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Congress Considering National Park Facilities to Honor Alexander Hamilton

Sept. 26, 2007 — A move toward a National Park Service facility on St. Croix recognizing Alexander Hamilton starts Thursday with a hearing by a U.S. Senate subcommittee.
"His formative years were spent here on St. Croix," said Joel Tutein, superintendent at three National Park Service facilities: Christiansted National Historic Site, Buck Island Reef National Monument and Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve.
The U.S. Senate Energy Committee’s National Park Subcommittee will study the feasibility of designating areas on St. Croix relating to Hamilton.
The lessons Hamilton learned on St. Croix served him well in his later years, Tutein said. The Nevis-born Hamilton spent his younger years on St. Croix, then a Danish territory, before moving to the U.S. mainland. He went on to serve as the nation's first treasury secretary.
The Congressional study area will include 115 acres at Estate Grange, located outside Christiansted near the Beeston Hill tennis club, Tutein said.
"His mother is buried on the property," he said.
The study also includes Hamilton's mother's home on Company Street in Christiansted, located near the cemetery, and the building that housed Kruger's store on King Street in Christiansted.
The idea of a National Park facility honoring Hamilton is "an idea whose time has come," said Gov. John deJongh Jr. in a news release issued Tuesday. Legislation highlights the important historic link between the Virgin Islands and one of America’s most important founding fathers.
“Alexander Hamilton is the architect of the American financial system, the founder of the Customs Service and the Coast Guard," deJongh said, according to the release. "He established his financial acumen and his writing skills while living on St. Croix. Hamilton established his anti-slavery views as a result of his experience on St. Croix."
The governor said he envisions hundreds of thousands of residents and tourists visiting the Alexander Hamilton sites each year. Additional facilities should include a library, museum and conference center, he said.
"His vision of America as a manufacturing and trading center, rather than only an agrarian nation, was formed through his experiences as a trader in Christiansted harbor," deJongh said. "Estate Grange, where his mother is buried, should be transformed into a national center for the study of Alexander Hamilton, the triangle trade and the American revolution."
The bill for the feasibility study was proposed by Sen. Orin Hatch of Utah, who deJongh said visited St. Croix along with other senators. The proposed feasibility study should come with funding, as did two other Congressional studies now underway, Tutein said.
Congress is studying the feasibility of including Castle Nugent Farm under the National Park Service umbrella. Additionally, Tutein said, it is looking at designating St. Croix a National Heritage Area.
Hamilton was the illegitimate son of James Hamilton, the fourth son of a Scottish Laird, and the Nevis-born Rachel Faucett Lavian, according to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. The couple also had another son, James Jr.
Hamilton was born Jan. 11, 1755 or 1757 — the exact year remains unclear.
In 1765, James Hamilton moved the family to Christiansted but soon abandoned them. Hamilton's mother supported herself and her two sons by keeping store in Christiansted. She died of a fever in 1768, which left Hamilton and his brother orphans.
Lavian had previously lived on St. Croix, but left for St. Kitts in 1750 to escape a bad marriage to Johann Michael Lavien. A son from that marriage claimed what little Lavien had to leave to her illegitimate sons, which left Hamilton without resources.
After his mother's death, he was adopted by a cousin, Peter Lytton, and went to work at a Christiansted export firm, Beekman and Cruger. After Lytton committed suicide, Hamilton was adopted by local merchant Thomas Stevens.
When a hurricane devastated St. Croix on Aug. 30, 1772, Hamilton wrote an account of the storm that was published in the Royal Danish-American Gazette. Impressed by his writing, the St. Croix community raised money to send Hamilton to school in Elizabethtown, N.J. He went on to study at King's College, which later became Columbia University, in New York City.
Hamilton served with the New York militia in the Revolutionary War and was a member of the Continental Congress before opening a law office in New York in 1783. In 1784, he founded the Bank of New York.
In 1787, he served as an assemblyman from New York and a delegate to the Constitutional Convention.
He then served as treasury secretary from 1789 to 1795 before dying in 1804 during a duel with U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr. The vice president claimed Hamilton attacked his honor and demanded an apology from Hamilton, but Hamilton refused.
