New York City, NY
Although enormously influential in the political and economic development of the United States, Alexander Hamilton was, until recently, a forgotten Founding Father—the one who never became president, the one who did not live to see 50.
Hamilton was at best a complicated hero and, at worst, an admirable scourge. He fought alongside the Marquis de Lafayette in the American Revolutionary War yet convinced President George Washington that their fragile new nation should not aid France in its own attempt to establish a republic. He believed the Constitution was imperfect yet persuasively defended it as a gateway to a just national government. He condemned Thomas Jefferson's attitude toward slavery yet married into one of New York’s most prominent slave-owning families. He believed in acting with honor yet publicly humiliated his wife in the process of clearing his name.
The ambitious financial system Hamilton devised as America’s first Secretary of the Treasury is still largely in place more than 200 years later, along with other institutions as varied as the U.S. Coast Guard and the New York Post. Hamilton’s passion and energy inspired his followers, enflamed his opponents, and continue to fascinate the contemporary audiences rediscovering him in biographies and on Broadway.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.