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HomeNewsArchivesObama Authorizes Park Service Study of Alexander Hamilton Home

Obama Authorizes Park Service Study of Alexander Hamilton Home

March 31, 2009 — President Barack Obama recently signed the Alexander Hamilton Boyhood Home Study Act, directing the National Park Service to study whether Estate Grange, a home associated with Alexander Hamilton's childhood on St. Croix, should become part of the National Park System.
Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and a bipartisan group of senators cosponsored the legislation in 2007. (See "Congress Considering National Park Facilities to Honor Alexander Hamilton.")
"Too little is known about Hamilton's childhood on the islands," Hatch said on the floor of the Senate when he introduced the bill in January as part of a larger bill called the Wilderness Act. "Alexander Hamilton's immeasurable influence on the progress of our nation deserves to be remembered and recognized. The remaining links to his boyhood on the island of St. Croix should be preserved and recognized for the benefit of the people."
Gov. John deJongh Jr. enthusiastically endorsed the project in a statement from Government House.
"I strongly believe Estate Grange should be transformed into a living monument celebrating the important formative period in Hamilton's life," deJongh said. "Developing this property into a National Park site will enhance our efforts to develop historic tourism on St. Croix. Estate Grange is one of the many historic sites such as Salt River, the site where Christopher Columbus anchored in 1493. These locations reflect St. Croix's tremendous significance to the nation."
Born as a British subject on the island of Nevis in 1755, Hamilton arrived on St. Croix with his mother, Rachael Faucette Lavian, and brother James in May 1765. They had been on St. Croix less than a year when Alexander, as an 11-year-old boy, took a job as a clerk at the Beekman and Cruger store in Christiansted. In Hamilton's own letters, he attributed his business acumen to his early years working at the store. His mother died in 1769, leaving Hamilton to fend for himself as a teenager.
At 17, Hamilton left St. Croix for New York to attend college, never to return. He became a senior military aide to General George Washington and a major figure in the Federalist faction allied with Washington against the Democratic Republican faction led by Thomas Jefferson. Washington appointed him the first U.S. secretary of state. He was one of the three authors of the Federalist Papers, which were critical in 1787-1788 for encouraging popular support to ratify the Constitution.
Influenced by his childhood in the Caribbean, he was an outspoken abolitionist. He is credited as the creator of the American financial system and the Coast Guard, and he served as the first secretary of the Treasury. Throughout his short life he credited his financial acumen to his experience on St. Croix. His face adorns the $10 bill, joining Benjamin Franklin as the only two non-presidential faces appearing on U.S. currency. Ironically, with such a long list of accomplishments and honors, Hamilton may be most famous for getting killed in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr in 1804.
It is generally believed Hamilton lived for a time at Estate Grange, a 115-acre property then owned by Hamilton's aunt and uncle, James and Ann Lytton. The circa-1753 great house at Estate Grange is still there today, along with a memorial to Hamilton's mother.
This study is a prerequisite for all National Park Service expansions. Depending upon the outcome of the Park Service study, the house may be restored and exhibited as a National Historic Site.
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