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Aired May 14, 2007

Alexander Hamilton

Film Description

He was loathed and feared by two presidents. His inflexibility fractured a party. His personal indiscretions dashed his hopes of leading the nation. But before he died a notorious death — in a duel with Aaron Burr — Alexander Hamilton was the most powerful man in America next to George Washington and arguably the most significant person in American history who never served as president.

In many ways, Hamilton was the embodiment of the American dream — precocious, self-made, an immigrant. He was born illegitimate on the Caribbean island of Nevis in an age when society was dominated by rank and family background. Eventually, he rose to the highest levels of society not on the basis of who he was, but on pure merit. He was educated on a scholarship at New York's Kings College (Columbia University) and "adopted" by General George Washington, who recognized both Hamilton's recklessness and his genius. Washington made him his most valued aide de camp and entrusted him to lead the battle of Yorktown, the decisive win in the Revolutionary War.

After the war, while other leaders returned to their home regions, it was Hamilton, the "outsider," who most recognized America's potential for greatness and pushed to make the loose association of states into a single, powerful nation. He became one of the leaders of the movement for a new constitution and played a vital role in its ratification, penning fifty-one of the eighty-five essays that would become The Federalist Papers, still widely considered the best American book of political thought.

The legacy of his short life was immense. He was the leading force behind the Constitution and chief advocate for a strong central government. As first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton was architect of America's economy, rescuing the young country from bankruptcy after the Revolutionary War, creating the first national bank, establishing a national currency, founding the Coast Guard, and laying the groundwork for Wall Street. We can blame him every time we write a check to the IRS, but we must credit him with giving the fledgling nation the means to achieve its future power and greatness.

Cast & Crew

Directed and Produced by
Muffle Meyer

Written and Co-produced by
Ronald Blumer

Edited/Co-produced by
Sharon Sachs (Part 1)
Eric Seuel Davies (Part 2)

Program Executive Producer
Catharine Allan

Narrator
Colm Feore

Cast 
Mary Bacon ...........Sally Thorpe
Samuel Barnett.......Philip's schoolmate
Gerald Bamman........Peter Fenner
Lauren Bloom.........Young Eliza Schuyler
John Ellison Conlee..Shopkeeper Evans
John Curless.........David Hosack
Michael Cumpsty......James Callender
Richard Easton.......George Washington
Peter Gerety.........Robert Bartlett
Daniel Gerroll.......Thomas Jefferson
Neal Huff............Ephraim Slattery
Neil McGarry.........Aaron Burr
Julia Morrison.......Mary Paget
Brian Murray.........Gouverneur Morris
Mark Nelson..........Nathaniel Pendleton
Denis O'Hare.........Henry Lee
Kelli O'Hara.........Maria Reynolds
Jamie Parker.........Philip Hamilton
Brandon Reilly.......Young Hamilton in St. Croix
Bridget Regan........Angelica Shippen
Marc Solomon.........Double for Alexander Hamilton
Henry Strozier.......John Adams
Michael Stuhlbarg....Officer Stephen Colden
Angela Thornton......Old Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton

Calligrapher
Brody Neuenschwander

Coordinating Producer
Julia Morrison

Director of Photography
Tom Hurwitz

Production Designer
Andrew Jackness

Costume Designer
Candice Donnelly

Original Music Composed by
Richard Einhorn

Casting Director
Paul Fouquet, CSA

Stage Managers
Richard Brick
Jo Umans

Production Coordinator
Dianne Cleare

Director of Research
Jennifer Raikes

AP/Post Supervisor
Eric Treiber

Production Associate
John Carpenter

Gaffers
Ned Hallick
Michael Silver

Sound Mixer
Roger Phenix

Visual Effects
The Molecule:
Chris Healer
Luke Ditomasso

Key Hairstylist
Kerrie Smith

Key Make-up Artist
Leslie Fuller

Additional Set Design
Deborah Thomas

Set Decorator
Betsy Klompus

Key Grips
David Lowe
Dan Vranesich
Marc Vranesich

Electrics
Gay Riedel
Robert Mabin
Jenny Kane
James Temme
Philip Sorensen

Prop Master
Harry Drennan

Assistant Prop Masters
Taylor Pattison
Jean-Paul Menard

Script Supervisor
Peggy Sutton

Wardrobe Supervisor
Roseann Milano

Assistant Costume Designer
Jan Finnell

Stills Animation
Frank Ferrigno, Motion Control Services

Advisors/Consultants
Carol Berkin
R. B. Bernstein
Ron Chernow
Joanne B. Freeman
Stephen Knott
Richard Sylla
Gordon S. Wood
Michael Zuckert

Production Assistants/Researchers
Jaclyn Lee
Rebecca Taylor
Lynn Coan
Aleksandra Maslik

Wig Makers
Bettie Rogers
Diana Sikes

Additional Photography
Rick Siegel

Additional Sound
Gary Silver

Additional Hairstylists
Diane Dixon
Peg Schierholz
Crane Operator
Kelly Richardson

Digital Image Technician
Steven Robinson

Location Services
Tracey Cuesta & Santo Domingo Film

Production Accountant
Nora Stonehill

Middlemarch Accountant
Nancy Adams

Maritime Coordinator
Privateer Media LLC & Roy K. Vitters

Armourer
Damian Siekonic

Stills Photographer
John Clifford

Filmed in part at
CECO Studios

Filmed on Location
Amstel House, New Castle Historical Society, Delaware
City of Alexandria, Virginia
City of New Castle, Delaware
The Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation, Ridley Creek State Park, Media, Pennsylvania
The Dey Mansion, Wayne, New Jersey
Inwood Hill Park, New York, New York
New Castle Court House Museum, Delaware
The Powel House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Read House & Gardens, New Castle, Delaware
Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic
Trinity Church, New York, New York
Van Cortland Park, New York, New York

Stills Courtesy of
American Antiquarian Society
Architect of the Capitol
Art Commission of the City of New York
Art Resource, New York
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University
The Bridgeman Art Library
Brooklyn Museum
Charles Willson Peale, Portrait of Alexander Hamilton, Columbia University in the City of New York
University Archives, Columbia University in the City of New York
Credit Suisse
Danish National Archives
The Gilder Lehrman Collection, on deposit at the New-York Historical Society, New York
The Granger Collection, New York
Harvard University Art Museums
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Gardens, San Marino, California
Independence National Historical Park
Lafayette College Art Collection, Kirby Collection of Historical Paintings, Easton, Pennsylvania
Library of Congress
Louisiana State Museum
Mary Evan Picture Library
The Maryland Historical Society
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Collection of the Museum of American Finance
Museum of Connecticut History
Museum of the City of New York
National Archives
Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington
National Heritage Museum, Lexington, Massachusetts
National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian
Nemours Mansion & Gardens
New Hampshire Historical Society
Collection of the New-York Historical Society
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
R. W. Norton Art Gallery
Private Collection, Courtesy of Sotheby's
Monticello/Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.
Union College Permanent Collection
Office of the Curator, Department of the US Treasury
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut
White House Historical Association (White House Collection)
Winterthur, Gift of Henry Francis du Pont
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts

Stock Footage Courtesy of
A&E Television Networks
BBC Motion Gallery
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
"The Patriot" Courtesy of Columbia Pictures
David Grubin Productions
ITN Source
John E. Allen Inc.
National Park Service, Department of the Interior
Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau
WGBH Archives

Special Thanks
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Adam Symansky
The Atheneum, Alexandria, Virginia
The Bank of New York
Jody Baran, CECO Studios
Hans van den Berg
The Brigade of the American Revolution
Del Conner, Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks
Charles Darby, DuArt Film & Video
Bonnie Fairbanks
Fourth Continental Light Dragoons
Nancy Evans
David Fettig
Tim Grady
Doug Hamilton
Robert A. Johnson
Seth Kaller
Monmouth County Historical Association
Bruce Dalleo, New Castle Historical Society
Reulon Miller
Newport Restoration Foundation
Maya Richman
Rock Hall Museum, Long Island, New York
St. Croix Landmarks Society
Chris & Jen Stress
Trinity Church
Robert Whitworth
Seymour Wishman
Bob Zahn, BVR
Steve Zimmermann, Alexandria Film Office
Alexander Hamilton Historical Society
The Alexander Hamilton Friends Association

On-camera Interviewees
Carol Berkin, historian
Ron Chernow, biographer
Thomas Fleming, biographer
Joanne B. Freeman, historian
Jimmy Napoli, Hamilton tour guide
Richard J. Payne, historian
Willard Sterne Randall, biographer
Karl F. Walling, historian
Gordon S. Wood, historian

Advisors/Consultants
Carol Berkin
R. B. Bernstein
Ron Chernow
Joanne B. Freeman
Stephen Knott
Richard Sylla
Gordon S. Wood
Michael Zuckert

For Twin Cities Public Television

Senior Production Manager
Lynn Winter

Coordinating Producer
Ted Hink

Post Production Supervisor
Bob Sturm

Sound Design & Mix
Mitch Griffin

Online Editor
Jerry Lakso

Production Assistant
Mandy Grosser

Production Coordinator
Jennifer Conoryea

Executive in Charge of Production
Gerald Richman

For AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

Post Production
Vanessa Ezersky
Glenn Fukushima

Series Designer
Alison Kennedy

On-Line Editors
Spencer Gentry

Sound Mix
John Jenkins

Series Theme
Joel Goodman

Web 
Molly Jacobs
Tory Starr

Production Manager
Nancy Sherman

Legal
Jay Fialkov
Janice Flood
Scott Kardel

Project Administration
Susana Fernandes
Pamela Gaudiano
Lauren Noyes

Marketing and Publicity
Mary Lugo
Cara White

Project Manager
Lauren Prestileo

Series Manager
James E. Dunford

Coordinating Producer
Susan Mottau

Series Producer
Susan Bellows

Senior Producer
Sharon Grimberg

Executive Producer
Mark Samels

© 2007 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. and WGBH Educational Foundation
All rights reserved.

Transcript

Slate: The words spoken by the actors in this film are taken from letters, diaries and documents of the time.

