At BNY Mellon, Alexander Hamilton’s genius is our legacy. His foresight and ability to act upon his visionary thinking set him apart from his peers.
One of his many achievements was founding The Bank of New York, now BNY Mellon, in 1784. We have gone on to be the longest continually operating bank in the United States and, for us, Hamilton’s impact is as relevant today as it was in the 18th century.
Hamilton was a man of many talents who from humble beginnings embarked upon a journey which would lead him to become a founding father of the United States of America and the country’s first Secretary of the Treasury.
Here we explore key highlights in his life and how his legacy continues to inspire us today.
Alexander Hamilton was a founding father of the United States of America, and the country’s first Secretary of the Treasury. An author of the economic policies of the George Washington administration, he was instrumental in the creation of the U.S. financial system. In 1784, he founded The Bank of New York, now BNY Mellon.
Born on the Caribbean island of Nevis, Alexander Hamilton served in the American Revolutionary War, where he became senior aide to General George Washington.
After assisting the future President on many missions, he returned from active service to study law in New York.
Although Hamilton was not elected President, he was named a representative of Congress by his wartime ally President George Washington in 1788.
A year later, after successfully lobbying New Yorkers to ratify the U.S. Constitution, Hamilton was chosen by President George Washington to serve as first Secretary of the Treasury for the United States of America.
Hamilton held this post from 1789 to 1795 and initially focused on addressing the heavy debt of the Revolutionary War as well as introducing plans for the First Bank of the United States.
As first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton’s forward-thinking policies brought about real change. However, even prior to him assuming the post, Hamilton’s pioneering spirit and ability to put in place the mechanisms to deliver his vision led to many achievements that laid the foundation of the U.S. finance system. Highlights of his career include:
Hamilton founded The Bank of New York in 1784. It’s first office was in Walton House, Lower Manhattan and today, over 230 years later, BNY Mellon is present in 35 countries, providing investment management and investment services that help individuals and institutions to invest, conduct business and transact in over 100 markets worldwide.
In 1787, Hamilton represented the New York State Legislature and served as a delegate during the Constitutional Convention. Along with his fellow founding fathers, he signed the United States Constitution on 17 September 1787.
Throughout 1788, Hamilton played a pivotal role in the campaign to get the Constitution successfully ratified in New York.
In 1792, The Bank of New York was the first stock to be traded on the newly-opened New York Stock Exchange. Hamilton founded The Bank of New York, along with the other four companies first to be listed on the exchange.
Hamilton’s influence was far-reaching. One of his visionary acts while serving as Secretary of the Treasury was the creation of the first United States Coast Guard in 1790. Originally known as the Revenue-Marine, the group was established to collect and enforce customs fees at ports across the U.S.
In 1915, it merged with the U.S. Life-Saving Service to become the U.S. Coast Guard.
Due to his work as the Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton has appeared on more U.S. dollar denominations than anyone else.
In the past, his image has appeared at various times on the $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $1000 notes, but it is John Trumbull’s 1805 portrait of Hamilton that has endured on the U.S 10-dollar bill since 1928.
This honour celebrates Hamilton’s critical role in designing the U.S. financial system.
Hamilton’s rich history of innovation continues to inspire BNY Mellon today. As a company founded on innovation, we continue to invest in pioneering progress, helping to shape the future of finance.
From being an inaugural member of the SWIFT network, the first company to execute securities processing transactions over the internet or launching the first mobile securities processing application, BNY Mellon has always been at the forefront of innovation.
Collectively our global network of Innovation Centres are creating a digital transformation throughout the investment lifecycle, leveraging our BNY Mellon NEXENSM platform and encouraging collaboration to develop solutions that power investment success.
Hamilton’s pioneering spirit is an integral part of our vision to improve lives through investing.
Test your Hamilton knowledge by taking our quick quiz or learn about his leadership, the role that George Washington played in mentoring Hamilton, and how mentoring is important in developing talent at BNY Mellon today.
See how much you know about the man and his achievements by taking this Hamilton quiz.Take The Hamilton Quiz
Watch our video as our former Chairman, Gerald Hassell, reflects upon Hamilton’s legacy.Learn more
Learn how Hamilton's pioneering spirit inspires us today as we continue to improve lives through investing.Learn More About Alexander Hamilton