12 Hardcore Facts About Alexander Hamilton

Before 2015, it was common to hear that Alexander Hamilton was, by far, the most undervalued of all the American Founding Fathers. But with the explosive popularity of the Broadway musical Hamilton, that statement is no longer accurate. Hamilton fever swept America, and he became one of the most popular Founding Fathers, as fans of the musical flocked to historic sites and bought out shelves of books associated with him.

Hamilton was not just important in the founding of America. He was also a fascinating historical figure and tireless public servant. Though it is easy to sing Hamilton's praises today, it is also worth noting that he was highly controversial and divisive in his own time: Hamilton was a man who inspired admiration and respect just as fiercely as he inspired outrage and offense.

Indeed, a portrait can be drawn of Hamilton as a brash and renegade Founding Father who was passionate about his ideals and vision for what the new American nation could become. These badass Alexander Hamilton facts reveal a brilliant, singular man in an age of great men.

Though never elected as US president, Hamilton's shadow looms large. Considering all the badass things Alexander Hamilton did in his relatively short lifetime, his legacy deserves to be remembered.

  • He Dropped Out Of College And Joined The Revolution

    He Dropped Out Of College And Joined The Revolution
    Photo: Alonzo Chappel/Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons

    Hamilton journeyed to the mainland to get an education. In the 1770s, colonial America had a handful of options for young men to undertake courses of study. Though Hamilton hoped to attend Princeton, that institution rejected his proposal to undertake an accelerated course of study.

    So by 1773, Hamilton was enrolled at King's College - today it's known as Columbia University - in Manhattan. He was a gifted student with an appetite - and aptitude - for learning as much as he possibly could.

    But his interests weren't just academic. The 20-year-old Hamilton was so swept up in the winds of revolution that he dropped out of school and formed his own militia of 25 men. Though clearly a man of words, Hamilton sought to prove that he was a man of action as well. 

  • He Was A Self-Made Man

    He Was A Self-Made Man
    Photo: William J. Weaver/US State Department/Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons

    It would be an understatement to say that Hamilton's childhood in the Caribbean was less than ideal. When he was 9,  his father abandoned the small family. His mother died of illness a few years later. He refused to let himself - and his future - be defined by his circumstances, however. So, he became self-educated and distinguished himself while working in a local import-export office

  • Before He Was 30, He Founded A Bank That Existed For Over Two Centuries

    Before He Was 30, He Founded A Bank That Existed For Over Two Centuries
    Photo: Bureau of Engraving and Printing & Smithsonian Institution/Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons

    There's good reason that Alexander Hamilton graces the ten dollar bill - he was a brilliant financial mind whose fiscal policies helped strengthen a burgeoning, young nation. But Hamilton was not just interested in the fiscal policies of the American government as a whole. In 1784, Hamilton - not yet 30 - founded the Bank of New York, which remained in business until 2007.

  • He Was Killed In A Duel

    He Was Killed In A Duel
    Photo: Internet Archive Book Images/No Restrictions / via Wikimedia Commons

    There is perhaps no greater evidence of Hamilton's badass-ery than the fact that he died in a duel at the hands of Vice President Aaron Burr. Burr was frustrated with Hamilton, especially after Hamilton repeatedly attacked Burr's abilities and honor. Burr demanded satisfaction.

    Though dueling was a fixture of life at the turn of the 19th century, both in America and abroad, it nonetheless was a risky business. Hamilton knew this all too well: in 1801, his eldest son Philip had perished in a duel. 

    But that didn't stop Hamilton from meeting Aaron Burr on the dueling ground on the morning of July 11, 1804, in Weehawken, New Jersey. Burr shot Hamilton in the stomach, and Hamilton's death was probably agonizing - he died 31 long hours after the duel.

  • Hamilton Single-Handedly Authored Over Half Of The 85 Federalist Papers

    Hamilton Single-Handedly Authored Over Half Of The 85 Federalist Papers
    Photo: Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons

    In 1787, Hamilton set out to defend the new US Constitution. His method? The pen, of course. He invited John Jay and James Madison to join him in the endeavor. When all was said and done, the team had produced a grand total of 85 "Federalist papers." Of the 85, Hamilton wrote an astonishing 51 under the pseudonym "Publius." 

  • He Was Involved In America's First Sex Scandal

    He Was Involved In America's First Sex Scandal
    Photo: John Trumbull/Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons

    Though Alexander Hamilton was happily married to a daughter from a prominent New York family, he strayed from his marriage bed in 1791 when he began an affair with 23-year-old Maria Reynolds. Reynolds was a married woman, and her husband quickly turned the affair to his advantage by blackmailing Hamilton. 

    As if cheating on his wife wasn't bad enough, Hamilton went on to publicly admit to the affair by publishing a full confession. The affair put a strain on Hamilton's marriage, because of course it did. In this instance, Hamilton was a "badass" in the sense that his conduct was "bad" and he was kind of an "ass" for having the affair in the first place.

    Maria Reynolds sued her husband for divorce in 1793, and used Aaron Burr - Hamilton's future murderer - as her lawyer.