That spring , Hamilton received a long overdue letter from Scotland - several decades overdue, in fact - that afforded him profound satisfaction. It came from William Hamilton, one of his father’s younger brothers, who amiably related news of his Scottish relatives. This marked the first time that Hamilton, forty-two, had any contact with his paternal family. Despite a lack of direct dealings with them, he had valued his Scottish ancestry, serving as an officer of the St. Andrew’s Society of New York State.
In a cordial reply, Hamilton included the only thumbnail sketch of his life that he ever set down. It provided the contours of his life without shading; as so often in personal matters with Hamilton, the letter was essentially evasive. He assumed that his uncle knew about his father’s early mishaps in the West Indies and the separation it had caused in the family. But Hamilton’s letter confirms that James Hamilton had subsequently lost touch with his family, since alexander had to inform his uncle that James still languished on St. Vincent: “I have strongly pressed the old gentleman to come to reside with me, which would afford him every enjoyment of which his advanced age is capable. But he has declined it on the ground that the advice of his physicians leads him to fear that the change of climate would be fatal to him.”….
Hamilton seemed eager to stay in touch with his reclaimed relatives. This eagerness has a certain pathos, for Hamilton did not fathom the self-interested nature of the sudden overture from Uncle William. The Scottish Hamiltons had never tried to rescue Alexander from an impoverished, orphaned state and had never congratulated him on his amazing ascent in the world. The only reason William now wrote to Hamilton was for selfish purposes. He had been a successful tobacco and sugar merchant, but his business had gone awry, and he needed help. Pretty soon, Hamilton had the odd sensation of receiving a reverential letter from his first cousin Alexander Hamilton, a Sanskrit scholar, who had returned from India because of his father’s business troubles. The following year, the Scottish Alexander Hamilton disclosed the true reason behind the correspondence: the family had to find work for his brother, a sailor named Robert, who was prepared to become a naturalized American citizen if he could obtain an assignment in the U.S. Navy. The willingness of the Scottish Hamiltons to exploit their American cousin’s eminence seems shameless. Nevertheless, having lacked a family and suffered the taint of illegitimacy, Hamilton took Robert Hamilton into his home for five months, squired his young relative around New York, and landed him an appointment as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. The grateful Scottish kinsmen hung a portrait of Hamilton above their mantel - sweet vindication for a man who had started out as a castaway of the islands - but they never made an afford to aid Hamilton’s father on St. Vincent or showed the least curiosity about him. Hamilton continued to do favors of his Scottish relatives, who had never done any favors for him."
— Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton (via publius-esquire)