The AHA! Blog

The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society (The AHA Society) was established to provide extensive and accurate information on one of the United States' most influential Founding Fathers - Alexander Hamilton. The AHA! blog discusses present-day articles, events, and projects that focus on Alexander Hamilton.
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July 11th was the 210th anniversary of the duel between Vice-President Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. This famous duel has inspired iconic pop culture videos (including the first Got Milk? commerical) and this one - the very first “Drunk History” video (currently close to 6 million YouTube hits). Today “Drunk History” is now a full show on Comedy Central.

Ryan Bort in Paste Magazine recently wrote a feature on how the show got its start and where it’s at today:

A (Drunk) People’s History of the United States

In 2007, Waters was one of countless comedic hopefuls trying to make it in Los Angeles.

Then, out for drinks one night, a drunk Jake Johnson (now best known for playing Nick on New Girl) tried to convince Waters that Otis Redding knew he was going to die before he boarded the plane that would crash and end his life. It was a totally ridiculous story and Waters couldn’t help but imagine Redding acting out Johnson’s words, wondering what the hell this drunk idiot was talking about. “I was like, ‘This would be a great video for my UCB show,’” Waters remembers.

Johnson didn’t want to drunkenly narrate with the camera rolling, so Waters asked his friend Mark Gagliardi if there was a story from history he wanted to get wasted and tell. He decided on the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. With Konner on board to direct, Waters enlisted Johnson to play Burr and his friend Michael Cera to play Hamilton. Waters took on the role of Thomas Jefferson, side-eyeing the camera as a meek, white-wigged Cera mouthed out Gagliardi’s drunken dialogue before sipping a cup of tea. It was a ludicrous scene.

Read the full article. 

*Note: The AHA! blog was created to share and explore contemporary discussion of Alexander Hamilton. This material is shared in that light. The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society does not guarantee that the information contained in third-party material is accurate.

 

Interest in the duel between Vice-President Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton has not died down over the last 210 years, and the topic is still one that has produced some iconic pop culture videos, including this one - the first-ever Got Milk? commercial.

From Camille Sweeny and Josh Goshfield on FastCompany.com: “5 Startup Lessons from America’s First CoFounders”

"THE UNITED STATES WAS BUILT ON AN ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT. HERE’S HOW THE COUNTRY’S FIRST LEADERS PAVED THE WAY FOR MODERN-DAY ENTREPRENEURS."

In the late 18th century, a motley crew of lawyers, farmers, merchants, and disruptive freethinkers had an idea for a startup. Few of them figured the fledgling startup had much chance of success. They came up with many names—including Columbia, the United Colonies, British America, and United Statesian—until they finally settled on the United States of America.

But how exactly do you go about starting up a government, especially if it is unlike any other that has existed before? It wasn’t as if they could go online and read up on how to do it.

The Founding Fathers were an exceptionally innovative collection of men. Not only has the government they conceived of lasted for more than 200 years, but it’s a model of democracy around the world.

It’s fascinating to realize that the political strategies the founders argued passionately about are still being argued today in business schools, boardrooms, and in the garages and basements of those aspiring to become the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.

1. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SMART PEOPLE

George Washington wasn’t an ideologue, and he wasn’t a genius. But when he was elected unanimously as the country’s first president, he was smart enough to hire two of the most brilliant people to work in his cabinet—Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton and Jefferson were considered ideologues and geniuses of the era.

In 1789, the U.S. government was a work in progress. Washington would have one of the men pitch an idea, and then send it to the other for comments. Although Hamilton and Jefferson were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, much of the eventual design of the U. S. government was a blend of their opposing ideas, so artfully synthesized by Washington.

Many a startup founder has bemoaned his or her lack of foresight in collecting a group of people with a diversity of opinions and skills. Richard Branson, who knows a thing or two about smart people, recognizes the value of dynamic debate.

“Bringing in strong managers … allowed me to focus on our latest ideas and projects, and on finding the next businesses to start up,” Branson says.

Branson credits his success to his listening skills and his recognition that sometimes other people’s suggestions are better than his own. David Ogilvy, a founding father of modern advertising, summed it up well when he wrote: “If you always hire people who are smaller than you, we shall become a company of dwarfs. If, on the other hand, you always hire people who are bigger than you, we shall become a company of giants.”

