Alexander Hamilton (1757–1804), now immortalized in the eponymous Broadway musical, was an American Founding Father and an influential interpreter and promoter of the US Constitution. As the original US Treasury Secretary, he was the main author of George Washington’s economic policies, founding the nation’s financial system. Mobilizing a nationwide network of friends of the government, especially bankers and businessmen, he went on to establish the Federalist Party, the US Coast Guard, and The New York Post. Hamilton was active in ending the international slave trade and died after a duel with the US Vice President Aaron Burr.
James Madison (1751–1836) was the fourth US President and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for his pivotal role in drafting and promoting the supreme law of the United States, including the Bill of Rights. As Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of State, he supervised the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the nation’s size. Madison succeeded Jefferson as President in 1809, was re-elected in 1813, and presided over renewed prosperity for several years.
John Jay (1745–1829) was the first Chief Justice of the United States. During and after the American Revolution, he was the US ambassador to Spain, a negotiator of the Treaty of Paris by which Great Britain recognized American independence, and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. His major diplomatic achievement was the 1794 Treaty of London, in which favorable trade terms with Great Britain were negotiated. As a leader of the Federalist Party, Jay became governor of New York state, where he was the leading opponent of slavery. By signing the 1799 “Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery” into law, he granted all slaves in New York freedom by the year 1827.
Andrew S. Trees earned a Ph.D. in American history and an M.A. in literature from the University of Virginia. He is the author of The Founding Fathers and the Politics of Character as well as two novels, Academy X and Club Rules.