Narrator: On a warm morning in July 1804, a boat is rowed across the Hudson River to Lower Manhattan. In the boat lies Alexander Hamilton. He was a hero of the American Revolution, architect of the country's financial system, and, under President Washington, the most powerful man in the United States. Wounded and bleeding, he is near death. Governor Morris is called upon to give the funeral oration. He is one of Hamilton's closest friends.

Governor Morris (Brian Murray): He was vain, indiscreet and opinionated. These things must be told to give a full measure of his character -- but I must do it in such a manner as not to give offense to the mourners. This is not going to be easy.

Narrator: Morris, the man who had penned the words, "We the People," is having severe writer's block. No founder had done more to shape the character of the country than Alexander Hamilton, yet no founder was more controversial.

Governor Morris (Brian Murray): The first point of his biography is that he was of illegitimate birth. Well, I'll have to pass over that one in some clever way. I'll mention, of course, his share in forming the Constitution. But then again, there's his domestic life. I have to say something about his wife -- but then, there's a small matter of infidelity that he foolishly published to the world. Ah! His administration of the country's finances. Yes, but many are still very hostile to it. I must somehow reconcile all this. Dueling. In principle, he was against dueling. But he was killed in a duel. Not only is this subject impossible to write, but I shall still have to memorize it. The corpse is already putrid, and the funeral must take place tomorrow.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: The story of the life of Alexander Hamilton is a story that the most gifted novelist could not have invented. Too much of it would seem implausible in terms of what happened to this man in the space of forty-nine years. I mean, it's just better than any novel.

Willard Sterne Randall, Writer: Hamilton's the only one of the Founding Fathers who was an outsider, an orphan, an immigrant, a scholarship boy, a college dropout.

Richard J. Payne, Historian: It's hard to explain Hamilton because what you're trying to explain is genius. How do you explain genius?

Ron Chernow, Biographer: He's so capable, so kind of self-consciously brilliant in a way, that he makes an amazing number of enemies.

Karl F. Walling, Historian: Hamilton, in many ways, is a tragic figure, because the love of honor -- which is the source of his greatness, I would argue -- is completely consistent with Greek tragedy, also, the source of his downfall.

John Adams (Henry Strozier): That bastard brat of a Scottish peddler! His ambition, his restlessness and all his grandiose schemes come, I'm convinced, from a superabundance of secretions, which he couldn't find enough whores to absorb!

Slate: Part One, An Obsession With Honor

Narrator: Alexander Hamilton was unique among the Founding Fathers. He was an outsider -- born in 1755, not in the American colonies but on Nevis, a tiny tropical island in the Caribbean. He came into this world at the very bottom of the social order. He was a bastard -- illegitimate, because his mother, as a divorced woman, was not legally married to his father. As a bastard, Hamilton was prohibited from attending a Christian school, and had no rights of inheritance.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: It's hard for us to transport ourselves back to a time in the eighteenth century when everything revolved around birth and breeding and pedigree. I think that the illegitimacy had the most profound effect, psychologically, on Hamilton. It was considered the most dishonored state, and I think that it produced in Hamilton a lifelong obsession with honor.

Narrator: When Alexander is ten, his family moves some hundred miles to St. Croix, where hundreds of plantations -- worked by slaves -- produce sugar and coffee for export. Hamilton's father was descended from Scottish nobility. He had come to the West Indies to make his fortune in the sugar trade, but he was never successful. Soon after they arrive on St. Croix, James Hamilton abandons the family. Alexander will never see his father again.

Willard Sterne Randall, Writer: Everything went wrong for Alexander Hamilton in a very short time, around the age of thirteen. His mother died of yellow fever. His father had already left two years before. He then had no protector. He had an uncle who tried to save Alexander's estate, small as it was, but his mother's first husband got everything.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: He was then farmed out to a first cousin who committed suicide a year later. So, it's like calamities of Biblical proportions descend on this young man. I think that these experiences would have shattered a lesser individual. But all of these misfortunes actually toughen this spirit of self-reliance. He realized that his great asset was his intelligence, which he would have to do everything to develop.

Willard Sterne Randall, Writer: The one thing Hamilton grasped out of his mother's very modest estate was the books. Nobody wanted them. His uncle said, you get the books. And he pored over them and he pored over them.

Karl F. Walling, Historian: He reads and reads and reads, and above all he reads the stories of the great statesmen of ancient Greece and Rome, as they're revealed in the works of Livy and Plutarch and others. And this is very important for understanding his love of fame, his love of honor.

Narrator: Alexander's youthful imagination is captured by tales of conquering heroes, and of statesmen who built the glorious Roman Empire.

Thomas Fleming, Biographer: Hamilton was in love with fame, there's no doubt about that. But his understanding of fame is totally different from our understanding of fame. To be famous now is to be well known by everybody in the world, you're a celebrity. But that wasn't true in the eighteenth century. Fame was an achievement that a man created in the course of his life. He had to do something remarkable, he had to found a country or an empire.

Narrator: On a tiny, remote island, illegitimate and without family, Alexander Hamilton seems in an unlikely position to achieve fame. At the age of fourteen, he is employed as a clerk for the firm of Beekman and Cruger, an important American trading company on St. Croix.

Willard Sterne Randall, Writer: Hamilton, as a teenager, had to become a master of international currencies. There was no one currency. He had to know the exchange rates: Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, French, English, et cetera. He had to be an evaluator, an appraiser, a moneychanger. And so he learned a great deal about trade in a very short time.

Narrator: His employer gets sick, and young Hamilton is left in charge of the company.

Willard Sterne Randall, Writer: And so he saved the business by taking over for six months. This little, skinny kid was bossing around surly, brutal ship captains three times his age.

Teenage Alexander Hamilton (Brandon Reilly): To Nicholas Cruger, January 10, 1772. Sir, the 101 barrels of superfine flour from Philadelphia have landed. I have already sold forty, at eleven and a half pieces-of-eight a barrel -- but, as there are fewer delivered, I will insist on twelve for the rest. As I am very hurried just now, I beg you will accept this brief account. I remain, with the closest attention to your interests dear Sir, Alexander Hamilton.

Narrator: The buying and selling of slaves to work the sugar cane fields is a major part of business in the West Indies. Hamilton, daily, witnesses scenes of incredible brutality. He comes to see slavery not just as appalling degradation, but as a senseless waste of human talent. He feels that his own talents too are being squandered in this rigidly hierarchical world. He writes to his friend Edward Stevens --

Teenage Alexander Hamilton (Brandon Reilly): To confess my weakness, Ned, my ambition is so prevalent that I disdain the groveling conditions of a clerk to which my fortune condemns me. I would willingly risk my life, though not my character, to exalt my station. My folly makes me ashamed, yet Neddy, we know that such schemes can triumph when the schemer is resolute. Oh, how I wish there was a war!

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: What a remarkable statement! You know, he's fourteen years old. And he does, ultimately, willingly sacrifice his life but not his character -- again and again and again.

Narrator: By 1772, the teenager is not only running a major shipping company, but also writing articles for the island's newspaper, and publishing poetry and sermons. Influential people on the island are struck by his brilliance and ability. They establish a fund for the young prodigy. Hamilton will go to the American colonies to be educated.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: I think that he felt that fate had handed him an opportunity to reinvent himself and to start life over. But I don't think that he ever fully left the world of his childhood behind him. He was poor, he was illegitimate, he was ashamed of all of those things. And even though he tried so hard to escape, on some level he was always trapped back in the darkness of that boyhood.

Narrator: It is 1773. Eighteen-year-old Hamilton arrives in an America in turmoil. The British government is attempting to assert authority over its American colonies. Parliament is imposing new taxes on Americans, without their consent. In New York City, Hamilton has enrolled in King's College, later to become Columbia University. Most New Yorkers are still loyal to the Crown, but Hamilton is swept up by the revolutionary cause.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: He's not in New York for a very long amount of time before he clearly has decided that he understands the anger and the frustration that's going on in the colonies. He empathizes with it, it makes sense to him, and in a very short amount of time he's writing pamphlets.

Narrator: In words, which evoke the brutal plantation society from which he has just escaped, Hamilton urges Americans to rise up against British subjugation.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): Man is either governed by his own laws -- freedom -- or the laws of another -- slavery. Are you willing to become slaves? Will you give up your freedom, your life and your property without a single struggle? No man has a right to rule over his fellow creatures. It is incontestable that Americans are entitled to freedom.

Narrator: A prominent Loyalist clergyman mocks Hamilton's ideas, and the college student counterattacks in a fury.

Carol Berkin, Historian: He always was a person who, when he thought he was right, just said -- you're wrong, I'm right, you're dumb, I'm smart.

Gordon S. Wood, Historian: He has this chip on his shoulder, precisely because of his background, his illegitimacy. He's going to show the world that he's not going to suffer any disrespect from anyone, especially given his talent, which he knows he has -- and he's not hiding it under any bushels either.

Narrator: The British are preparing an assault on New York. Hamilton obtains a commission to form an artillery company with some fellow students. Together with his men, Hamilton seizes cannon and rifles from a British armory.

Richard J. Payne, Historian: He joins the revolution at a very young age. He forms this artillery unit, and by the way, the oldest unit in the American Army today is Hamilton's unit. It's the first battalion, fifth field artillery. The only unit left over from the Revolutionary War.

Narrator: Hamilton is now dividing his time between drilling his troops and pursuing his studies. One night, a mob gathers outside the gates of King's College. They are looking for Myles Cooper, the pro-British head of the college. A fellow student describes Hamilton's courageous stand that night.

Officer Stephen Colden (Michael Stuhlbarg): Dr. Cooper's a Tory and an obnoxious man. The mob breaks down the gates of the college and is gathering on the steps with tar and feathers, yelling, "prepare for your doom!" Then I see an amazing scene. A student comes out on the stoop, all by himself, and begins arguing with the crowd, telling them they're disgracing the cause of liberty.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: I think, for Hamilton, order is the key to liberty. He might say it's one thing to rant about liberty, that's all very nice and very pretty, but the fact of the matter is humankind -- they're not pretty creatures and they don't do reasonable things. So the only way to ensure personal liberty is to ensure order.

Narrator: At the risk of his own life, Hamilton lectures the mob on the importance of an honorable revolution. He keeps them at bay long enough for Cooper to climb over the back fence and escape with his life.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: In many ways, it's the most revealing episode in Hamilton's early life, because to suddenly stand apart from the mob and be willing to defy and criticize your own side took an enormous amount of courage. But Hamilton was always very, very clear about what his principles were. And he was not somebody who was interested in compromising on those principles.

