Monday, May 16, 2016

Alexander Hamilton: the Massachusetts Connection

No historical figure is hotter in the American imagination today than Alexander Hamilton: a hit Broadway show, saved from the brink of being replaced on the $10 bill, and now serving as an unlikely inspiration to some of today’s Republicans in 2016 for his long-ago example of opposing his Federalist Party’s fellow nominee for President in 1800, John Adams.

Hamilton first set foot on the North American Continent in October of 1772 right here in Boston after sailing from his birthplace, Nevis, in the British West Indies. While he quickly made his way to New York to begin his studies at King’s College (later to become Columbia University), Hamilton was greatly influenced in his beliefs by the protests he witnessed against excessive British authority taking place in Faneuil Hall during his stay in Boston. Hamilton’s lasting impact in Massachusetts ranges from his namesake town on the North Shore founded in 1793, the 26th governor of Massachusetts, Alexander Hamilton Bullock, who was named after him, as well as the impressive memorial granite sculpture by artist William Rimmer that was erected in 1865 that can still be found at the entrance to the Commonwealth Avenue Mall at Arlington Street.

The State Library of Massachusetts has a rich and eclectic collection of works on and by Hamilton ranging from an 1865 reprint of the original Federalist, numerous biographical works including a so-called “dramatized” biography (The Conqueror by Gertrude Atherton), complete sets of Hamilton’s compiled works, and even a fascinating pamphlet chronicling the Burr-Hamilton duel that eventually took Hamilton’s life in 1804. In his short 49 years, Hamilton left a legacy that still lives on in the United States of today.

Judith Carlstrom
Technical Services