For those interested in the life and times of Alexander Hamilton, you should know that the years he spent on St. Croix in the Danish West Indies became eight of the most influential and formative years of his life. Throughout his career, Hamilton applied the knowledge he gained on St. Croix, most notably his understanding of international trade, the need for a standardized currency and a sound fiscal policy, and his abolitionist views of slavery. Today, you can still walk in the footsteps of young Alexander Hamilton here in Christiansted and enjoy the experience of touring the town that shaped his extraordinary life.
The National Park Service (NPS) has researched and prepared a two-page publication/map called Alexander Hamilton’s Christiansted. This publication offers a self-guided walking tour that will take you around the former capital of the “Danish Islands in America” to some of the sites directly associated with Hamilton’s life on St. Croix, when he lived here between the ages of 10 and 18. Here is a list of the sites covered by the NPS self-guided tour:
1. Christiansted Wharf (Christiansted National Historic Site): During the second half of the 1700s, Christiansted was a bustling international port city. Christiansted Wharf was the site of international trade, as well as the wharf at which Hamilton arrived on St. Croix in 1765 as a child and departed from 8 years later to attend school in British North America.
2. Fort Christiansvaern (Christiansted National Historic Site): Hamilton’s mother, Rachel Faucette, was imprisoned in the fort for several months in 1750 by her former husband, Johan Michael Lavien.
Fort Christiansvaern at Christiansted National Historic Site
3. & 4. Numbers 23 and 34 Company Street: Rachel Faucette supported herself and two sons by running a small plantation supply store, which the family resided above. The combination store and residence was located at No. 34 Company Street, but was temporarily moved in 1767 to No. 23 Company Street. Unfortunately, neither structure has survived.
5. St. John’s Anglican Church (27 King Street): The Church of England established this parish in 1760 to minister to the growing number of British subjects living on St. Croix. Hamilton’s mother, listed as “Rachel Levine”, was found in the church’s burial records for 1768 after she died from yellow fever. The original wooden church was destroyed in the hurricane of 1772 and was replaced by the existing Gothic revival church in 1780.
St. John’s Anglican Church
6. Thomas Stevens’ Residence (King Street): After Rachel’s death, Hamilton lived with merchant Thomas Stevens and his family on King Street where Hamilton became lifelong friends with Thomas’ son, Edward. The exact location of the Stevens’ residence is unknown.
7. Former Presbyterian Church (13 Watergut at Prince Street): Reverend Hugh Knox, pastor of the Presbyterian congregation in Christiansted beginning in 1772, befriended Hamilton as a teenager and provided him with religious guidance and helped to further his education. The church property was sold in 1818 and the church building was later demolished.
8. The Firm of Nicholas Cruger (Numbers 7 and 8 King Street): Hamilton went to work as a clerk for the import-export firm of David Beekman and Nicholas Cruger in 1766 at the age of eleven. Hamilton learned the complexities of international trade and foreign exchange while working for Beekman and Cruger and would go on to tell his children that his experiences with Cruger were “the most useful part of his education.” Cruger’s building was replaced in the late 1700s by the building you see today.
Building where Hamilton clerked for Nicholas Cruger
You can pick up a copy of the Alexander Hamilton’s Christiansted walking tour map and information sheet at the Christiansted National Historic Site’s Fort Christiansvaern or the Scale House during their normal business hours, or you can download a copy here. To learn a bit about Hamilton’s history in the Caribbean before you set off on a self-guided tour, we recommend reading our blog Alexander Hamilton’s History on St. Croix. You can also take a guided walking tour of Christiansted that focuses on Alexander Hamilton with CHANT, which is a great way to learn more about how Hamilton’s life on St. Croix influenced his education and ideals. Whichever you choose, enjoy strolling some of the streets and sites that Alexander Hamilton walked 250 years ago!
– Jennie Ogden, Editor