Nearly a year into my love for the Broadway Musical Hamilton, the soundtrack is still a go-to favorite for running, for driving, for a pump-me-up, a perspective-setter, a centering force, and a balm to my soul.
What is the big deal about Hamilton? Why do people love Hamilton? I ponder all the time how I would explain my love for the story and the music when I’m feeling choked up yet again while listening, when I’m struck anew by the pertinence to today’s social and political landscape, when a new clever lesson jumps out and inspires my very soul.
When people ask me aloud why I love Hamilton, I don’t have an answer that’s concisely sensical or easily digestible. I’ve started joking “wait for my essay series” when explanations fail me
The fear of delivering something perfect has kept me from starting to write. Yet one of the most prominent themes in Alexander Hamilton’s life* is passion and action; in fact he’s brimming with it and there’s very little time for polish and perfection. He’s a great example of the bravery Brene Brown encourages; I wonder if he’s come across her radar in the same way his bravado has influenced me.
“I’m past patiently waiting
I’m passionately smashing every expectation
Every action’s an act of creation…”
– Alexander Hamilton
A few more pertinent themes in the play:
“We hold these truths to be self evident,
that all men are created equal
and when I meet Thomas Jefferson
Imma compel him to include women in the sequel.” – Angelica Schuyler
Angelica, Hamilton’s sister in law, is touted as “possibly the most intelligent woman in the whole play.” (As explained in the phenomenal documentary “Hamilton’s America). Angelica is woven throughout the musical, craving new ideas and political involvement, and has to work through the men in her life all the things she can’t do herself because of her gender.
Race and Equality
“But we’ll never be truly free
until those in bondage have the same rights as you and me”
– John Lawrence
John Lawrence, Hamilton’s friend and ally, gathers a black battalion and eventually loses his life after the war for his fight against slavery.
“You could have done so much more if you only had time.” – Eliza Schuyler Hamilton
In reading more of Hamilton’s life, he was intensely anti-slavery and had to make compromises to get the new government growing at all. When his life ends short of years, this line about doing so much more may reference all the work Hamilton could have done on behalf of abolishing slavery much sooner.
Alexander Hamilton is continually put down by his peers for being a “bastard orphan immigrant.” One of the best lines of the play, where the crowd goes wild in the live musical is when Lafayette and Hamilton meet at the beginning of the final climatic battle of the Revolution and brag
“Immigrants – we get the job done.”
In the Hamilton’s America documentary, you see Lin Manuel Miranda interview his father, who immigrated from Puerto Rico at age 18. Luis Miranda says “In my experience, immigrants are never the lazy ones, they’re not the stupid ones, they’re the smart hard working ones because they have to work so much harder to make sense of their reality and succeed in that reality.”
More Moving Topics
Experiencing Hamilton stirs many thoughts and feelings in me; here are a few topics I plan to write more about.
- Power in Imperfection
- Duality and the Dialectic Nature of truth
- Historical Gratitude (link)
- George Washington
- Conflict is the Birthplace of Innovation
- Look Around at how lucky we are to be alive right now
- Rising Up (even when the path is not what we expected)
*the Alexander Hamilton I write about is the fictionalized version as created by Lin Manuel Miranda. I don’t purport to be drawing these lessons from the real man, with whom I am much less familiar.
** Immigrants GIF by Susanne Draws https://susannedraws.tumblr.com/post/156686043289/immigrants-we-get-the-job-done-my-favorite-track