Ephraim Slattery (Neal Huff): While marching with the army, I noticed a youth, a mere stripling -- small, slender, almost delicate in frame -- marching with a cocked hat pulled down over his eyes. He was apparently lost in thought, his hand resting on a cannon and every now and then patting it, as if it were a favorite horse or a pet plaything.

Narrator: The youth is Hamilton. It is the summer of 1776 and the United States has just declared its independence. The war that Hamilton had wished for as a boy has now begun in earnest.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): Now, I must defend with my blood the ideas supported by my pen. My reason and conscience tell me it is impossible to die for a better or more important cause.

Narrator: The British invade Brooklyn. General George Washington suffers a humiliating defeat. He is forced to abandon New York City. Hamilton and his artillery company retreat with Washington's Army. In what is now Harlem, they hold off the advancing British.

Jimmy Napoli, Hamilton Tour Guide The first time George Washington sees Hamilton, he's putting together an earthwork. While the rest of the Continental Army is crying, weeping over what happened in Brooklyn, Hamilton is organizing and getting things together. That evening, Washington actually invites him to dine with him in his tent and speaks with him.

Willard Sterne Randall, Writer: Washington saw this brilliant young man, smart beyond his years, courageous. Hamilton became, very early in the Revolution, Washington's adopted son.

Narrator: The General invites Hamilton to join his headquarters' staff as an aide-de-camp.

Carol Berkin, Historian:: Washington chooses him to be part of what Washington calls his family. He gathers around him young men of promise and of talent. And Hamilton gets picked. What could be more wonderful than to be brought into George Washington's family?

Willard Sterne Randall, Writer:: Washington had all sorts of brave soldiers, and even some experienced officers. But what he didn't have was anybody who could write as copiously as Hamilton could. Washington's best writing and correspondence is not Washington at all -- it's Alexander Hamilton, from the time he's twenty-one years old.

Narrator: Eighteenth-century armies rarely fight in winter. For the officers, at least, it is a time for socializing. As a valued member of Washington's inner circle, young Colonel Hamilton is primed for conquests of a non-military nature.

Mary Paget (Julia Morrison): He's not tall -- five-foot seven-inches -- slender, but with an erect military bearing. He's always dressed in the height of fashion, with bold colors and lace and ruffles, and a well-turned leg. He certainly knows how to set the female heart fluttering.

Angelica Shippen (Bridget Regan): He is not exactly handsome. His eyes are a deep azure, eminently beautiful, not the slightest trace of hardness or severity. They beam with intelligence and understanding. Carol Berkin, Historian: Women really did find the intensity in Hamilton very charming. He was also extremely good-looking, which no doubt, even in the eighteenth century, helped. There is a kind of piercing tension to him that I think not just women, but many men found appealing.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: Hamilton's a person who liked to conquer all situations. And if he was in a room of men, he'd want to win every argument. And if he's in a room of women and men, he wants to win every woman as well. And I think he likes to just be the guy who wins, you know -- the best, the first, the top of the heap.

Thomas Fleming, Biographer: In fact, there's a wonderful story that there was a tomcat at Washington's headquarters at Morristown -- and this tomcat was always out, "meooow," having a good time during the night. And Mrs. Washington nicknamed the tomcat, Hamilton.

Narrator: When it comes to finding a wife, Hamilton is only half joking as he writes to a friend a list of his exact specifications.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): She must be young, good looking, shapely -- I'm very insistent on a good shape. Sensible, well bred, but not someone who puts on airs. Chaste and tender. As for money, well, it seems to be an essential ingredient to happiness in this world, and as I don't have any now and am not likely to get much of my own, I hope my wife will bring at least enough to take care of her own luxuries. It doesn't matter what her politics are, I have arguments enough to convert her to my views.

Thomas Fleming, Biographer: He fell in love with Betsy Schuyler, of Albany. There was no question about it. The other aides were soon writing that Hamilton is a gone man.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): I received your letter today. I can't tell you what ecstasy I felt as I cast my eyes over the sweet effusion of tenderness it contains. I love you too much. I would, this moment, give the world to be near you only to kiss your sweet hand.

Thomas Fleming, Biographer: He was taking a rather bold step, because she was the daughter of one of the richest men in the country. Her father, General Philip Schuyler, had a big estate in Albany and was a very, very important figure in the politics of New York. And Hamilton had no money whatsoever, and no pedigree, no nothing. And it was remarkable that Hamilton was able to impress Schuyler, who was not, incidentally, an easy man to impress.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): Tell me, my pretty damsel. On sober thought, do you really relish the pleasure of being a poor man's wife? What will happen when you see your old acquaintances tripping along in elegance and splendor? Will you learn to think homespun cloth preferable to brocade? If you cannot, you should correct the mistake before we begin to act in that tragedy of the unhappy couple.

Willard Sterne Randall, Writer:: Hamilton refused ever to take any money from his father-in-law. He wanted to earn his own way because he didn't want people to be able to dismiss what he did as just the largesse of this rich man from New York.

Carol Berkin, Historian: When they get married, instead of people saying, oh boy did Alexander Hamilton luck out, they say, this is a wonderful match -- her wealth and social status and his genius. There's a sense that this is a match made in heaven because he deserves to get the last piece that he needs, her wealth, and she deserves to get this dashing, young man.

Narrator: None of Elizabeth's letters to Hamilton have survived. But we do know that their affection was mutual. She will stand by her husband through exceptionally trying times, and staunchly guard his memory long after his death. The war drags on. Hamilton is frustrated in his role as aide-de-camp. He sees himself as a "groveling clerk," just as in St. Croix.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: He has this great pressing anxiety to get out on the battlefield and prove himself glorious, honorable, a leader of men. And without that, he will not be able to -- as he puts it in that first letter -- exalt his station.

Narrator: Hamilton pleads with Washington for active duty. But the General refuses to let him go. Hamilton is just too valuable. The Army is desperate for the most basic of supplies. In Washington's name, Hamilton is barraging Congress with requests for boots, blankets and food. Congress' response is to hold debates and form committees.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: This makes him crazy. Even in this dire moment, Congress can't act in a coordinated, in a centralized manner? There's something seriously wrong here. So the war is a concrete lesson in what, to him, feels like the humiliation of a weak and powerless national government.

Narrator: In a plaintive cry to a friend, Hamilton links his own fate to the fate of his adopted land.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): I'm a stranger to this country. My talent and integrity are unrewarded. Our countrymen have all the folly of an ass, and all the passiveness of sheep. They're determined not to be free. I hate Congress, I hate the army, I hate the world. I hate myself.

Narrator: Hamilton resigns as aide de camp, and threatens to resign from the army. Washington finally relents. In 1781, he gives Hamilton command of a battalion, and a chance to lead his men in a major campaign. The object -- Yorktown, Virginia. This is the moment Hamilton has been waiting for. Before the battle, Hamilton engages in a reckless show of bravado.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: He's so desperate to prove himself that he goes a little over the edge, and he deliberately drills his men in full sight of the enemy. To the point that the enemy says, well this must be a trick, right? Because no one would actually be so stupid as to drill his men in front of us without there being a trap of some kind.

Ephraim Slattery (Neal Huff): Although we're clearly in their sights, they don't fire at us. I can think of no other reason that they don't kill us all except maybe they're too astonished. Although I esteem Colonel Hamilton as one of the finest officers in the American army, I must beg to be excused in thinking that, at this moment, he's risking all our lives, including his own, for no good reason.

Narrator: The Battle of Yorktown begins at night, with the taking of the redoubts, the outer defenses of the British fortifications. Hamilton pushes his way to the front.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: And Hamilton finally had this moment that he had craved since boyhood -- he led the first infantry charge at Yorktown under the glare of these exploding shells. Again, it shows how courageous, almost crazy, Hamilton was in terms of this derring-do. That this rather slight and bookish guy is suddenly this daredevil on the battlefield.

Narrator: Hamilton is the first to breach the British defenses.

Thomas Fleming, Biographer: He was absolutely fearless. He got down in the ditch and the Germans, who were defending the redoubt, were firing right into their faces, and he climbed up on the shoulders of his men and got up on the parapet and was dueling with them sword to sword. It was a tremendous show, you know, and there's no question about it -- he emerged from this battle of Yorktown with probably more fame than anyone else except Washington.

Narrator: The Battle of Yorktown is the culminating victory of the American Revolution.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): Beloved Betsey -- my duty and my honor obliged me to take a step in which I put your happiness in peril. I commanded an attack on one of the enemy's redoubts. You'll read all about it in the newspapers. I carried it off in an instant. There will be, I assure you, nothing more of this kind, and in two days I will set off for Albany. May heaven bring us speedily together and let us never more be separated.

Narrator: With peace on the way, Hamilton has returned to Albany and rejoined his wife and firstborn son, Philip.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): I am becoming acquainted with the character of our little stranger. He is truly a fine young gentleman, with the most agreeable conversation and manners I ever knew. Alas, he stands rather awkwardly and his legs do not have the delicate slimness of his father. Some have remarked on his method of waving his arms when he talks, showing all the signs that he will someday be a great orator.

Narrator: Hamilton determines to become a lawyer -- a course of study that usually takes three years. Hamilton does it in six months. He moves his family to a new home in New York City. The address, 57 Wall Street. He soon becomes one of the most successful of the city's thirty-five lawyers. But Hamilton has his eye on a larger stage.

Gordon S. Wood, Historian: He wants to be a statesman of the highest order. Coming out of Roman and Greek history, he wants to be a creator of a state -- and that is what's moving him I think, driving him. Hamilton was interested in honor, both for himself -- honor being reputation -- both for himself and for the country. And the two were linked, and he was going to achieve his honor if the country achieved its honor.

Narrator: As the last soldiers head for home in the early 1780s, few people are thinking about the honor of the nation. The United States is bankrupt and disunified. It's not even clear whether the states are to be truly united, or revert to a loose collection of largely independent governments.

