Way Too Timely Quotes From Alexander Hamilton on His 213th Death Anniversary

Legacy? What is legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see. Or for some folks, it’s a transparent series of fuck-ups involving collusion, sexual assault, misogyny, racism, and lies that will live on forever in the Fake News. But hey, to each his own, right?

213 years ago today, Alexander Hamilton died after his duel with Aaron Burr. Five years ago, this post would’ve been moo (it’s like a cow’s opinion). But 2017’s hottest founding father is relevant to our interests again, which is why I’m writing this at all. But what’s even more interesting is that the trials, tribulations, and non-stop essays (including all the other 51) Ham & Co. went through all those years ago, is perhaps annoyingly prescient now, thanks to the state of our Union. So, to honor (I guess?) A. Ham and the legacy seeds he left behind, here are a few quotes from the decorated war vet that remind us that even two centuries later, passionate essays written on parchment aren’t exclusive to topics relating to separating from a harmful demagogue.

From Objections and Answers Respecting the Administration , August 1792. A letter in which Ham calls out the nasty folks who alleged that he was working to reinstitute a monarchy in the States.

“The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion. Tired at length of anarchy, or want of government, they may take shelter in the arms of monarchy for repose and security.

Those then, who resist a confirmation of public order, are the true Artificers of monarchy—not that this is the intention of the generality of them. Yet it would not be difficult to lay the finger upon some of their party who may justly be suspected. When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.

A letter from A. Ham to Theodore Sedgwick, Massachusetts Senator & Continental Congress delegate, re: the Election of 1800 between Adams and Jefferson (who we know Ham did not like much)

“For my individual part my mind is made up. I will never more be responsible for him [Adams] by my direct support—even though the consequence should be the election of Jefferson. If we must have an enemy at the head of the Government, let it be one whom we can oppose & for whom we are not responsible, who will not involve our party in the disgrace of his foolish and bad measures. Under Adams as under Jefferson the government will sink. The party in the hands of whose chief it shall sink will sink with it and the advantage will all be on the side of his adversaries.”

Federalist Paper No. 1: 

“… of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.”

Elliot’s Debates

“Unless your government is respectable, foreigners will invade your rights; and to maintain tranquillity you must be respectable; even to observe neutrality you must have a strong government.”

(He was chosen to be part of the) Constitutional Convention, 1787:

All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and well-born, the other the mass of the people. The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and, however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give, therefore, to the first class a distinct, permanent share in the government. They will check the unsteadiness of the second, and, as they cannot receive any advantage by a change, they therefore will ever maintain good government. Can a democratic Assembly, who annually revolve in the mass of the people, be supposed steadily to pursue the public good? Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy. Their turbulent and uncontrolling disposition requires checks.

From the New York Ratifying Convention, 1788

“As riches increase and accumulate in few hands . . . the tendency of things will be to depart from the republican standard.”

Federalist Paper No. 10:

“Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people.”

Federalist Paper No. 25:

“It is a truth which the experience of all ages has attested, that the people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.”

Federalist Paper No. 70

“Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.”

 

Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Diggs

Hear ye, hear ye! The Hamiltome is finally here! For those non-Hamilfans, that translates into the Hamilton: The Revolution book, which is basically the Hamilton libretto with margin notes from precious cinnamon roll Lin-Manuel Miranda throughout. Ironically (or maybe not ironically), the arrival of the book comes a day before what would have been Thomas Jefferson’s 273rd birthday. Age ain’t nothin’ but a number. And while I’m waiting for my copy of the Hamiltome to arrive, I figured we could look back at the legacy left by Thomas Jefferson. And by Thomas Jefferson, I mean Daveed Diggs, because our country’s third president was the definition of “your fave is problematic”.

Quick recap on America’s founding father Thomas Jefferson

  • Primary author of Declaration of Independence.
  • He was an aristocrat who owned 7,500 acres of land in Virginia. Thus he believed owning land was the only real wealth in the country, and that farming was the best job ever. That’d be like of Farmer Chris from The Bachelor became the president and was like, ‘Y’alls teachers and business owners and doctors are scientists are NOTHING compared to me and my tractor.’
  • He was super into Native Americans and was an advocate for assimilation policies and peaceful U.S. – Indian treaty alliances.
  • Abraham Lincoln hated him
  • His face is on Mount Rushmore
  • TJ believed banks were the second coming, a sign of all things evil because of its “scheming” ways.
  • He promised to free the 175 slaves his father owned once pops died, but he only freed five – the ones related to Sally Hemings.
  • PS: Sally Hemings was his infamous mistress, who also happened to be his slave. He father some of her kids, but still unclear.

