I am the producer/director of a new PBS documentary on Alexander Hamilton. A sequel to our acclaimed film on George Washington, this film is the story of the “bastard brat of a Scotch peddler,” in John Adams words, who went on to shape America’s financial and legal system before being shot in a duel by the sitting Vice President, Aaron Burr.
Back when we started working on the film, in 2007, no one cared about finance or knew the name of the current Treasury Secretary, let alone the name of the first one. One year changed all that. After America went through a financial meltdown in 2008, the man who created our financial system and dealt with its first crisis suddenly seemed relevant. Today, in 2011, I look around and see the Arab world in revolution, one step away from having to figure out how to create stable democracies. They would do well to consult the legacy of Alexander Hamilton, who helped shape our constitution and then wrote (along with James Madison and John Jay) the definitive explanation of how it works — The Federalist Papers. Viewers should tune in to PBS on April 11 at 10PM (check your local listings).