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Alexander Hamilton Is Getting a Law Degree

By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 26, 2018 6:57 AM

Alexander Hamilton, a prominent American lawyer, Founding Father and face of the $10 bill, did not have a law degree.

So Albany Law School decided it was about time to give him one. More than two centuries after Hamilton studied and practiced law in New York, the law school will confer an honorary law degree on him.

Of course, the school will not exactly give it to the late nation-builder. A descendant will accept it on his behalf.

Great Impact

Alicia Ouellette, president and dean of the law school, said Hamilton had significant ties to Albany. He wrote the first Federalist paper traveling between Albany and New York City.

"By conferring this degree, we are acknowledging his impact on the Capital Region and New York's legal community," she said.

Hamilton will be honored at the law school's graduation ceremony on May 18. Douglas Hamilton, a fifth-great-grandson of the nation's first treasury secretary, said his ancestor never graduated from college, and taught himself the law.

"We use degrees to recognize achievements, and he was an outstanding lawyer," he told ABC News.

Never Graduated

Hamilton attended King's College, but did not graduate. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1783.

He was the principal author of the Federalist Papers, a collection of articles to promote the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His influence in the law continues, even by citation in the latest decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hamilton is acknowledged as a Founding Father, but he did not sign the Declaration of Independence. He was 19 years old at the time, and was serving in the Continental Army in New York.

He died in 1804 after a duel with Aaron Burr, then the sitting vice president of the United States. By some accounts, Hamilton thought the duel was morally wrong and he fired into the air. By all accounts, Burr shot him in the stomach.

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