Oh! Hamilton...

Hamilton has changed musicals.
Hamilton has changed education.
Hamilton has changed history.

That is all very clear to see. If you haven't listened to Hamilton: An American Musical you should buy it on iTunes or listen to it on Spotify now. 

I'll wait....

Okay, welcome back. What did you think!?! 
Did you google things too? The first time I listened to it I was at my desk. My work counterpart was also listening to it and all of that curating we were supposed to be doing was basically shot until we had hashed out those facts that were true versus those added for dramatic effect. It was two and a half hours of "Did you know?"s and "Can you believe?"s.

Very quickly we figured out that this show had been written with historical accuracy in mind and that for the most part it is accurate. Which is awesome because I spend a lot of time writing curriculum about American History, and this ties in perfectly with my teaching philosophy. When I first started teaching at the museum I was all about dates, times, movements, and historical relevance of the art piece. It took me about 15 minutes into my first lesson to realize that honestly students don't care about any of that. Do you want to know what students want to know about? 

They are just miniature adults after all. I quickly learned the quirks to teaching students about the "old white dudes that started America."

1. Translate founding fathers correspondence to texting. 
2. Change portraits into Instagram posts.
3. Add a hashtag when applicable. 
4. Remind these kids that these "old white dudes" were just regular kids like them when they were younger. 

The reason that we still talk about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere,  John Adams, Aaron Burr, and so on is because these fellas were ordinary dudes living in extraordinary times. Those times forced them to become extraordinary and they rose to the occasion. 

Hamilton helps show the humanity that we've removed from our nation's Founding Fathers through the ages. In a BIG way. 


What the musical does so well is remind you of the life of his contemporaries. When we think of timelines in history we tend to zero in on a specific event or a specific life...and not to sound too geeky...but timelines aren't really lines at all. The Doctor said it best when he described time as "a big ball of wobbly-wobbly timey-whimey stuff."

One of the inaccuracies in the musical is largely attributed to the time constraint. Thomas Jefferson actually resigned his post at Secretary of State on December 31, 1793. In the musical Miranda writes it to that one event, the resignation of Jefferson, directly effects the next, the announcement of Washington's last term, within a period of 24 hours. That was in fact not the case.

George Washington first drafted a notice that he would not be running for another term in 1792 following his first term. During that time, James Madison edited that draft. Washington later felt the nation was too unstable, and decided to run for a second term. At the end of 1795 he decided that the nation needed to see change while he was alive and could help transition and began to re-edit his notice with the assistance of Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton reads his edit to John Jay (The Federalist Papers) for criticism. Washington had final edit over the document before it was published in September of 1796.

Alexander Hamilton was not working for Washington during this time though. He had resigned his post as Secretary of Treasury in early 1795. By the time Washington asks for assistance in editing the document Hamilton is back practicing law in New York and serving as a trusted advisor for the new Secretary of Treasury, Oliver Wolcott.

Most of the inaccuracies in Hamilton can easily be attributed to timeline restraints...except this one...


"I'm a girl in a world in which my only job is to marry rich/
my father has no sons so I'm the one that has to social climb for one/
so I'm the oldest and the wittiest and the gossip and the new your cities/
insidious and Alexander is penniless/
that doesn't mean that I want him any less."

Throughout the musical you hear the underlying ties of emotional adultery with Angelica Schuyler, but she was actually Angelica Schuyler Church by the time Hamilton came into the Schuyler's lives. It is true that they were very affectionate in their correspondence, but many historians attribute that to "safe flirting." That type of picking and confiding happens quite frequently in families, especially those where an individual that assimilates into the family is an orphan/only child. We know much about the type of conversations that she had because much of her coorespondance is preserved in the Library of Congress. It is not only her letters with Hamilton that are preserved though. It also holds her letters with Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and the Marquis de Lafayette. Angelica may have been interested in Hamilton when they met, but she was very much married at that point. She also was not the oldest child of Phillip Schuyler, but she was the oldest daughter. Schuyler actually had 15 children, two of which were older brothers to Angelica. Her relationship with Eliza was pretty much exactly how described in the musical, and honestly I love that part. Not having a sister it makes my soul happy to see the closeness between those two.

Just in case you haven't noticed, Seven of Ten and I did the big switch this week. For the first half of the year I will be bringing you Art & History as well as Home & Family Life on alternating weeks. I'm going to be honest...I'm pretty excited about the switch. I'll see you again on Friday for a High 5! As always, stay exceptionally chic & exquisitely geek! 

P.S. This is another great article on Hamilton: An American Musical if you want to check it out! 

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