How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a
Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a
Forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence
Impoverished, in squalor
Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?
This is the question asked at the very beginning of the current Broadway show, Hamilton. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the musical tells the story of “the ten dollar founding father without a father,” Alexander Hamilton, through hip-hop, R&B, and jazz.
The show has been selling-out since it opened in August, and audience members include Beyonce, Julie Andrews, and the Obama family. It was just announced today that the original cast recording is up for a Grammy award, and theater insiders are certain that it will sweep the Tony Awards next year.
Before I discovered Hamilton (the musical), which I’ve been listening to on endless repeat since it was released in September, I had no idea this man’s life was so fascinating. Here was someone whose face is printed on our money and I couldn’t even have started to describe some of his accomplishments.
So just what is it about this musical that’s so captivating? The music and the writing are stellar, with catchy hooks and internal rhyme sequences that boggle the mind. But at its heart, it’s the story of one of the most ambitious men in American history. Often considered to be America’s first immigrant, Alexander Hamilton arrived in New York at the age of 17 to attend college, and began making waves almost immediately. During his life, he fought in the Revolutionary War, was an aide to George Washington, wrote countless papers and treatises, and was the first secretary of the treasury. His views were often considered controversial, and political powers played out such that in 1795, he resigned his position. Less than 10 years later, he was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr.
Miranda found the inspiration for the musical in Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton, and eventually asked Chernow to be the historical advisor for the show.
Have you discovered Hamilton yet? If not, we can get the CD from another library for you! And if you have, here are some more A dot Ham resources for you.