  • Speaking of which, TJ had hypocritical tendencies with his stances on slavery and equality in general. For example, in the Declaration of Independence, you know the thing that says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”? He owned a total of more than 600 slaves in his lifetime, and considered women especially “profitable”, since they could bang out kids that would in turn become slaves.
  • As seen in Hamilton, Jefferson and James Madison are out to take down A.Ham – “get in the weeds, look for the seeds of Hamilton’s misdeeds.” They find out Alexander’s paying off some dude – James Reynolds aka husband to Maria Reynolds aka Alex’s mistress – and it’s all a little too ironic TJ wants to out Alex’s adultery, because, uh, Sally.

So instead, we’re going to focus on Daveed, the extremely talented man who plays both TJ and Marquis de Lafayette in Hamilton. He’s way, way less problematic, unless you couldn’t being a first-class rapper and handsome motherf’ker a problem.

Quick recap on America’s faux founding father Daveed Diggs

  • Born and raised in Oakland, California
  • Half Jewish, half black (hear that AEA casting call people?)
  • His first job was at Pier 1 Imports at the age of 15. He spent most of the day unwrapping individually wrapped wooden fish. He hated it. Hasn’t stepped in that store since.

  • Majored in theatre at Brown University
  • He was a substitute teacher. Speak up kids who had to call this dude Mr. Diggs in that one Algebra class.
  • He also was on the track team, focusing on sprinting and hurdles. Bless this picture.

  • At Brown, Daveed was part of a “rappers supergroup” called Soul Cypher. Can you even imagine going to a party and seeing Daveed and co. freestyling??
  • Since he had the chops, Daveed was recruited by Hamilton director Tommy Kail to join Freestyle Love Supreme, the hip-hop improv/theater group he co-created with Lin-Manuel Miranda.

  • Daveed filled in here and there for FLS, becoming one of the regular reparatory members, along with Chris Jackson (George Washington in Hamilton) and James Monroe Iglehart (Genie in Broadway’s Aladdin). It was during a show in New Orleans for a SportsCenter show that Tommy Kail mentioned Lin was doing a play (a rap musical about Alexander Hamilton) and invited him to a reading. He’s been involved with the show ever since.

The idea when first described to me was laughable. A rap musical about Alexander Hamilton—it didn’t make me jump up and down. Once I read the script and heard the songs, I knew there was something great there. Watching Chris Jackson play George Washington for a week, I left thinking that the dollar bill looked wrong. I walked out of the show with a sense of ownership over American history. Part of it is seeing brown bodies play these people. {x}

  • He’s already won two awards for Hamilton – a Lucille Lortel Award and Theatre World Award, not to mention the Grammy he and his castmates won for Best Musical Theatre Soundtrack.
  • Daveed is also part of a trio called clipping., an experimental hip-hop group which combines Sorkin-esque paced raps with experimental sounds and beats only made from field recordings they create themselves.

  • He also spit some rhymes in this video, and although I’m not quite sure how to process this, you should probably watch it anyways.

So if you don’t know, now you know.

ICYMI: #JeffersonWearsCoolPants

This week, Kanye was back to his ranting habits, and it was amazing. Naturally, we compared it to Hamilton. Because #WeAreAHamiltonBlogNow

Hamilton Explained: Cabinet Battle #1 (As Kanye Rant Tweets)

Welcome back to Hamilton Explained! It’s been a minute. When the Hamilton soundtrack was released all of these historical and musical references were jumping out at me and I wanted to start unpacking some of them here. I wasn’t counting on a whole community of people doing this very thing over at Genius. Instead of duplicating the efforts from Genius (check out their annotations if you haven’t!) here’s Cabinet Battle #1, explained through tweets from Kanye West’s epic January 27, 2016 rant against Wiz Khalifa.

