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Alexander Hamilton

John Trumbull1806

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

Alexander Hamilton-"the bastard brat of a Scotch pedlar," as John Adams dubbed him-emigrated to America as a teenager and quickly found a fertile field for his brilliance and drive. By the time Washington appointed him the first secretary of the treasury in 1789, Hamilton had achieved success in war and in marriage; reputation in the law and politics; and fame as the instigator and author (with James Madison and John Jay) of the Federalist Papers.

Overriding Thomas Jefferson's notion of America as an agrarian paradise of yeoman farmers (and thus sparking the rise of political parties), Hamilton-whose policies were intended to cement the moneyed interests to the new government-dominated Washington's administration. He restored public credit and laid the groundwork for the nation's banks, commerce, and manufacturing, paving the way for America to become a modern, industrialized nation.

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