Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804)
Born on the Caribbean island of Nevis, Alexander Hamilton was orphaned at a young age and went to work as a clerk in a local trading company. He showed an early interest in books and was sent by a guardian to New York, where he attended King’s College (now Columbia University). While a student, he wrote a number of pamphlets in defense of American independence, and upon the outbreak of the Revolution he enlisted in the local militia, coming to the attention of George Washington during the defense of the city. He would serve as Washington’s aide and eventually lead troops in the Battle of Yorktown. Following the war, he became a key architect of the new government, advocating for a strong central authority in the Federalist Papers and eventually serving as the first Secretary of the Treasury.