Around 12,000 documents from the Alexander Hamilton Papers at the Library of Congress (LOC) are now online, available in their original format for the first time. The digitization, which was announced on August 28, includes correspondence, manuscripts related to his speeches, and papers from his career as a lawyer, chronicling how the young, scrappy, and hungry St. Croix clerk became the United States’ first Secretary of the Treasury.
The success of the Hamilton musical, still running at Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre after two years, inspired the creation of this public resource on the ten-dollar Founding Father without a father’s legacy. “Alexander Hamilton is certainly having his moment and I am so thrilled that people can learn more about him — actually read his descriptions of Revolutionary War battles, read letters to his wife, see the cross-outs in his draft of George Washington’s farewell address and so many other things,” Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, stated in a release. “Sharing this history is what the Library is all about.”
In fact, some of the language in the musical was adapted by composer Lin-Manuel Miranda from these LOC letters. As NPR reported, one of the digitized documents is Hamilton’s last letter to his wife, Eliza, drafted before he went to New Jersey for a fatal duel with Aaron Burr. He signed off in 1804: “This letter, my very dear Eliza, will not be delivered to you, unless I shall first have terminated my earthly career. Adieu best of wives and best of Women.”
Although his life was short compared to the other American Founding Fathers, Hamilton left behind extensive writings, and his skill with the quill was undeniable. Now anyone can read materials that were previously only viewable on-site, on microfilm, at the LOC. Among the earliest is a letter from Hamilton at age 12, professing his desire to rise up from his station, signed with a flourishing signature. There’s also an outline of the speech he gave at the Constitutional Convention; a draft of the Reynolds Pamphlet, in which he dramatically admitted to his infidelity; and letters to Angelica Schuyler, his wife’s sister. (You can now squint for missing commas after “dearest” yourself.) A few selections from the archive are shared below, with hundreds more now accessible online.
The Alexander Hamilton Papers are now available online through the Library of Congress.