Born on the remote Caribbean island of Nevis, Alexander Hamilton (1757–1804) rose from an impoverished upbringing to become one of the founding fathers of America. Today, he is best known for featuring on the $10 bill in the United States.
During the American Revolutionary War (1775-83), Alexander Hamilton became aide-de-camp to George Washington, before gaining military glory at the battle of Yorktown in 1781, a final victory for the American colonies over the British. Alexander Hamilton was a key figure in the ratification of the US constitution and a prolific writer in its defence, and later he served as the first treasury secretary of the United States during Washington’s presidency.
He died in 1804 following an infamous duel with sitting vice president Aaron Burr.
As the statesman who laid the foundations of the US government’s financial mechanisms and systems, Alexander Hamilton is a hugely important figure in American history; the impact of his political rivalry with Thomas Jefferson is still seen today.
Born on this date in 1756 Burr was left an orphan at the age of 2. The toddler and his sister Sally (then nearly 4) were taken in by their maternal uncle, Timothy Edwards. At the age of 13 he was accepted into the Princeton University and graduated with distinction in 1772.
He was the third Vice President of the United States (1801–1805), serving during Thomas Jefferson's first term. He served as a Continental Army officer in the American Revolutionary War, after which he became a successful lawyer and politician. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Burr had feminist leanings. Burr saw to it that his daughter, named Theodosia, received a top-notch education—the kind normally reserved for boys.
Burr shot his political rival Alexander Hamilton in a famous duel in 1804, the last full year of his single term as vice president. He was never tried for the illegal duel and all charges against him were eventually dropped, but Hamilton's death ended Burr's political career.
John Laurens (1754 – 1782) was a well-known South Carolina soldier and statesman. Laurens was a vocal critic of the institution of slavery who presented the Continental Congress with a plan to recruit enslaved people to fight against the British.
John Laurens was the oldest son of Henry Laurens, a South Carolina plantation owner and slave trader, and Eleanor Ball, a planter’s daughter. John Laurens established a reputation for recklessness in combat. Laurens proposed that Congress create a regiment of black soldiers to fight against the British for the Continental Army. He suggested these men be recruited from southern plantations with the promise of freedom once their period of military service came to an end which was rejected by Congress twice.
In South Carolina Laurens served as intelligence officer for General Nathaniel Greene and recruited a network of spies in the south. In August 1782, during the Battle of Combahee in South Carolina's Lowcountry, John Laurens was shot from his horse and killed. He was twenty-seven years old. He had been ill prior to the battle, most likely suffering from malaria, but still insisted on fighting alongside his battalion. He never met his daughter, Frances Eleanor, born in London after he departed for South Carolina.
Born September 6, 1757, at Chavaniac, France, Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette was the son of Michel du Motier and Marie de La Rivière/
Gaining military training, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Musketeers of the Guard on April 9, 1771.
While training at Metz in 1775, Lafayette met the Comte de Broglie, commander of the Army of the East. Taking a liking to the young man, de Broglie invited him to join the Freemasons. Through his affiliation in this group, Lafayette learned of the tensions between Britain and its American colonies and later became an advocate for the rights of man and the abolition of slavery.
As the conflict in the colonies evolved into open warfare, he came to believe that the ideals of the American cause closely reflected his own. Though forbidden by King Louis XVI to go, Lafayette purchased a ship, Victoire, and evaded efforts to detain him. Landing near Georgetown, Lafayette briefly stayed with Major Benjamin Huger before proceeding to Philadelphia. He was made a major general at age 19, but he was initially not given American troops to command. He was wounded during the Battle of Brandywine but still managed to organize an orderly retreat, and he served with distinction in the Battle of Rhode Island.In the middle of the war, he sailed for home to lobby for an increase in French support.
Lafayette returned to France and was appointed to the Assembly of Notables in 1787, convened in response to the fiscal crisis. He helped to write the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen with Thomas Jefferson's assistance. This document was inspired by the United States Declaration of Independence and invoked natural law to establish basic principles of the democratic nation-state. He also advocated the end of slavery, in keeping with the philosophy of natural liberty.
In August 1792, radical factions ordered his arrest, and he fled into the Austrian Netherlands. He was captured by Austrian troops and spent more than five years in prison.
Lafayette returned to France after Napoleon Bonaparte secured his release in 1797, though he refused to participate in Napoleon's government. After the Bourbon Restoration of 1814, he became a liberal member of the Chamber of Deputies, a position that he held for most of the remainder of his life.
During France's July Revolution of 1830, he declined an offer to become the French dictator. Instead, he supported Louis-Philippe as king, but turned against him when the monarch became autocratic.
Born in Ireland’s County Londonderry on September 25, 1740, Hercules Mulligan immigrated to the American colonies when he was just six years old. His parents, Hugh and Sarah, left their homeland in hopes of improving life for their family in the colonies.
Hercules was a student at King’s College, now Columbia University, when another young man–one Alexander Hamilton, late of the Caribbean–came knocking on his door, and the two of them formed a friendship. This friendship would turn into political activity in just a few short years. Hamilton lived with Mulligan for a period during his tenure as a student, and the two of them had many late-night political discussions. One of the earliest members of the Sons of Liberty, Mulligan is credited from swaying Hamilton away from his stance as a Tory and into a role as a patriot and one of America’s founding fathers.
