Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton (2004)

In his major biography of Hamilton, Ron Chernow calls John Laurens “the most intimate friendship” of Hamilton’s life.[1] When Hamilton and Lauren’s first met in 1777, says  Chernow, they “took an instant liking to each other and became inseparable.”[2]

Chernow adds:

As the war progressed, Hamilton wrote to Laurens with such unbridled affection that one Hamilton biography, James T. Flexner, has detected homoerotic overtones in their relationship. Because the style of eighteenth-century letters could be quite florid, even between men, one must tread gingerly in approaching this matter, especially since Laurens’s letters to Hamilton were warm but proper. It is worth noting here, however, how frequently people used the word feminine to describe Hamilton – the more surprising given his military bearing and virile exploits.[3]

Chernow continues:

When John C. Hamilton was preparing his father’s authorized biography, he omitted a loose sheet that has survived in his papers and that describes the relationship between Hamilton and Laurens thus: “In the intercourse of these martial youths, who have been styled ‘the Knights of the Revolution,’ there was a deep fondness of friendship, which approached the tenderness of feminine attachment."[4]

Chernow explains:

Hamilton had certainly been exposed to homosexuality as a boy, since many "sodomites” were transported to the Caribbean along with thieves, pickpockets, and others deemed undesirable. In all thirteen colonies, sodomy had been a capital offense, so if Hamilton and Laurens did become lovers – and it is impossible to day this with any certainty—they would have taken extraordinary precautions.

Chernow here assumes that any kind of sexual activity between the men would have been considered “sodomy,” but this is not the case. Chernow ends this discussion by saying: “At the very least, we can say that Hamilton developed something like an adolescent crush on his friend.”[5]  

Chernow goes on to describe the close “trio” that Hamilton and Laurens formed with the marquis de Lafayette.


1  Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton (Penguin Press, 2004)., page 94.

2  Chernow, page 95.

3  Chernow, page 95. Chernow refers to James T. Flexner, Young Hamilton: A Biography (Fordham University Press, January 1, 1997).

4  Chernow, page 95, citing n.47

5  Chernow, page 95.