Alexander Hamilton and the Constitution

September 17 is Constitution Day. Celebrate the Constitution by visiting the original document at the National Archives. While you are here, don’t miss your last chance to see the special Alexander Hamilton exhibit, which closes September 19, 2018.

Featured Document - Alexander Hamilton
“Alexander Hamilton: An Inspiring Founding Father,” an exhibit in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives. The exhibit closes September 19, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Reed, National Archives)

Alexander Hamilton was only 30 years old when he was selected to serve as one of New York’s delegates at the Constitutional Convention (the other two were John Lansing, Jr., and Robert Yates). The convention’s task was to revise the Articles of Confederation, but the delegates quickly scrapped the Articles entirely and ultimately created the United States Constitution we have today.

Hamilton was no fan of the Articles—an important legacy of Hamilton’s Revolutionary War service as aide-de-camp is that he saw Washington’s struggles with Congress to fund the war and learned the difficulties of managing the country with a very weak government. He knew we needed a federal government with more power—to be able to tax, have a bank, and have a strong executive.

He outlined some of his ideas to the Convention on June 18, 1787, in his 11-point plan calling for a strong centralized government. While presenting his plan, he reportedly spoke for six hours straight.

Hamilton’s plan is on display in the exhibit. It is paired with original lyrics from the award-winning musical, Hamilton: An American Musical. This document’s lyrics were from the song Non-Stop: 

BURR: Goes and proposes his own form of government!

COMPANY: What?

BURR: His own plan for a new form of government!

COMPANY: What?

BURR: Talks for six hours! The convention is listless!

While Hamilton’s plan was not adopted, he played a role, albeit somewhat limited, in creating the Constitution. However, he was instrumental in the Constitution’s ratification and subsequent interpretation when he led the collaboration with James Madison and John Jay on the Federalist Papers—a collection of 85 articles and essays written under the pseudonym “Publius” to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution.

Come see the original Constitution on display here at the National Archives Museum. You can see that Hamilton was the only delegate from New York to sign the document!

 

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