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social sciences

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Hamilton, Alexander (1757-1804)  
page: 1  2  3  

Still, writing before the consciousness of homosexuality as a medical or identity category had made same-sex bonds suspect, Atherton presented the romantic relationship of the two young men straightforwardly, even effusively. She wrote that Laurens "took Hamilton by storm, capturing judgement as well as heart, and loving him as ardently in return."

Her views are never clearer than in her description of Hamilton's reaction to the death of Laurens. "Hamilton mourned him passionately, and never ceased to regret him . . . Betsey [Schuyler Hamilton] consoled, diverted, and bewitched him, but there were times when he would have exchanged her for Laurens." She adds, with some regret, "The perfect friendship of two men is the deepest and highest sentiment of which the finite mind is capable; women miss the best in life."

Sponsor Message.

In Jonathan Katz's pioneering Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (1976), the relationship between Hamilton and Laurens was for the first time read through the lens of a sophisticated understanding of same-sex love and sexual relationships as historically contingent. He places the letters in the social context of their time without excusing their effusive language as merely a convention or describing them in terms of brotherhood or idealized friendship.

Katz points out that, given the number of classical allusions in the letters, Hamilton and Laurens saw the model for their relationship as Greek, and suggests that these classical allusions may have been "one of the semisecret languages used by American homosexuals to speak of those same-sex relations otherwise unnameable among Christians."

The memory of Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens lives on at the Alexander Hamilton Post 448 of the American Legion in San Francisco, the only branch of the organization comprised primarily of glbtq veterans.

Despite the opposition of some other American Legion members, Post 448 received its charter in 1985. Since then they have regularly marched in both San Francisco's Gay Pride Parades and Veterans' Day Parades. They also sent contingents to the 1993 March on Washington and to the Stonewall 25 Parade in New York in 1994 and served as the color guard at Gay Games II in 1986. The members of Alexander Hamilton Post 448 are dedicated to the welfare of glbtq veterans and current service personnel and strongly advocate the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Linda Rapp

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literature >> Overview:  American Literature: Colonial

Although sparsely documented and frequently in a condemnatory context, instances of same-sex male attraction or activity during the American colonial period can be found in or inferred from court documents, travel narratives, sermons, and letters.

social sciences >> Overview:  Marches on Washington

Marches on Washington in support of the rights of glbtq people have been a significant part of the modern movement for equality.

social sciences >> Overview:  Parades and Marches

Both parades and marches have served to render the glbtq community visible; whereas marches typically attempt to effect political change, parades and pride events affirm identity and community.

social sciences >> Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, in effect from 1993 until 2011, was a compromise intended to end discrimination against gay men and lesbians in the U. S. military, but it failed to halt discharges based solely on sexual orientation.


Alexander Hamilton Post 448.

Atherton, Gertrude Franklin. The Conqueror: Being the True and Romantic Story of Alexander Hamilton. New York: Macmillan, 1902.

Brown, Stuart Gerry. Alexander Hamilton. New York: Twayne, 1967.

Katz, Jonathan. Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A.: A Docmumentary. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976.

Mitchell, Broadus. Alexander Hamilton: The Revolutionary Years. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1970.

_____. Alexander Hamilton: Youth to Maturity 1755-1788. New York: Macmillan, 1957.

Norton, Rictor, ed. My Dear Boy: Gay Love Letters through the Centuries. San Francisco: Leyland Publications, 1988.

Schachner, Nathan. Alexander Hamilton. New York: A.S. Barnes, 1946.

Syrett, Harold C., and Jacob E. Cooke, eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vols. I-III. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961-1962.


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Hamilton, Alexander  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated November 16, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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