Carol Berkin, Historian: It was as if you made this revolution and you hadn't thought about what would happen the next day, after the revolution was over. And all the enthusiasm sort of began to fritter away as different states began to argue with one another over who controlled this land, and who controlled the Chesapeake Bay, and you can't ship your goods into my state because your money isn't the same as my money. And quibbling and fighting and rivalry, the way it had been before.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: And so people like Hamilton actually think, well wait, did we win the war? Are we going to now sort of inch our way back into sort of useless, humiliating powerlessness? And, you know, are we ultimately going to just turn on each other and end up being nothing?

Narrator: At the end of the war, Hamilton is almost alone in his determination to change the direction of the country. George Washington has returned to private life and is running his plantation in Virginia. John Adams and Benjamin Franklin are in Europe, elder statesmen in the country's Foreign Service. Of all the country's principal founders, Hamilton is by far the youngest, and the only founder without a deep attachment to one particular state.

Gordon S. Wood, Historian: Having come from the Caribbean, he had no sense of the kind of loyalty that, say, Jefferson had to Virginia or even John Adams had to Massachusetts, which they called their countries. When they talked about my country, Jefferson meant Virginia. So Hamilton had none of this, he tended to think in terms of the United States.

Narrator: Hamilton is elected a member of the Confederation Congress, the weak governing body set up by the states during the Revolution.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): Our job is to make independence work, but what a terrible situation we're in. The country has galloping consumption. The case is getting desperate. I've a powerful remedy for this problem -- strong government -- but if not taken quickly, the patient will die.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: Hamilton is really, remarkably, one of the first -- and certainly the most persistent person -- calling for a stronger government, a more organized, centralized, national government of some kind. He's really sort of out there in a way that's just really noticeable.

Narrator: Hamilton forms an ambitious plan -- to completely transform this loose collection of states into a true republic, one with a powerful central government. It will be a battle that he will wage for the next six years of his life.

Carol Berkin, Historian: Very quickly, he begins to develop a strategy. He starts orchestrating a series of little meetings of states to talk about trade negotiations. And he drafts this Annapolis report that makes it sound as if there's this groundswell of interest in producing a thirteen-state meeting. And it should go beyond trade negotiations; we've discovered there are other issues that we might want to talk over. And it's his strategy that really is the thread that builds to the Constitutional Convention.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): As a General marches at the head of his troops, so wise political leaders march at the head of affairs. They don't wait for events, but know what actions to take. The actions they take will produce the events.

Narrator: In May 1787, Hamilton joins the other fifty-four delegates in Philadelphia. After four months of intensive debate, the result is a four-page document -- the United States Constitution. The Constitution proposes a radical shift in power, from the individual states to a strong, central government and a president with real authority. But the writing of the Constitution is only the first step in Hamilton's battle. Nine of the thirteen states must ratify before the Constitution can become law. Up and down the country there is fierce opposition.

Gordon S. Wood, Historian: The Anti-Federalists, or those opposed to the Constitution, are frightened of the very things that the Patriots in the 1760s had been frightened of. They had just thrown off Great Britain, 3,000 miles away, and now they're re-imposing on themselves this powerful government with a kind of an elected king -- and we can see the presidency is a, you know, enormously powerful office. They were frightened of all that, because this was a violation of everything the Revolution had been about.

Narrator: Hamilton launches into a major campaign to fight the Anti-Federalists and persuade the country to ratify the Constitution. Together with James Madison and John Jay, he conceives and writes a series of brilliant articles that will come to be called The Federalist Papers.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): The main question is whether societies of men are really capable of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.

Jimmy Napoli, Hamilton Tour Guide: In the first Federalist Paper, Hamilton accepts that he's going to try and break down the Constitution for all Americans, and to argue and to debate and to fight until every single question is answered. He's going to prove, once and for all, that the Constitution is the best form of government we can adopt.

Gordon S. Wood, Historian: Is the president too strong? What's the role of the judiciary? Why should we have a senate? It's kind of high-level propaganda, opposing the Anti-Federalist objections to the Constitution.

Narrator: The Federalist Papers are published in newspapers, one or two a week over the next seven months.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): Laws are a dead letter without courts to expound and define their true meaning and operation.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: Some of those things are first drafts. Some of those things are things that, as he's finishing them, the printer is there waiting to take them away because they need to get into that day's newspaper.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: The Federalist Papers have become the classic gloss on the U.S. Constitution, cited about three hundred times over the last two centuries by the Supreme Court -- more than any other document. The Federalist Papers have almost acquired the authority of the Constitution itself, they're cited so frequently.

Narrator: Over the next year, the states -- one by one -- ratify the Constitution. New York, one of the largest and most powerful states, overwhelmingly opposes it. But New York City supports it, and elects Hamilton to lead its delegation to the ratifying convention.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): We have several things in our favor. Everyone loves Washington, and he supports it. All the commercial interests are on our side -- they want a government which can regulate trade. On the other side are all those inferior men with very superior positions in local government. They're afraid of losing their power to a national government, where, of course, they don't stand a chance of getting elected.

Narrator: Hamilton is determined to fight the Anti-Federalist majority at the convention, and to prevail at all costs.

Carol Berkin, Historian: He was really sort of the bull in the china shop. I think one of his greatest difficulties was that, time and time again, he proved he was smarter than other people, and so he could not understand why they didn't shut up and listen to him. He had very little training in the art of politics as a young man. I mean, think about all of these men of the revolutionary generation. Their fathers were in the colonial legislature, their grandfathers were. Politics was talked about at the dinner table. You heard mistakes that people made. You learned finesse. Hamilton never had that.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): On this and every other occasion, I will counter directly, without detour, any obstacle that stands in my way.

Narrator: What Alexander Hamilton lacks in political finesse, he makes up for in his brilliance as a debater. At the convention, he makes long, lawyerly speeches defending the new Constitution clause by clause. Sometimes overbearing, sometimes condescending, he makes it easy for Anti-Federalists to cast him as an elitist.

Robert Bartlett (Peter Gerety): You men of "learning," you lawyers will take control of this federal government. Ordinary people with good sense will never be able to get elected. And after you grab all the power and the money, you'll swallow up all us little folk. This will be a government run by and for a tyrannical aristocracy.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): And whom would you have representing us in government? Not the rich, not the wise, not the learned? Would you go to some ditch by the highway and pick up the thieves, the poor, and the lame to lead us? Yes, we need an aristocracy to be running our government -- an aristocracy of intelligence, integrity and experience.

Carol Berkin, Historian: He really is a master in this convention of winning people over, beating people down, wearing people out, stalling. And finally, issuing a few well-placed threats that turn the convention, which should have voted no, into a yes convention.

Narrator: The Constitution becomes the law of the land. New York City celebrates its most steadfast supporter.

Carol Berkin, Historian: This, I think, is one of the few moments when he's popularly acknowledged in his entire career. Nobody walks around going, "Yeah, Bank of the United States -- great idea." But the ratification, he really is recognized for that.

Richard J. Payne, Historian: It's kind of ironic; it took an outsider to unite the United States. That's one reason why Hamilton is the indispensable Founding Father, along with President Washington.

Narrator: With his brilliance and sheer force of personality, Hamilton has won this battle. But he has also made many enemies.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: The smartest person in the room is always admired, but seldom liked, you know? Always respected, but often feared.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): A new scene opens. The object now is to make our independence work. To do this, we must secure our Union on solid foundations. It's a job for Hercules, for we must level mountains of prejudice. We fought side by side to make America free. Let us, hand in hand, struggle now to make her happy.

Narrator: New York City -- April 30, 1789. George Washington takes the oath of office as the country's first president under the new constitution. Hamilton sees that the United States has the potential to become a great and powerful nation. For years, he's been reading books about government and economic theory -- and he has plans for totally reshaping the American economy. Many people regard Hamilton as an arrogant, young upstart. But he is esteemed and trusted by George Washington.

George Washington (Richard Easton): By some, Hamilton is considered an ambitious man, and therefore dangerous. That he's ambitious, I'll readily grant you, but his ambition is an admirable one -- the kind which prompts a man to excel at everything he attempts.

Karl F. Walling, Historian: Washington gave Hamilton credibility. People will do what Hamilton wants because Washington says you can trust him. If there's no Washington, they will not trust Hamilton.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: Hamilton and Washington almost perfectly mesh and complement each other. Washington was intelligent but not an intellectual, he was not an original policy thinker. With Washington and Hamilton, we have the union of the greatest politician of the day with the greatest policymaker of the day.

Narrator: Washington knows that he will need the country's top men as his advisors. He appoints Thomas Jefferson, former minister to France, as secretary of state. Hamilton, one of the few people in the country with a broad national view of commerce and finance, is made secretary of the treasury.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: I'm sure he couldn't get there fast enough to sort of sit down and begin. On the other hand, what's confronting him? You know, there's a lack of order, there's chaos, there's not good records. Nobody quite knows what's going on. So it actually, for many people I think, would have been a remarkably terrifying thing to walk into. I think for him, it was like a little Hamiltonian paradise, you know, "oh my god, it's disordered and I'm going to order it," you know, "this is wonderful."

Narrator: Hamilton faces an enormous challenge.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: The United States, pure and simple, was bankrupt. We were flat broke. We hadn't paid a dime in years on this immense debt that we had amassed, both at home and abroad, to pay for the Revolutionary War.

Carol Berkin, Historian: We owed money to our own army. We owed money to the officers of the army, many of whom had spent their entire fortunes equipping and taking care of the regiments that they had put together. We owed little old ladies who had given over supplies and horses to the army and gotten a piece of paper that said, "we'll pay you for this." We couldn't pay them. So there was no confidence in the government, there was no confidence in the economy. And so we were in a serious economic depression, and no one was certain how to get out of it.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: It would have been easy enough, and almost predictable, for a revolutionary government to repudiate that debt. But Hamilton felt that unless the debt was paid off, the United States would never be able to borrow money again, and that this would weaken it as a great power. Hamilton had developed this theory that unless you could establish the credit of the state, you could never have a mighty country.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): Public credit is earned by good faith. States, like individuals, which live up to their obligations are respected and trusted -- those that don't are not trusted.

Narrator: Hamilton sees the debt, not as a problem, but as an opportunity. He develops an audacious plan. He determines not only to pay off all the debt incurred by the federal government during the war, but also to take on the even larger debts incurred by the thirteen states. The plan is called "assumption."