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Sept. 26, 2007 -- A move toward a National Park Service facility on St. Croix recognizing Alexander Hamilton starts Thursday with a hearing by a U.S. Senate subcommittee.
"His formative years were spent here on St. Croix," said Joel Tutein, superintendent at three National Park Service facilities: Christiansted National Historic Site, Buck Island Reef National Monument and Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve.
The U.S. Senate Energy Committee’s National Park Subcommittee will study the feasibility of designating areas on St. Croix relating to Hamilton.
The lessons Hamilton learned on St. Croix served him well in his later years, Tutein said. The Nevis-born Hamilton spent his younger years on St. Croix, then a Danish territory, before moving to the U.S. mainland. He went on to serve as the nation's first treasury secretary.
The Congressional study area will include 115 acres at Estate Grange, located outside Christiansted near the Beeston Hill tennis club, Tutein said.
"His mother is buried on the property," he said.
The study also includes Hamilton's mother's home on Company Street in Christiansted, located near the cemetery, and the building that housed Kruger's store on King Street in Christiansted.
The idea of a National Park facility honoring Hamilton is "an idea whose time has come," said Gov. John deJongh Jr. in a news release issued Tuesday. Legislation highlights the important historic link between the Virgin Islands and one of America’s most important founding fathers.
“Alexander Hamilton is the architect of the American financial system, the founder of the Customs Service and the Coast Guard," deJongh said, according to the release. "He established his financial acumen and his writing skills while living on St. Croix. Hamilton established his anti-slavery views as a result of his experience on St. Croix."
The governor said he envisions hundreds of thousands of residents and tourists visiting the Alexander Hamilton sites each year. Additional facilities should include a library, museum and conference center, he said.
"His vision of America as a manufacturing and trading center, rather than only an agrarian nation, was formed through his experiences as a trader in Christiansted harbor," deJongh said. "Estate Grange, where his mother is buried, should be transformed into a national center for the study of Alexander Hamilton, the triangle trade and the American revolution."
The bill for the feasibility study was proposed by Sen. Orin Hatch of Utah, who deJongh said visited St. Croix along with other senators. The proposed feasibility study should come with funding, as did two other Congressional studies now underway, Tutein said.
Congress is studying the feasibility of including Castle Nugent Farm under the National Park Service umbrella. Additionally, Tutein said, it is looking at designating St. Croix a National Heritage Area.
Hamilton was the illegitimate son of James Hamilton, the fourth son of a Scottish Laird, and the Nevis-born Rachel Faucett Lavian, according to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. The couple also had another son, James Jr.
Hamilton was born Jan. 11, 1755 or 1757 -- the exact year remains unclear.
In 1765, James Hamilton moved the family to Christiansted but soon abandoned them. Hamilton's mother supported herself and her two sons by keeping store in Christiansted. She died of a fever in 1768, which left Hamilton and his brother orphans.
Lavian had previously lived on St. Croix, but left for St. Kitts in 1750 to escape a bad marriage to Johann Michael Lavien. A son from that marriage claimed what little Lavien had to leave to her illegitimate sons, which left Hamilton without resources.
After his mother's death, he was adopted by a cousin, Peter Lytton, and went to work at a Christiansted export firm, Beekman and Cruger. After Lytton committed suicide, Hamilton was adopted by local merchant Thomas Stevens.
When a hurricane devastated St. Croix on Aug. 30, 1772, Hamilton wrote an account of the storm that was published in the Royal Danish-American Gazette. Impressed by his writing, the St. Croix community raised money to send Hamilton to school in Elizabethtown, N.J. He went on to study at King's College, which later became Columbia University, in New York City.
Hamilton served with the New York militia in the Revolutionary War and was a member of the Continental Congress before opening a law office in New York in 1783. In 1784, he founded the Bank of New York.
In 1787, he served as an assemblyman from New York and a delegate to the Constitutional Convention.
He then served as treasury secretary from 1789 to 1795 before dying in 1804 during a duel with U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr. The vice president claimed Hamilton attacked his honor and demanded an apology from Hamilton, but Hamilton refused.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.