Alexander Hamilton was born on a small Caribbean Island called Nevis. He was born on January 11,1752, though he hinted at being born two years later. Much of his early life is obscure. His mother was Rachel Fawcette, daughter of a Protestant French Planter and physician. Her parents marriage was unhappy and they eventually separated. Rachel went with her mother to the Danish Island of Saint Croix. There she met John Lavien, and on the encouragement of her mother, who believed Lavien to be rich, married him. Lavien, however was not rich, but was actually unsuccessful and in debt. This, combined with several other factors weighed heavily against the marriage's success, such as Rachel being young and high spirited, while Lavien was middle aged. .
Rachel Fawcette was imprisoned for adultery in 1750. After Rachel was released from Saint Croix, she fled her husband and son. During the next few years she met James Hamilton, the son of a Scottish noble, and resided with him on Nevis. Hamilton had gone to the West Indies to find fortune, but wasn't successful as a sugar merchant because he squandered his money away on unsuccessful business ventures and pursuits of pleasure. Rachel and James had two sons, James, and Alexander. Lavien secured a divorce in 1759 that under its terms prohibited Rachel from remarrying. Rachel and her husband tried to make the family work, until late 1765, when he left his wife and children. .
Rachel relied on the charity of her relatives on Saint Croix to survive after she was deserted. In a short time she had enough money to buy a small house. She opened the house up into a store. Also, for another source of income she rented out slaves which she had inherited from her mother. Both of her children worked in the store. James Hamilton Jr. found work as an apprentice to a carpenter, however and Alexander got a job with a trading firm called Beckman and Cruger. Alexander had hardly any formal schooling and he spent many hours reading his mother's books for much of his education.