Ron Chernow, Biographer: Hamilton made a decision as the first treasury secretary that seems a bit bizarre. He actually wanted the federal government to take over, to assume all of the debt from the states. Now what government official actually wants to take an enormous amount of debt and then add to that an even greater debt? Hamilton had a political agenda behind it.

Narrator: Most of the states' debt is held by wealthy and powerful men. Hamilton needs these leaders of society to support the new federal government.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: He felt that if the federal government assumed the debt from the states, that all of the creditors would feel that they had a direct financial stake in the survival of the still shaky, new federal government -- because that became the government that was going to pay them off.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): A national debt, if it's not excessive, will be a national blessing. It will be the powerful cement of our Union.

Narrator: Leaders of the state governments immediately see what Hamilton is up to.

Henry Lee (Denis O'Hare): He is attempting to bind the states' creditors to the federal government with hoops of gold. A public debt is a public curse!

Narrator: The state leaders block the assumption bill in Congress, and it appears to have no chance of passing.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: And Hamilton really despairs, and thinks to himself and says at the time -- if this collapses, I might as well just go home because this is it. If we can't take over these local debts, then it's like a vote of no confidence in me.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): This is the first symptom of a spirit that must either be killed, or it will kill the Constitution.

Narrator: In 1790, New York City is a very small place, and Hamilton and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson are neighbors. Jefferson has a more pressing concern than assumption -- the location of the nation's capital, presently situated in New York City. He is eager to move the seat of government far from the foul air of the country's commercial center.

Thomas Jefferson (Daniel Gerroll): New York City is a sewer containing all the depravities of human nature -- a world apart from small towns and the countryside, where crime is scarcely heard of, breaches of order are rare, and society -- if not refined -- is rational, moral, and affectionate.

Narrator: The countryside that Jefferson and his allies favor for the nation's new capital would be a nice piece of empty land on the banks of the Potomac, not far from their plantations in Virginia. Hamilton wants to keep the capital where it is. He is so closely connected with New York City that his enemies call it "Hamiltonopolis." One day, the two neighbors cross paths on the street. They agree to meet for dinner at Jefferson's house on Maiden Lane to talk out their differences. Jefferson invites a key congressman and fellow Virginian, James Madison. The result is one of the most famous meals in American history -- the Dinner Table Compromise. Hamilton seizes on the capital as a bargaining chip. If the Virginians will support federal assumption of the debt, he will agree to moving the capital south. He knows this deal will not endear him to his fellow New Yorkers.

Richard J. Payne, Historian: I think this goes back again to Hamilton the outsider. He isn't from New York, he's a West Indian. And so he's willing to sacrifice state and local interests for the broader national purpose, a strong United States. If that meant sacrificing New York, he'd do it -- and he did it.

Narrator: With assumption, Hamilton lays the foundation for the credit of the United States -- the ability to borrow at home and abroad. In time, this will bring about the prosperity that allows the democratic experiment to flourish. Jefferson thinks that by gaining the capital for the south, he has won a major victory. But soon the larger implications of assumption will become evident, and he will begin to view his colleague with profound distrust.

 In the summer of 1791, Alexander Hamilton is thirty-six years old. He is at a pinnacle of success.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: He proposed a lot of really big and grand ideas, and they were beginning to be accepted and supported. But he never was someone who felt that he could sit back and rest on his laurels in any way. I think he always feels, always, that it could be taken away at a second's notice.

Narrator: Alexander and Elizabeth have moved to Philadelphia, where Congress is temporarily meeting. They now have five children, and an extremely close and affectionate marriage. But that summer, Elizabeth and the children are vacationing at her father's home in Albany, and Hamilton is left alone in Philadelphia. One afternoon, his work is interrupted with a knock at the door. It is a beautiful woman in distress.

Willard Sterne Randall, Writer: She said she was from New York and she knew Hamilton was, and she needed a way to get home to her family. Her husband had abandoned her, she didn't have any money, was there anything that he could do to help her. So he went around that night with a bank draft to her boardinghouse. The draft would be worth about four hundred dollars today. Went up the back stairs, not the front. Knocked on her door. She ushered him into her bedroom and pretty quickly made it plain that there were other ways that she could repay him for his generosity. And he kept going back for thirteen months, and she kept repaying him for thirteen months.

Maria Reynolds (Kelli O'Hara): Come to me. Tonight! I know it's late, but any time between now and midnight -- I'll be waiting. Until I see you, my breast will be the seat of pain and woe. Adieu, my dear friend. From your unhappy Maria, whose greatest fault is loving you.

Narrator: It is a trap. Maria Reynolds and her husband James have set up this seduction in order to blackmail Hamilton. Congressmen get wind of letters Hamilton has written to Reynolds, referring to large sums of money. James Reynolds is a known criminal, and the congressmen suspect the treasury secretary of corruption. On a cold December morning, a three-man delegation from Congress meets with Hamilton to make these serious accusations.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: And they actually, in a sense, do the decent thing. They don't just publicize this, they go to him in person and they say, we're going to give you a chance to explain this -- but explain this.

Narrator: To prove his innocence, Hamilton pulls out his love letters from Maria and insists that his visitors read them.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: He says, oh no no no, those little slips of paper in which I'm paying money -- those I'm not doing anything with government funds, I'm actually paying blackmail because I'm sleeping with his wife. And then he presents them with all sorts of evidence to show them that honestly, it's all about adultery -- it's not about public funds at all. And apparently the three gentlemen are, on the one hand, very embarrassed. And on the other hand, they agree -- okay, you know, we're sorry, we misunderstood, we'll just keep this all between us.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): I wasn't entirely a dupe in this plot, but her act succeeded in keeping me uncertain. In the end, my feelings -- no, no, it was my vanity -- led me to believe that she truly loved me. I've paid a high price for my folly and can never think back on it without disgust and self-condemnation.

Narrator: This will not be the end of the Maria Reynolds affair. Hamilton's growing power and influence are engendering a growing number of political enemies. They are ready to exploit his every weakness.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: Hamilton didn't have that judgment that matched the great intellect and the great ability. And it's like the flaw of a figure in a Greek tragedy, who's headed for a great fall and doesn't see it coming. And then, as in a Greek tragedy, you sort of look back and you feel that this was bound to happen, that this is somehow the logical culmination of certain flaws in his personality.

Alexander Hamilton, Part Two

Narrator: In 1791, President George Washington embarks on a three-month tour to assess the effect on the country of his government's policies.

George Washington (Richard Easton): I have just completed my visit to the southern states and was able to see, with my own eyes, the situation of the country. Tranquility reigns among the people, and the new government is popular. Our public credit stands on a ground which three years ago only a madman would have thought possible. The United States now enjoys a scene of prosperity and tranquility, where every man may sit under his own vine with none to molest him or make him afraid.

Narrator: George Washington knows that much of this prosperity is due to the economic policies of Alexander Hamilton. With Washington's backing, Hamilton now seems to be single-handedly running most of the Federal government. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson has fewer than a dozen employees, and Vice President John Adams has no power in Washington's administration. Hamilton controls the Customs Service, the Coast Guard, and appoints a vast network of men to collect import duties and taxes.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: Washington is allowing, indeed encouraging, Hamilton to function as something more like a prime minister. So that when you say to people that Hamilton was the first treasury secretary, it doesn't quite capture the magnitude of his power -- or why Hamilton was so controversial.

Narrator: The controversy began with the assumption of the debt, which has vastly expanded the power of the federal government. For Hamilton though, this was just the beginning. He sees America as an undeveloped land with enormous potential. He sets out to reshape the country, to transform it into one that can hold its head high among the great nations of the world. In a very short time, he puts a series of monumental proposals before Congress -- instituting a national currency, the dollar; establishing a national bank, the forerunner of the Federal Reserve. Hamilton's vision spurs the growth of the stock market, the engine of the country's future prosperity. He then proposes the radical idea that the government get directly involved in the development of large-scale industry. To his detractors, Hamilton seems unstoppable.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: The very markers of Hamilton's success -- the fact that he's proposing things, one at a time, and they're being enacted -- ironically enough, those are the very things that begin to spark opposition. Because people like Jefferson begin to see a pattern, that Hamilton in some way or another is trying to create a monarchy.

Thomas Jefferson (Daniel Gerroll): Yes, I disapprove of his actions as secretary of the treasury. With his bank and funding system, he is recreating here the rottenness and corruption of England.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): I have now become convinced of several facts. Mr. Jefferson is at the head of a faction hostile to me and my administration. He attacks the funding of the debt, the bank. I know that he has instituted a whispering campaign bent on subverting my projects.

Narrator: Hamilton is convinced that the United States must develop industry and commerce if it is ever to become a great nation. Jefferson has a very different vision for the country. He wants America to remain primarily rural -- independent farmers working the land with little interference from government. Jefferson and his allies see Hamilton's powerful central government as a potent threat to individual liberty.

Gordon S. Wood, Historian: They wanted a different kind of country. They don't want a bureaucracy. They don't want a standing army. They don't want any of the attributes of a European state. They don't want any of the things that Hamilton wants for the United States.

Carol Berkin, Historian: Urbanization, industrialization, finance capital -- they don't want this. They want agriculture, independent farmers. Jefferson, you know, believes that the only honest profit is made by the man who tills the soil. And everything that Hamilton wanted must have seemed like a nightmare to them.

Narrator: The two most powerful men in Washington's Cabinet have become locked in bitter combat.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): It's the fanatical politics waged by Jefferson that threaten to disturb the tranquility and order of our government. He is the real enemy of republicanism.

Thomas Jefferson (Daniel Gerroll): I am not the enemy of the republic. I am not part of that debased squadron plotting to change our republic back into a monarchy. I am not a pimp whose stock dealers have corrupted Congress.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): I now consider it my duty to lift the curtain and show the world that it is he who is determined to destroy the credit and honor of the nation.

Thomas Jefferson (Daniel Gerroll): I will not have my reputation slandered by a man whose history -- from the moment that history stooped to notice him -- is a fabric of machinations against the liberty of this country. A country, which not only received him as a penniless immigrant and gave him food, but now heaps honors on his head.

