A Biography of Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804)

New shore, tides of war (1773-1777)

Alexander Hamilton reached New York Harbor in early 1773, entered King's College (now Columbia University) in 1774, and began his studies in medicine. At the time he entered college the first Continental Congress was meeting to decide the future of the colonies under the increasingly tyrannical rule of the English government. Although Kings College was known for its loyalist leanings, Hamilton's American benefactors, the Elias Boudinot family, were Presbyterians of the Whig persuasion who supported rebellion against England.

Following the Boston Tea Party, Hamilton journeyed to Boston to investigate the situation, and came back to New York convinced that the American colonists had a valid argument against England. This was to become a familiar working pattern for Hamilton--dedicated to making informed decisions, he researched extensively and often conducted lengthy fact-finding missions before he came to any major decisions. Among the revolutionary pamphletists he read with ardor was John Adams, who was to become one of his most bitter political opponents.

Hamilton's adopted state of New York was traditionally the most independent of the colonies, and there was a strong opposition to the revolt. Arguments pro and con raged in the newspapers, and it was not long until Hamilton added his opinion to the fray. In response to a loyalist pamphletist who criticized the actions of the continental congress, Hamilton wrote "A Full Vindication of the Measures of Congress," which gained the young revolutionary much notoriety among rebels and loyalists alike. The pamphlet was Hamilton's first foray into local and national politics, and his impressive beginning as a courageous debater and master propagandist.