Less so than the aristocracy of Great Britain, the class structure in the American colonies played a significant role in society. While this system existed in the colonies, as opposed to Great Britain, it was possible for an orphan with no pedigree or wealth to become an important player in the American political structure. Alexander Hamilton, through his bravery and loyalty on the battlefield, became George Washington’s right-hand man. The same qualities and his brilliant intellect enamored himself to men and women alike. Hamilton was born into a non-prominent family and had very little wealth when he arrived in the American colonies, but as he did in St Croix, his intellectual ability and work ethic caught the attention of many of the prominent members of American society.
Alexander Hamilton arrived in the colonies to receive an education, which was funded by prominent colonists in St Croix. His arrival in 1773, amidst the turmoil caused by the attempted imposition of taxes by the British Parliament on colonists, was in retrospect, perfect timing for the young Hamilton who desperately wanted an opportunity to prove himself. While anger built up among the citizens, it still remained that many citizens, particularly the American elite, were still loyal to Great Britain. Hamilton saw an opportunity to express his views on freedom and urged the colonists to rise up and oppose the tyranny of Great Britain by publishing his writings in pamphlets. He compared Great Britain’s tyranny to slavery and that you can either live freely or become slaves to the British monarchs.
Great Britain began gearing up to suppress the American uprising and prepares to attack New York. In response, Hamilton receives approval to form an artillery unit with his fellow students from King’s College. Hamilton’s unit, the 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, is the oldest unit in the American Army and the only remaining unit still commissioned from the Revolutionary War. After the American colonies declared their independence, Hamilton received his childhood wish to prove himself on the battlefield. Hamilton and his unit fought valiantly with George Washington’s Army in a defeat in the Battle of Long Island, where they were severely outnumbered and suffered many casualties and desertions. While Washington was surrounded by many brave and skillful soldiers, Hamilton’s intellect separated him from the pack in the eyes of Washington. Washington would eventually name Hamilton his aide-de-camp and would become part of what Washington called his family. Many of Washington’s best writings were actually written by Hamilton.
Now that he was well established in Washington’s inner circle, Hamilton had access to the more prominent members of American society. Despite having little wealth and not being descended from a prominent family, Hamilton was able to court Elizabeth “Betsy” Schuyler, the daughter of General Philip Schuyler, who was one of the richest men in the country and a prominent figure in New York politics. It would have been unusual for a prominent wealthy daughter of a General to marry a non-wealthy man, but Hamilton was a special case and his otherworldly intellectual ability, along with his connection to Washington, very few eyebrows were raised when Hamilton and Schuyler were married.
Hamilton began his life in obscurity and soon thereafter became an orphan. His determination and intellect brought him to the American colonies, where he arrived at a time when the colonies were on the verge of war with Great Britain. It couldn’t have been more perfect timing for Hamilton, who since childhood, wanted an opportunity to prove himself on the battlefield. On the battlefield, his loyalty and intellect brought him in front of George Washington, who brought Hamilton into his inner circle. Hamilton was able to establish himself into the thick of American politics in a very short amount of time through showcasing his bravery and capability on the battlefield and his intellectual ability as an aide for Washington.