Thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alexander Hamilton has become a household name once again. The revolutionary success of Miranda’s musical has reignited interest in the founding father and the first Treasury Secretary of the United States. Hamilton had a notable life prior to his duel with Aaron Burr, but he was a preeminent attorney in New York City before his life’s infamous end.
After his time serving in the American Revolution, Hamilton could skip his apprenticeship that most lawyers were required to complete due to his veteran’s exemption. He studied law for only six months and was able to pass the bar in 1782. His focus was on civil cases, which were incredibly lucrative for him.
Hamilton took a break from his legal practice to join President George Washington’s cabinet as the Treasury Secretary. He returned to New York at the turn of the nineteenth century as he was not part of either Madison or Jefferson’s cabinets.
Though he was back in his Manhattan office, Hamilton was not finished with politics. In 1791, Hamilton’s father-in-law, Philip Schuyler, would lose his seat in the United States Senate to Hamilton’s rival, Aaron Burr. Burr would eventually run for president to find himself in an electoral college tie with Thomas Jefferson. The election would fall to the House of Representatives, where Hamilton would convince electors to select Jefferson. Burr assumed the role of Vice-President.
Hamilton would stand in the way of Burr’s political ambition once more. As his time as Vice-President came to an end, Burr decided to run for Governor of New York. Hamilton would voice his concerns about Burr and Burr lost this election as well. The two men dueled on July 11, 1804, and Hamilton would lose his life.
This fateful duel came less than six years after Philip Hamilton, Alexander’s son, lost his life in the same manner, and it was the sixth duel in which Alexander was involved. Ironically, Burr, who was also a lawyer, and Hamilton, could have settled their differences in a court of law.
Alexander Hamilton is a beloved founding father thanks, in part, to the immensely popular Broadway musical. He was a pivotal part of the American Revolution, Washington’s first cabinet, and he was also a renowned attorney before his untimely demise.