Rebellion and ExileEdit
Hamilton was born on the island of Nevis in the British West Indies in 1757. He moved to New Jersey in 1772 and began attending King's College in Manhattan in 1774. After the outbreak of the North American Rebellion in 1775, Hamilton helped raise an artillery company, of which he was elected captain. He participated in the Battle of New York in the fall of 1776 and the Battle of Trenton in December 1776. On March 1, 1777 he joined General George Washington's staff, and took part in the retreat from Philadelphia in the fall of 1777. After Washington's resignation from the Continental army on February 16, 1778, Hamilton joined the staff of General Nathanael Greene. When the Rebellion ended in June 1778, Hamilton returned to New York City.
Despite the efforts of General John Burgoyne to prevent reprisals against former rebels, there were numerous incidents of violence directed at supporters of the Rebellion, and Hamilton decided that exile was the only remedy. In Farewell to Change he wrote, "We can expect no better from those who have won the struggle than we would have meted out if the roles were reversed. The nature of man is to seek revenge for real and imagined wrongs. Reluctantly, then, we must move on. To stay here is, unfortunately, unthinkable." Hamilton traveled to Virginia in 1780 and joined up with the Wilderness Walk, Nathanael Greene's expedition to New Spain. Hamilton survived the arduous two-year journey and was one of the founders of the settlement of Jefferson City in the fall of 1782.
Following Greene's death in 1790, growing conflict among the settlers of Jefferson led Hamilton and James Madison of Virginia to organize the Lafayette Convention in the summer of 1793. Hamilton published a pamphlet, Government and the Nature of Man, arguing for adoption of the Constitution of 1793, in which he wrote, "Without basic guarantees, the society in which we live will perish, or be doomed to constant struggle, perhaps violent as well as peaceful." The Constitution was ratified on October 15, 1793, and on January 25, 1794, Hamilton was chosen as one of the first three Governors of Jefferson, along with Madison and Samuel Johnston. Together, Hamilton, Madison, and Johnston became leaders of the Continentalist Party, which sought to expand Jefferson throughout the North American continent.
When Spain became embroiled in the Trans-Oceanic War in 1795, Hamilton saw an opportunity for Jefferson to establish its independence. He resigned as Governor and took command of the Jeffersonian army. By the time the war ended in 1799, Hamilton had seized control of all of New Spain north of the Rio Grande and east of the Pecos River.
The Mexican WarEdit
Following the end of the Trans-Oceanic War, Hamilton was again chosen as Governor of Jefferson following the 1803 elections, and over the next 15 years he established the Bank of Jefferson and guided the new state's financial system. The Jeffersonians initially remained aloof from the Mexican Civil War of 1806, but when the Federalists of Mexico City began carrying out mass executions in 1815, Hamilton called for Jefferson to intervene on behalf of the Clericalists. On May 16, 1816, Hamilton, together with his fellow Governors John Gaillard and James Monroe, called on the Jeffersonian legislature to declare war on Mexico, and it did so.
General Horatio Conyers led the Jeffersonian Army across the Rio Grande in July 1816, and was killed within a week. Colonel Andrew Jackson assumed control of the army, and over the course of the next eight months, allied with the Clericalists to win a series of battles with the Federalists, entering Mexico City on February 6, 1817. When the Clericalists began to carry out mass executions of Federalists, Jackson seized control of Mexico City in June and declared himself provisional president.
Hamilton called for a union between Mexico and Jefferson, and launched his re-election bid for the 1818 elections with a speech in Lafayette in May in which he said, "We must not shrink from our destiny. Jefferson must lead the peoples of Mexico to greatness, and will do so through sacrifice and prudence." When Gaillard came out against the proposed merger and resigned his governorship, Hamilton selected Jackson to join himself and Monroe as the Continentalist nominees for governor. However, the campaign proved too strenuous for the sixty-one year old Hamilton, and he died a week before the election.
Sobel's sources for the life of Alexander Hamilton include George Bancroft's Hamilton and Madison: The Grand Collaboration (Mexico City, 1886), Sir Bartley Cornwall's Hamilton and Continental Destiny: The Lost Struggle (New York, 1961), and Edward Handleman's The Life of Alexander Hamilton (Canberra, 1970), as well as Hamilton's own writing, including Farewell to Change: Thoughts on leaving the C.N.A. (New York, 1785), Government and the Nature of Man (Jefferson City, 1793), The War With Mexico (Jefferson City, 1818), and the three-volume Memoirs (Jefferson City, 1814).