Sunday, December 09, 2018 10:00 am - 12:30 pm
Andrew Porwancher / University of Oklahoma
Thousands of miles from the Old World, on a sun-kissed island in the West Indies, a young boy named Alexander Hamilton began a most unlikely journey in the 1750s. His meteoric rise from Caribbean obscurity to American founder has long captivated historians and, more recently, Broadway audiences. Yet one crucial aspect of Hamilton’s life has remained submerged for centuries: the weight of the evidence suggests that he was in fact Jewish.
Drawing on untapped sources in the West Indies, Professor Porwancher makes the case for Hamilton’s Jewish ancestry and explores his ongoing relationships with Jews throughout his lifetime. Although he cast off any Jewish identity in his adulthood in the United States, Hamilton never forgot his origins. He emerged as a singular champion of American Jewry against the forces of anti-Semitism. Hamilton fought for Jewish rights in the courts, collaborated with Jewish merchants, and secured a position for the first Jew on the board of an American college. Alexander Hamilton may in fact have been the Jewish Founding Father.
Andrew Porwancher is the Wick Cary Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma, where he teaches constitutional history. He previously held the Horne Fellowship at Oxford and the Garwood Fellowship at Princeton. Dr. Porwancher is also the recipient of the Longmire Prize for innovative teaching. He is now at work on two new books, “Theodore Roosevelt and the Jews” and “The Jewish Life of Alexander Hamilton.” His first book, “The Devil Himself” is currently being adapted for the stage at a theater company in Dublin.