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Alexander Hamilton: Triumph and Tragedies

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Alexander Hamilton:

Triumphs and Tragedies

By Matt Flood

To die a tragic death by the hand of another man- to carve ones way through destiny and shape one's future from the humblest of beginnings- to forge a legacy by a medium only those heralded as our countries "Forefathers" have per chanced to meddle with- these are the makings and the foundations for which great men and the dreams of our country rely upon.

Everyone has heard the name Alexander Hamilton, but few are familiar with his views and actions regarding the survival of the young American republic. He could be recognized for anything from serving our fledgling country by fighting in the New York militia; to serving his community as a lawyer and as a national tax agent; to beginning his political career as a representative for New York at the National Congress. Though most would agree his most important contribution to our struggling republic was to spearhead the project which formed the doctrine helping to establish the foundation in which modern democracy is based, the Articles of Confederation.

Alexander's family history along with his life story is almost as rich as the country's who he helped to build. "[Alexander's] maternal grandfather, one John Faucette, ...emigrated from France to the West Indies sometime before 1700, ...moved to Nevis, became a planter and took a wife- Mary, [with whom he had children]. Confusion reigns as to whether there were one or two Mary Faucettes or two Faucette couples" (Emery 52). There was a "deed of gift"(Emery 54) between John Faucette and Mary Faucette in 1714 and another record of marriage between John Faucette and Mary Uppington of Nevis on August 21, 1718, leading to the possible conclusions either John had multiple lovers of the same first name at or around the same time, or it is uncertain beyond this point in history as to what is truly known about Alexander Hamilton's past. Either way, Mary Faucette (Alexander's grandmother) has been thought to have been plagued with poor luck, so much so that it is even referred to as an "extraordinarily stormy passage" (Emery 54) of a life. Though she appeared to have weathered well- "John Church Hamilton, Alexander's fourth son and first biographer, leaves this record of Rachel's impact on her son: 'He spoke of her as vividly impressed upon his memory' as a woman of intelligence, culture and elegance of form..." (Emery 55) which must have exuded itself when having experienced much financial difficulty, along with domestic abuse from her husband, John. She was forced to file for separation in February of 1740. John and Mary had at least one daughter, Rachel Faucette. The exact date of Alexander's mother's birth is not on record; however it has been speculated to be the year 1729. Her parents having separated when she was eleven years old, Rachel's life was not going to get any better. John fought the separation, he had made Rachel his sole beneficiary and the inheritor of his will. This is the extent to which Rachel knew domestic stability for her life from this point on "is a story of erratic stress" (Emery 55). Forced into marriage at the age of sixteen, she moved with her wealthy husband, Johan Michael Levein, to St. Croix. Johan knew she didn't want him, however, "'attracted by her beauty... received her hand against her will'" (Emery 62). Having children only made a poor situation worse, and fighting among the two increased in severity and frequency, though, there's no way to tell what the subject of these confrontations were about. Most speculate that Rachel's stubborn nature ran against Johan's desire to dominate and control his wife. What is known is that in 1749 Levein had jailed his wife in the fort at Christiansted; "perhaps his idea of discipline, surely his idea of right. Whatever his intentions, the results were disastrous." (Emery 69) Rachel, leaving her son who she had birthed for Levein, ran away from this poor situation and fled to the island of St. Kitts, where her mother still lived. Levein didn't divorce his wife for nine years after she left him. The terms of the divorce read that "she had been shameless, rude and ungodly... forgotten her duty... let her husband and child alone... [and] given herself up to whoring with everyone" (Emery 71). Though while still married she had only had two children with one other man. The comments on the divorce papers were most likely nothing more than the last words of scorn from a bitter, burned man.

Apparently her childhood would have an affect on her because all three of her children all grew up with only one parent. Alexander happened to lose his father around the same age his mother lost hers.

Alexander Hamilton, born to James Hamilton and Rachel Faucette, was assumed to be born in 1755 or 1757, it is still unknown the exact year of his birth, though most lean toward '55. Other than adding to the mystery and intrigue of Alexander Hamilton's story, this really has no bearing on his life. Emery, in his account, describes the young Hamilton as "an early and voracious reader", and that he was a "passionate devotee of books."(Emery 132) Though apparently his family's lack of financial depth and illegitimate status prevented him from attending public schools regularly. Emery notes that he does fondly recall an experience at a Jewish school in which he was frequently called upon to "rattle off the Decalogue in Hebrew, standing on a table because he was so small." This shows us that even at a young age Hamilton was considered to have delicate features and a bit of a frail frame. This just contributes to the depth of the beginnings from which he is to later rise and take his place among our countries many great leaders.

Alexander's childhood only declined after his grade school years. His father left unable to withstand the shame of the status his family had procured. After that his mother stooped to borrowing from Alexander's Aunt, who had married into the Lytton family, or better put, into money. Unfortunately, the Lytton family as well, after having loaned Rachel money to provide for her children, suddenly lost their wealth and the next generation of heirs would lose their share of the fortune. Besides that, Alexander's cousin killed himself in 1769. To put proverbial icing on the cake, Rachel ended up back in the fort in which she was once imprisoned, Christiansted, running a shop selling goods bought from her landlord as well as others



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