Essay by sscool14Junior High, 8th gradeA+, February 2005

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Unlike many of the other Founding Fathers of America, Alexander Hamilton was not born into a family of wealth and title. Hamilton's mother, Rachel Fawcett, married sugar planter John Lavien on the island of St. Croix in the 1740s. Their relationship was tumultuous, and Lavien frequently beat her. After Lavien had Rachel imprisoned for a short term after one fight, she left her husband and son and fled to the islands of Nevis and St. Kitts in the Caribbean. While there, Rachel met James Hamilton in 1751 and lived with him for nearly fifteen years, even though she had not formally divorced Lavien. James Hamilton and Rachel Lavien had two sons together: James, who was born in 1753, and Alexander. Interestingly, the exact year of Alexander Hamilton's birth is unknown because historians have found two sets of birth records. One set claims Hamilton was born on January 11, 1755, while the other says he was born in 1757.

Hamilton himself maintained that he was born in 1757.Alexander Hamilton's family was too poor to afford any regular schooling for the boys, although Alexander later recalled studying for a short time at a Jewish school. When Alexander was ten years old, he and his family moved back to the island of St. Croix. After discovering that Rachel was still technically married to John Lavien, James Hamilton, Sr. returned to Nevis and St. Kitts, leaving Rachel and his two sons behind. Although Alexander wrote to his father for the rest of his life, he never saw James Hamilton, Sr. again. Alexander and his faced further tragedy when Rachel died of a fever in 1768. Worse still, John Lavien took the small inheritance Rachel Fawcett had left her sons and gave the money to his and Rachel's son, Peter. James Hamilton, Jr. and...