army Commander-in-Chief. Later in the year, resigns from Army
- 1804 – (July 12) Hamilton killed in duel with Aaron Burr (age 47 or 49)
- Men give me credit for some genius. All the genius I have is this. When I have a subject in mind, I study it profoundly. Day and night it is before me. My mind becomes pervaded with it… the effort which I have made is what people are pleased to call the fruit of genius. It is the fruit of labor and thought.
- Wives – Such a wife as I want… must be young, handsome I lay most stress upon a good shape, sensible a little learning will do, well-bread, chaste, and tender. As to religion, a moderate stock will satisfy me. She must believe in God and hate a saint.
- Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.
- Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of man will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.
- Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.
- A promise must never be broken.
- Whenever the government appears in arms, it ought to appear like a Hercules, and inspire respect by the display of strength. The consideration of expense is of no moment compared with the advantages of energy. ’Tis true this is always a relative question, but ’tis always important to make no mistake. I only offer a principle and a caution.
- When the sword is once drawn, the passions of men observe no bounds of moderation.
- I never expect to see a perfect work from an imperfect man.
- It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government form.
- The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and, however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true to fact. The people are turbulent and changing, they seldom judge or determine right.
- The real danger to our liberties was not from a few provisional troops. The road to tyranny will be opened by making dependent judges, by packing juries, by stifling the press, by silencing leaders and patriots.
- On overturning an election in New York: I do not feel it right or expedient to attempt to reverse the decision by any means not known to the Constitution or laws. The precedent may suit us today; but tomorrow we may see its abuse.
- The liberty of the press consists in the right to publish, with impunity, truth, with good motives, for justifiable ends, though reflecting on government, magistracy, or individuals. That the allowance of this right is essential to the preservation of a free government; the disallowance of it fatal.
- Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (2005) One of the best of the biographies on Hamilton. Chernow maintains a clear timeline and a wonderful perspective of Hamilton throughout his life.
- Alexander Hamilton, American by Richard Brookhiser (2000) Hamilton’s meteoric and fascinating rise as well as his importance is examined well.
- George Washington’s Indispensable Men: Alexander Hamilton, Tench Tilghman and the Aides-de-camp Who Helped Win American Independence by Arthur S. Lefkowitz (2003) A wonderful account of the aides de camp and Hamilton’s time on Washington’s staff.
- Alexander Hamilton: A Life by Willard Sterne Randall (2000) An excellent source on Hamilton, with the war years well covered.
- The Federalist Papers by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison (1787) The examination of the constitution and its viability for our new nation. Hamilton and the others put forth ideas here that have set legal precedent. The Federalist Papers are still used in legal arguments to this day.