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HamiltonAImageThe Science and the Art of Rectification

The gold standard for any astrologer is an official time of birth. Dates are easy. Just about everyone knows their date of birth. But the time can be harder, and sometimes it requires more than dragging out your birth certificate or calling your mom to learn this information. Other times, you have a time but it is approximate, rounded off to the hour or something vague like "around noon". In either case the only thing an astrologer can do is go through a process called rectification.

Rectification is the process of matching the events that occur in a person’s life with transits and progressions that occurred during those periods. Events that occur at a time when an important transit, such as a Saturn Cycle transit, is taking place are eliminated and the focus is placed on events that occurred without such a transit, the supposition being that such event must feature a significant transit to either the angles of the chart (Ascendant, Descendant, Midheaven and I.C.) or the Moon, all of which can only be definitively located with a time of birth.

Rectification can be particularly challenging when we are considering historic figures. These can be people born a long time ago for who a time of birth will never be known and, in some cases, even the date might be a mystery. Take, for example Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton has enjoyed a resurgence of fame in recent years because of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s play, but there are questions about exactly when he was born.

Throughout his adult life, Alexander Hamilton claimed to have been born on Jan. 11, 1757  but biographer Ron Chernow (on whose book the play was based) found evidence that the actual date was Jan. 11, 1755. I find Chernow’s argument compelling and I also prefer the 1755 chart to the 1757 one. The 1755 date makes Hamilton a New Moon baby, with both the Sun and Moon in Capricorn. It also places his Capricorn Sun in a conjunction with Saturn (which rules Capricorn). You might say that Alexander Hamilton was a triple Capricorn.

The one thing that both Ron Chernow’s biography and Miranda’s play emphasize is Hamilton’s enormous ambition and his equally enormous capacity for hard work. Hamilton came to this country as an immigrant and, although he was not exactly destitute (his education was probably financed by a wealthy aunt) he still managed to rise from humble beginnings and become one of the most important political figures of his day. That sounds pretty triple-Capricornian to me.

That gives us a date, but what about the time. This is where I consult my book “Behind the Horoscope” which deals with the combination of the Sun and Moon in the houses. What house would best describe the way in which Hamilton’s Capricorn Sun and Moon functioned in the context of his life?

After some consideration I decided on a prospective chart that put Hamilton’s Sun and Moon in different houses. This chart (click here to see the horoscope) puts Hamilton’s Sun in the Second House. The Second House describes the resources that allow us to make a living in the real world and having the Sun in that house is an indication that the resources you possess will also allow you ego to shine forth. For Hamilton that resource was his phenomenal intelligence. It wasn’t just that he was clever, he had the Capricornian aptitude for organizing his thoughts in a way that got results.

However, it’s not enough just to be smart. You have to get people to notice how smart you are. That’s where the Moon comes in. In this conjectural chart the Moon is placed in the First House. People with the Moon in the First tend to project a quality of vulnerability and need. Other people often react to this projection by seeking to help and protect that person. That’s why I say in “Behind the Horoscope” that people with the Moon in the First House often seem to be popular. It isn’t just that they attract people, they attract people who want to help them.

Throughout his life, Alexander Hamilton benefited from various “helpers” who recognized his talent and his intelligence. It started with the governor of the tiny island where he lived as a boy, who gave Hamilton a scholarship. Then there was his mother’s sister, who helped finance his education, and George Washington, who make him his aide-de-camp. Certainly Hamilton’s ambition and hard work played a part in his success but he could have never accomplished all that he did without these various helpers.

Another thing about this chart is that it places Sagittarius on the Ascendant. Hamilton came of age at a time when revolution was in the air. A typical Capricorn might have adopted a cautious wait-and-see attitude toward this movement, but Hamilton was all in for a break from England from the very start. Later, as a soldier, this sickly scholar displayed phenomenal courage and command on several battlefields. These attributes speak of the excitability and Fire Sign enthusiasm of Sagittarius Rising.

Now comes the proof of the pudding. How does this prospective horoscope perform. Once again, we exclude those events that can be explained by other transits or secondary progressions. That leaves with just a few events that might involve the angles in Hamilton’s horoscope. In this case we have five.

Feb. 19, 1967 – Both Hamilton and his mother are ill with a fever. He survives. She doesn’t. On this date Uranus was square Hamilton’s natal Venus, indicating the loss of a loved one, but his mother's death represented something much more significant. With his father long-since gone, the death of Hamilton’s mother left him and in brother orphaned. At this time Saturn was at 14 degrees of Gemini.

June 1773 – This is the date that Chernow reasons that Hamilton left his island home in the Caribbean and moved to New York. Neptune at 19 degree Virgo.

Fall  1773 – Hamilton (with help from his aunt) is admitted to an exclusive preparatory school where he is able to both study for admission to college and establish contacts with young men from the colonial elite. Saturn at 19 degrees Virgo.

June 1778 – Battle of Monmouth. Here Hamilton displays both phenomenal courage but also the ability to command. Uranus at 14 degrees Gemini.

Sept. 1789 – Appointed the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury, a position that allows Hamilton to put his stamp on the financial foundation of the United States of America. Saturn at 19 Pisces.

When you put these altogether I think you have a pretty strong case for an Ascendant of 14 degrees Sagittarius and a Midheaven of 19 degrees Pisces. Of course, the big problem with this sort of work is that it unlikely that Hamilton’s real time of birth will ever be revealed. My rectification of his chart is never going to be proven right or wrong. That is the tragedy, along with the science and art of rectification.

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