Alexander Hamilton was a miserable immigrant from Saint Kitts and Nevis. A prolific writer, he wrote 51 Federalist Papers, but a scandalous affair scuttled his chances for a political future.
However, many Broadway buffs do not know one of Hamilton’s enduring accomplishments, which they see daily online at newsstands: he founded the oldest continuously published newspaper in the United States – The New York Post.
In an attempt to make a New York newspaper with a strong position for the Federalist Party – as opposed to the ruling Democratic-Republican Party of President Thomas Jefferson – Hamilton sought to raise $ 10,000 to finance the project.
“Hamilton hoped that the Post would pave the way for other federalist newspapers and give life to an almost moribund party,” wrote author Ron Chernow in his biography “Alexander Hamilton.”
Hamilton contributed $ 1,000 of his own money (about $ 20,000 after adjusting for inflation) and, legend has it, he got the rest of the money at a meeting at the Gracie Mansion Downtown, which today serves of residence to the mayor.
The first issue was published on November 16, 1801, almost three years before Hamilton’s death in an infamous duel with Aaron Burr. The Evening Post was originally just a sheet of paper folded in half to create four pages, according to Allan Nevins’ book The Evening Post: A Century of Journalism. Controversial journalist James T. Callender called it “the most elegant work we have seen, in Europe or America”.
The first subscribers were John Jacob Astor, the great-grandfather of millionaire real estate tycoon John Jacob Astor, who died in the sinking of the Titanic, and Daniel D. Tompkins, who later became governor and vice-president of New York and is the namesake for Tompkins Square Park.
The Post was no vanity project for Hamilton, who frequently used the daily newspaper to carry out vicious political battles.
From December 1801 to April 1802, Hamilton wrote a series of 18 plays under the pseudonym Lucius Crassus, titled “The Examination”, attacking President Jefferson – and he did not shoot.
“The President’s message, for whatever reason it may have been dictated, is a performance that should alarm everyone concerned about the security of our government, the respectability and the well-being of our nation,” he wrote. in the first entry. . “He makes, or aims to make, the most lavish sacrifice of constitutional energy, sound principle and public interest, to the popularity of one man.” ”
The Post’s historic history of covering up local crime began early and unfortunately, with the dueling death of Hamilton’s son Philip at 19.
“His manners on the ground were calm and composed beyond expression,” wrote a reporter for the Post at the scene. “The idea of his own danger seemed to be lost in anticipation of the satisfaction he could receive from the final triumph of his generous moderation. ”
According to Chernow, Hamilton and The Post aimed to depoliticize the tragic murder, which was committed by a young Jeffersonian named George Eacker, who exasperated Philip with an anti-Hamilton speech. Hamilton did not want to be blamed for the death of his own son.
The Post even wrote an anti-duel editorial in stride, years before Hamilton’s death in the same bloody manner.
“Reflections on this horrible custom come to mind for every man,” the newspaper said. “But the voice of an individual or the press must be ineffective without additional, strong and sharp legislative interference. ”
When Hamilton died in 1804 and was buried in a military-style burial near Trinity Church, The Post was there to witness the final expulsion of one of the city’s most celebrated and admired citizens – and of the new nation -.
“The scene was enough to melt a marble monument,” the Post said of the sadness over the premature loss of a founding father.
New York is still the largest city in the world 218 years later, and the New York Post of Hamilton continues to tell its story.