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This title in other editions

Alexander Hamilton

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Alexander Hamilton Cover

 

 

Excerpt

On the night of April 18, 1775, 800 British troops marched out of Boston to capture Samuel Adams and John Hancock and seize a stockpile of patriot munitions in Concord, Massachusetts. As they passed Lexington, they encountered a motley battalion of militia farmers known as Minutemen, and in the ensuing exchange of gunfire the British killed 8 colonists and then 2 more in Concord. As the redcoats retreated helter-skelter to Boston, they were riddled by sniper fire that erupted from behind hedges, stone walls, and fences, leaving a bloody trail of 273 British casualties versus 95 dead or wounded for the patriots.

The news reached New York within four days and a mood of insurrection promptly overtook the city. People gathered at taverns and street corners to ponder events while Tories quaked. The newly emboldened Sons of Liberty streamed down to the East River docks, pilfered ships bound for British troops in Boston, then emptied the city hall arsenal of its muskets, bayonets, and cartridge boxes, grabbing a thousand weapons in all.

Armed with this cache, volunteer militia companies sprang up overnight. However much the British might deride these ragtag citizen-soldiers, they conducted their business seriously. Inflamed by the astonishing news from Massachusetts, Alexander Hamilton, then a student at King?s College (later Columbia University), was that singular intellectual who picked up a musket as fast as a pen. Nicholas Fish recalled that ?immediately after the Battle of Lexington, [Hamilton] attached himself to one of the uniform companies of militia then forming for the defence of the country by the patriotic young men of this city under the command of Captain Fleming.? Fish and Robert Troup, both classmates of Hamilton, were among the earnest cadre of King?s College volunteers who drilled before classes each morning in the churchyard of nearby St. Paul?s Chapel. The fledgling volunteer company was named the Hearts of Oak. The young recruits marched briskly past tombstones with the motto of ?Liberty or Death? stitched across their round leather caps. On short, snug green jackets they also sported, for good measure, red tin hearts that announced ?God and our Right.?

Hamilton approached this daily routine with the same perfectionist ardor that he exhibited in his studies. Troup stressed the ?military spirit? infused into Hamilton and noted that he was ?constant in his attendance and very ambitious of improvement.? Never one to fumble an opportunity, Hamilton embarked on a comprehensive military education. With his absorbent mind, he mastered infantry drills, pored over volumes on military tactics and learned the rudiments of gunnery and pyrotechnics from a veteran bombardier. There was a particular doggedness about this young man, as if he were already in training for something far beyond lowly infantry duty.

On April 24, a huge throng of patriots massed in front of city hall. While radicals grew giddy with excitement, many terrified Tory merchants began to book passage for England. The next day, an anonymous handbill blamed Myles Cooper, the Tory president of King?s College, and four other ?obnoxious gentlemen? for patriotic deaths in Massachusetts and said the moment had passed for symbolic gestures. ?The injury you have done to your country cannot admit of reparation,? these five loyalists were warned. ?Fly for your lives or anticipate your doom by becoming your own executioners.? A defiant Myles Cooper stuck to his post.

After a demonstration on the night of May 10, hundreds of protesters, armed with clubs and heated by a heady brew of political rhetoric and strong drink, descended on King?s College, ready to inflict rough justice on Myles Cooper. Hercules Mulligan recalled that Cooper ?was a Tory and an obnoxious man and the mob went to the college with the intention of tarring and feathering him or riding him upon a rail.? Nicholas Ogden, a King?s alumnus, saw the angry mob swarming toward the college and raced ahead to Cooper?s room, urging the president to scramble down a back window. Because Hamilton and Troup shared a room near Cooper?s quarters, Ogden also alerted them to the approaching mob. ?Whereupon Hamilton instantly resolved to take his stand on the stairs [the outer stoop] in front of the Doctor?s apartment and there to detain the mob as long as he could by an harangue in order to gain the Doctor the more time for his escape,? Troup recorded.

After the mob knocked down the gate and surged toward the residence, Hamilton launched into an impassioned speech, telling the boisterous protesters that their conduct, instead of promoting their cause, would ?disgrace and injure the glorious cause of liberty.? One account has the slightly deaf Cooper poking his head from an upper-story window and observing Hamilton gesticulating on the stoop below. He mistakenly thought that his pupil was inciting the crowd instead of pacifying them and shouted, ?Don?t mind what he says. He?s crazy!? Another account has Cooper shouting at the ruffians: ?Don?t believe anything Hamilton says. He?s a little fool!? The more plausible version is that Cooper had vanished, having scampered away in his nightgown once Ogden forewarned him of the approaching mob.

Hamilton knew he couldn?t stop the intruders but he won the vital minutes necessary for Cooper to clamber over a back fence and rush down to the Hudson. Of all the incidents in Hamilton?s early life in America, his spontaneous defense of Myles Cooper was probably the most telling. It showed that he could separate personal honor from political convictions and presaged a recurring theme of his career: the superiority of forgiveness over revenge. Most of all, the episode captured the contradictory impulses struggling inside this complex young man, an ardent revolutionary with a profound dread that popular sentiment would boil over into dangerous excess.

