Narrated by David J Cowen, President & CEO for the Museum of American Finance
Popularized recently by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton is now widely known as one of the famous founding fathers of the United States. Hamilton had moved to New York City from the Caribbean to study at what is now known today as Columbia University. When the American Revolution broke out, he joined the Continental Army and rose to become a key aide to General George Washington. After the war, he returned to New York to practice law, and when New York became the first capital of the United States, Hamilton was selected to be the new nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury in 1789. In that office, Hamilton wrote several monumental state papers that Congress passed to forge a financial system for the nation. He restored the nation’s credit worthiness, issued the nation’s first treasury bonds, created a quasi-central bank with a branch in New York, and set the US dollar as our uniform currency. It was not easy, as he faced challenges from both political adversaries and the nation’s first securities market panic, which he resolved much like a modern central banker. He supported the Buttonwood Agreement and wrote the charter for the Bank of New York, which still operates today and is known as BNY Mellon. Therefore, Hamilton’s legacy lives on throughout our entire financial system.