The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


The ever-changing afterlife of Alexander Hamilton

On July 11, 1804, Alexander Hamilton was shot and mortally wounded by Vice President Aaron Burr in a duel in Weehawken, New Jersey. He died the next day.

But the way he died is probably the least interesting aspect of Hamilton’s life. He rose from a life of poverty as a de facto orphan in the West Indies to become chief of staff to Washington during the Revolutionary War, and an influential writer, lawyer, and Secretary of the Treasury in the early years of the republic. In many ways, he’s considered the founder of the U.S. financial system. For a great synopsis of Hamilton’s humble origins,  sit back and listen to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s classic rap about Hamilton, the Hamilton Mixtape (soon to be a musical!).


But Hamilton has also enjoyed a long, public afterlife as the face of the U.S. ten dollar -although, not always with the same face.

Alexander Hamilton in the form most of us are most familiar with – on the ten dollar bill.


Learn more about all sorts of American money on our currency show.


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