WASHINGTON:
Ladies and gentlemen, you coulda been anywhere in the world tonight,
but you’re here with us in New York City.
Are you ready for a cabinet meeting???

The issue on the table: Secretary Hamilton’s plan to assume state debt
and establish a national bank.
Secretary Jefferson, you have the floor, sir

JEFFERSON:
‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’
We fought for these ideals; we shouldn’t settle for less
These are wise words, enterprising men quote ‘em
Don’t act surprised, you guys, cuz I wrote ‘em

8th I made it so we could wear tight jeans

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

JEFFERSON & MADISON:
Oww

JEFFERSON:
But Hamilton forgets
His plan would have the government assume state’s debts
Now, place your bets as to who that benefits:
The very seat of government where Hamilton sits

HAMILTON:
Not true!

JEFFERSON:
Ooh, if the shoe fits, wear it
If New York’s in debt—
Why should Virginia bear it? Uh! Our debts are paid, I’m afraid

Don’t tax the South cuz we got it made in the shade

Oh niggas must think I’m not petty cause I’m the best that’s ever made music

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

In Virginia, we plant seeds in the ground
We create. You just wanna move our money around

14th Nigga it’s called creativity #youshouldtryitsomeday

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

This financial plan is an outrageous demand

Second, your first single was corny as fuck and most there after

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

And it’s too many damn pages for any man to understand

3rd no one I know has ever listened to one of your albums all the way through

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016


If you missed one of our previous Hamilton Explained posts, here’s another battle, in the form of rules of a duel.

Hamilton Explained: Ten Duel Commandments

We’re still listening to Hamilton non-stop, and it’s time to break down another song. Last time it was The Schuyler Sisters, and today I chose Ten Duel Commandments. As before, lyrics are in italics and lines that we’re expounding on are in bold. If I didn’t get an idea or fact out of the (finally not-so-useless) history and rap references swirling around my brain, the source is credited.

[MEN]
One, two, three, four

[FULL COMPANY]
Five, six, seven, eight, nine…

  • References not just the “ten duel commandments” but also the count to ten paces before turning and firing.
  • Repeated in Take A Break, The World Was Wide Enough, Blow Us All Away. [source: genius.com]
  • But also: the 1-9 count is repeated in French – only by Eliza with Philip – in Take A Break and Stay Alive (Reprise).

[BURR/HAMILTON/LAURENS/LEE]
It’s the Ten Duel Commandments

  • We all know this one:
  • But also: dueling WAS super-codified and regimented. A Code Duello was a treatise explaining rules in hand-to-hand combat, and the 10 Duel Commandments is just the last in a long line, after a few centuries’ break.

[FULL COMPANY]
It’s the Ten Duel Commandments
Number one!

[LAURENS]
The challenge: demand satisfaction
If they apologize, no need for further action

  • Satisfaction, in a dueling context, refers to restoring your honor after a slight or an offense.
  • But Lin Manuel Miranda wouldn’t just leave it there, of course. Notice how he weaves satisfied/satisfaction in other contexts throughout the show: in Angelica’s assertions in Satisfied, as well as Hamilton’s. There’s a running theme that Hamilton’s greatest strength and downfall is his inability to be satisfied with his station at any given point.
  • This extends to Burr, always clawing his way up the political ladder; as well as Angelica, who made a calculated choice to pass on Hamilton;  Phillip, who couldn’t let an insult rest; and, in later years, Eliza:

  • I’m not crying, you’re crying.

[COMPANY]
Number two!

[LAURENS]
If they don’t, grab a friend, that’s your second

[HAMILTON]
Your lieutenant when there’s reckoning to be reckoned

  • “The seconds’ duty, above all, was to try to reconcile the parties without violence. An offended party sent a challenge through his second.” [Source: PBS]
  • Laurens grabbed his friend Hamilton as his second in his duel against Lee. [source: Founders Online archive]
  • Double meaning time: a lieutenant is a subordinate acting in their superior’s stead.. but also, Hamilton was a Lieutenant Colonel.

[COMPANY]
Number three!

