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September-October 2016

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Hamilton and the Hurricane

Recently, many people have taken a renewed interest in one of the most important figures in the founding of the United States of America. That founding father was to become a confidential aide to George Washington, as well as the country's first Treasury Secretary, the founder of the United States Coast Guard and Customs Service, the famed murderer of the notorious Aaron Burr, and one of the country's first (and, in the opinion of many, most brilliant) statesmen. That incredible individual was the renowned American politician, Alexander Hamilton. Today, most people when they hear the name “Hamilton” think either of the familiar face on the $10 bill or of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton that chronicles his life. But few people realize that the great early American statesman Alexander Hamilton owed all of his later great fortune and fame to one singular meteorological event: a horrific hurricane that ravaged the West Indies in 1772.

RANDY CERVENY is a contributing editor of Weatherwise and a President's Professor of Geographical Sciences at Arizona State University.       

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