I guess I should start this post with saying that one of the things that make me me is I show up late to the party on a lot of things. (But surprisingly, not pop culture phenomena like Hamilton and Beyonce’s latest Instagram pic.) I’m like really smart when it comes to certain things but I realize my attention is finite so I just don’t pay attention to a lot of things. So, please don’t judge me a whole lot when you read this post. Also, history class was a long time ago. I’ve slept and woken up so many times since then. Okay, enough explaining my ignorance, shall we proceed?
Unless if you have been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the sensational Broadway masterpiece that is Hamilton. It’s the story of America’s founding father, Alexander Hamilton, told through hip-hop music blended with classic theater greatness and boasts a majority (read: all but the chosen one) minority cast. Literally, if you google image search Hamilton you will see just as many beautiful black actors and actresses as the actual Alexander Hamilton. Though tickets are sold out for the 99s and 2000s, Lin-Manuel Miranda blessed us with a soundtrack of the play that is available everywhere where music is streamed. So while receiving my life to this soundtrack I’ve connected with my old friend Wikipedia and learned bits of American history that I now want to share.
9 Things I Learned About America from Hamilton the Musical
1. Who Alexander Hamilton was.
So it turns out he’s the guy on the 10 dollar bill, but I also don’t pay attention to the people on my money. The only one I regularly remember is Lincoln on the penny and that’s because I strongly identify with the color copper. (I’m exaggerating here, slightly.) I also half thought he was a President, so there’s that. But if you were wondering, he was a founding father and established the national bank. He’s the reason why we have money, in a way, so it’s fitting that he gets to be on the money.
2. From the beginning, there were some people advocating for freedom of slaves.
Hamilton was friends with a guy named John Laurens who was a strong abolitionist from the south. He even lobbied to have an army of slaves volunteer in exchange for their freedom. From what I saw so far, Hamilton and his wife, Eliza, were abolitionists as well. Even Aaron Burr.
3. Mt. Vernon is in Virginia.
I had placed it in Maine or Vermont in my head. Lin-Manuel set me straight with these lyrics:
4. Hamilton’s son, Phillip, died defending his dad’s honor in a duel.
So before I started listening to Hamilton, I had done my Wikipedia homework and saw that he ultimately died in a duel with Aaron Burr (hiss). What I missed was his son also died in a duel so when I heard the song where he was killed, it hit me hard. I couldn’t get past that song on the soundtrack for a little while. I was big sad with a side of cries.
5. Hercules Mulligan was an English spy that helped us a whole lot.
On Hamilton the musical, Hercules is a hooooooot hunky Nigerian-American that raps so aggressively that you wonder what else he does with fervor. But irl, he was a British tailor apprentice that would feed plans to the American army because apparently British officers liked to discuss real military tactics while getting their knickers tailored or whatever. To their credit, they didn’t have episodes of LHHATL back then. But also, how bad ass is the name, Hercules Mulligan?!
6. Lafayette was an amazing French friend to the Revolution.
Literally, the only people I remembered about the Revolutionary war was George Washington and whoever yelled the British were coming. Lafayette helped the American army by providing French resources as well as coming back to fight. He also named one of his kids after George Washington. After the war, Lafayette returned to France to help with their own revolution. He lived to be old and was a vocal part of French politics.
7. Who Aaron Burr was.
Let’s just say I am forever big mad at Aaron Burr. It’s also partly attributed to how Lin-Manuel crafted the story to make him an annoying twit. But nevertheless, killing a founding father does not a friend or President make.
8. Second runner-up in the Presidential race used to get VP.
Yuck. Glad that’s over. Can you imagine a Hillary/Trump administration?
9. Eliza, Hamilton’s wife, had her own Lemonade phase.
So Hamilton also had the dishonor of holding our nation’s first political sex scandal. It was with a woman named Maria Reynolds who claimed her husband was leaving her and her child with no money/means to survive. Hamilton dug his pockets for some money and she invited him to engage with her pocketbook. Some historians say the whole plan was devised by Maria and her husband. He returned and blackmailed Hamilton in exchange for secrecy, to the sum of 1,000. Except later when the husband was being charged with conspiracy in stealing some of the soldiers’ pension, he implicated Hamilton in order to make Hamilton confess the affair and get him out of jail for free. The news of the affair became very public, but for whatever reason, Eliza remained his wife until his death. There isn’t a lot of information about Eliza’s response, but I assume there was a Sandcastles moment in the Hamilton house.
Okay, kids. That’s all for now. I’m sure I learned about other random tidbits, but those were the first that came to my mind. And I’m serious, if you haven’t listened to the soundtrack, get your life together. It’s available everywhere you can stream music. Prime, Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music….probably YouTube, maybe SoundCloud. Get you some American learning and your entire life from each bar to the next.