Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s so-called “founding fathers”, has returned to the limelight in recent years with a Broadway musical that tells its story to the sound of rap and hip-hop .
This musical, created in 2015, is inspired by the biography of the American writer Ron Chernow, now published in Brazil by the publisher Intrinsic.
Hamilton has also been debated again for being an advocate for ending slavery. He failed to win this fight, but he won many more, also thanks to a few strokes of luck.
The first was to overcome abandonment. He grew up in Santa Cruz, a Caribbean island, amidst sugar cane plantations, driven by slavery and a flow of ships from around the world. His father left the family, and his mother died when he was around 10 years old – his date of birth is uncertain: historians wonder if this happened in 1755 or 1757.
Even in financial difficulty, he enjoyed reading and writing very much. At the age of 17, he made a remarkable report on a hurricane that hit the island. This text attracted attention and prompted some wealthy men in the region to give him a scholarship to study in New York, then a British colony.
Shortly after arriving in Manhattan, Hamilton became involved in the separatist movement, first with manifestos and speeches, then with weapons. Then he approached General George Washington and became his deputy.
In this capacity, he wrote the letters to Washington and helped him find the best words to convince politicians and soldiers to keep fighting. The book details the relationship between the two, which was of great trust, but emotional distance.
One of the main difficulties of the separatist movement was the lack of money to pay and equip the soldiers. And Hamilton then studied and proposed ways to solve problems like inflation and tax collection. So, while fighting the war, he already planned what should be the country’s institutions that would emerge after independence.
After the victory, Hamilton served as a lawyer and legislator and helped draft the United States Constitution. One of the main debates was about the power that the national government should have and the autonomy that the states should have.
He defended the federalist model, with a strong central government, and knew that a strong national economy would be essential for that. As the first secretary of the treasury, he invested in the creation of a public bank and in policies to boost credit to anyone who wanted it, especially in the industrial sector. This model would be one of the bases of capitalism adopted by the USA, which would become the richest and most powerful nation in the world.
But Hamilton didn’t see the country that helped create surpass all others or abolish slavery. He was killed in 1804, aged 49, while participating in a duel.
The impulsive decision to turn around a personal problem is reported as a consequence of poorly resolved psychological dilemmas. Hamilton was very smart, naughty and full of friends, but he seemed to bear several wounds from the past of poverty and neglect.