Stretcher: 77.5 x 62.2 x 3.5cm (30 1/2 x 24 1/2 x 1 3/8")
Frame: 89.2 x 73.7 x 9.2cm (35 1/8 x 29 x 3 5/8")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Gift of Henry Cabot Lodge
Born Nevis, West Indies
Illegitimate and orphaned at an early age, Alexander Hamilton possessed drive and intelligence that attracted wealthy patrons who sent him to North America to study at King’s College (now Columbia University). An early advocate for independence from Britain, he enlisted in the army and came to the attention of George Washington, who made him a member of his military “family.”
After independence, Hamilton supported a stronger national government, assisting in the ratification of the Constitution by authoring, with John Jay and James Madison, the most original contribution to American political thought, the Federalist Papers. Washington, impressed with Hamilton’s mastery of economics, made him the first secretary of treasury. Hamilton’s policies—assumption of state debts, encouragement of commerce and manufacturing, and promotion of a national bank—are credited with laying the groundwork for a strong republic. He was killed in a duel with the vice president, Aaron Burr.
Henry Cabot Lodge; his son George C. Lodge; gift to NPG 1979