Hamilton is so hot right now. I’m talking Hansel-level hotness.
In fact, thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway production and hip hop masterpiece, Alexander Hamilton is easily the sexiest figure in American history. And while Miranda and his genius approach can (and should) be credited for the revival of cultural interest in Hamilton’s largely overshadowed role in our nation’s formative years, the real Alexander Hamilton still remains, to most, lesser known than his battle-rapping namesake. Like many of its fans, I jumped on the Hamilton bandwagon with very little knowledge of the true story it’s based on. I knew that the titular character was the face on our ten dollar bill, that he had been involved in a duel at one point, and that was about it. I honestly can’t recall any history lessons or exams that went beyond a brief mentioning of his name; and if I did at one point learn that the infamous duel resulted in Hamilton’s death, it had long since been forgotten by the time I first listened to the musical’s cast-recording album.
As a writer I can only imagine the depth of research that went into Hamilton‘s story production, the first of many steps in that long journey to opening night on stage, and can appreciate the bravery required by an artist for such an undertaking. From what parts I have read of the biography that first inspired Miranda’s vision (reading the massive book from cover to cover is quite the undertaking in itself; it’s a working progress for me), I am utterly amazed at the amount of historical accuracy Miranda managed to include in the play. The iconic story of Hamilton’s journey from immigrant to American hero is told in two acts, spanning years that highlight events of struggle and victory, political achievements, personal loss, national scandal, and endless opposition throughout Hamilton’s adult life. Of course, there is only so much that could be told with a run time of 2.5 hours. Miranda was forced to leave out many events and details for the sake of time, but also for the sake of creating and maintaining a sympathetic character from source material, one that would connect with his intended audience while remaining as true as possible to a notoriously disliked figure in American political history.
The play’s widespread coverage of factual details, already criticized by some as being overloaded and too long, could not have very well included Hamilton’s general distrust of American citizens, or his warnings against governing authority giving too much power to the people. It’s doubtful that even Miranda’s level of creative talent could have achieved a way of cleverly explaining Hamilton’s defense of an electoral college, grounded in his ardent belief that people generally did not know what was best for them, and were too easily influenced by every exchange of opinion and ideals.
Or perhaps Miranda simply recognized that the majority of his intended audience would fail to understand the ideals professed in Hamilton’s Federalist Papers, which offer reasonable conclusions and a sound defense of the United States Constitution, while extending less-than flattering faith in the citizens that the Constitution protects.
This Hamilton would not have been as entertaining to the masses. This Hamilton was never a favorite of the masses, in his lifetime or any.
But it is this Alexander Hamilton that we all have to thank for the institutions we all take for granted every day – the first Treasury Secretary, the author of the Federalist Papers, the decorated military officer, the founder of the National Bank, and most trusted adviser to George Washington. Hamilton implemented financial systems still in use today; he stressed the need for a separation of powers in government; he outlined Federal and State jurisdictions; he laid the path for continuing functionality of the government while it was still in its infancy.
Without any precedence or examples to draw upon, Alexander Hamilton and the rest of our founding fathers built this nation from the ground up – an experiment that no other country in the world has been as successful in exactly replicating, though many have tried. But as with the nature of any experiment, its ultimate success or failure is yet to be concluded so long as it is on-going.
The American experiment may still yet fail. And that is why now, more than ever, it is imperative that this generation heeds the wisdom and warnings put forth by those first in possession of the unified American spirit.
We need to accept the fact that the men responsible for pages and pages of documents, and bills, and declarations were a lot smarter than we claim to be. And that the author of these words in particular understood current issues beyond the limits of his own generation:
So I’m talking to you now.
That’s right – you. Ye legions in pursuit of social justice, ye “resisters” of imagined oppression – you are the very disease warned against by our founding fathers, corrupting the principles and truths upon which the American experiment was founded. But you’re ignorant of the problem you represent, and have become blinded by a false sense of morality in your community dwelling of media-fed ideals. You can’t see beyond your self-seeking aims to consider their consequences. If each “trending” outrage is answered with shifting policy, then the governing body – and our nation as a whole – is in effect no more stable than the moods of a hormonal preteen. And will be regarded as such by our global peers, who may choose to wait for the air to settle again, or take advantage of our divisive state in the gusts of “fashionable outcry.” The result – this new America fashioned by popular demand, where prejudice and self-indulgence are confused with patriotism and equality; and where the greatest threat to its liberty isn’t faced against a tyrannical force, but found in the entitled voices of its own disillusioned citizens.
Translation: Get over yourself. Be chill. Carry on.
Coming at ya from the “ten dollar, founding father without a father who got a lot farther, by working a lot harder, by being a lot smarter…” you know the rest.
His name is Alexander Hamilton, and there’s a million things he did see done. So let’s not ruin it for him or the rest of us.