American founding father Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) was born on this day in the British West Indies. A respected patriot and lawyer, his familiar face is seen every day on the U.S. $10 bill.
He once said, "The loss of liberty to a generous mind is worse than death."
Hamilton fought for freedom during the Revolutionary War and served as George Washington's chief of staff.
He believed in a strong central government. Elected to the first Continental Congress and an advocate for the Constitution, Hamilton's noted adversaries, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, opposed his Federalist views.
"Power over a man's subsistence is power over his will," Hamilton said.
Appointed as the first Secretary of the Treasury, the esteemed financier inherited the new nation's weak and fractured economy. He said, "The Federal Government should neither be independent nor too much dependent."
As head of the Treasury for six years, he aggressively created the framework for fiscal requirements, establishing the national mint and bank. He protected American manufacturers from foreign competition with import taxes.
"Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice, without constraint," he said.
Killed in a duel with then-Vice President Aaron Burr, Hamilton said of his fame, "Men give me credit for some genius. All the genius I have is this. When I have a subject in mind. I study it profoundly."
Day and night it is before me. My mind becomes pervaded with it... the effort which I have made is what people are pleased to call the fruit of genius. It is the fruit of labor and thought."
Hamilton's "fruit of genius" continues to educate and inspire us in the 21st century, thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda's hit Broadway musical.
Let excellence light your way.