Was American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton Gay ? Part 1

About the American founding father Alexander Hamilton and the debate over whether or not he was a homosexual.



Person in Question: Born in the British West Indies in 1755, Alexander Hamilton was forced to go to work at the age of 12 because of his father's business failures. In 1772 generous relatives sent young Hamilton to college in New York, but he soon dropped his studies to join the growing American colonial liberation movement as a talented pamphleteer. In 1776 Hamilton commanded an artillery company and fought with George Washington in several battles; the next year he became one of the general's valued aides, was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and worked hard to systematize the American war effort. After a quarrel with Washington in 1781, Hamilton headed an infantry regiment in Lafayette's corps. From 1782 to 1783, he served a term in the Continental Congress, then began a law practice in New York.

John Laurens, born in 1754 into a prominent family of Charleston, S.C., was sent to school in England and Switzerland. Laurens married in October, 1776, and three months later returned to America to take part in the Revolution. He joined George Washington's staff as a volunteer aide, fought and was wounded in several battles, and was commissioned a lieutenant colonel by Congress. In December, 1778, Laurens, angry at certain "constant personal abuse" of his general, fought a duel to defend Washington's honor. Elected to the South Carolina assembly in 1779, Laurens withdrew from this political post to fight against a British invasion. When Charleston capitulated to the British in 1780, Laurens was held as a prisoner of war until his exchange for a British officer held by the Americans. That year, at age 26, Laurens was sent by Congress to France on a successful mission to obtain much-needed money and supplies. Returning to America, he rejoined the Revolutionary army, taking an active part in several battles.

Maybe Yes, Maybe No: The letters reprinted here begin in 1779, when Hamilton was 22 and Laurens was 25. Both young revolutionaries were part of that close male circle surrounding General Washington--his "family," as the general called them. Speaking of the intimate friendships formed among these aristocratic young gentlemen "of good family and breeding" who served as Washington's immediate military aides, Hamilton's biographer John C. Miller declared in 1959:

"The friendships thus formed in the army were compared by the young men themselves to that of Damon and Pythias, and they expressed their devotion in the high-flown literary language of the day. In their letters it is not uncommon to find them addressing each other in terms certain to provoke a riot in even the best-regulated present-day barracks or mess hall. . . . Laurens addressed Hamilton as ëMy Dear' and his letters abound in flowery protestations of undying affection, to which Hamilton responded with the touching declaration: ëI love you.'

"Hamilton and Laurens belonged to a generation of military men that prided itself not upon the hard-boiled avoidance of sentiment but upon the cultivation of the finer feelings. Theirs was the language of the heart, noble, exalted, and sentimental. For Hamilton and Laurens were not merely soldiers doing a job; they were classical scholars whose thoughts and actions were colored by the grandeur of antiquity. They lived--and often died--by the code of the heroes of Plutarch."

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