Thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway show, Hamilton, the world is once again aware of the United States of America’s first Secretary of the Treasury and founding father Alexander Hamilton. The show spoke much on the theme of legacy, and Alexander Hamilton indeed left a legacy behind following his death—perhaps not in the way that many would think of. Wall Street was the legacy of his career, but he and his wife, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, had eight children to carry on their names.
Though he was the third son of a founding father, Colonel Alexander Hamilton Jr. was a stellar lawyer in his own right.
Hamilton attended boarding school in Trenton, New Jersey when he was eight years old. It was there that he joined his older brother, Philip Hamilton, in studying under Episcopal clergyman William Frazer. After boarding school, he went to Columbia College in New York. Weeks before he graduated from Columbia, Hamilton learned of his father’s death due to a duel with Aaron Burr.
The St. Andrew’s Society of New York, which he was a member of, stated that Hamilton “did not graduate on account of an accident,” giving a testament to his intelligence. Soon after, he began to pursue a career in law.
Hamilton started his career as an apprentice attorney at Stephen Higginson’s law firm in Boston; soon after his apprenticeship, he was admitted to practice law. His practice was briefly paused as he sailed to Spain prior to the War of 1812, joining the Duke of Wellington’s forces and fighting against Napoleon in Portugal. He soon returned to the United States and served in the War of 1812, aiding a friend of his father until June 15, 1815. He returned to practicing law soon after.
In 1818, Hamilton was made a member of the 42nd New York State Legislature for a year-long term, representing to the New York State Assembly from New York City. In May of 1822, President James Monroe appointed Hamilton as a United States Attorney for East Florida, and in 1823 he was made one of three Land Commissioners for the area. It was there that he received the rank of Colonel. He ran against Richard K. Call to be Florida’s delegate in the House of Representatives but lost.
In the mid-1830s, Hamilton represented Eliza Jumel in her divorce from Aaron Burr—the same man who killed his father. The divorce proceedings lasted for two years, only finalizing when Burr died in 1836.
Hamilton lived in New Brunswick, New Jersey, for most of his last ten years of life, moving to Greenwich Village in New York City after his wife, Eliza P. Knox, died in 1871. Neither of them had any children, and Alexander Hamilton Jr. died in his home on August 2, 1875.