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Alexander Hamilton's memorial gets a reboot

A bronze of Alexander Hamilton shows him mid-duel with Aaron Burr. The pair of statues at the Museum of American Finance are on loan from the New-York Historical Society.
Amy Langfield | CNBC
A bronze of Alexander Hamilton shows him mid-duel with Aaron Burr. The pair of statues at the Museum of American Finance are on loan from the New-York Historical Society.

More than two centuries after Alexander Hamilton died from injuries sustained in a duel with the vice president of the United States, his grave site at the end of Wall Street has been repaired and will be rededicated Friday, a day ahead of his birthday.

The 1804 New Jersey duel with Aaron Burr remains a popular trivia question, but it's hard to trivialize Hamilton's role as a Founding Father.

"He created the financial system as we know it," said David Cowen, the president of the Museum of American Finance. "He's like a genius who was so far ahead of his time."

Hamilton's tombstone, in Trinity Church cemetery, near Wall Street.
Amy Langfield | CNBC
Hamilton's tombstone, in Trinity Church cemetery, near Wall Street.

Hamilton was President George Washington's right hand during peace and wartime. While serving as the Secretary of the Treasury he developed the plan to assume the states' junk-status wartime debts and reissue them on behalf of the federal government.

The plan worked so well that within about six years, the debt was paid off and the nation's credit was so good that it secured a $11.25 million loan to complete the Louisiana Purchase.

"Within a short period, he pulled off an economic miracle," Cowen said.

Without Hamilton's actions, there is no reason to believe the nascent democracy would have taken root, historians say.

"It gave our constitution a chance to succeed," said Rand Scholet, the founder of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society. "Hamilton created our whole capitalist society."

A lawyer—and so much more—Hamilton helped found the Bank of New York, and he got it listed as the first company on the New York Stock Exchange. He created central banking and the U.S. Coast Guard, was a founder of the New York Post, and helped establish "truth" as a legitimate defense against libel claims.

The rededication ceremony Friday at Trinity Church kicks off three days of events in New York and Nevis, Hamilton's birthplace in the Caribbean.

(Read more: How much is Manhattan's Trinity Church worth?)

New York activities feature Hamilton walking tours; lectures at his home in Harlem, the Grange; and a candlelight processional to his grave site.

Vance Amory, the premier of Nevis, traveled to New York to participate.

"It is a very significant occasion that he is being honored," Amory said in a brief interview Thursday at the Museum of American Finance. "In terms of financial history, democracy and freedom of expression, there is no better person than Alexander Hamilton."

Rand Scholet, the founder of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society, in a room dedicated to Hamilton at the Museum of American Finance.
Amy Langfield | CNBC
Rand Scholet, the founder of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society, in a room dedicated to Hamilton at the Museum of American Finance.

Does the founder's story still resonate with the public today? Broadway composer Lin-Manuel Miranda bets it does, and is working on a hip-hop musical about Hamilton's life and death.

Miranda, who won a Tony award for the Broadway musical "In the Heights," said he was inspired after reading the biography "Alexander Hamilton," by Ron Chernow.

(Read more: Has the United States ever defaulted on its debt?)

"I just fell in love," Miranda said in an email to CNBC. "His story resonated with so many things I wanted to write about. Hamilton came to New York as a young, penniless immigrant, reinvented himself and helped shape our nation."

In 2009, Miranda performed part of the work in progress at the White House Evening of Poetry & Spoken Word. There is no timeline for a full production.

—By CNBC's Amy Langfield. Follow her on Twitter at @AmyLangfield.

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