Alexander Hamilton

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Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804)
Occupation First U.S. Treasury Secretary (1789-1795)

Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), George Washington's former military aide and a renowned financier, was the first Secretary of the Treasury and the architect of the department's structure. He was appointed to the position at the inauguration of the constitutional government in 1789.

Background

Hamilton, unlike Thomas Jefferson, favored a strong, centrally controlled Treasury, and constantly battled with Jefferson, then Secretary of State, and Albert Gallatin, then a Congressman, over the amount of power the Department of the Treasury should be allowed to wield. He designed the Treasury Department for the collection and disbursing of public revenue, but also to promote the economic development of the country.[1]

He introduced plans for the First Bank of the United States, established in 1791 which was designed to be the financial agent of the Treasury Department. The Bank served as a depository for public funds and assisted the Government in its financial transactions. The First Bank issued paper currency, used to pay taxes and debts owed to the Federal Government.

Hamilton also introduced plans for a United States Mint. Though he wanted the Mint to be a structural part of the Treasury, he lost the battle to Jefferson and it was established in 1792 within the State Department. The Mint became an independent agency in 1797 and was eventually transferred to Treasury in 1873. Under personal financial pressure, his office paying only $3500 a year, Hamilton resigned in 1795 and joined the New York bar. He kept in close contact with President Washington, however, and continued to give financial advice to his successor, Oliver Wolcott. Hamilton was killed in 1804 in a duel with Aaron Burr arising from a political dispute.

Education

Resources

U.S. Treasury Department http://www.treasury.gov/Pages/default.aspx

References

  1. U.S. Treasury History. Department of the Treasury.