[LEE]
Have your seconds meet face to face

[BURR]
Negotiate a peace…

[HAMILTON]
Or negotiate a time and place

  • A part of every duel: in the Lee/Laurens duel, it was Edwards and Hamilton who met and negotiated a time and place (“half past three,” in a “wooded situae.” Quaint). [source: Founders Online archives]

[BURR]
This is commonplace, ‘specially ‘tween recruits

[COMPANY]
Most disputes die, and no one shoots

  • Burr’s right: dueling was downright trendy in the 18th century, especially among the young men of the British gentry. I’m picturing 1700s-style Rich Kids Of Instagram who would be wearing pastel shorts and Oxford shirts with rolled sleeves today. Just a couple bros, their firearms, and their tender, tender egos.
  • By the late 18th century, dueling was particularly popular among members of the military. ‘Tween recruits.

Number four!

[LAURENS]
If they don’t reach a peace, that’s alright
Time to get some pistols and a doctor on site

[HAMILTON]
You pay him in advance, you treat him with civility

[BURR]
You have him turn around so he can have deniability

  • Part of the typical Code Duello included having a surgeon on site, preferably one with experience with gunshot wounds. Again, the goal was not to have one guy shoot the other guy dead, just to prove that you had the balls to face getting shot dead to uphold your “honor.” BROS. EGOS.

    [Source: Pistols At Dawn: A History Of Dueling]

  • Dueling was illegal, and by turning around the doctor could not be called as a witness (or, presumably, hailed as an accessory).

[COMPANY] Five! [LEE] Duel before the sun is in the sky

  • Before the sun is in the sky: duels were conducted at dawn for a few reasons. First, to prevent rash decisions: from the Irish Code Duello – “Challenges are never to be delivered at night, unless the party to be challenged intend leaving the place of offense before morning; for it is desirable to avoid all hot-headed proceedings.”
  • Second, at dawn, neither party had the advantage/disadvantage of the sun being in their face.
  • Third, police were often in bed.
  • And finally, it would be harder for witnesses to spot the duelers.

[COMPANY] Pick a place to die where it’s high and dry

  • Hamilton and Burr’s duel site – also used by Hamilton’s son Phillip – fits the description. This might be an old-school application of the mom-tested rule that when splitting a piece of cake, one person gets to cut it and one gets to choose. In the Code Duello, one party chose the ground and the other the distance. If you choose soggy oceanfront property to duel on, you just up your own chances of getting stuck in the mud or staggering into the water.
  • The Weehawken site, for instance, was chosen because it was a high ledge only accessible by water – choosing a high location might have meant that a Colonial villager didn’t accidentally stumble upon your duel.
     
  • “This line mirrors Biggie’s line of “Don’t get high on your own supply.”” [Source: genius.com]

Number six!

[HAMILTON]
Leave a note for your next of kin
Tell ‘em where you been.

Pray that hell or heaven lets you in

  • Two drafts of Hamilton’s final note to Eliza exist. You wouldn’t want to tell your wife beforehand, because (a) no way is she going to let that go down, and (b) plausible deniability.
  • From Hamilton’s letter: “Heaven can preserve me and I humbly hope will; but, in the contrary event, I charge you to remember that you are a Christian. God’s will be done! ” [source: Trinity Wall Street.org]
  • And also: “Fly to the bosom of your God and be comforted.  With my last idea; I shall cherish the sweet hope of meeting you in a better world. Adieu best of wives and best of Women.  Embrace all my darling Children for me.” [source: it’s hamiltime!]
  • Great, now we’re all crying.

[COMPANY]
Seven!

[LEE]
Confess your sins.

Ready for the moment of adrenaline when you finally face your opponent

  • The colonies, at this point, are mostly Mainline Protestant – just Catholic-y enough that absolution before death was kind of a thing.
  • The opponents would arrive separately to the site so only saw each other shortly before go time.

[COMPANY]
Number eight!

[LAURENS/LEE/HAMILTON/BURR]
Your last chance to negotiate
Send in your seconds, see if they can set the record straight…

[BURR]
Alexander

[HAMILTON]
Aaron Burr, sir

  • Just a nice little callback to Aaron Burr, Sir earlier in the show.
  • As we mentioned earlier, Edwards was actually Lee’s second, but whatever, this works.

[BURR]
Can we agree that duels are dumb and immature?

