Despite dying in a duel 212 years ago, Alexander Hamilton is in the news today…
Unless you’ve seen the sold-out Broadway musical, read the news articles of the cast’s message to Mike Pence (or Donald Trump’s tweets in response), you probably won’t know much about Hamilton. Even if you have been following, it’s still easy to miss the huge lesson he left us.
As a Hamilton myself, I’ve spent years tracking back my family tree to the beginning of the Scottish Hamilton Clan, and then forward to distant relatives like Alexander Hamilton.
He was one of my inspirations for becoming a social entrepreneur – and his amazing story is an example of how to think bigger:
Imagine travelling to a new country and starting a business.
Now imagine travelling to a new country, helping to form a brand new government, creating a financial system from scratch and coming up with brand new money that becomes the world’s reserve currency a hundred and fifty years later.
That’s what Alexander Hamilton did.
Born into a Scottish family in the British West Indies, Alexander was orphaned at birth by his mother’s death, and abandoned by his father.
Travelling to America for a new beginning, he joined the war, became George Washington’s aide and then the American forces’ commander-in-chief by the time he was 21 years old.
When George Washington became President, Alexander became the first US Secretary of the Treasury and built the entire financial system that the US still runs today (despite all his financial knowledge coming from being an accounting clerk in the West Indies when he was a teenager).
He took on all the states’ debts after the war, created one national debt and created the first National Bank of the United States. He then proposed the US have its own currency, set up the US Mint and minted the first US dollars.
Imagine immigrating to a new country and working within their system.
Now imagine immigrating to a new country and reimagining the entire system – then creating it.
Don’t like the government? Create a new one. Don’t like the financial system, replace it. Don’t trust the money? Print your own.
While it’s easy to think that times of such radical change are a thing of the past, the reality is that we are living in times which are as uncertain and fast-changing today as the US was 200 years ago. Except now it’s the entire world that is in a state of change.
So when we’re looking for inspiration for global transformation, we don’t need to look at today’s politicians, but we can look back to the founding fathers of the past.
What would Alexander Hamilton do today?
What new system would he create?
What new currency would he mint?
What new movement would he begin?
The reality is, today new systems are already being created. New digital currencies are already being minted. New movements have already begun. It’s just that this time, governments are not the main agent for change.
So when I see Alexander’s face on a US ten dollar bill, or see him in the news, I get reminded to think bigger, as the size of our tomorrow will equal the size of our thinking today.