2. GET THE POWERFUL ON YOUR SIDE

Unlike some of the more power-to-the-people inclined Founding Fathers, Hamilton believed that even in a democracy the rich and well-connected would rule. To get anything accomplished, people have to persuade the powerful by satisfying their self-interest.

When he served as treasury secretary in the early 1790s, Hamilton lobbied Congress to pass a debt bill that would give the federal government extraordinary financial power by taking over all of the individual states’ debt—a whopping $25 million at the time. Many Southerners opposed the scheme. They saw a dismal future in which the federal government, the wealthy urban elite, and speculators would have all the power. So they voted Hamilton’s proposal down.

Hamilton then had to figure out something that was in the Southerners’ self-interest. He brokered a deal—vote for my debt bill, and we’ll vote to move the U.S. Capitol south along the Potomac River. It worked. After winning the debt vote, Hamilton went on to consolidate the federal government’s power by creating the first Bank of the United States and the U.S. Mint to print money. Any entrepreneur that ignores Hamilton’s policy of winning over the powerful does so at his or her own peril.

[…]

Read the rest of the article.

*Note: Third-party articles or posts quoted on the AHA! blog are shared in order to explore contemporary discussion of Alexander Hamilton. The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society does not guarantee that all information contained in these articles is accurate. The opinions expressed in the source article do not necessarily represent the views held by the AHA Society or its members. 

The AHA Society Twitter account (@theahasociety) often comes across humorous tweets about Alexander Hamilton. Since today is the 210th anniversary of July 11, 1804 duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, we bring you the second edition of Funny Alexander Hamilton Tweets: Aaron Burr edition. 

210 years later, there are those still grieving:

@thekatiemar: Someone named Aaron Burr posted about an apartment available for subletting. Sorry, but I’m still not over you killing Alexander Hamilton.

‏And others answering the age-old question:

@ibenjaminbarnes: My guess was Disneyworld :( RT @mental_floss: What Did Aaron Burr Do After Shooting Alexander Hamilton? — http://bit.ly/1qa9zYD 

Plus a few interesting theories as to the cause of the duel…

‏@SamAbe23455h: A few centuries ago, US Vice-President Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton played Rock Paper Scissors. Hamilton lost when Burr said “Shoot!”

‏@DannyMac_: Aaron Burr was only mad at Alexander Hamilton for never snap chatting him back. We all know how that turned out. #FoundingFatherFacts

Whereas others pose philosophical questions:

@lindseyschiffer: idea for my history research question: would alexander hamilton still be alive today if he hadn’t been killed in a duel with aaron burr?

But Hamilton and Burr’s legacies live on… 

@Mackay_Stuart: A conference sponsored by the Alexander Hamilton Institute held in the Aaron Burr Hall at Princeton? Irony abounds. #hamiltonshotfirst

Key and Peele “Substitute Teacher” reference, anyone?

@VinniePundolfo: *Sees Alexander Hamilton get shot* Ya done messed up A-Aron Burr

Plus a few sports references to the duel…

‏@tigers182: The Red Wings are the Alexander Hamilton of the NHL. Cannot win a shootout to save their lives. #RedWings

(anonymous account) And still … Alexander Hamilton has a better record in shootouts than the Carolina Hurricanes

This Twitter user had an interesting discovery at Thanksgiving time:

‏@jie_mi_: Just found out I’m related to Aaron Burr, that guy who killed Alexander Hamilton. So I’d say I’m thankful for my family but…

While this person faces a fashion dilemma for their holiday weekend:

@jackiecarbajal: Can’t decide if I want my Fourth of July look to be more Aaron Burr or Alexander Hamilton #patriotproblems

And of course, there are the classic ‘weather’ puns…

(anonymous account) It’s colder out there than the relationship between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. too soon? too soon? :)

‏@_Kanez: In lieu of the weather I’m going to teach about Thomas Jefferson vice president, who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.. #AaronBURRRRR

‏@headerjumper: What did Alexander Hamilton say when his duel was interrupted by the polar vortex? BURR!

Plus a few other word puns…

@savedbythebehl: what’s Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr’s favorite food? A HamBurrger Hahha hah ha #apushpuns

‏@eltionapo: “Alexander Hamilton and the Terr-Burr-ble, Horrible, Very Bad Day” #RuinAChildrensBook #hashtagwars

Thanks for tuning into this edition of Funny Alexander Hamilton Tweets for the anniversary of the Hamilton-Burr duel. The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society is hosting the CelebrateHAMILTON program this weekend to commemorate the 210th anniversary - see the video promo for the events

Read the first edition of Funny Alexander Hamilton Tweets.

Follow the AHA Society on Twitter: @theahasociety

*Note: The AHA! blog was created to share and explore contemporary discussion of Alexander Hamilton. These tweets are shared in that light. The opinions or sentiments expressed in these tweets are not necessarily endorsed by the AHA Society or its members. 

In “Independence Lost” on ‘Nox and Friends,’ Patrick J. Buchanan comments on American economic and political independence since the U.S.’s inception.

Not until a year after Lexington did the Continental Congress muster the resolve to declare the 13 colonies free and independent states, no longer subject to Parliament or Crown.

Not for five years after July 4, 1776, did George Washington’s army truly attain America’s independence at Yorktown.

Even then, Washington and his aide Alexander Hamilton knew that the 13 states, while politically independent, were dependent upon Europe for the necessities of their national life. Without French ships and guns, French muskets and troops, the Americans could not have forced Gen. Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown.

Cornwallis would have sailed away, as Gen. Howe had from Boston.

Indeed, absent the 1778 alliance with France, our Revolution would have been a longer, bloodier affair and might not have succeeded.

At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, both Washington and Hamilton were determined to make America’s political independence permanent, and to begin to cut the umbilical cord to Europe.

In the Constitution that came out of that convention, the states were prohibited from imposing any tariffs on the products of other states, thus creating the greatest common market in history, the United States of America. Second, the U.S. government was empowered to raise revenue by imposing tariffs on foreign goods, but explicitly denied the power to impose taxes on the incomes of American citizens.

And as Hamilton set the nation onto a course that would ensure economic independence, Washington took the actions and made the decisions that would assure our political independence.

First, he declared neutrality in the European wars that followed the French Revolution of 1789. Second, he sought to sever the 1778 alliance with France, a feat achieved by his successor, John Adams.

Third, in his Farewell Address, the greatest state paper in U.S. history, Washington admonished his countrymen to steer clear of permanent alliances and to stay out of Europe’s wars. Rarely in the 19th century did the United States divert from the course set by Washington and Hamilton.

[…]

For most of the 19th century, the nation followed the economic policy of Hamilton and the foreign policy of Washington – and was richly rewarded. By the first decade of the 20th century, America was the most independent and self-reliant republic in all of history…

Read the full article.

Though the author of this article does not mention it, Alexander Hamilton had a lot of influence on Washington’s foreign policy in addition to the economic policy - Hamilton articulated the policy of neutrality, wrote the administration’s defense of not becoming entangled in the British-French conflict of the time, and wrote most of the draft for Washington’s famous Farewell Address. 

*Note: Third-party articles or posts quoted on the AHA! blog are shared in order to explore contemporary discussion of Alexander Hamilton. The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society does not guarantee that all information contained in these articles is accurate. The opinions expressed in the source article do not necessarily represent the views held by the AHA Society or its members. 

Article by Elaine Schwartz, an economic teacher and writer, on Econlife.com about Alexander Hamilton and the United States’ economic independence. 

Yes, the United States declared independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776 and won the American Revolutionary War. But still, we were not truly independent.

George Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton knew that true independence required a vibrant economy. He had to diminish our huge debt, create a banking system, and diversify what we produced. To deal with so troubled an economy, Hamilton submitted a development plan to the Congress. In 3 separate reports, he explained how to establish public credit, create a national bank, and encourage manufactures.

Public Credit

  • Countries need good public credit in order to borrow money at reasonable interest rates. Sort of like you and me, the only way to get good credit is having lenders know you will pay them back. With the US sovereign debt owed partially to Europeans who had funded the Revolutionary War, Hamilton had to reassure them that they would get all of the money that was due them. Domestic creditors also needed to hear that Hamilton had a viable plan. Only then could Hamilton establish the good credit that was necessary for sound finance. Since then, the U.S. has never defaulted on its sovereign debt.

Banking

  • Composed of financial intermediaries that connect savers to borrowers, a banking system facilitates economic expansion. Banks loan money to business start-ups and help them finance inventory, banks purchase the bonds that nations sell to raise money, and banks expand the money supply. By establishing the First Bank of the United States, Hamilton generated the beginning of a banking system that continued to grow and support US economic independence.

Diversified Production

  • Economic diversity was the third leg of Alexander Hamilton’s plan for economic independence. Recognizing that the US in 1790 was a farming economy, he sought to create a complementary manufacturing sector. Correct again, Hamilton knew that the combination of agriculture and manufacturing meant we would not have to rely on others for our necessities. Through tariffs that would protect infant industries in the US and incentives that would encourage their creation, he stimulated business people to diversify.

Our bottom line? Isn’t it interesting that Hamilton’s goals–managing sovereign debt wisely, producing a vibrant banking system and encouraging productive diversity–remain leading economic issues?

——

Sources and more…Tough reading but fascinating, the plan that Hamilton gave to President Washington and received congressional approval was a prototype for development in a nation with a barely emerging market. These links, herehere and here take you to each report. I also recommend The Founders and Finance, the story of Alexander Hamilton’s and Albert Gallatin’s impact on the US economy. Please note that much of the above was from previous Independence Day posts.

See the original source article.

*Note: Third-party articles or posts quoted on the AHA! blog are shared in order to explore contemporary discussion of Alexander Hamilton. The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society does not guarantee that all information contained in these articles is accurate. The opinions expressed in the source article do not necessarily represent the views held by the AHA Society or its members. 

In the opinion piece “Christie should add Hamiltonian vision to presidential bid,” for Philly.com, Robert W. Patterson discusses how New Jersey Governor Chris Christie should incorporate lessons from Alexander Hamilton to look more attractive as a presidential candidate.

The populist governor [Gov. Christie] could fulfill that destiny [of becoming a leader who could reinvigorate the GOP] by learning from Alexander Hamilton, the Founder who thought most strategically about economics and nation-building. Like our first Treasury secretary, Christie must leverage his legendary forcefulness and ambition to address voters’ number-one concern - jobs - by championing a manufacturing and energy renaissance to renew American independence, strength, and promise. Indeed, by reviewing a forgotten chapter of state history, Christie could offer the “New Jersey Way” to lead the country out of its current downward spiral.

Christie doesn’t have to travel far to go back to the future. First stop: the Great Falls of the Passaic River, the largest North American waterfall aside from Niagara. The natural wonder fascinated the young Hamilton, during a visit as George Washington’s aide-de-camp during the Revolutionary War, for its hydropower possibilities; he later proposed building a “National Manufactory” nearby to ensure that the budding republic would never depend on foreign countries for vital supplies and war materiel.

That vision advanced when the nation-builder delivered his “Report on Manufactures” to the second Congress meeting in Philadelphia in 1791, and drafted the New Jersey charter of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufacturers. By setting up Paterson as the country’s first factory town, Hamilton’s private-sector corporation laid the foundations of the American industrial revolution.

Second stop: a Sunday drive down State Route 21 from Paterson to Newark Bay. As economist Michael Lind unfolds in Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States, the banks of the Passaic became a flourishing industrial center that defined the state as late as the 1960s. Initially churning out textiles, paper, and candlewicks, the region evolved into a leading producer of steam-power locomotives during the 19th century and aircraft engines during World War II. A model of enterprise and innovation, New Jersey provided the mold for the Motor City and Silicon Valley.

Read the full article.

*Note: Third-party articles or posts quoted on the AHA! blog are shared in order to explore contemporary discussion of Alexander Hamilton. The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society does not guarantee that all information contained in these articles is accurate. The opinions expressed in the source article do not necessarily represent the views held by the AHA Society or its members. 

A selection of quotes from the Tech Cocktail article: “39 Startup Founders Share Their Favorite Quotes from America’s Founding Fathers”

In honor of Independence Day, we reached out to founders and asked them to share with us their favorite quotes from America’s own Founding Fathers. Whether relevant to the goals of their respective startups or simply relevant to the everyday struggles and motivations of being a startup founder, the following quotes will hopefully inspire you to keep pushing for the American Dream. After all, if our Founding Fathers could successfully start and lead an entire country, you can certainly do the same with a startup.

“Here sir, the people govern.” – Alexander Hamilton

I run a small company. We have 25 employees and everyone’s opinions are valuable. Hamilton’s words remind me that acting unilaterally is not in the best interest of my team or my company. – Blaine Vess, Cofounder and CEO of StudyMode

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” – Benjamin Franklin

All the successful entrepreneurs I know (including Starbucks’ Howard Schultz) have told me the two most important things to remember are to never give up and adapt based on feedback. – Mary Egan, Founder and CEO of Gatheredtable

This quote by Benjamin Franklin rings true for me while when most people would have quit, I’ve only been fueled harder to succeed. I’ve come this far and there’s going to be no looking back for this entrepreneur. – Lori Cheek, Founder and CEO of Cheekd

It acts as a constant reminder that when things don’t grow in straight lines, there is always another way and always tomorrow. – Sam Bruce, Cofounder of Much Better Adventures

“Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.” – George Washington

A startup like any great battle you undertake in life is championed by perseverance. Getting users, finding money, building great products all takes this and the spirit to achieve goals. - Mike McAllen, Cofounder ofAVforPlanners

“A people…who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything.” – George Washington

This quote speaks volumes to me as an entrepreneurs as I truly believe entrepreneurs would never take the risks they do if they didn’t believe they could achieve anything. Entrepreneurs see value for others and themselves and aren’t afraid to pursue their dreams. – Rachel Olsen, Founder of Best Mom Products

“The circulation of confidence is better than the circulation of money.” – James Madison

In a startup where you’re trying to do big things with limited resources, it’s good to remember that confidence can do more for you than money alone. When Illustria was getting off the ground with no designers, technology, or customers, and with very limited financial resources, the one thing we had going for us was confidence in our idea’s success. We believed. That’s helped us sign 100+ corporate customers in less than a year, grow our team to 15+, and build a tech platform that works and empowers our customers’ success every day. – Katherine Long, Founder of IllustriaDesigns

“If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him.” – Benjamin Franklin

To me, there is no greater security than an investment in knowledge. The more I learn, the more confident and secure I feel about my future. My education will stay with me forever, and as Mr. Franklin said, “no one can take it from me.” So, even if I were to lose everything now, I would still walk away with my expertise, and that can’t be measured in any amount of currency. – Amad Ebrahimi, Founder of Merchant Maverick

“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

Founding a company – or a country – takes a great deal of work. You can’t sit back and hope things happen for you; you have to take action, and work hard to achieve your goals. Only then will you see the pieces fall into place. – Lisa Falzone, Cofounder and CEO of Revel Systems iPad POS

It reminds me not to be frustrated or envious when I hear about companies raising massive rounds of funding or otherwise getting “lucky”. What seems like luck is actually most likley due to months or years of working incredibly hard; the best thing we as a team can do is double down and work even harder. – Sarah Press, Cofounder and CEO of Project Fixup

“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” – Alexander Hamilton*

Having a point of view is essential to understanding. It drives me crazy when someone does a lot of research and then says “we have three options, which one shall we pick?” Really? You spent all that time and don’t have a point of view? Being clear about who you are, what you stand for and where you are going makes a complex world vastly simpler. – James Green, CEO ofMagnetic

I think it’s essential for good entrepreneurs, leaders in general, to be firm and principled. Having strong views allows one to make difficult decisions rapidly. Having strong principles ensures that the DNA of a company (or country) is rooted in something tangible and aspirational, which is what protects and enables the greater vision and long-term viability. – Krishna Gupta, Founder and Managing Partner, Romulus Capital

(*Note: Though this quote is often attributed to Alexander Hamilton, Founding Father, it was more likely first said by Alex Hamilton, a British Journalist, in 1978)

Read more quotes from the article.

And to add an additional quote from a “start-up”:

"A promise must never be broken." - Alexander Hamilton

When you are first starting out on a new endeavor, one of your biggest currencies as a start-up is your reputation. By never breaking your promise on what you will deliver - by being reliable and staying true to your mission - you will find you will have more opportunities come your way. - Rand Scholet, President and Founder of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society

Though historical societies aren’t normally thought of as “start-ups” like tech companies are, the founding the AHA Society during the last few years has reflected many of the experiences and quotes mentioned by both the Founding Fathers and start-up founders above. To learn more about the AHA Society, visit the-aha-society.com  

*Note: The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society does not guarantee that all information contained in third-party articles linked from The AHA! Blog is accurate. The opinions expressed in the source article(s) do not necessarily represent the views held by the AHA Society or its members. 

For July 4th festivities, the popular website Buzzfeed had a few publications related to the Founding Fathers. 

The first was a quiz, “Which Founding Father is Your Soulmate?” If your results were for Alexander Hamilton, here’s what it looked like:

Take the quiz yourself.

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The second Buzzfeed feature was “The Definitive Ranking Of Men On U.S. Currency By Hotness” 

With a tagline of “You might say Alexander Hamilton really was… drop-dead gorgeous,” you can guess who was ranked in the #1 spot…

To see where others ended up in the ranking, see the article here

*Note: Third-party articles or posts quoted on the AHA! blog are shared in order to explore contemporary discussion of Alexander Hamilton. The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society does not guarantee that all information contained in these articles is accurate. The opinions expressed in the source article do not necessarily represent the views held by the AHA Society or its members. 

A special July 4th guest piece by Leonard Zax was published by NorthJersey.com called “Hamilton and the Paterson Great Falls Gave USA Economic Independence.

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Today many American families will visit National Park Service sites associated with the Declaration of Independence, such as Independence Hall, the Statue of Liberty and the National Mall. But to celebrate America’s economic independence, you should go to America’s newest national park here in Paterson, our gritty city with spectacular waterfalls just 15 miles west of Manhattan.

The events we will celebrate in Paterson did take place on July 4 — but the year was 1792. On that day, America’s first treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton, traveled to New Jersey’s Great Falls to select this site for the new city of Paterson, where he would launch the new nation’s battle to secure economic independence.

Fifteen years after the Declaration of Independence and long after the British had surrendered, America remained woefully dependent upon England for all manufactured goods, including military supplies. Hamilton recognized that America could never be free from foreign dominance without economic independence, and as treasury secretary he created an ambitious strategy to achieve it, starting in Paterson.

Hamilton’s plan was to harness the force of the Great Falls, then the most forceful waterfall in America —the British still claimed the lands around Fort Niagara — to power the new industries that would secure our economic future. The Paterson Great Falls are 300 feet wide and 77 feet high and pour up to 2 billion gallons of water into a narrow chasm each day. Hamilton knew the Falls could provide power to mills at a time when there was virtually no manufacturing in the United States.

Paterson became the world’s first planned city of innovation, the Silicon Valley of the American Industrial Revolution. Today, the Great Falls is a living reminder of the birthplace of American industry at a time when manufacturing was the high-tech of the day.

Paterson grew to become a great manufacturing city for many innovative products, including military supplies that would help secure economic independence. It also produced the first manufactured cotton sailcloth that would go on every ship in the American Navy, the first Colt revolvers, steam locomotives used in the Civil War, the first machine-powered submarines, and more engines for World War II aircraft than any other American city.

Hamilton envisioned a city of economic opportunity as well as innovation. The son of an unwed mother and born on a small Caribbean island, Hamilton had arrived in New Jersey with no money. In what would come to be known as the “Silk City,” he developed a plan to provide opportunities for poor immigrants whose “diversity of talents,” he wrote in the 1790s, would strengthen the nation.

Paterson currently has roughly the same percentage of immigrants as it had when my grandparents left Eastern Europe to settle here more than 100 years ago. The languages are different, but the aspirations are the same. Hamilton’s life story inspires many young people in Paterson today.

The Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park will preserve and interpret the natural and historic landscape that inspired Hamilton more than 200 years ago. The area around the Falls will soon begin to look more and more like what we have come to expect from the National Park Service. An interim visitor center will open in coming months, and later in July the park service will have more employees around the Falls to welcome visitors. The first phase of landscape improvements is now under way above the Falls.

Any visitor can now learn about the history of the Great Falls with a free audio tour app anchored by NBC’s Brian Williams. Co-stars include our Super Bowl star Victor Cruz, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Ron Chernow, MacArthur grant-winning author Junot Díaz, MTV Entertainment President Doug Herzog, the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., President Obama and a supporting cast of youthful voices who are helping make this a national park like no other. You will even hear William Carlos Williams poetry and a hip-hop biography of Alexander Hamilton performed by the Tony Award-winning director Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The power and beauty of the Great Falls inspires visitors today, just as it inspired Alexander Hamilton. No natural wonder has played a more important role in our nation’s quest for independence and opportunity.

Leonard A. Zax, a lawyer and city planner, was born in Paterson. He is president of the Hamilton Partnership for Paterson, a non-profit organization working to enhance the educational, social and economic benefits of the Paterson Great Falls National Park.

See the original article source.

*Note: The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society does not guarantee that all information contained in third-party articles linked from The AHA! Blog is accurate. The opinions expressed in the source article(s) do not necessarily represent the views held by the AHA Society or its members.