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The city was incorporated in 1749, and it became the seat of Fairfax County shortly thereafter. It was named for Alexander Hamilton (1755–1804), first Secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington. The city's population at this time numbered about 12,000; however, a series of fires destroyed over 80% of the buildings in Old Town within a few years as part of an unrelenting pattern that continued to plague Alexandria well into the 19th century.