On the south patio of the magnificent Treasury Building stands an elegant bronze statue dressed in the typical attire of an 18th century gentleman: ruffled shirt, knee breeches, buckled shoes, a dress coat. He is holding a tri-cornered hat.
The fine statue by sculptor James Earle Fraser memorializes Alexander Hamilton, no ordinary gentleman. Military aide to George Washington and highly regarded financier, he was appointed the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury in 1789.
An ardent proponent of a strong federal government, he was in constant disagreement with Thomas Jefferson over the reach and powers of the federal government and the independence of the Department of the Treasury. He believed the department should not only collect and allocate public revenue, but also promote the country’s economic development.
His initial focus as Secretary of the Treasury was to institute a revenue system to repay the debt incurred by the Revolutionary War. He was successful, and in doing so established confidence in the young country, so necessary to its economic viability.
He established the First Bank of the United States as the financial agent of the Treasury Department – a place where public funds were deposited. He introduced plans for the U.S. Mint to be part of the Treasury Department, but lost out to Jefferson when it was established in the State Department in 1792. It was finally transferred back to Treasury in 1873.
The donor of the statue is unknown. Gossip of the day attributed the statue to a mysterious, veiled woman.
Address: 1555 Alexander Hamilton Pl NW, Washington D.C.