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Alexander Hamilton shocked many, including his wife, Eliza, by confessing publicly of his affair with Maria Reynolds. But understanding why Hamilton would risk his marriage makes us appreciate how deeply Hamilton–and his wife–valued how posterity would judge him. For both Hamiltons, being remembered as an unfaithful husband was far preferable to being thought a corrupt public servant–one who used his government office to enrich himself. Only by openly acknowledging his failures as a spouse could Hamilton preserve his reputation as a virtuous public servant deserving of posterity’s gratitude.

Douglas Ambrose (Ph.D. SUNY-Binghamton) is the Carolyn C. and David M. Ellis Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, where he has taught since 1990. His teaching and research interests include early America, the Old South, and American religious history. His publications include Henry Hughes and Proslavery Thought in the Old South (LSU 1996) and The Many Faces of Alexander Hamilton: The Life and Legacy of America’s Most Elusive Founding Father (NYU 2006), a volume he co-edited with Hamilton colleague Robert W. T. Martin. He has also written numerous articles, book reviews and encyclopedia entries about Southern slavery and Southern intellectual life. Ambrose is one of three co-founders of the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization in Clinton, NY. He is a recipient of Hamilton College’s Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award and the Hamilton College Student Assembly’s Sidney Wertimer Award for mentorship.


About the Speaker

Doug Ambrose

Doug Ambrose

Douglas Ambrose is a history professor at Hamilton College and the recent recipient of a Fulbright grant to teach American studies in Croatia. Professor Ambrose’s teaching and research interests include early America, the Old South and American religious history. His publications include Henry Hughes and Proslavery Thought in the Old South (LSU 1996) and The Many Faces of Alexander Hamilton: The Life and Legacy of America’s Most Elusive Founding Father (NYU 2006), a volume he co-edited with Hamilton colleague Robert W. T. Martin. He has also written numerous articles, book reviews and encyclopedia entries about Southern slavery and Southern intellectual life. Ambrose is a recipient of the Class of 1963 Excellence in Teaching Award. He holds a doctorate in history from the State University of New York at Binghamton.