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HAMILTON LIVES AGAIN

The Hamilton Affair: A Novel - Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman

There is now a renewed interest in the life of one of America's most remarkable national leaders of the Revolutionary/Early Republic era: Alexander Hamilton.    This is largely due to the success of the Broadway musical "HAMILTON."   

 

In "The Hamilton Affair", Elizabeth Cobbs does a remarkable job of revivifying the lives of both Hamilton and his wife Elizabeth Schuyler, who hailed from one of the most distinguished families in New York.   In Alexander Hamilton, we have a man of humble origins (born out of wedlock in 1757 on the Caribbean island of Nevis) who arrived in America in late 1773 to study -- first at Elizabethtown Academy in New Jersey and later at King's College (now known as Columbia University) before joining the Continental Army during the War of Independence.   Hamilton went from serving as an artillery officer with the New York militia, seeing action in a number of key battles in New York and New Jersey, to joining General George Washington's staff as one of his aides.   He finished the war as a colonel in command of 3 infantry battalions which played a key role in securing the decisive victory over British forces in the Battle of Yorktown in 1781.

 

The novel traces out the arc of both Hamilton's subsequent career and the lives of Elizabeth Schuyler, her parents and siblings (in particular her older sister Angelica and her English husband John Church), and the children they had together.    Hamilton's and Schuyler's marriage, though an enduring  and loving one, was not without its challenges and tragedies.   Cobbs does a masterful job in bringing that aspect of their lives to the surface, as well as the remarkable achievements made by Hamilton in the creation and subsequent promotion (for ratification by the States)  of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the nation's first Secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington.

 

Reading "THE HAMILTON AFFAIR" has deepened my respect and admiration for this man who --- among the pantheon of our Founding Fathers -- is deserving of wider recognition.   (In fact, I would rank Alexander Hamilton far above Thomas Jefferson, who --  despite his own achievements --- proved to be a sly and cunning political operator with a thin skin, who often used his friends (e.g. James Monroe) as proxies to heap dirt on his political opponents, like Hamilton -- and was very much a hypocrite.)