Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury at age 32, is the focus of a traveling exhibit that will be on display at the Linfield College Jereld R. Nicholson Library Feb. 28 through April 18. Linfield is the only location for this exhibit in the Pacific Northwest.
“Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America” tells the story of Hamilton’s astonishing rise in five short years from an orphaned, 15-year-old West Indies immigrant to George Washington’s wartime aide, and later, Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton was a complex and controversial figure – a Revolutionary War patriot and soldier, financial and legal genius, and an ardent opponent of slavery. He was the chief architect of many of the financial, political and legal institutions so familiar to Americans today.
Hamilton's journalistic campaign, through the "Federalist Papers," to convince the American people to ratify the Constitution equals in importance his creation of the Bank of the United States and the New York Stock Exchange and his pioneering efforts in the area of constitutional law. The young treasury secretary's economic strategies saved the country from staggering Revolutionary war debts. By the time Hamilton retired in 1795, the United States was fiscally sound and poised to become a major world economic and political leader.
Three lectures will be held in conjunction with the exhibit, each at 7:30 p.m. in the Jereld R. Nicholson Library.
• James Basker, professor of literary history at Barnard College and president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History will present "Forgotten Abolitionists: Antislavery Writers in Hamilton's Era" on Thursday, March 6.
• Barbara Oberg, professor of history at Princeton University and editor of "The Papers of Thomas Jefferson," will present "Mr. Jefferson's Alexander Hamilton" on Thursday, April 3.
• Seth Cotlar, associate professor of history at Willamette University, will speak on "Why Did the Democrats of the 1790s Hate Alexander Hamilton So Much?" on Tuesday, April 15.
The exhibit was organized by the New-York Historical Society, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the American Library Association. It has been made possible in part through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information, contact Susan Barnes Whyte, college librarian, at 503-883-2517.