Alexander Hamilton, widely regarded as an important Founding Father of America and a champion of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, has long been suspected of having Jewish ancestry. Hamilton was a Federalist, and a strong proponent of a robust, centralized federal government and national bank. Alternative media personalities have even claimed Hamilton was essentially a Rothschild agent operating in America, seeking to financially enslave the American Republic shortly after gaining independence from Great Britain following the conclusion of the American Revolutionary War.
An interesting article recently appearing in Tablet Magazine, a Jewish news outlet, sheds some light on Hamilton’s background and Jewish connections. The article discusses Hamilton, a musical which recently opened based on Hamilton’s life.
“Something the musical doesn’t explore is the founding father’s early connections to Judaism,” the article states, “and the much speculated-about possibility that Hamilton had Jewish roots himself.” It continues:
Though the claim of Jewish heritage remains largely unsubstantiated, Hamilton certainly had close relationships with Jews from a young age.
While Hamilton’s father James A. Hamilton was definitely Scottish and a non-Jew, sources like the Jewish Virtual Library claim that Hamilton’s mother, Rachel Faucette, was likely Jewish. Her exact background is hard to determine, though. She seems to have been at least part Hugenot, and perhaps of African descent as well.
Some of the loudest contemporary voices insisting Hamilton was Jewish are neo-Nazis, in a racist conflation of Jews and Federalism. Bigotry aside, it is possible that in the relative melting pot of the colonial Caribbean, Faucette could have had Jewish or black ancestry, or both. Around the time of Hamilton’s birth in Nevis in the West Indies, the Caribbean had a sizable Sephardic community. Charlestown, the capital of Nevis, had a particularly large Jewish population.
What is certain is that Hamilton was a Jewish Day School boy. His mother never divorced her first husband (a probably Jewish man with the surname Lavien), so the Anglican Church saw Hamilton as illegitimate, banning him from its local school. Instead, he studied at a Jewish school (possibly being solo tutored by the headmistress) run out of a synagogue in Charlestown. It was there that he learned Hebrew, and he reportedly recalled to his son years later learning torecite the Ten Commandments.
Hamilton may not have organized Kabbalat Shabbat at the Constitutional Convention, but he maintained great personal respect for the Jews. His advocacy of immigration included demanding tolerance for Jewish Americans.
“Progress of the Jews,” he once wrote, “From their earliest history to the present time has been and is entirely out of the ordinary course of human affairs. Is it not then a fair conclusion that the cause also is an extraordinary one – in other words, that it is the effect of some great providential plan?’” And in a court case, he argued, “Why distrust the evidence of the Jews? Discredit them and you destroy the Christian religion.”
In my view, whether or not Alexander Hamilton was in fact Jewish is largely irrelevant at this point. What is relevant is that many of the ideas championed by Hamilton – strong central government (i.e., Federalism), a national bank, and “tolerance” for Jews – are exactly what is wrong with America. I believe a strong argument can be made that these ideas run counter to the true spirit of the American revolution, and the America men like Thomas Jefferson had in mind – a nation of hard-working, God-fearing farmers, craftsmen, and artisans of European descent who were educated, righteous, and independent.