News of Alexander Hamilton’s shocking death spread quickly through New York City. His friend Gouverneur Morris found “the whole city agitated, every countenance dejected.” Two days later, the city council hosted Hamilton’s funeral, which it asked the New York State Society of the Cincinnati to organize. The solemn event began with a lengthy procession through the city, followed by Morris’s funeral oration and the burial in Trinity churchyard. Hamilton was laid to rest in the heart of his adopted city, where he spent most of his life studying, conceiving, defending and administering institutions that came to define the American government and sustain the Union.
Even in death, Hamilton inspired sharply divided views of the importance of his life and work. One of Hamilton’s eulogizers, the Reverend John M. Mason, considered him the “greatest statesman in the western world, perhaps the greatest man of the age.” One Massachusetts politician’s sentiments were more balanced: “His virtues surpassed those of other men almost as much as his talents -- his errors unfortunately for the Country were conspicuous & diminished his influence.” But not everyone mourned Hamilton’s passing. John Adams grumbled, “Vice, Folly, and Villainy are not to be forgotten, because the guilty Wretch repented, in his dying Moments.”
As the revolutionary generation aged and the nation it created matured, Hamilton’s impact became clearer. As Joseph Story, a justice of the Supreme Court, remarked, “He saw fifty years ahead, and what he saw then, is fact now.”