Friday, May 14, 2021

I’m no expert in American History, but I believe that we’re all aware that Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton was white. As well as Aaron Burr. And Jefferson, and gen. Washington. Lin-Manuel Miranda has taken a lot of creative freedom when producing “Hamilton” in order to emphasize multiple problems, including racism. And making his play way more fun. Despite being a (master)piece of art with a lot of inaccuracies, and despite that Miranda never pretended that the play is 101% percent correct, there are several facts that Hamilton got right. Here are 5 of them.

Hamilton’s Rivalry with Thomas Jefferson

Hamilton and Jefferson – “Diametric’ly opposed foes“. The Secretary of State and the Treasury secretary are absolute opposites – the hot-headed immigrant, and the calm, collected diplomat clash both in Act II of the show and in real life. Their different political views – one being a Federalist and the other being a Democratic-Republican lead to several Cabinet Battles.

Despite all this – Hamilton endorsed Jefferson in the Election of 1800. But why? This question split experts and audiences. Hamilton always had a sense of integrity, giving credit where it’s due (“Burr, you’re a better lawyer than me”). Did he give his support because he valued Jefferson more, or his pure hatred to Burr gave way over common sense? It’s an open question.

Eliza Kept Her Husband’s Story Alive

Behind every successful man is a great woman. We can definitely say this for Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton. Despite him being more loyal to the revolutionary cause and his adultery, Eliza remained loyal to her husband. In fact, she dedicated the rest of her life after Alexander’s death to keeping his memory alive, interviewing soldiers who fought alongside her husband, and collecting the various writings he left behind. In fact, Eliza rose as a prominent figure by raising money to construct the Washington Monument and co-founding New York’s first private orphanage.

Hamilton’s Affair

It’s a running joke through the show that Martha Washington named her tomcat after Hamilton, implying that he was a womanizer. This is not historically confirmed, but his affair with Maria Reynolds is. Her husband – James Reynolds knew of all this and used it to blackmail Hamilton. Several years, after their relationship has ended, Hamilton decided to confess everything in “The Reynolds Pamphlet”. So, Alexander Hamilton was not only the first Secretary of Treasury but a participant in the US’s first political sex scandal, seriously damaging his reputation.

Hamilton Was Against Slavery

Some researchers state that Hamilton was the only Founding Father that never owned slaves (his mother had a couple, but they never belonged to Alexander). He was a member of the New-York Manumission Society, putting serious effort into ending the global slave trade. Alexander Hamilton is also known for writing “their natural faculties are as good as ours” in defense of the African-American citizens of the USA.

Hamilton Gave Up His Shot

I mean – literally. After Hamilton endorsed Jefferson in the presidential elections, Burr’s political career was effectively over.

When dueling Burr, Hamilton gave up his shot, shooting in the crown of a near-by tree. Burr wasn’t so graceful, shooting Alexander at his lower abdomen. The “bastard, orphan” passed away the next day. 

Lin-Manuel Miranda never claimed that “Hamilton” is entirely correct. A lot changed, and other facts were either replaced or exaggerated. Still, there are a lot of facts that Hamilton got right. Either way – “Hamilton” is the biggest thing currently on Broadway and will go strong for many more years. 

Where does “Hamilton” take place? Is the Richard Rogers one of the newest, or one of the oldest theaters on Broadway?

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