George Washington (Richard Easton): There must be some harmony in my Cabinet. Differences of opinion are unavoidable of course, and to a certain extent, they may even be a good thing -- but can't we discuss these differences without each of you attacking the motives of the other? You are both men of discernment, tried patriots, and yet, without more charity for each other's views, I cannot manage the reins of government and we shall, inevitably, be torn asunder. I don't see how the union of the states can be preserved.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: It's so hard for us to be in that moment and to say to ourselves, this is a government that many people thought would never make it. They sincerely don't know if it's going to persist. And that's part of why this ends up being a period of such passion and anxiety and fear -- and in many cases, dirty, nasty politics. I mean, if you feel that you know the right thing to do and you're sitting across from someone who is doing the exact opposite of what you think is the right thing to do, how can you not -- as a good citizen and a good leader and a good American -- stand up and try to crush that person for your country.

Narrator: Jefferson and his allies focus all of their energies on opposing Hamilton and his plans. They band together in a loose political alliance, calling themselves "Republicans." Hamilton and supporters of Washington's administration are called "Federalists." This split is the first sign of what will become America's two-party system.

Carol Berkin, Historian: The men who believed that they were the continuation of the Constitutional Convention called themselves Federalists. The opposition party, Mr. Jefferson's party, they take on the name the Republican Party, which is very confusing because in fact the Republican Party of Thomas Jefferson has nothing to do with the Republican Party of today.

Narrator: The battle between the parties spills out onto the streets. In this new political culture, the opinions of ordinary people are increasing in importance. Their passions are inflamed by the appearance of highly partisan newspapers, each side out to damn the opposition.

James Callender (Michael Cumpsty):The alarming progress of robbery, bribery, oppression and injustice in this country can all be traced to Colonel Alexander Hamilton. This monarchist toadeater has defrauded the public with his corrupt maze of banking and stock speculation.

Willard Sterne Randall, Writer: Both Hamilton and Jefferson hire journalists and pay them to attack the ideas of their opponents.

Peter Fenner (Gerald Bamman): Mr. Jefferson's press propagates nothing but lies and liars, like a swamp breeds maggots and mosquitoes.

Narrator: With unrestrained ferocity, these party organs attack not only the policies, but the very character and reputation of their opponents.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: There were all sorts of nasty insinuations about Hamilton's illegitimacy. There were occasionally insinuations that he was actually, you know, part black. I mean there was insinuations about almost everything.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: The favorite tactic in the newspapers was, during an election, to announce that the other candidate -- the opposing candidate -- had died, and it took awhile to disprove something like that because the mail is slow. You know how do you disprove ... how do you prove that someone's alive?

Ron Chernow, Biographer: This was really the golden age of literary and political assassination. And so that ... a lot of our own founders ended up really not just disliking each other, but hating each other. David Hosack (as portrayed by actor): There was a time when gentlemen of different politics could separate the business of government from that of society. It is not so now.

Narrator: The rational debate among gentlemen anticipated by the founders has turned into a boisterous free-for-all. Butchers, bakers and even common laborers now feel they can have a say in politics.

Gordon S. Wood, Historian: I think for the founders originally, the public was quite a narrow group of men -- men like themselves. But by the 1790s, the growth of the press was just enormous. The public had expanded, ballooned out. The Founders are sensing a shaking beneath their feet that their own revolution is having democratic consequences that they hadn't quite anticipated.

Narrator: Their fears are amplified by cataclysmic events across the ocean.

Narrator: In 1793, Louis the Sixteenth is executed. Many Americans rejoice. Jefferson and the Republicans take up the French cause and organize celebrations in the streets. Another revolution is overthrowing a king, and the people are taking control of their government.

Thomas Jefferson (Daniel Gerroll): They have been awakened by our revolution. They feel their strength, their lights are spreading.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): How can our people embrace the most cruel, bloody, and violent event that ever stained the annals of mankind? It is a monster born with teeth!

Narrator: The French Revolution widens the gulf between the two parties, pointing to a deep-seated difference in their attitude towards popular politics. The Republicans present themselves as the party of the common man.

Gordon S. Wood, Historian: Jeffersonian Republicans understood the power of public opinion, and Jefferson has his utter faith in the people. And that's simply not true of Hamilton.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): Men may be reasoning animals, but they are rarely reasonable. They are frequently governed by impulse and passion. This truth is well understood by our adversaries who use it to their benefit.

Narrator: Hamilton has always been fearful of mobs and anarchy. Now, he is appalled by the fact that Republican politicians are stirring up the passions of the population. He sees them as demagogues -- men who will do anything to grab power.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: Jefferson, in his mind, is a demagogue. Jefferson will say whatever he has to say so that the public will be happy with him. That, in Hamilton's mind, is ... that's corrupt, that's inappropriate, that's what you never do. You don't try to appeal to the public. You do what you feel is right, and if the public doesn't like you, they vote you and your friends out of office and vote somebody else in -- and that's the Hamiltonian view of how things should operate.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): I see it as my duty to show things as they are, not as they ought to be. I always speak the plain, naked truth. If men won't listen, that's their own fault, and they'll have to live with the consequences.

Narrator: Hamilton believes as fervently as Jefferson in the ideals of representative government, but he has contempt for the game of popular politics. In the coming years, Hamilton will be cast as an elitist, while Jefferson, born into the Virginia gentry, will become the man of the people.

Thomas Fleming, Biographer: I think one of the ironies of Hamilton's duel with Jefferson, his struggle for power, was the fact that here was Jefferson -- owner of a hundred or two hundred slaves, living on his plantation, getting wealthy on their unsalaried labor -- and he became the man of the people. And Hamilton -- working for a living and like the average American -- has been painted as the patron of the rich and so forth, and it's ... history is full of ironies and this is one of the cruelest ironies in many ways. 

Richard J. Payne, Historian: Hamilton, in a way, is the quintessential American. He's a self-made man. He's a guy who comes here as an immigrant with very little and he, through luck and brainpower, builds this huge reputation for himself. Hamilton believes if you work hard, you should rise to the top without any regard for your aristocratic backgrounds.

Narrator: Hamilton wants to transform the United States into a true meritocracy. A country where men of talent and ability -- men like himself -- can prosper.

Carol Berkin, Historian: All the values that we honor maybe in the breach, about -- it's not who your parents were or where you came from or how you started out, but what you can do, what you can achieve -- this was, I think, very much Hamilton's credo for himself and I think really for his country. He was interested in what would be good for the nation, including the working classes, including the poor.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): There are strong minds in every walk of life that will overcome the disadvantages of their birth, and will command tribute due to their merit.

Narrator: It is 1796. Hamilton has returned to New York City. Both Hamilton and Jefferson have left Washington's Cabinet. Jefferson has his eye on the presidency, and Hamilton will continue to influence public affairs as a private citizen. He has become frustrated seeing his proposals stalled in a hostile Congress.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): In truth, my work in government has fewer and fewer attractions for me. I am increasingly finding my projects blocked by those with a jealousy of power, and by the peculiar democratical forces operating in republics. As for gratifying a love for fame...

Narrator: Hamilton, with a growing family, has another pressing reason to retire from public life.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): I have resumed the practice of law. Having done my part to place the nation's finances on good footing, I must now take care of my own finances, which need my care not a little.

Narrator: Hamilton is in fact deeply in debt. He never used his position in the Treasury to make one cent -- while others around him were making millions, speculating in the stocks and bonds that he made possible. And now, even as one of New York's most sought after lawyers, Hamilton remains in financial difficulty.

Nathaniel Pendleton (as portrayed by actor): In his practice, he refuses large fees if he doesn't believe in the justice of a case. On the other hand, if a client is in the right but has no money, he takes the case for free. Yet he isn't rich. I know that for a fact because he often has to borrow money from me to take care of family needs. Nevertheless, he always insists on fair compensation and no more.

Narrator: His eldest son Philip is somewhat bemused by his father's unbending principles.

Philip Hamilton (Jamie Parker): His fellow lawyers joke that he'd refuse to pick up money even if it was lying at his feet.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: He, of course, loved all of his children. But I think he had particularly bright hopes for the oldest son, which was Philip. There's something a little rakish about him when you see the image of him from the time -- sort of a chip off the old block.

Narrator: Hamilton is grooming Philip for a future in politics. Even in family affairs, Hamilton is ever the micro-managing administrator.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): From the first of April to the first of October, Philip is to rise no later than six o'clock. From the time he is dressed until breakfast at nine, he is to read the law. At nine, he is to go to the office until dinnertime. After dinner, he reads law at home 'til five o'clock. From this hour 'til seven, he may dispose of his time as he pleases.

Philip Hamilton (Jamie Parker): My father has a soldier's temperament. When we're walking around the land, his step always seems to fall naturally into the cadence of a military drill. At night, he reads us Roman history -- translating the Latin as he goes along. When he comes to the battle scenes, he reads them with such emphasis and fervor that we all think that Julius Caesar is in the room with us.

Narrator: Hamilton and his wife will eventually have eight children together. He is making plans to buy land in what is now Harlem, where he will build a large country house for Elizabeth and the family. He will call it The Grange, after his father's ancestral home in Scotland. But Hamilton still misses being at the center of power.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): Gardening is the usual refuge of a disappointed politician. So, here I am --wearing my cultivator hat.

Carol Berkin, Historian: He didn't cope well with time on his hands. He would not have been very good at retiring gracefully, or of giving up power gracefully.

Narrator: In fact, Hamilton never retires from public life. He is advising members of the Cabinet and writing speeches for Washington. He organizes charities in New York and has become a leader of a movement advocating rights for African Americans.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: Hamilton co-founds the first anti-slavery society in New York, The Manumission Society. He's arguably the most consistent abolitionist among the founders, and it's kind of a thread that runs consistently throughout his entire life.

Carol Berkin, Historian: I think his opposition to slavery is of a piece with his general belief in meritocracy. He says slavery keeps men, who might make major contributions to our society -- prevents them from doing that and so it's inefficient. It doesn't let people who have talent use their talents well.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): The disadvantages of slavery are obvious. The institution relaxes the sinews of industry, clips the wings of commerce, and introduces into society misery and indigence of every shape.

