Law School to Give Hamilton Honorary Degree

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April 22, 2018

A New York law school will be handing out an honorary degree to the nation's founding Secretary of the Treasury.

Albany Law School, in its graduation ceremonies on May 18, will bestow on Alexander Hamilton an honorary degree, giving it to Hamilton's fifth-great-grandson, Douglas Hamilton.

Hamilton attended King's College (now Columbia University) in New York City but did not graduate. He did not attend law school and so did not obtain a law degree; rather, he studied on his own and passed the bar exam in 1783, a year before the country's first law school, Litchfield (Conn.) Law School, opened its doors.

Hamilton had a long association with Albany and in 1780 was married there, to Elizabeth Schuyler, at the home of her father, Philip, a Revolutionary War general. Hamilton served in the Continental Army during the war, as a colonel to George Washington, and it was that association that brought Hamilton to Albany for the first time time. In 1777, Washington sent Hamilton there to persuade Gen. Horatio Gates to send reinforcements to Washington's beleaguered forces further south.

As well, New York state's main law courts were in Albany, and Hamilton was a frequent litigator there.

Hamilton will be one of two recipients of honorary degrees from Albany Law School on that day; the other will be Edward Swyer, a real estate developer and frequent law school donor.

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