Early Life on Nevis, St. Eustatius, and St. Croix

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The Alexander Hamilton Museum in Charlestown, Nevis.

Alexander Hamilton’s Birthplace on Nevis

Although he was one of the people most responsible for America’s political and economic independence from Great Britain, Alexander Hamilton sprang from humble origins. He was born on January 11 about 1754 on the small Caribbean island of Nevis. Hamilton’s father was James Hamilton, an unsuccessful Scottish merchant. His mother, Rachel Faucett Lavien, was of English and French Huguenot background and was born on Nevis.

The Alexander Hamilton Museum is part of the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society. The museum occupies the first floor of the main building and an adjacent building, where there is a Hamilton exhibit. The second floor of the main building is where the Nevis House of Assembly meets. Nevis is part of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

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Map of the Caribbean, 1790s

This map detail shows Hamilton's birthplace, the island of Nevis, as well as the islands of St. Eustatius and St. Croix, where Hamilton grew up as a young man.

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View of St. Eustatius, 1777.

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Fort de Windt, St. Eustatius.

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The restored building of the 18th-c. Synagogue Honen Dalim in Oranjestad, St. Eustatius.

Hamilton on St. Eustatius

Hamilton's family moved on several occasions from one Caribbean island to another in search of better income and living. New evidence reveals that he and his family spent several years on the Dutch island of St. Eustatius, also known locally as Statia, situated just north of St. Kitts, where young Hamilton would have continued his early education.

Historically neutral, St. Eustatius offered a port free of duties and taxation to all merchant ships traveling between the colonies and the mother countries, thus becoming a thriving center of international trade. Numerous ships entered the port, delivering and trading raw goods and finished products. Many people flocked to the island in search of fortune and better opportunity for advancement.

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Early view of the Port of Christiansted, St. Croix.

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Rachel Faucett Lavien monument on St. Croix.

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The port of Christiansted today, with a view of the old Scale House in the center and the old Customs House to the left.

Hamilton on St. Croix

In 1765, James Hamilton moved to St. Croix, and shortly thereafter sent for the rest of the family, which included Alexander, his mother, and his brother James. Soon after that James Hamilton abandoned the family and Rachel later died of fever. Alexander, about 12, started clerking in the mercantile firm of Beekman and Cruger. In this role, he often needed to go to the port for various documents, inspection, and weighing needed for shipments arriving or leaving the island. According to his son John, Hamilton referred to this work experience as “the most useful part of his education.”

Early Life on Nevis, St. Eustatius, and St. Croix