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JBW , August 4, 2012 (view all comments by JBW )
An American story so grand and powerful you'll be renewed in your faith in the American system. This book entails the grand story of individual and collective motivation and possibilities that abound in every aspect we cherish most. Chernow weaves A. Hamilton's life in that of ultimate patriot, statesman, and intellectual founding father to much of Americas most powerful tools that we enormously benefit from to this day. Hamilton's life its examined in intimate detail and is never shorthanded in this ultimate biography of him. Chernow has made an everlasting impression on me through this biography by espousing, in meticulous detail, the intellectual genius and unwavering patriotism bounding at every moment of Hamilton's life. "Alexander Hamilton" is simply the finest biographical work done on Hamilton or likely any historical documentation of Revolutionary America.
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casey935278, May 12, 2007 (view all comments by casey935278)
I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. The dramatic of the biography puts you right in his life style and where he was.
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(8 of 18 readers found this comment helpful)
JANKEOUGH, May 6, 2007 (view all comments by JANKEOUGH)
I've been reading many biographies of those involved in creating the US. Chernow's Alexander Hamilton is the best and certainly most compelling. Apart from the overall excellence of the presentation, I was astonished at Hamilton's drive, intellect and accomplishments. There should be a physical monument to this dedicated servant of the Revolutionary cause. And this is not igonoring his enormous and elitist ego and moral failings at all. I suppose this input is late considering the book has been out a few years but, truly, it is well-worth the time and page-turning to read!
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(14 of 21 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780143034759
Author:
Chernow, Ron
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Subject:
Political
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Statesmen
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Statesmen -- United States.
Subject:
United States Politics and government.
Subject:
Biography - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20050331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16-page b/w insert
Pages:
832
Dimensions:
9.24x5.97x1.71 in. 2.42 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Historical
Biography » Political
Biography » Presidents and Heads of State
Featured Titles » History and Social Science
History and Social Science » US History » 18th Century
History and Social Science » US History » Presidents » Hamilton, Alexander

Alexander Hamilton Used Trade Paper
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Product details 832 pages Penguin Books - English 9780143034759 Reviews:
"Review" by , "[A] biography commensurate with Hamilton's character, as well as the full, complex context of his unflaggingly active life....This is a fine work that captures Hamilton's life with judiciousness and verve."
"Review" by , "A splendid life of an enlightened reactionary and forgotten Founding Father. Literate and full of engaging historical asides. By far the best of the many lives of Hamilton now in print, and a model of the biographer's art."
"Review" by , "A robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all."
"Review" by , "This is grand-scale biography at its best — thorough, insightful, consistently fair, and superbly written....The whole life and times are here in a genuinely great book."
"Review" by , "[T]here is no Hamilton monument in Washington, but at least we now have Ron Chernow's moving and masterly Alexander Hamilton, which is by far the best biography ever written about the man."
"Review" by , "If Alexander Hamilton reflects its subject's far from charismatic nature, it also provides a serious, far-reaching measure of his place in history. And Mr. Chernow has done a splendid job..."
"Review" by , "A first-rate life and excellent addition to the ongoing debate about Hamilton's importance in the shaping of America."
"Review" by , "Impressively thorough, superbly written and carefully researched biography."
"Synopsis" by , From National Book Award winner Ron Chernow comes a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation.
"Synopsis" by ,

In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, National Book Award winner Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is andldquo;a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.andrdquo;

Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernowandrsquo;s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of todayandrsquo;s America is the result of Hamiltonandrsquo;s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. andldquo;To repudiate his legacy,andrdquo; Chernow writes, andldquo;is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.andrdquo; Chernow here recounts Hamiltonandrsquo;s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washingtonandrsquo;s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.

Historians have long told the story of Americaandrsquo;s birth as the triumph of Jeffersonandrsquo;s democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than weandrsquo;ve encountered beforeandmdash;from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamiltonandrsquo;s famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804.

Chernowandrsquo;s biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of Americaandrsquo;s birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.

"Synopsis" by , Ron Chernow, the renowned author of Titan whom the New York Times has called“as elegant an architect of monumental histories as w‛ve seen in decades” vividly re-creates the whole sweep of Alexander Hamilto‛s turbulent life¬—his exotic, brutal upbringing; his titanic feuds with celebrated rivals; his pivotal role in defining the shape of the federal government and the American economy; his shocking illicit romances; his enlightened abolitionism; and his famous death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July 1804. Drawing upon extensive, unparalleled research¬— including nearly fifty previously undiscovered essays highlighting Hamilto‛s fiery journalism as well as his revealing missives to colleagues and friends¬—this biography of the extraordinarily gifted founding father who galvanized, inspired, and scandalized the newborn nation is the work by which all others will be measured.
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