Episode #271 — In a month famous for celebrating the freedom and blessings of being Americans, we rediscover the story of man who was vital in making this American experiment happen and shaping what it’s become – Alexander Hamilton.
The founding father & first secretary of the treasury was oddly overshadowed by his contemporaries in the centuries since he lived, but is now enjoying a fascinating renaissance of renewed interest thanks to a smash-hit Broadway play & brand new film.
But here’s the untold story within the before-all-too-recently untold story – faith was a defining feature of Hamilton’s life. Author & pastor Kevin Cloud gives us a one of a kind, closer look.
“He was a remarkable man of faith. He grew up in the Caribbean writing hymns! Hymns that speak very eloquently about his relationship with God and his experience of God. At a very young age they’re written, and yet they’re so powerful and eloquent.”
“He comes to America, and begins to attend King’s College where he would go to chapel every day and church twice on Sundays. His roommates spoke about the fervency of his prayers.”
But as Hamilton made a name for himself, his devotion waned.
“In his middle years, reading his writings and other writing about him, he does seem to have drifted from that a little bit. A season of his faith not being quite as important to him. At least it appears that way.”
“Toward the later years of his life, it comes back. He purchases some land and longs to build a chapel for his children on it. His kids talk about sitting around with him reading the scriptures and reading the notes he had taken in the margins.”
The famous duel with Vice President Aaron Burr that would take his life also led to an extraordinary moment shared with his wife Eliza.
“When he’s on his deathbed, his wife Eliza is in the room with him. And Alexander over and over again says to his wife, ‘Eliza, remember you are a Christian. Remember you are a Christian.’ And he’s trying to give her this last sense of hope as he’s about to die. To remind her this isn’t the last word.”
Eliza Hamilton went on to outlive her husband by over four decades, and the legacy she built had their faith interwoven in every step she took.
“She felt called by God to build an orphanage, which I think is a beautiful picture of redemption. Hamilton himself was an orphan, and to be an orphan in those times would’ve been a very hard life. So you can imagine Alexander sharing that burden with his wife, and his wife feeling the pain of that as well.”
“After Alexander dies she – with another group of women – decided to build the first public orphanage in New York City, and they offer this incredible gift to all of these orphans. And that organization Eliza started actually still operates today in New York City. It’s just a remarkable example of the faith Eliza had, and how that faith continues to impact people’s lives today.”
Kevin Cloud is a pastor, church planter & the author of God and Hamilton: Spiritual Themes from the Life of Alexander Hamilton & the Musical He Inspired.On the Road with Kevin Cloud