By Sam Gelman
Communications and Program Officer
In The Jewish World of Alexander Hamilton, published by Princeton University Press, Dr. Andrew Porwancher looks at Hamilton’s origins and determines that he was in all likelihood born and raised Jewish. Porwancher served as a senior research fellow at the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, and traveled to the Caribbean, where Hamilton was born. There he discovered a selection of archives that sent him on a globetrotting journey to discover the true roots of one of America’s leading Founding Fathers.
“This research would not have been possible without the support of the Straus Center,” says Dr. Porwancher. “I hope that readers can now see with fresh eyes not only Hamilton’s origin story but also his significant contributions to Jewish life in the early years of the American republic.”
The book has been a long time in the making. In 2016, Dr. Porwancher presented some of his early findings with Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, Straus Center director ,as part of the Early America and the Jews lecture series. This included evidence that, in all likelihood, Hamilton’s mother converted to Judaism before he was born. Unlike most scholars and historians, he also does not dismiss the fact that Hamilton attended a Jewish school in the area. “Either I’m crazy, or I’m a lone voice of sanity,” he told Tablet at the time, referring to his digression from historical consensus.
Press for the book so far includes interviews with Justin Fox at The Washington Post and Bloomberg, a story on InsideHook and an excerpt in the Jewish Book Council that highlights Hamilton’s passionate and zealous court defense of the Jewish people. “Our friend Hamilton never appeared to have his passions so warmly engaged in any cause,” opposing counsel Robert Troup wrote in a letter describing Hamilton’s speech.
“This book is a fascinating and incredibly important work of scholarship,” says Rabbi Soloveichik. “It uncovers incredible details about the life of an American founder and the Jewish story in North America, and it eloquently illustrates how the latter impacted the former.”
The Jewish World of Alexander Hamilton is available wherever books are sold. You can learn more about the Straus Center by signing up for our newsletter here. Be sure to also like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram and connect with us on LinkedIn.