Narrator: Hamilton has been out of the Cabinet for two years, and there have been big changes in the federal government. John Adams, a Federalist, has been elected the second president of the United States, and Washington has gone into retirement at Mount Vernon. Even out of office, Hamilton is regarded as the leader of the party and he sees that the Federalists are facing a crisis. The Republicans are becoming more powerful in Congress, and his old rival, Thomas Jefferson, is gaining in popularity. Hamilton is determined to oppose him.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): The game we're playing is a most important one. Jefferson wants to be president. We're fighting for nothing less than true liberty, stability, and of course, heads. And I intend to do everything possible not to get mine chopped off.

Narrator: For their part, Jefferson and the Republicans are watching Hamilton warily. They fear his continuing power in the Federalist Party and see him as a possible presidential candidate. Hamilton stands for everything they hate. They determine to crush his future political ambitions. They hold a series of incriminating letters detailing his past affair with Maria Reynolds. Republicans leak these papers to a muckraking journalist in their pay.

James Callender (Michael Cumpsty): We now come to a part of my work -- more delicate perhaps than any other -- where we will see this great master of morality, though himself the father of a family, confessing that he had an illicit union with another man's wife. I feel I must expose these papers to the world. Not a word has been altered.

Narrator: It is a classic smear campaign. While his political enemies know very well that Hamilton was only paying blackmail money to Maria Reynolds' husband, they use the letters to claim that Hamilton was speculating with money from the Treasury.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): I trust I shall always be able to bear newspaper scurrility when they accuse me of errors of judgment. But when they so unfairly attack my integrity, I cannot control my indignation.

Narrator: Hamilton makes a reckless decision. In order to refute the charges that he stole money from the Treasury, he publishes a pamphlet explaining that he was blackmailed. To prove his case, he feels it necessary to describe every sordid detail of the affair, and publishes the passionate letters he received from Maria.

Maria Reynolds (Kelli O'Hara): I am alone and shall be alone until Wednesday. What have I done that you should thus neglect me? My dear friend, how shall I plead enough? Let me see you and unbosom myself to you.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): The intercourse with Mrs. Reynolds continued with all the appearances of her having a violent attachment to me. It made it extremely difficult for me to disentangle myself.

Robert Bartlett (peter Gerety): He tells us, "I've been grossly charged with being a speculator, whereas I'm only an adulterer."

Karl F. Walling, Historian: Many leaders of the Federalist Party are saying -- is that how you're going to defend your ... your honor? You can imagine how much this hurt his wife. The point is Hamilton considered his public honor more important than his private honor.

Narrator: Hamilton's attempt to justify himself backfires. Henry Lee (as portrayed by actor): He has inflicted more damage to himself than fifty of the best writers in America.

John Adams (Henry Strozier): Colonel Hamilton doesn't seem capable of cooling his iron in his own trough.

Thomas Fleming, Biographer: Jefferson and Madison couldn't believe their eyes. It was the most ... one of the most self-destructive things they ever saw anybody do, and they just rubbed their hands. They really, more or less, realized Hamilton was finished; he never could be president now. But, after this whole thing somewhat subsided, what did Hamilton receive in the mail but a very beautiful silver bowl from Washington. Washington was no longer president now. He was telling Hamilton -- you're still my man.

George Washington (Richard Easton): Not for any intrinsic value, but as a token of my sincere regard and friendship for you, please accept this gift. Mrs. Washington joins me in my best wishes to Mrs. Hamilton and the family. With every sentiment of the highest regard, I remain your sincere friend.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: If Washington were not around, Hamilton would have been in big trouble. I mean, it really is the fact that Washington is there and willing to vouch for him on a number of different occasions that allows Hamilton to get away with what he gets away with. Even at the time, someone calls Washington Hamilton's dishcloth. You know, he's a ... wipes up the messes around him.

Narrator: In the days to come, Hamilton will need Washington's support more than ever. Hamilton is convinced that there are two things necessary if the United States is ever to become a great nation -- the establishment of a strong economy, which he has achieved, and the building of a powerful military. He believes that only with a regular army can America survive in a hostile world Events overseas give him a chance to realize this objective. By 1799, the French army, led by Napoleon, has invaded Egypt and Syria. Hamilton fears that the French are now contemplating conquests in the New World.

Gordon S. Wood, Historian: Many people thought that the French were going to invade and turn us into another one of the French republics that they were creating all over Europe.

Narrator: The still very popular ex-president, George Washington, is appointed commander in chief, and he insists that Hamilton be made a general and put in charge of raising a large army. There is, however, one formidable obstacle blocking Hamilton's dreams of military glory -- the current president of the United States, John Adams.

John Adams (Henry Strozier): He's cramming Hamilton down my throat. I'm compelled to appoint the most restless, impatient, artful, unprincipled intriguer in the United States to be commander of the army.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: The relationship between Alexander Hamilton and John Adams had a slightly pathological quality. Adams, who was considerably senior to Hamilton, had been completely excluded from the inner policy circle of the Washington administration. So, Adams has to suffer the sight of this young, strutting upstart running the federal government.

Narrator: Adams makes it clear that he loathes Hamilton, and that he fully intends to make peace with France. In a fury, Hamilton demands a meeting with the president.

John Adams (Henry Strozier): I'm in a good humor and receive him civilly. He repeats over and over again how there's no use making a treaty with France, and how we should form an alliance with England. His eloquence and his vehemence wrought the little man up to such a degree of heat and effervescence, I thought he was going to have a fit. I tell him calmly that I disagree with just about everything that he's saying. He is obviously completely ignorant about France, England and everywhere else. Never in my life did I hear a man talk more like a fool. I shall take no more notice of his puppyhood.

Narrator: Adams wants to get rid of the army at all costs. In this time of crisis, Hamilton suffers another blow -- George Washington dies at Mount Vernon.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): He was my aegis, my shield, my armor -- essential to everything I have accomplished. No one feels this loss more than I. My heart is filled with gloom.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: When Washington died, Hamilton made the revealing statement that Washington was an aegis, that is, a shield most essential. Here, Hamilton is saying that he needed a political patron and protector -- and that was George Washington. So Hamilton went from being the most powerful figure in Washington's first two terms to suddenly being this outcast under John Adams.

Narrator: Adams signs a peace treaty with France, and forces Hamilton to demobilize the army. Adams then spreads rumors to party insiders that Hamilton is a secret ally of the British -- a traitor to his country and worse.

John Adams (Henry Strozier): He is an underhanded intriguer, a man devoid of any moral principles, a bastard and a foreigner, a Creole...

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): The man's even madder than I thought.

Karl F. Walling, Historian: He's proud, he's extraordinarily proud, and if you want to destroy Hamilton, the way to do so is attack his reputation -- that's the Achilles heel. So he's angry with Adams for a stupid policy, but he's equally angry with Adams for saying that he's this leader of a British faction and a threat to American liberty. Hamilton decides, I'm not going to take it anymore; I'm going to take this guy down.

Narrator: It is 1800. John Adams is up for re-election. Hamilton is determined to stop him and promote another Federalist candidate. His weapon -- a vicious fifty-page pamphlet directed against the leader of his own party.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): I was among the many people who admired Mr. Adams for his role in the first stages of the Revolution. I saw him as a man of boldness and patriotism. But watching his actions as president, I began to lose respect for his intellectual abilities. I began to question the solidity of his mind.

Narrator: All of his experience as a writer, and his skills as a lawyer, are now put to the task of destroying the president's reputation.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): He has a disgusting egotism, vanity without bounds, an uncontrolled jealousy, which colors his every eccentric judgment. His ill humors have divided and distracted the supporters of the government.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: Once he's no longer under Washington's guidance, Hamilton's judgment becomes increasingly erratic and he, kind of, becomes his own worse enemy.

Narrator: The pamphlet was written for the benefit of Federalist insiders, but even Hamilton's closest allies are astounded.

Nathaniel Pendleton (Mark Nelson): It's one of your best performances, General Hamilton -- and more unfortunate for the cause of the Federalists than anything ever written.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: You know, it's not the first time that Hamilton has done something stupid in print. You know, it's not the first time Hamilton's done something stupid, period. But by this point, he's building up a happy little reputation for himself as the man without discretion, the guy who doesn't know when to shut up, the guy who keeps getting his friends, his political allies, in trouble. He's literally the loose cannon. And that, in itself, is sort of tragic -- to hear his friends come to a point where even they are saying, you know we just can't do this anymore. He's just out of control.

Peter Fenner (Gerald Bamman): I don't know what the effect will be on President Adams, but I do know that the effect of it on Hamilton's character is extremely unfortunate. It is now general opinion that he's radically deficient in discretion. In brief -- unfit to head the party.

Narrator: The infighting between Hamilton and John Adams has devastating long-term consequences.

Thomas Jefferson (Daniel Gerroll): Federalists pounce on Federalists and brothers taunt brothers, spitting at each other like roasted apples.

Narrator: Now, split in two, the Federalist Party will never hold national power again.

Willard Sterne Randall, Writer: Hamilton, because he so detested Adams personally, killed his own baby. He destroyed his own party, the Federalist Party, which he had done so much to set up.

Narrator: In the race for the presidency in 1800, only two men end up with a chance of winning and they are both from the Republican Party. One is Hamilton's hated enemy, Thomas Jefferson himself. The other is a genial, politically savvy New York lawyer. His name is Aaron Burr.

Aaron Burr (Neil McGarry): The rule of my life is to make business a pleasure, and pleasure my business.

Narrator: Aaron Burr was born into an American aristocracy. His father was president of Princeton University and a pillar of New England society. Hamilton and Burr know each other very well. They are both involved in national politics, but hold very different views about the role of a political leader. While Hamilton considers public service a sacred trust, Aaron Burr has other motives for trying to get elected.

Aaron Burr (Neil McGarry): Compared to the drudgery of the law, the life of a politician is honorable, fun ... and very profitable.

Narrator: Burr has become a contender for the presidency. Hamilton now has to make an agonizing decision.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): Jefferson or Burr? If there be a man in the world I ought to hate, it is Jefferson. But Burr has absolutely no morals, private or public. He listens to nothing but his own ambition.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: He ends up, in this moment in 1800, where what are his options? Well it is either Burr or Jefferson for president. I mean, that's like the ultimate Hamiltonian nightmare.

