Hamilton Mania returns to America. Here are some resources.

Hamilton logo

I have yet to see the Hamilton movie on Disney+.  We are hoping to watch it as a family next week. This weekend I have been getting flashbacks as I watch historians taking to Twitter to place the musical in historical context.

I saw “Hamilton” on Broadway last December, but I am eager to watch it performed with the original cast. I love everything about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s masterpiece, but after teaching a course titled “The Age of Hamilton” in Fall 2019, reading multiple books on the life of the first Treasury Secretary, and listening to the soundtrack on repeat for months, I grew a little tired of all the Hamilton mania. (An editor even asked me if I was interested in writing a religious biography of Hamilton).

So I am not going to write anything original here at the blog. But if you are interested in digging deeper into the life of Alexander Hamilton, here are some resources from previous posts. They are filled with links. Enjoy!

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s AP U.S. History masterclass

The Hamilton Education Program (EduHam) is available through the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History until August.

This was a fun quarantine video from the cast.

Annie cried at the end of the “Age of Hamilton.”

And here is Annie at the start of the semester.

Ron Chernow, the author of the Hamilton biography that inspired the musical, spoke at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

Julianne Johnson wrote for us about a session on the musical at the 2018 meeting of the Organization of American Historians.

Reeve Hutson offers some suggestions for how to build a course around the musical.

I posted this during hurricane season in 2017.

A comparison of “Hamilton” and “1776”

The Journal of the Early Republic put together a roundtable of historians to reflect on “Hamilton.”

Joe Adelman writes about how he brought the soundtrack to his classroom.

Annette Gordon-Reed reviews the musical.

Peter Manseau discusses the role of religion in “Hamilton”

Sportswriter Joe Posnanski and his daughter saw the musical on Broadway.

Hamilton tourism

How the musical spurred a renewed interest in the first Secretary of the Treasury.

Abigail Adams was not a big Alexander Hamilton fan.

Karen Wulf considers “Hamilton” as part of the genre of “founding histories.”

Hamilton scholar Joanne Freeman reviews the musical.

A group of historians attended Hamilton on Broadway in the summer of 2015.

Thomas Jefferson as the villain.

Ben Carp reviews the musical.

In Episode 68 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast, historian Lindsay Chervinsky talked about Hamilton’s role in the first presidential cabinet.

Alexander Hamilton’s writings and ideas played an important role in the third impeachment trial in U.S. history. And here.

Ron Chernow thought that Alexander Hamilton would have endorsed the impeachment of Donald Trump.

Annie’s research paper in my “Age of Hamilton” course dealt with his deathbed conversion.

I also brought the musical into my U.S. history survey course.

Thanks to Kyra Yoder for making this poster for my “Age of Hamilton” class.

Kate Brown, an expert on Hamilton’s legal career, visited the Author’s Corner.

Andrew Shankman, an expert on Hamilton’s view of the U.S. Constitution, visited the Author’s Corner.

Did “Hamilton” make “founders chic” acceptable?

Lin-Manuel Miranda gave the plenary address at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic.

Here is what happened to me on the first day of my “Age of Hamilton” class. (Hint: It has nothing to do with Alexander Hamilton).

Broadway expert Seth Rudesky deconstructs “The Schuyler Sisters.”

What does Jacksonian America have to do with Disney World?

American Adventure

Not much.

That is, until history professor David Head of the University of Central Florida in Orlando asked his students to design a Jackson-era vignette for Epcot Center’s American Adventure attraction.

Here is a taste of Head’s piece at The Panorama:

I ask students to create their own vignette that could be added to the American Adventure as representative of the Age of Jackson. (Here’s the full assignment sheet.) Students can choose anything. Something about Jackson himself, his policies, or legacy is fair game, but also anything else: the Second Great Awakening, reform movements, Manifest Destiny, the Mexican War. It’s wide open.

I break down how the vignettes work for students and require that they describe each element of their proposed new story. They must have a visual sequence with pictures and music; an animatronic scene with characters, dialogue, and action; and narrations to introduce and conclude each part. It’s important to note that I don’t require any actual art or music. Just description. The creative part of the assignment is fun, but it’s also challenging. How do you communicate complicated ideas in a visual way?

At the same time, I ask students to explain the significance of each element with an eye toward showing how each choice communicates something important to the audience. Here I want students to also reflect on the numerous constraints on how they might like to tell the story. For example, Disney attracts people from all over the world, many of whom have no background in American history, and some of whom have limited (or no) English. How do you get your message across to such a diverse audience?

Similarly, many children will be watching. How do you make sure the material is age-appropriate? Or, how do you address politically sensitive topics? Disruptions accompanied the debut of a Donald Trump addition to the Hall of Presidents. Disney wants everyone’s money, so attractions must have mass appeal.

However, I caution students that a dumbed-down approach isn’t the answer. There comes a point at which material is so simplified it’s no longer true. But where is that line? How do you preserve quality while accounting for all the other factors an attraction must meet? I created a vignette of my own to show students how it can be done.

Read the entire piece here.

*Hamilton* Will Debut on Disney Plus in July 2020

Hamilton logo

In case you missed it. Here is Variety:

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s mega-hit, zeitgeist-tapping, precedent-breaking, Broadway smash “Hamilton” will land on Disney Plus just in time for our Nation’s birthday.

The rap-infused look at Alexander Hamilton’s life and formative role in American history will now be released on the streaming service on July 3, roughly a year before it was supposed to debut. It had originally been slated for a theatrical release on Oct. 15, 2021.

Thomas Kail, the show’s director, shot three live performances of “Hamilton” featuring the original Broadway cast.

“I’m so proud of how beautifully Tommy Kail has brought ‘Hamilton’ to the screen. He’s given everyone who watches this film the best seat in the house,” Miranda said in a statement. “I’m so grateful to Disney and Disney Plus for reimagining and moving up our release to July 4 weekend of this year, in light of the world turning upside down. I’m so grateful to all the fans who asked for this, and I’m so glad that we’re able to make it happen. I’m so proud of this show. I can’t wait for you to see it.”

Religion in Disney World’s Hall of Presidents

Over at Religion in American History (I like its new look), Elesha Coffman reflects on a visit to Disney’s Hall of Presidents.  Here is a taste:

Surprised by a mid-day, 20-degree temperature drop at Disney World last month, my daughter and I took shelter in the Hall of Presidents, an exhibit we probably would have skipped otherwise. The show consisted of a film, narrated by Morgan Freeman, and animatronic figures of all 44 presidents, of whom only Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama had memorable speaking parts. The overall presentation was short on overt religious references—I caught a few mentions of God by Lincoln, a photo (not commented upon) of LBJ with Billy Graham, and a chorus of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” in the finale—but it instead provided an interesting perspective on the president as, in the recently controversial words of Atlanta pastor Andy Stanley, the nation’s “pastor in chief.”
Read the rest here.

Politicians Who Look Like Disney Characters

My favorites:

Chris Christie as Chef Auguste Gusteau from Ratatouille

Chuck Schumer as Tyberius Rourke from Atlantis

Nikki Haley as Vanessa from The Little Mermaid

Rick Santorum as Woody from Toy Story

Ron Paul as Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Paul Ryan as Eric from The Little Mermaid

Mitch McConell as Toby Turtle from Robin Hood

Enjoy!