Washington, D.C., May 16, 2018—Hamilton scholar Michael E. Newton gave a talk on “Alexander Hamilton’s Revolutionary War Service” at the headquarters of the Society of the Cincinnati tonight. Newton addressed an event sponsored by the American Revolutionary Institute, which puts on a series of lectures at the Anderson House. The event drew a crowd of more than 100 people.
This particular lecture was given in honor of the 235th anniversary of the Society, which was founded on May 13, 1783. Hamilton served as its second President, after George Washington’s death. His legacy is currently being celebrated at an exhibit at the Society headquarters.
Newton presented the following thesis: No one contributed as much in as many ways to the American Revolution as Alexander Hamilton. He then proceeded to provide a stunning list of the diverse roles which this unlikely founder played between 1774 and 1783, numbering 20 in all.
Newton began with Hamilton’s early role as an essayist, starting with his 1774 defenses of the non-importation policy by the colonies in two pamphlets, A Full Vindication and The Farmer Refuted. Newton has uncovered the fact that these lengthy, comprehensive documents were well-known, as they were printed and circulated in Boston and Philadelphia, as well as New York City, where Hamilton lived. And while the loyalist, Samuel Seabury, whom Hamilton was countering, was actually answered by other essayists, it was Hamilton’s essay he felt compelled to try to specifically counter.
Many of the roles which Newton listed had to do with Hamilton’s military service, especially during his service as aide de camp to George Washington from 1777 to 1781. Among the most surprising was Newton’s assertion that Hamilton served as an “acting commander-in-chief” at certain critical points in the war, due to the fact that Washington had implicit trust in his judgment.
The total listing included: essayist; public speaker; defender of loyalists; militiaman; artillery captain; military secretary; military and political correspondent; military adviser; acting commander-in-chief; field commander; scout; quartermaster; prisoner exchange negotiator; diplomat to the French Army; spymaster; financier; battalion commander; tax collector; and politician and Congressman.
Newton, author of Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years and the blog “Discovering Hamilton” will be addressing an event sponsored by the Treasury Historical Association on May 16.