Lesser-known Founding Father Alexander Hamilton finally got his shot at legendary status thanks to Hamilton, a hip-hop Broadway musical about his life and impact. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s project is a cultural phenomenon, and a movie adaptation has arrived. Hamilton is also the subject of one of our Show Me History! books. Here are some little-known facts about the man who’s just like his country, young, scrappy, and hungry.
• Alexander Hamilton was able to attend college as a teenager at King’s College (later renamed Columbia University) in New York thanks to a fund organized by readers of The Royal Danish American Gazette. In 1772, a hurricane hit the island of St. Croix, where Hamilton was living, and he wrote a beautiful, visceral account of the devastation. People who read the letter donated money to ensure Hamilton received a formal education. (Before attending college, he had never been to school, and was primarily self-taught.)
• Nearly 500,000 people read the New York Post every day, the fourth most-circulated paper in the United States. It’s a bit of a sensationalist tabloid, but it began life in 1801 as the New York Evening Post, a dense political periodical full of essays in support of the Federalists, a party founded by Alexander Hamilton, much like the Post. He regularly wrote long editorials for the paper, and also secured the $10,000 for start-up costs.
• Alexander Hamilton famously died in a duel in July 1804 at the hand of fellow early American statesman Aaron Burr. Three years earlier, Hamilton’s son, Philip also died in a duel fought against lawyer George Eacker, who gave a speech critical of Philip’s father. He died of a mortal bullet wound that entered near his hip. Historians say the death of his 19-year-old son crushed the elder Hamilton, and when he dueled Burr, he used Philip’s pistol.