As Revolutionary America had produced two commanding figures who became world-wide known, Washington and Franklin, so the youthful republic raised into fame two brilliantly able men whose reputations spread beyond the seas - Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. They represented two powerful though different tendencies in American life, Hamilton the tendency toward closer union and a stronger national government, Jefferson the tendency toward a broader, freer democracy.
Hamilton had been born in Nevis, a little island of the Lesser Antilles, to a Scottish father and a Huguenot mother. He grew up ambitious, generous, devoted, proud, quick to take offences and inexhaustible energy. His achievements all arose from his combination of brilliancy, self-confident ambition, and industry. His father had no money to send him to college. But a terrible hurricane swept the Antilles, and he wrote a description of it which attracted so much attention that his aunts sent him to the American mainland. He entered King's College in New York, and threw himself into contact with the radicals of the town who were leading the revolt against royal authority. When at twenty-two he became captain of an artillery company, he took his books to camp and studied far into the night.
Besides brilliancy and ambition, Hamilton had other qualities which served him well. He possessed great personal attractiveness. With reddish-brown hair, bright brown eyes, fine forehead, and firm mouth and chin, he was very handsome, his face animated and pleasant when he talked, severe and thoughtful when he was at work. He liked a lively dinner party and shone in any circle which offered intellectual companions, and witty talk. As leader of the New York patriots, he was brought to Washington's notice and made him the general's principal aide, it enabled him to lead a dramatic assault at the siege of Yorktown, it rendered him the principal figure in Washington's administration, and it gave him command of a great party. He had remarkable talents as an executive and organizer. He wrote and spoke much. Yet he also showed striking defects. He was quick-tempered. He quarrelled with Washington near the end of the war and rejected the advances that Washington made to heal the breach. His arrogance of spirit brought him into unnecessarily conflicts - with Jefferson, with the Washington administration, and with Aaron Burr, ending in his own death in a duel.
Antilles - Антильские острова
attract the attention - привлечь внимание
possess - владеть
animate - оживлять
severe - суровый
thoughtful - задумчивый
executive - исполнительный
arrogance - высокомерие
hot-tempered - вспыльчивый, горячий
1. Who represented two powerful though different tendencies in American life?
2. What family did Alexander Hamilton come from?
3. What helped Hamilton to enter King's College in New York?
4. Can you prove that Alexander Hamilton was fond of learning?
5. What positive qualities did Alexander Hamilton possess?
6. Who promoted Alexander Hamilton to a high governmental position?
7. What were Alexander Hamilton's defects of character?
8. What did Hamilton's temper bring him into?