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Myths and Misconceptions - Alexander Hamilton was Jewish

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Misconception: "Alexander Hamilton was Jewish"

The Facts:

Neither Hamilton's mother, Rachel Fawcett Lavien (Hamilton), nor his father, James Hamilton, were Jewish. James Hamilton was a Presbyterian from Scotland. Rachel Fawcett Lavien was a first-generation Nevisian of French Hugenot (Protestant) descent.¹

The misunderstanding that Alexander Hamilton was Jewish sometimes arises from a 20th century claim that Rachel's first husband, John Lavien, was possibly Jewish. However, there is no other proof that John Lavien was Jewish. Either way, John Lavien is not a relative of Alexander Hamilton.

There is also confusion about possible Jewish roots because Alexander Hamilton attended a Jewish school for a short time in his youth. Hamilton's son wrote that he “mentioned with a smile, his having been taught to repeat the decalogue in Hebrew, at the school of a Jewess, when so small that he was placed standing by her side upon a table.”² It is believed that since Alexander was considered illegitimately born he would have been barred from attending Christian school.

Nevertheless, Alexander Hamilton practiced Christianity throughout his life. 

Though Alexander Hamilton was not Jewish, he did respect Jewish people and their faith. In his personal papers, he jotted down the following statement: “[The] progress of the Jews...from their earliest history to the present time has been & is, intirely out of the ordinary course of human affairs. Is it not then a fair conclusion that the cause also is an extraordinary one—in other words that it is the effect of some great providential plan?"3

Conclusion: Alexander Hamilton was not Jewish.

Notes:

¹ Alexander Hamilton wrote in a letter to a friend that, "My Grandfather by the mothers side of the name of Faucette was a French Huguenot who emigrated to the West Indies in consequence of the revocation of the Edict of Nantz and settled in the Island of Nevis."

² John C. Hamilton, "History of the Republic," Volume 1, Page 42

3 Papers of Alexander Hamilton 

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