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, to squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?
Well, sit right on back and we'll tell you.
Alexander Hamilton (1755 or 1757-1804) was one of the major Founding Fathers of the United States. Coming from Nevis, a tiny island in the West Indies/Caribbean, he studied at the New York King's College (today Columbia), before joining the Revolutionary War. Unlike many of his distinguished contemporaries, Hamilton is notable in that he was of very humble beginnings, being an illegitimate child who lost his mother as a young man. He later became 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, the Bank of New York (later merged with Mellon Bank to form BNY Mellon), the oldest operating banking institution in the United States, as well as establishing a college, named Hamilton College, in upstate New York. Was also responsible for the New York Post, the U.S. Coast Guard, and arguably the first sex scandal in American history.
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. As the father of the Treasury, he is memorialized on the U.S. $10 bill. The US constitution's "natural born citizen" clause was written to grandfather in people born outside the US but citizens at independence possibly explicitly to allow people like him a shot at the Presidency note but the aforementioned sex scandal coupled with his premature death ultimately derailed any chance at a (Vice-)presidential career, leading to a lot of What Could Have Been speculation in alternate history fiction.
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.
- Alexander Hamilton was actually a relatively obscure figure until the advent of Lin-Manuel Miranda's smash hit musical Hamilton. Miranda first publicly performed what would become the show's opening number at an evening celebrating poetry and the spoken word at the White House in 2009; that performance can be viewed on youtube. The musical has since gone on to Broadway, becoming massively popular and winning 11 Tony Awards and even a Pulitzer.
- Hamilton appears in the HBO miniseries John Adams, portrayed by Rufus Sewell, particularly during the bit on the Washington Administration. Adams doesn't much care for him, despite being allies against Jefferson. Then again, Adams doesn't much care for a whole lot of people. Truth in Television as Adams loathed Hamilton to point of mocking his illegitimate birth publicly and Hamilton publicly attacking him during the Adams administration despite them both belonging to the Federalist Party.
- Hamilton appears in the novel Burr by Gore Vidal where, given the fact that the book features a Historical Hero Upgrade of Aaron Burr into an anti-hero, has a fairly unflattering depiction of Hamilton, unsurprisingly, though it stops short of endorsing his killing.
- 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 considered the Madrigals' 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 is one of the main characters of the I Made America web series.
- Hamilton appears in his capacity as Washington's aide in The Crossing, where he's a bit quiet but thoroughly capable in both staff functions and fighting Hessians.
- In the classic alternate history textbook For Want of A Nail: If Burgoyne Had Won At Saratoga, Hamilton joins other surviving rebels in marching west to establish the new nation of Jefferson in the location of present-day Texas.
- George Arliss played Hamilton in the 1931 biopic Alexander Hamilton, which focuses mostly on his affair with Maria Reynolds.
- Mabel Pines on Gravity Falls has a crush on Hamilton (calling him, naturally, "the guy on the $10 bill") and he appears in hallucination form in "The Love God."
- Alexander Hamilton appears as one of Washingtons aides-de-camp in seasons 3 through 4 of the AMC series TURN: Washington's Spies. Played by Sean Haggerty after he and lead actor Seth Numrich shot a short film and successfully demonstrated how the character could be incorporated into the show.
"Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?"