The Roots with the cast of Hamilton:
The Roots with the cast of Hamilton:
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!
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.
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.
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.”
Noon, May 1:
EduHam at Home was created in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak that forced school closures throughout the country. It is an extension of the Hamilton Education Program (EduHam), which has served more than 200,000 students across the country since 2016. Through EduHam, students study primary source documents from the Founding Era, learn how Lin-Manuel Miranda used such documents to create the musical Hamilton, and finally create their own original performance pieces based on the same material.
EduHam at Home provides a family version of EduHam that can be accomplished outside of a school setting. It will continue to be available through August 2020.
What should you expect from this free program?
EduHam at Home participants will be invited to submit their own Hamilton-inspired pieces (songs, raps, spoken-word poems, or scenes), and selected student performances will be shared on social media and this website.
If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is Sharon Eberson at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Hamilton” will soon be available for all to see, for all time. The Walt Disney Co. movie version of the hit musical is coming to the big screen on Oct. 15, 2021…
“The film of the original Broadway cast performing ‘Hamilton’ is a leap forward in the art of ‘live capture,’” according to a Disney press release sent Monday. “Combining the best elements of live theater and film, the result is a cinematic stage performance that is a wholly new way to experience ‘Hamilton.’”
The cast includes Miranda as Alexander Hamilton; Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, Christopher Jackson as George Washington, Jonathan Groff as King George, Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton and two Carnegie Mellon alums, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Leslie Odom Jr.
Read the entire piece here.
Actually, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man who played Hamilton on Broadway, had a chat with William Daniels, the man who played John Adams in the 1969 musical 1776 (and the 1972 film). I assume that if you are reading this blog you know something about Miranda. But you may also recognize Daniels for his role as Dr. Mark Craig on St. Elsewhere and Mr. Feeny on Boy Meets World.
Before we get too deeply into ticketing, I want to talk a bit about 1776. Today we think of it as being in the pantheon of great musicals, but in the 1960s, the show was so unconventional that Sherman Edwards had a hard time getting it produced. “Some of the biggest [names] in the theatre,” he recalled, “looked at me and said, ‘What, a costume musical? A costume, historical musical?’” Mr. Daniels, do you remember your initial reaction to the idea?
WD: I read the script with a bunch of people at somebody’s apartment. Sherman Edwards was a former schoolteacher from New Jersey, and he had written not just the songs, but the script. It was a little stiff; I remember thinking, We’re in the middle of Vietnam, for Christ’s sake, and they’re waving the flag?I really had to be talked into doing it. At any rate, when the script came back to me, Peter Stone had taken ahold of it, and he’d gone back to the actual conversations in the Second Continental Congress. He had written them out on little cards and injected them into the script, and it made all the difference in the world. It added humor and conciseness and truth.
LMM: I love that anecdote, because it gets at something that I discovered in writing Hamilton: The truth is invariably more interesting than anything a writer could make up. That Peter Stone went back to the texts written by these guys, who were petty, brilliant, compromised—that’s more interesting than any marble saints or plaster heroes you can create. And the picture you all painted together of John Adams was so powerful; in the opening scene, he calls himself “obnoxious and disliked,” which is a real quote. We don’t have a John Adams in our show, but we can just refer to him, and everyone just pictures you, Mr. Daniels.
LMM: Yeah. 1776 created such an iconic, indelible image of Adams that we just know who that is now. It’s also, I think, one of the best books—if not the best—ever written for musical theatre, in that you long to see them talk to each other. Which almost never happens in a musical. Most musicals, you’re waiting for the next song to start. That book is so smart, and so engaging.
Read the rest here.
It is scheduled for November. Here is a taste from Chris Jones’s reporting in the Chicago Tribune:
“Hamilton,” the phenomenally successful musical written and composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, brought so much posthumous celebrity to Alexander Hamilton that America’s first secretary of the treasury kept his fragile spot on the front of the 10-dollar bill. But Miranda and his producer, Jeffrey Seller, are not yet done giving their man his shot after shot after shot.
Bowing this fall on Chicago’s Northerly Island: “Hamilton: The Exhibition,” an interactive, immersive, one-of-a-kind, only-in-Chicago attraction designed to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton and the founding of America.
“People want to learn more,” said Miranda in an interview Sunday at Tribune Tower. “It seems that two hours and 45 minutes of a musical were just not enough for them. I know from my Twitter account.”
Read the rest here.
Over at Professor Park’s Blog, historian Benjamin Park calls our attention to a historian’s roundtable on Hamilton published in the latest issue of The Journal of the Early Republic.
Joanne Freeman, Andrew Shocket, Heather Nathans, Marvin McAllister, Benjamin Carp, and Nancy Isenberg contributed to the roundtable.