[HAMILTON]
Sure
But your man has to answer for his words, Burr

[BURR]
With his life? We both know that’s absurd, sir

  • Fun fact, unless you’re Alexander Hamilton: the man was not that keen on dueling. In the Lee/Laurens duel, he tried to advocate against it and then successfully stopped a second shot from being fired after Lee was injured. [Source: Founders Online archive.]

[HAMILTON]
Hang on, how many men died because Lee was inexperienced and ruinous?

[BURR]
Okay, so we’re doin’ this

  • Oh, when he shit the bed at the Battle of Monmouth (see: Stay Alive)? Literally hundreds, all because Lee wouldn’t follow directions. From George Washington. Who by all accounts was pretty good at leading things … you know, like revolutions and America. [Source: History Net]

[COMPANY]
Number nine!

[HAMILTON]
Look ‘em in the eye, aim no higher
Summon all the courage you require
Then count

[MEN]
One two three four

[FULL COMPANY]
Five six seven eight nine

[HAMILTON/BURR]
Number

[COMPANY]
Ten paces!

[HAMILTON/BURR]
Fire!

  • The Code Duello said that you couldn’t play chicken and fire at the air.
  • But of course, Hamilton threw away his shot, and even stated his intent to do so before the duel.

ICYMI: Obamailton

President Barry O gave his 8th and final State of the Union address this week, and he balled so hard he might as well have dropped the mic in the middle the chamber floor.

Live Blog: State of the Union

9:11 The president promises that the address will be short, which feels like that thing the priest says on Easter morning and it’s always a lie.

9:12 Okay, but Democrats and Republicans do know that the blue/red color code is just for imaginary maps that CNN uses on election night, right? You can all wear all the colors.

9:14 If I were bored at the State of the Union, I’d start counting Tiny American Flag Pins.

9:50 REMEMBER EBOLA.

9:54 If you’re on Twitter right now, do yourself a favor and start following the #Ham4SOTU tag.

10:03 Obama discusses the necessity for voting reform (yes!), or for those rapping along, corruption’s such an old song that we can sing in harmony, and nowhere is it stronger than in Albany.

10:07 But I can promise that a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I’ll be right there with you as a citizen — inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness that have helped America travel so far.

Hamiltunes translation:

“Everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid.”
They’ll be safe in the nation we’ve made
I wanna sit under my own vine and fig tree
A moment alone in the shade
At home in this nation we’ve made
One last time

10:10 Obama closes: “That’s the America I know. That’s the country we love. Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future. Because of you. I believe in you. That’s why I stand here confident that the State of our Union is strong.”

But of course, I fill in “Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” after “clear-eyed.” Because Obama is like a combination of Coach and Mrs. Coach, and to mix pop culture references, now he’ll have to teach us how to say goodbye.


Our president acted like A. Ham and paraphrased Coach Taylor – honestly what more do you want? More Hamilton? OK.

Hamilton Explained: Ten Duel Commandments

We’re still listening to Hamilton non-stop, and it’s time to break down another song. Last time it was The Schuyler Sisters, and today I chose Ten Duel Commandments. As before, lyrics are in italics and lines that we’re expounding on are in bold. If I didn’t get an idea or fact out of the (finally not-so-useless) history and rap references swirling around my brain, the source is credited.

[MEN]
One, two, three, four

[FULL COMPANY]
Five, six, seven, eight, nine…

  • References not just the “ten duel commandments” but also the count to ten paces before turning and firing.
  • Repeated in Take A Break, The World Was Wide Enough, Blow Us All Away. [source: genius.com]
  • But also: the 1-9 count is repeated in French – only by Eliza with Philip – in Take A Break and Stay Alive (Reprise).

[BURR/HAMILTON/LAURENS/LEE]
It’s the Ten Duel Commandments

  • We all know this one:
  • But also: dueling WAS super-codified and regimented. A Code Duello was a treatise explaining rules in hand-to-hand combat, and the 10 Duel Commandments is just the last in a long line, after a few centuries’ break.

[FULL COMPANY]
It’s the Ten Duel Commandments
Number one!