Narrator: He sees both men, not as statesmen, but as contemptible politicians -- pandering to the populace by telling voters what they want to hear. Hamilton must now choose the lesser of two evils.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): Jefferson has a tincture of fanaticism, it's true. He is much too earnest in his democracy. Crafty, not too scrupulous in politics, and he's not very mindful of the truth. In short, he's a contemptible hypocrite. But ... but, he's as likely as any man I know to compromise.

Carol Berkin, Historian: Even though he disagreed totally with Jefferson, Jefferson at least was interested in trying to do something that would be good for the United States. Burr -- Burr was in it for Burr.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): Here's a telling incident. When I headed the Treasury, he criticized me for not using my power to alter the government for my own advantage. I told him that I could never do such a thing in good conscience. "Conscience!" Burr replied. "Great souls do not worry themselves with little details." Can you imagine such a man holding the power of the presidency?

Narrator: The vote among the electors is a tie and is sent to the House of Representatives, where again there is a tie. In a flurry of letters, Hamilton urges one congressman to switch his vote. The tie is broken. Thomas Jefferson becomes the third president of the United States. The Republicans are now firmly in control of the government. Populist politics, which Hamilton so hates, seems to be the order of the day. In his mind, the country, which he has fought for most of his life, is headed towards disaster.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): No army, no navy, no national defense, as little government as possible...

Carol Berkin, Historian: Hamilton sees not just his life coming apart, but what is his future? In some ways, he really was a person who found his identity in making a contribution. He wasn't interested in great wealth. He really wanted to do something for the country that he came to. I mean, to give back to America -- and after 1800, nobody wanted him to.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): Mine is an odd destiny. Perhaps no man in the United States has sacrificed or done more for the present Constitution than myself. And, contrary to all my expectations, I still have to work to prop up its frail and worthless fabric. For my reward, I have a few murmurs from its friends and loud curses from its enemies. The best thing I can do is withdraw from the scene. Every day proves to me more and more that this American world is not made for me.

Karl F. Walling, Historian: Hamilton, he was a great statesman and a terrible politician. He could not make himself speak what he thought was untrue -- he was too honest, too candid. People could provoke him by attacking his honor in such a way that he became extraordinarily self-destructive. Hamilton, in many ways, is a tragic figure because the love of honor, which is the source of his greatness I would argue, is completely consistent with Greek tragedy -- also the source of his downfall.

Narrator: Hamilton may be out of political power, but he refuses to give up the fight. Now age forty-six, he co-founds an opposition newspaper, the New York Evening Post, and he passionately defends Federalist editors in court when they are attacked by the Republican administration. He also has great hopes for the political career of his eldest son, Philip.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: Hamilton invested a lot of hope in this son. Really thought that he saw a grand and glorious future for Philip.

Narrator: It is not to be. In 1801, Philip Hamilton gets into a heated and very public argument with an arrogant Republican politician. The argument degenerates into insults, and Philip is challenged to a duel.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: Duels -- affairs of honor -- in this time period are very ritualized and of course, they need to be because they are potentially deadly and because everything is at stake. If your honor is at stake, that's pretty much the entire game. So apparently, Philip went to his father and described what had happened and, and sort of asks his father for advice. Now what happens dad, what do I do?

Karl F. Walling, Historian: And Hamilton says, look, we've envisioned this great political career for you. You know you might be president some day. But you know if you turn down the challenge, you'll be considered a coward and your political career will be over. You'll be a social outcast. Well, the son follows dad's advice.

Philip Hamilton's School Mate (Samuel Barnett): On the bed lay poor Phil, pale, his rolling eyes darting in flashes of delirium. On one side of him, his agonized father. On the other side, his distracted mother. At the funeral, Hamilton, half collapsing, had to be supported. Down into the grave went all his hopes.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: It's just crushing to Hamilton. His friends talked about how it was stamped on his face, the tragedy of that duel and of Phillips death, that he never recovered from it. But you can actually see that in the portraits of him that were painted at that time.

Karl F. Walling, Historian: They didn't create the eighteenth century gentleman's code of conduct, they inherited it. It was there before they got there. They had to conform to it or they would become social pariahs. That said, you don't see Jefferson fighting duels. And you don't see Franklin fighting duels.

Narrator: It is two and a half years after Philip's death. Word reaches Hamilton that Aaron Burr is running for the office of governor of New York. Once again, Hamilton has a cause -- he launches into a campaign against Burr.

Robert Bartlett (Peter Gerety): At a meeting of Federalists, General Hamilton makes a speech declaring that he looks on Mr. Burr as a dangerous man, not to be trusted with the reigns of government.

Narrator: Hamilton attacks Burr in writing, and at political gatherings around the state. Burr has many political enemies, but he focuses on Hamilton.

Aaron Burr (Neil McGarry): For years, he's lent his name to base slanders which I have passed over. The only result of my forbearance has been a repetition of injury. I can only conclude that Hamilton has a settled and implacable malevolence towards me. Well, these things must have an end.

Narrator: Burr demands that Hamilton retract his latest insults or face him on the field of honor. Karl F. Walling, Historian: There's a delicate dance that's played around duels -- you do the dance, you find a way to make apologies without sounding like you made an apology. Everyone's honor is satisfied and it ends.

Aaron Burr (Neil McGarry): You may perceive, Sir, the necessity of a prompt and unqualified acknowledgement or denial...

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): I cannot, without impropriety, make the avowal or disavowal which you seem to think necessary.

Karl F. Walling, Historian: Hamilton tries to dance with Burr. He comes as close to a full retraction as he could under the circumstances. Burr won't accept it. This indicates to me that Burr really wanted to fight.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): I have known for a long time that my life must inevitably be exposed to that man. The duel cannot be avoided. My ability to be useful in public affairs depends on how men of character regard me. All consideration of what men of the world call honor impresses on me a necessity to answer this challenge.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: This honor became such an obsession with him that even though he had done such extraordinary things in the world, and had tried so hard to escape from that world of his boyhood -- on some level, he never did, and was still fighting that battle. You know, I think that he doesn't realize that the war is over. You know, and that he won and that he established this life. I think on some level he still is trapped back in the darkness of his own past.

Narrator: Early morning, July 11, 1804. The duel will take place across the Hudson River, in Weehawken, New Jersey.

Alexander Hamilton (Brian F. O'Byrne): This letter, my very dear Eliza, will be delivered to you only after my death. If it had been possible for me to have avoided the interview, my love for you and my precious children would have been motive enough. I needn't tell you my pain, not only at leaving you, but in exposing you to the anguish I know you will feel. I cannot dwell on this topic or it will unman me. Fly to the bosom of your God and be comforted. I shall cherish the hope of meeting you in a better world. Adieu, best of wives and best of women. Embrace all my darling children for me.

Nathaniel Pendleton (Mark Nelson): We marked out the ten paces. I read the final instructions. Burr and the General took their positions and we handed them the pistols. The General raised and lowered his gun a few times and then said to Burr, "I beg your pardon, Sir, for delaying you." And then he put on his spectacles. He had previously told me that he intended to satisfy both his religious principles and his honor by not firing. But there was no way for Colonel Burr to know that.

David Hosack (John Curless): I was called to him half sitting on the ground, supported in the arms of Mr. Pendleton. The bargemen aided us in conveying him into the boat. He knew right away. "This is a mortal wound, Doctor," he said, and then he fainted. The ball had passed through the liver and the diaphragm.

Narrator: Hamilton survives for thirty-one agonizing hours. He dies on July 12, 1804. He is forty-nine years old. New York City prepares for the largest funeral in its history.

Ron Chernow, Biographer: There was a tremendous outpouring of grief and emotion. The funeral cortege went on for hours. I think literally every person in the city was lining the streets, looking out of windows, standing on roofs. It was said that every woman in particular was crying at the time of Hamilton's death. Federalist Newspaper Man (as portrayed by actor): Governor Morris, with four of General Hamilton's sons at his side, rose to speak.

Governor Morris (Brian Murray): I struggle with a bursting heart to portray that heroic spirit which has now departed. Fellow citizens. You know how well he performed his duties. How he never sacrificed his principles to court your favor or gain your adulation. You have seen him contending against you and protecting your dearest interests, in spite of yourselves. Because of this, you now enjoy the benefits resulting from the firm energy of his work. Remember this testimony to the memory of my departed friend. I charge you to protect his good name. It is all he has left. It is all these poor children will inherit from their father.

Narrator: No one, at the time, fully appreciated Hamilton's enormous legacy. But because of his visionary thinking, America had the highest credit rating of any country in the world. When France gave Jefferson the opportunity to purchase the Louisiana Territory and double the area of the United States, money and credit were readily available. In the nineteenth century, first came the canals, then the railroads, then heavy industry and the huge cities, the boom in technology, and a greater prosperity than the world had ever seen -- all built on bonds and banks, Hamilton's world. In the coming years, a grateful people celebrate the men who created the country. In the nation's capital, they build large monuments to Washington and Jefferson -- but none to Hamilton.

Carol Berkin, Historian: That he is not acknowledged, I think has a lot to do with the fact that he doesn't talk about liberty. He doesn't talk about the republic. There's not a lot of that. He's really much more about creating policies and institutions. And I don't think we like to memorialize people who do practical things. I think the things that Hamilton did don't fit well on monuments.

Joanne B. Freeman, Historian: Hamilton is about the beginnings of systems, you know. He's someone who sees, has a vision, and knows how to put it into effect. It's really the beginnings of a national government, something that we take for granted -- the beginnings of something orderly and powerful and national, something that sometimes we like and sometimes we don't like so much. But either way, it's not the sort of person that we stand up and cheer for.

Richard J. Payne, Historian: Hamilton focused on one thing. He devoted his whole life to one thing, and that was creating the United States. Whether it's financial, whether it's constitutional, whether it's the army, you name it, its Hamilton's. He doesn't need a monument. We live in Hamilton's monument -- this United States. This is Hamilton's monument. And when we talk about the American dream, we're talking about Hamilton's dream.

Narrator: Hamilton's grave is behind Trinity Church in New York City. It is steps away from the site of the Treasury Office, where he first laid out his blueprint for America's future as a strong, united, self-reliant nation. Around the corner is Wall Street and the Stock Exchange, that mighty financial engine that he helped create.

Throughout his life, this orphan immigrant from the West Indies felt that he never really belonged -- that this American world was not made for him. This was only partly true. Alexander Hamilton did belong — he belonged to the future.