Commonplace Book #90

But we don’t see the passions and ideals behind Hamilton’s politics [in the musical Hamilton].  We don’t see his desperate desire to strengthen the national government–to an extreme degree.  We don’t learn that his vision of a centralized New World government was grounded in his admiration of Old World Great Britain.  We don’t learn of Hamilton’s impulsive habit of seeking military solutions to political problems.  We don’t see his deep distrust of the masses and his doubts about democracy.  Until his dying day, Hamilton believed that the American republic was bound to fail.  Hamilton doesn’t dig that deep.

Nor does it need too.  Hamilton is a musical, not a work of history, and as such, it focues on human drama above all else, following the biographical lead of its main source, Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton.  This isn’t to say that playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda didn’t to his research.  Although there are errors, and much is missing from the play, or simplified to the point of abstraction or near visibility (for example, the impact of slavery on the new nation), it contains a remarkable amount of history for a piece of musical theater.  Not many Broadway  shows tackle topics like the national assumption of state debts, or set a president’s Farewell Address to music as Hamilton does in “One Last Time.”  

Joanne Freeman, “‘Can We Get Back to Politics? Please,” in  Renee Romano and Claire Potter, eds., Historians on Hamilton, 42-43.