Here is a taste of Park’s post:
But is Hamilton historically accurate? Benjamin Carp says that might be the wrong question to ask. Attendees should know that it’s not accurate history–the characters are breaking out into song and dance, after all. Rather than wondering if it is “good history,” we should rather ask, “is it good for historians?” (292) At its best, the play asks intriguing questions regarding how history and myth are constructed. It is left to historians to take advantage of the doors that are opened.
Nancy Isenberg, as you might expect, is not as optimistic. She worries that by merely celebrating the play, historians are abdicating their duty to hold popular memory accountable. She says the historical errors in Hamilton are not peripheral, but “massive” (296). The play distorts Hamilton’s personality and, especially, his commitment to power structures. (I especially enjoyed her discussion of the “faux-feminism” politics in the play .) Hamilton is not helping the promotion of accurate and useful history. “Americans ought to feel uncomfortable about their collective past,” she concludes. “We look foolish otherwise, as cheerleaders of American exceptionalism” (303).
Read the entire post here.
And Alexander Hamilton will stay on the $10 bill.
Here is a taste of an article from The New York Times:
The Treasury Department will announce on Wednesday afternoon that Harriet Tubman, an African-American who ferried thousands of slaves to freedom, will replace the slaveholding Andrew Jackson on the center of a new $20 note, according to a Treasury official, while the newly popular Alexander Hamilton will remain on the face of the $10 bill.
Other depictions of women and civil rights leaders will also be part of new currency designs.
The redesigns, from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, would be announced in 2020 in time for the centennial of woman’s suffrage and the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. None of the bills, including a new $5 note, would reach circulation until the next decade.
It was unclear whether details of the unexpectedly sweeping changes would mollify some women’s groups, who had excoriated Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew for reneging on his 10-month-old commitment to put a woman on the face of the $10 bill, which is the one currently in line for an anti-counterfeiting makeover.
But in the months of taking public comments on what woman he should pick, Mr. Lew evidently bowed to the Broadway-stoked mania around the $10 bill’s current star, Alexander Hamilton.
Whatever you think about Hamilton staying on the $10 bill, it is worth reiterating that he remains there because of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical theater adaptation of Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton. Tubman has made it onto the $20 bill because historians of the enslaved, of abolitionism, and of American women have told her story.
This is public history at its best. It shows the power of history to shape public debate. Now let’s think about other ways to present history responsibly so that it might lead to more significant changes in society.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the genius behind the smash Broadway musical “Hamilton,” will give the plenary address at the 2016 meeting of the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic in New Haven.
Here is the announcement from the SHEAR website:
We are thrilled to announce that this year’s SHEAR plenary will feature an interview with Hamilton playwright and star Lin-Manuel Miranda. His schedule unfortunately will not permit him to join us in New Haven, but he has graciously agreed to a filmed interview, which will be shown during the conference plenary, and followed by a panel discussion. This unusual format affords us an opportunity: We invite you to send us questions for the interview. Of course, it is likely that there will be time to pose only a small selection of questions, but we’d like the interview to reflect the interests and thoughts of SHEAR members.
Please send your questions to HamforSHEAR@gmail.com by March 25th.
See you in New Haven this July!
Joanne B. Freeman and Brian Murphy
Yale’s Joanne Freeman is one of the best scholars of Alexander Hamilton in the business. Anyone interested in the infamous Hamilton-Burr duel at Weehawkin, New Jersey on July 11, 1804 must read her Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic. She also edited the writings of Hamilton in the Library of America series.
Freeman recently saw Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash Broadway show Hamilton. Here is a taste of her review at Slate:
…Miranda has taken some liberties for clarity and flow. Time is condensed and historical events are shifted in time; for example, the presidential election of 1800 didn’t lead to the Burr-Hamilton duel, nor did Hamilton’s son Philip fight a duel before that election. Big-name characters take the place of lesser-knowns: Burr, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison didn’t solicit Hamilton’s 1798 adultery confession. Representatives Frederick Muhlenberg, James Monroe, and Abraham Venable did. Some events are invented: John Adams didn’t fire Treasury Secretary Hamilton, who resigned under Washington in 1795, but this invention handily explains Hamilton’s opposition to fellow Federalist Adams’ bid for re-election as president in the election of 1800, highlighted later in the play.
I have been waiting for this musical ever since I saw (via You Tube) Lin-Manuel Miranda in this performance at The White House:
“Hamilton” is now playing at the Public Theater until May 3. Good luck landing a ticket. All the shows appear to be sold out. It is coming to Broadway in July.
So for now I am going to have to experience the show vicariously through Brooklyn College historian Ben Carp’s review at Common-Place. Here is a taste: