Alexander Hamilton in Constitutional Convention
Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) was the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. He earned George Washington's respect during the unsuccessful defense of New York City during the Revolutionary War, and subsequently served on Washington's staff until 1781. A nationalist and leading voice for governmental reform during the Critical Period, Hamilton wrote 51 of the Federalist Papers during the debate over ratification. One of the most vocal champions of a strong central government, Hamilton was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson's running mate in the election of 1800.
Hamilton was largely responsible for the Philadelphia Convention itself. Once there, he favored the Virginia Plan for proportional representation in both houses of Congress. This would have favored his home state of New York, which was one of the largest and most populous in the Union, but his two fellow delegates sided with the small states instead. Hamilton was again rebuffed in June 1787 when he presented his plan of constitution, consisting of a lifetime term for the president and a strong executive branch. One of the few Convention delegates who came from humble origins, he was nonetheless something of a snob who distrusted democracy and advocated for a monarchical executive akin to the British model. He thought this strong leader might serve as a check upon both the popular masses and the elite members of American society. Most delegates disapproved of Hamilton's plan; having just rebelled against a tyrannical king, they had no interest in creating a new king-like presidency. Hamilton left the convention soon thereafter but would later play a pivotal part in encouraging the ratification of the Constitution by co-authoring The Federalist Papers.