Ron Chernow's biography undercuts the notion that Alexander Hamilton was a well-born defender of privilege. Here is a passage summing up what the born-out-of-wedlock Hamilton and his brother faced in their youth:
Let us pause briefly to tally the grim catalog of disasters that had befallen these two boys between 1765 and 1769: their father had vanished, their mother had died, their cousin and supposed protector had committed bloody suicide, and their aunt, uncle, and grandmother had all died. James, 16, and Alexander, 14, were now left alone, largely friendless and penniless. At every step in their rootless, topsy-turvy existence, they had been surrounded by failed, broken, embittered people. Their short lives had been shadowed by a stupefying sequence of bankruptcies, marital separations, deaths, scandals, and disinheritance. Such repeated shocks must haveConcerns of war, peace, and security
stripped Alexander Hamilton of any sense that life was fair, that he existed in a benign universe, or that he could ever count on help from anyone. That this abominable childhood produced such a strong, productive, self-reliant human being -- that this fatherless adolescent could have ended up a founding father of a country he had not yet even seen -- seems little short of miraculous.