[LAURENS]
The challenge: demand satisfaction
If they apologize, no need for further action

 

  • Satisfaction, in a dueling context, refers to restoring your honor after a slight or an offense.
  • But Lin Manuel Miranda wouldn’t just leave it there, of course. Notice how he weaves satisfied/satisfaction in other contexts throughout the show: in Angelica’s assertions in Satisfied, as well as Hamilton’s. There’s a running theme that Hamilton’s greatest strength and downfall is his inability to be satisfied with his station at any given point.
  • This extends to Burr, always clawing his way up the political ladder; as well as Angelica, who made a calculated choice to pass on Hamilton;  Phillip, who couldn’t let an insult rest; and, in later years, Eliza:

  • I’m not crying, you’re crying.

[COMPANY]
Number two!

[LAURENS]
If they don’t, grab a friend, that’s your second

[HAMILTON]
Your lieutenant when there’s reckoning to be reckoned

  • “The seconds’ duty, above all, was to try to reconcile the parties without violence. An offended party sent a challenge through his second.” [Source: PBS]
  • Laurens grabbed his friend Hamilton as his second in his duel against Lee. [source: Founders Online archive]
  • Double meaning time: a lieutenant is a subordinate acting in their superior’s stead.. but also, Hamilton was a Lieutenant Colonel.

[COMPANY]
Number three!

[LEE]
Have your seconds meet face to face

[BURR]
Negotiate a peace…

[HAMILTON]
Or negotiate a time and place

  • A part of every duel: in the Lee/Laurens duel, it was Edwards and Hamilton who met and negotiated a time and place (“half past three,” in a “wooded situae.” Quaint). [source: Founders Online archives]

[BURR]
This is commonplace, ‘specially ‘tween recruits

[COMPANY]
Most disputes die, and no one shoots

 

  • Burr’s right: dueling was downright trendy in the 18th century, especially among the young men of the British gentry. I’m picturing 1700s-style Rich Kids Of Instagram who would be wearing pastel shorts and Oxford shirts with rolled sleeves today. Just a couple bros, their firearms, and their tender, tender egos.
  • By the late 18th century, dueling was particularly popular among members of the military. ‘Tween recruits.

Number four!

[LAURENS]
If they don’t reach a peace, that’s alright
Time to get some pistols and a doctor on site

[HAMILTON]
You pay him in advance, you treat him with civility

[BURR]
You have him turn around so he can have deniability

  • Part of the typical Code Duello included having a surgeon on site, preferably one with experience with gunshot wounds. Again, the goal was not to have one guy shoot the other guy dead, just to prove that you had the balls to face getting shot dead to uphold your “honor.” BROS. EGOS.

    [Source: Pistols At Dawn: A History Of Dueling]

  • Dueling was illegal, and by turning around the doctor could not be called as a witness (or, presumably, hailed as an accessory).

[COMPANY] Five! [LEE] Duel before the sun is in the sky

  • Before the sun is in the sky: duels were conducted at dawn for a few reasons. First, to prevent rash decisions: from the Irish Code Duello – “Challenges are never to be delivered at night, unless the party to be challenged intend leaving the place of offense before morning; for it is desirable to avoid all hot-headed proceedings.”
  • Second, at dawn, neither party had the advantage/disadvantage of the sun being in their face.
  • Third, police were often in bed.
  • And finally, it would be harder for witnesses to spot the duelers.

[COMPANY] Pick a place to die where it’s high and dry

  • Hamilton and Burr’s duel site – also used by Hamilton’s son Phillip – fits the description. This might be an old-school application of the mom-tested rule that when splitting a piece of cake, one person gets to cut it and one gets to choose. In the Code Duello, one party chose the ground and the other the distance. If you choose soggy oceanfront property to duel on, you just up your own chances of getting stuck in the mud or staggering into the water.
  • The Weehawken site, for instance, was chosen because it was a high ledge only accessible by water – choosing a high location might have meant that a Colonial villager didn’t accidentally stumble upon your duel.
     
  • “This line mirrors Biggie’s line of “Don’t get high on your own supply.”” [Source: genius.com]

Number six!

[HAMILTON]
Leave a note for your next of kin
Tell ‘em where you been.

