Do you agree with THIS quote?

"Men give me credit for some genius. All the genius I have is this. When I have a subject in mind, I study it profoundly. Day and night it is before me. My mind becomes pervaded with it... the effort which I have made is what people are pleased to call the fruit of genius. It is the fruit of labor and thought." 

Can you guess the source of this quote?

These words come from Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), the first treasury secretary of the U.S. under George Washington and the architect of the nation's financial system. Hamilton, who sang the praises of a strong central government, was a brilliant theorist and prodigious writer. He, along with James Madison and John Jay, wrote The Federalist Papers, which pushed for ratification of the U.S. Constitution. He championed the establishment of the First Bank of the United States and led the Federalist Party, the first political party to rise to power in the United States.

It's no surprise that Hamilton's story became the theme for a hit Broadway musical.

The illegitimate son of a Scottish immigrant father and a British West Indian mother (who happened to be married to someone else), Alexander Hamilton was born on the Caribbean island of Nevis on January 11. Shortly after Hamilton's birth, his father James abandoned the family, fearful that the mother of his child would be charged with bigamy. In 1768, when Hamilton was around 13 years old, his mother died, thus leaving him an orphan. He was soon hired by an import-export firm and quickly impressed the higher-ups. In 1772, they opted to send Hamilton to the American colonies to further his education. He wound up attending Kings College (what is now Colombia University), blazing an improbable trail that would see him become the leading voice in George Washington's cabinet.

Hamilton's rags-to-riches story encapsulates the American Dream -- the idea that with hard work and unbridled ambition, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. In the quote above, Hamilton is essentially saying, "What you call genius, I call hard work and rigorous thinking." When Hamilton had a goal in mind, he worked toward achieving it with unrelenting passion.

Hamilton's life should serve as a model to us all. If you want something badly enough, chase after it wholeheartedly and don't look back. Whether it's starting your own business or buying a house, you need to eat, drink, and sleep your dream -- or else you'll likely come up short. Unfortunately, most people don't invest the time and effort -- physical, mental, and otherwise -- to reach the finish line.

With all the adversity Hamilton faced in his life, it would have been easy for him to throw in the towel along the way. But the Caribbean immigrant never gave up, becoming a Founding Father and one of the most prominent figures in American history. While we will never find ourselves in Hamilton's shoes -- tasked with helping to forge a new nation out of scratch -- we can achieve more than we ever thought possible with persistence and hard work, much like he did.

 Do you agree with Alexander Hamilton? Can "labor and thought" really take you places?

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