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5 Things You Didn't Know About Alexander Hamilton

With Hamilton mania sweeping the nation, here are five little-known facts about one of the nation’s founding fathers - just in time for the 4th of July

Alexander Hamilton

NEW YORK, NY- June 28, 2016– Alexander Hamilton has reemerged in the forefront of the public consciousness thanks in part to the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Hamilton. With the founding father now a bona fide pop culture icon, you’d think there was nothing new to learn about him.

Not so, says Carl Rollyson, professor of Journalism and the Writing Professions at Baruch College and a noted biographer who has published more than 40 books on American icons, American culture, historical figures, and more. Professor Rollyson shares these five surprising little-known facts about Alexander Hamilton, the subject of Broadway’s hottest show.

John Adams was preoccupied with Hamilton's illegitimacy and foreign birth

The second president of the United States called Hamilton "the bastard brat of a Scottish peddler." Hamilton grew up in the Caribbean and was not sure of his birthdate. His Scottish father abandoned the family, and Hamilton's lack of a pedigree bothered Adams, his New England-born contemporary.

New York odds makers gave Hamilton little chance of persuading his fellow New Yorkers to approve the U.S. Constitution

A brilliant writer and administrator, Hamilton often spoken in undiplomatic language that could get him into trouble with both his supporters and opponents. Unlike his rival Jefferson, Hamilton spoke directly without considering the political consequences of his remarks. In this case, his strong support of a federal government concerned New Yorkers who worried that the sovereignty to New York State would be jeopardized by ceding too much power to central government. Fortunately, James Madison and John Jay allied themselves with Hamilton in writing the Federalist Papers that swung New Yorkers in favor of the new Constitution.

The Secretary of the Treasury, who did so much to put the nation's finances in good shape, left office deeply in debt

Hamilton had to resign from his Treasury post in 1795, since he found it impossible to live on his $3,500 annual salary. He went into private practice as an attorney in order to recoup his fortune.

Hamilton managed to offend just about everyone he worked with

During the period when the states debated ratifying the Constitution, James Madison had to repeatedly rebuff Hamilton, who had a habit of voicing his support for a British-style monarch and a chief executive elected for life.

Hamilton accepted Burr's challenge to a duel even though Hamilton had denounced dueling and said he would not aim to injure Burr

Hamilton carefully examined the dueling ground, took up various positions to check the sun's angle, and then put on his spectacles not exactly the behavior of a man who did not intend to shoot straight. Afterward, Governor Morris, a man who was an excellent "bullshit detector" (to use Hemingway's term), doubted the veracity of Hamilton's pre-duel pacifist declaration.


About Professor Carl Rollyson:

Carl Rollyson has published more than 40 books ranging in subject matter from biographies of Marilyn Monroe, Lillian Hellman, Martha Gellhorn, Norman Mailer, Rebecca West, Susan Sontag, Jill Craigie, Dana Andrews, Sylvia Plath, and Amy Lowell to studies of American culture, genealogy, children's biography, film and literary criticism.

Professor Rollyson has authored more than 500 articles on American and European literature and history. His work has been reviewed in newspapers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and the London Sunday Telegraph. Currently, he is an advisory editor for the Hollywood Legends series published by the University Press of Mississippi.



About Baruch College:

Baruch College is a senior college in the City University of New York (CUNY) with a total enrollment of more than 18,000 students, who represent 164 countries and speak more than 129 languages. Ranked among the top 15% of U.S. colleges and the No. 4 public regional university, Baruch College is regularly recognized as among the most ethnically diverse colleges in the country. As a public institution with a tradition of academic excellence, Baruch College offers accessibility and opportunity for students from every corner of New York City and from around the world.  For more about Baruch College, go to



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