Alexander Hamilton Discussion Questions

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Would you like to teach your high school students about Alexander Hamilton? These discussion questions can be used in conjunction with your teachings, as they analyze the persona of the political figure.

Alexander Hamilton

Hamilton: An American Musical has forever altered, for better or for worse, the public perception of one of America's founding forefathers. He wielded as much influence and sparks as much controversy as just about any American in the annals of history. Your high schoolers will utilize the following discussion questions, as they dig more in depth about the iconic man who in so many ways influenced the direction of a nascent nation.

Alexander Hamilton's Upbringing

  • How would you compare and contrast Alexander Hamilton's upbringing to those of his contemporaries such as George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson?
  • How would you evaluate in what ways Hamilton's hardscrabble youth turned him into the man he became in the future?
  • Hamilton's mother was of French descent and lived in the West Indies. Since he witnessed the inhumanity of slavery on his home island of Nevis, how did this contribute to the fact he was a strict Abolitionist his entire life?

The Constitution

  • Although James Madison is known as 'The Father of the Constitution', for what incredibly important contributions to the Constitution is Alexander Hamilton known?
  • How would you analyze Hamilton's position on a strong federal government as opposed to state sovereignty?
  • How would you judge the reaction to his 'British Plan' by the other delegates at the Constitutional Convention?
  • How would you compare and contrast the way Alexander Hamilton feared anarchy in a limited government, versus the way Thomas Jefferson feared tyranny in an energetic government?
  • How did Hamilton play a critical role in the Annapolis Convention of 1786?
  • What was the Compromise of 1790, and how did it resolve a Congressional deadlock?

The Federalist Party

  • What were The Federalist Papers, how did Hamilton play a major role in them, and who were the other two authors?
  • Why did the Anti-Federalists insist on a Bill of Rights as a countermeasure to the Constitution and Alexander Hamilton's Federalists?
  • How did the Federalist Party's views on burgeoning democracy and the War of 1812 lead to its eventual decline?

The Secretary of the Treasury

  • When Hamilton was appointed treasurer by Washington, how did the former go about consolidating state debt?
  • How do you break down Hamilton's policy on investing in infrastructure, and how underdeveloped was America's financial system at that time?
  • How important was agriculture to the United States economy, and what other businesses did the country have in 1789?
  • How do you calculate the importance of his Report on Public Credit, and how did Congress react to it?

The United States Coast Guard

  • Why did Alexander Hamilton authorize Congress to build a fledgling fleet of ten ships, and thus create the United States Coast Guard?
  • The Coast Guard motto is 'Semper Paratus', which is Latin for 'Always Ready.' How do these words exemplify the way Alexander Hamilton lived his life?
  • In what ways would Hamilton run the modern United States Coast Guard, if he were alive today?

The New York Post Newspaper

  • In addition to his other accomplishments, Alexander Hamilton founded the New York Post. Why do you think he raised money from investors to start this venture?
  • Since Hamilton even wrote editorials that appeared in the newspaper, what kind of topics do you think he discussed, and in what ways did the articles support his political positions?
  • What would Hamilton think of the fact that modern newspapers in America are folding at a rapid rate?

The National Bank

  • What were Hamilton's arguments for proposing the United States should found its own National Bank, similar to those in European countries?
  • Why did James Madison and the Southern states oppose the idea of the National Bank being placed in the Northern city of Philadelphia?
  • What did Thomas Jefferson mean when he proclaimed the banking industry was 'an infinity of successive felonious larcenies?'
  • How did the landmark McCulloch v. Maryland case ultimately uphold the constitutionality of the National Bank?
  • What was the relationship between Hamilton's National Bank and the modern Federal Reserve System which was established in 1914?

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