Alexander Hamilton's zeal and abilities as a member of the militia brought him to the attention of George Washington, who gave him a commission and named him aide-de-camp. After four years, he was given a field command to lead a regiment of New York troops at the Battle of Yorktown.
Hamilton married Elizabeth Schuyler, daughter of the influential Gen. Philip Schuyler, which placed Hamilton at the center of New York society. Soon after leaving the army in 1782, he was admitted to legal practice and became assistant to Robert Morris, state superintendent of finance. Elected to the Continental Congress that year, he quickly became a leading proponent of a stronger national government that was provided for in the Articles of Confederation.
Hamilton was a New York delegate to the Constitutional Convention, advocating a national government that essentially would have abolished the states. He even called for a president-for-life. He left the convention early, but approved the constitution drafted by his colleagues. With John Jay and James Madison, Hamilton wrote a series of papers urging the people of New York to ratify the new constitution. The papers were published in book form as The Federalist Papers.
Hamilton was the first secretary of the treasury, holding the office from 1789 through January 31, 1796. Among his successes was the Bank of the United States, chartered in 1791. His plans were so comprehensive and useful to commercial expansion that he caused the opposition of Madison, Jefferson, and others who believed that such a strong central government would negatively affect agriculture.
Hamilton left government to return to his law practice, although he continued to have strong influence on public policy. He strongly opposed John Adams' leadership and reelection. Instead of supporting Aaron Burr, who appeared as the leading candidate and whom Hamilton did not trust, Hamilton supported Thomas Jefferson. The extreme opposition Hamilton had to Burr so angered the latter that he challenged Hamilton to a duel. Hamilton was killed.