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Alexander Hamilton was born in the West Indies in 1757, the illegitimate child of a Scottish merchant. He came to the American colonies to study at King’s College (now Columbia University), and became an early and ardent supporter of the Revolutionary cause. During the Revolutionary War he was aide-de-camp to George Washington and a member of the Continental Congress. He was a leading figure at the Constitutional Convention (1787) and a principal author of The Federalist Papers. At first Secretary of the Treasury he articulated a policy of protection for manufacturing interests, strong central government, and establishment of a national bank. After leaving the Cabinet, he practiced law in New York. His personal attacks hindered the political career of the volatile Aaron Burr, who finally challenged him to a duel in 1804. Hamilton was shot, and died of his wounds.
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