ALEXANDER HAMILTON'S LEGACY
September 10, 2004
One of the most significant and eagerly awaited museum exhibitions in
recent years opens today at the venerable New-York Historical Society
on Central Park West at W. 77th St.
"Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America," which will run
through next February, pays tribute to perhaps the most unappreciated
of America's Founding Fathers on the 200th anniversary of his death in
a duel at the hands of Vice President Aaron Burr.
(The building is now hard to miss: It has a giant $10 bill — with
Hamilton's picture — emblazoned across its front.)
Hamilton's astonishing life story — he was born poor and illegitimate
in the Caribbean — and extraordinary list of accomplishments read
almost like fiction: from Revolutionary War hero to father of the
nation's economy and one of the prime shapers of the Constitution.
Hamilton also was very much a New Yorker. Several of the institutions
he founded remain vital to the city's ongoing fortunes — chief among
them the New York Post, which is one of the exhibition's financial
In fact, the official guide to the exhibition is done up as a copy of
the modern-day Post — complete with Page Six and opinion pages, all in
the vivid style of New York's favorite paper, but covering Hamilton's
life and career.
The exhibition is co-produced by the innovative Gilder Lehrman
Institute of American History, whose impressive collection of Americana
is on deposit at the Historical Society. (Richard Brookhiser, whose
tribute to Hamilton appears on the opposite page, serves as historian
In recent weeks, Gilder Lehrman — and the Hamilton exhibit — have come
under fire from leftist academics muttering about a supposed
"conservative" takeover of history and an unworthy tribute to Hamilton
as a conservative icon.
Suffice it to say that Gilder Lehrman has been winning praise for years
across the political spectrum for its work in revitalizing the
importance of American history in the nation's classrooms.
As for Hamilton, it is no exaggeration to say, as this exhibition does,
that his important and distinguished career is, frankly, worthy of
enshrinement on Mount Rushmore. To get an online taste, go to
We congratulate Gilder Lehrman and the NYHS on this marvelous
exhibition, and hope all Post readers pay it a visit.
Copyright 2004 New York Post