Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) was the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. Born in the West Indies, he came to America at age 18. He formed an artillery company at the beginning of the Revolution, earned Washington's respect during the unsuccessful defense of New York City, 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.
As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton continued to pursue his goal of strengthening the national government. His economic proposals restored public credit and added stability to the American monetary system. He also encouraged Washington to pursue a conciliatory commercial policy with Britain and to respond to western tax protesters with force. To James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and other critics of the Washington administration, Hamilton was the principal villain. But to most Federalists, he was a national hero. When Hamilton was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804, his funeral procession packed the streets of New York.