Explanation
 

It was my original intention to write a biography of Alexander Hamilton in a more flexible manner than is customary with that method of reintroducing the dead to the living, but without impinging upon the territory of fiction. But after a visit to the British and Danish West Indies in search of the truth regarding his birth and ancestry, and after a wider acquaintance with the generally romantic character of his life, to say nothing of the personality of this most endearing and extraordinary of all our public men, the instinct of the novelist proved too strong; I no sooner had pen in hand than I found myself working in the familiar medium, although preserving the historical sequence. But, after all, what is a character novel but a dramatized biography? We strive to make our creations as real to the world as they are to us. Why, then, not throw the graces of fiction over the sharp hard facts that historians have laboriously gathered? At all events, this infinitely various story of Hamilton appealed too strongly to my imagination to be frowned aside, so here, for better or worse, is the result. Nevertheless, and although the method may cause the book to read like fiction, I am conscientious in asserting that almost every important incident here related of his American career is founded on documentary or published facts or upon family tradition; the few that are not have their roots among the probabilities, and suggested themselves. As for the West Indian part, although I was obliged to work upon the bare skeleton I unearthed in the old Common Records and Church Registers, still the fact remains that I did find the skeleton, which I have emphasized as far as is artistically possible. No date is given nor deed referred to that cannot be found by other visitors to the Islands. Moreover, I made a careful study of these Islands as they were in the time of Hamilton and his maternal ancestors, that I might be enabled to exercise one of the leading principles of the novelist, which is to create character not only out of certain well-known facts of heredity, but out of understood conditions. In this case I had, in addition, an extensive knowledge of Hamilton's character to work backward from, as well as his estimate of the friends of his youth and of his mother. Therefore I feel confident that I have held my romancing propensity well within the horizon of the probabilities; at all events, I have depicted nothing which in any way interferes with the veracity of history. However, having unburdened my imagination, I shall, in the course of a year or two, write the biography I first had in mind. No writer, indeed, could assume a more delightful task than to chronicle, in any form, Hamilton's stupendous services to this country and his infinite variety.

G.F.A.