Hamilton, originally a supporter of British dominion over the thirteen colonies, soon came to the conclusion that the colonists should be able to rule themselves. Together, Hamilton and Mulligan joined the Sons of Liberty, a secret society of patriots that was formed to protect colonists’ rights.Thanks to his close access to British officers, Mulligan was able to accomplish two very important things in a very short time. First, in 1773, he married Miss Elizabeth Sanders at Trinity Church in New York. This should be unremarkable, but Mulligan’s bride was the niece of Admiral Charles Saunders, who had been a commander in the Royal Navy prior to his death; this gave Mulligan access to some high-ranking individuals.
In addition to his marriage, Mulligan’s role as a tailor allowed him to be present during numerous conversations between British officers; in general, a tailor was much like a servant, and considered invisible, so his clients had no qualms about speaking freely in front of him.
Mulligan saving Washington's life on two occasions. The first occurred when a British officer, who requested a watch coat late one evening, told Mulligan of their plans: "before another day, we'll have the rebel general in our hands." Mulligan quickly informed Washington, who changed his plans and avoided capture.
In 1785, Mulligan, along with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, became one of the 19 founders of the New York Manumission Society, an early American organization founded to promote the abolition of slavery. Following the Revolution, Mulligan's tailoring business prospered. He retired in 1820 and died in 1825, aged 84.
How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten Spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished, in squalor Grow up to be a hero and a scholar? The ten-dollar Founding Father without a father Got a lot farther by working a lot harder By being a lot smarter By being a self-starter By fourteen, they placed him in charge of a trading charter And every day while slaves were being slaughtered and carted Away across the waves, he struggled and kept his guard up Inside, he was longing for something to be a part of The brother was ready to beg, steal, borrow, or barter Then a hurricane came, and devastation reigned Our man saw his future drip, dripping down the drain Put a pencil to his temple, connected it to his brain And he wrote his first refrain, a testament to his pain Well, the word got around, they said, “This kid is insane, man” Took up a collection just to send him to the mainland “Get your education, don’t forget from whence you came, and The world's gonna know your name. What’s your name, man?” Alexander Hamilton My name is Alexander Hamilton And there's a million things I haven't done But just you wait, just you wait...
Dear Theodosia, what to say to you? You have my eyes. You have your mother’s name When you came into the world, you cried and it broke my heart I’m dedicating every day to you Domestic life was never quite my style When you smile, you knock me out, I fall apart And I thought I was so smart You will come of age with our young nation We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you If we lay a strong enough foundation We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you And you’ll blow us all away… Someday, someday Yeah, you’ll blow us all away Someday, someday Oh Philip, when you smile I am undone My son Look at my son. Pride is not the word I’m looking for There is so much more inside me now Oh Philip, you outshine the morning sun My son When you smile, I fall apart And I thought I was so smart My father wasn’t around I’ll make the world safe and sound for you… …will come of age with our young nation We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you If we lay a strong enough foundation We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you And you’ll blow us all away... Someday, someday Yeah, you’ll blow us all away Someday, someday
I watched Hamilton examine the terrain I wish I could tell you what was happ’ning in his brain This man has poisoned my political pursuits! Hamilton drew first position Looking, to the world, like a man on a mission This is a soldier with a marksman’s ability The doctor turned around so he could have deniability He examined his gun with such rigor? I watched as he methodically fiddled with the trigger Confession time? Here’s what I got: My fellow soldiers’ll tell you I’m a terrible shot They won’t teach you this in your classes But look it up, Hamilton was wearing his glasses Why? If not to take deadly aim? It’s him or me, the world will never be the same I had only one thought before the slaughter: This man will not make an orphan of my daughter Look him in the eye, aim no higher Summon all the courage you require Then count: One two three four five six seven eight nine Number ten paces! Fire!—
I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory Is this where it gets me, on my feet, sev’ral feet ahead of me? I see it coming, do I run or fire my gun or let it be? There is no beat, no melody Burr, my first friend, my enemy Maybe the last face I ever see If I throw away my shot, is this how you’ll remember me? What if this bullet is my legacy? Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see I wrote some notes at the beginning of a song someone will sing for me America, you great unfinished symphony, you sent for me You let me make a difference A place where even orphan immigrants Can leave their fingerprints and rise up I’m running out of time. I’m running, and my time’s up Wise up. Eyes up I catch a glimpse of the other side Laurens leads a soldiers’ chorus on the other side My son is on the other side He’s with my mother on the other side Washington is watching from the other side Teach me how to say goodbye Rise up, rise up, rise up Eliza My love, take your time I’ll see you on the other side Raise a glass to freedom... I strike him right between his ribs I walk towards him, but I am ushered away They row him back across the Hudson I get a drink Were both at his side when he died Death doesn’t discriminate Between the sinners and the saints It takes and it takes and it takes History obliterates In every picture it paints It paints me and all my mistakes When Alexander aimed At the sky He may have been the first one to die But I’m the one who paid for it I survived, but I paid for it Now I’m the villain in your history I was too young and blind to see... I should’ve known I should’ve known The world was wide enough for both Hamilton and me The world was wide enough for both Hamilton and me