No relation to George Hamilton, though there is a resemblance around the nose I think. This is the guy who dueled Aaron Burr and died. There are claims that he threw the duel. I overslept that day, so I wasn’t there.
I found an interesting study that looks at this from a different angle. Alex falls into the group of folks called “Resilient Children.” These are children who overcome multiple and extraordinary personal and family hardship and survive against the all odds. Much as Kim Kardashians’ and Ann Coulter’s kids will do, if they ever have any.
Alexander’s family lived in the Dutch ruled West Indies, bouncing between St. Croix and St. Kitts.
Alexander’s family history is rife with infidelity, abusive and contentious family relationships, child deaths, child abandonment, and abject poverty. His father’s family had all the cash and aristocracy. But they didn’t get along so well either.
Alexander was born six years after his parents, Rachel and James, moved in together, unmarried. Rachel’s first husband wanted to remarry and needed to divorce her. As if an abusive and contentious and trauma filled marriage weren’t enough, he put her through public humiliation and personal hell to accomplish this. The Dutch Court, in charge of the islands, considered children born out-of-wedlock to be “obscene.” Her first husband, John Lavien, asked the Court to rule that if he died before Rachel, that none of her illegitimate children could inherit any of his property or her property. As a bonus, the Court also ruled that Rachel was not allowed to ever marry again and if she returned to St. Croix from St. Kitts, they would punish her even more.
Well, of course they moved away. To the West Indian Dutch Island of St. Eusatius. Alexander and his brother were young enough to be untouched by all the scandal and paparazzi, and the family lived in a temporary bubble of peace for a short time.
Alexander’s father had to go back to St. Croix on a business trip. He wanted to take Rachel and the kids. For some idiotic reason, Rachel said “sure! Let’s go!” and went back where Alexander and his brother were bullied and teased by the citizenry. Strangely, their father abandoned them here and returned to St. Kitts. Alexander did not see his father again.
Alexander was bereft. He had been very close with his father and now did not know if he would ever see him again. To rub salt into the wound, Rachel went back to using the name Faucett on the tax rolls and the name Lavien for other things, but called Alexander a Hamilton, which put a giant spotlight on his illegitimacy, thank you very much!
His mother died when he was eleven. He and his brother went to live with his mother’s cousin, who committed suicide a year later after the death of his wife. They were now all alone in the world with no money or family.
Alexander turned to education to save himself. He successfully connected to helpful and influential mentors as he diligently applied himself to learn as much as he could. The Reverend Hugh Knox was a longtime and strong mentor for Alexander, and Alexander took on his assertive and polemic style of attacking adversaries in a combative and logical fashion. It helped when he became a lawyer.
He ended up attending the school now known as Princeton when he was sixteen. John Adams called him a “bastard brat” and Thomas Jefferson called him a “foreign bastard,” but this did not stop him from moving ahead in politics and his law career. Personally, I suspect they were probably a bit envious that someone from so “low” a background could do so well. I have the same problem applying for radio show jobs!
Looking at the early life and upbringing of Alexander Hamilton, it makes sense how his life ended. He had such trauma and conflict and emotional hurricanes to deal with, it’s not surprising that he had a powerful self-destructive streak. Most “Resilient Children” have to fight this. He was no different. He was often in debt, even though he was one of the finest lawyers in New York. He did not charge enough, if you can imagine! He barely supported his family. He believed, probably from his mentorship with Rev. Knox, that chasing a dollar was beneath him and evil and he refused to benefit personally from any of his government work. Goodness, he would probably never get elected today, eh, hons?
Essentially, Alexander Hamilton is the story of a disadvantaged kid making good and making a big splash in the world, only to end up dead because he couldn’t keep his temper. And didn’t know when to back down from a fight.
Some similar cases: Steve Jobs, Bill Clinton, Marilyn Monroe, Eric Clapton, John Lennon, Ray Liotta, Nelson Mandella.
These, while they did not shut up, certainly had to suck it up. They were “Resilient Children.”
Skimming through a genealogy chart of the Hamiltons it appears most of them ended up in Canada and some in Ireland. Not many here in the states. And no famous ones. Apparently the Hamilton family figured out how to become more functional than Alexander’s forebears.
It does cause me to wonder at our leaders and icons and how so many seem to be “Resilient Children.” Abuse survivors. Overcomers of Gargantuan Obstacles. It’s a curious dynamic.
I shall shut up about this now and suck it up as a ponder.
Be well, hons, and stay resilient!