Pray that hell or heaven lets you in

  • Two drafts of Hamilton’s final note to Eliza exist. You wouldn’t want to tell your wife beforehand, because (a) no way is she going to let that go down, and (b) plausible deniability.
  • From Hamilton’s letter: “Heaven can preserve me and I humbly hope will; but, in the contrary event, I charge you to remember that you are a Christian. God’s will be done! ” [source: Trinity Wall Street.org]
  • And also: “Fly to the bosom of your God and be comforted.  With my last idea; I shall cherish the sweet hope of meeting you in a better world. Adieu best of wives and best of Women.  Embrace all my darling Children for me.” [source: it’s hamiltime!]
  • Great, now we’re all crying.

[COMPANY]
Seven!

[LEE]
Confess your sins.

Ready for the moment of adrenaline when you finally face your opponent

  • The colonies, at this point, are mostly Mainline Protestant – just Catholic-y enough that absolution before death was kind of a thing.
  • The opponents would arrive separately to the site so only saw each other shortly before go time.

[COMPANY]
Number eight!

[LAURENS/LEE/HAMILTON/BURR]
Your last chance to negotiate
Send in your seconds, see if they can set the record straight…

[BURR]
Alexander

[HAMILTON]
Aaron Burr, sir

  • Just a nice little callback to Aaron Burr, Sir earlier in the show.
  • As we mentioned earlier, Edwards was actually Lee’s second, but whatever, this works.

[BURR]
Can we agree that duels are dumb and immature?

[HAMILTON]
Sure
But your man has to answer for his words, Burr

[BURR]
With his life? We both know that’s absurd, sir

  • Fun fact, unless you’re Alexander Hamilton: the man was not that keen on dueling. In the Lee/Laurens duel, he tried to advocate against it and then successfully stopped a second shot from being fired after Lee was injured. [Source: Founders Online archive.]

[HAMILTON]
Hang on, how many men died because Lee was inexperienced and ruinous?

[BURR]
Okay, so we’re doin’ this

  • Oh, when he shit the bed at the Battle of Monmouth (see: Stay Alive)? Literally hundreds, all because Lee wouldn’t follow directions. From George Washington. Who by all accounts was pretty good at leading things … you know, like revolutions and America. [Source: History Net]

[COMPANY]
Number nine!

[HAMILTON]
Look ‘em in the eye, aim no higher
Summon all the courage you require
Then count

[MEN]
One two three four

[FULL COMPANY]
Five six seven eight nine

[HAMILTON/BURR]
Number

[COMPANY]
Ten paces!

[HAMILTON/BURR]
Fire!

  • The Code Duello said that you couldn’t play chicken and fire at the air.
  • But of course, Hamilton threw away his shot, and even stated his intent to do so before the duel.

Hamilton Explained: Ten Duel Commandments

We’re still listening to Hamilton non-stop, and it’s time to break down another song. Last time it was The Schuyler Sisters, and today I chose Ten Duel Commandments. As before, lyrics are in italics and lines that we’re expounding on are in bold. If I didn’t get an idea or fact out of the (finally not-so-useless) history and rap references swirling around my brain, the source is credited.

[MEN]
One, two, three, four

[FULL COMPANY]
Five, six, seven, eight, nine…

  • References not just the “ten duel commandments” but also the count to ten paces before turning and firing.
  • Repeated in Take A Break, The World Was Wide Enough, Blow Us All Away. [source: genius.com]
  • But also: the 1-9 count is repeated in French – only by Eliza with Philip – in Take A Break and Stay Alive (Reprise).

[BURR/HAMILTON/LAURENS/LEE]
It’s the Ten Duel Commandments

  • We all know this one:
  • But also: dueling WAS super-codified and regimented. A Code Duello was a treatise explaining rules in hand-to-hand combat, and the 10 Duel Commandments is just the last in a long line, after a few centuries’ break.

[FULL COMPANY]
It’s the Ten Duel Commandments
Number one!

[LAURENS]
The challenge: demand satisfaction
If they apologize, no need for further action

 

  • Satisfaction, in a dueling context, refers to restoring your honor after a slight or an offense.
  • But Lin Manuel Miranda wouldn’t just leave it there, of course. Notice how he weaves satisfied/satisfaction in other contexts throughout the show: in Angelica’s assertions in Satisfied, as well as Hamilton’s. There’s a running theme that Hamilton’s greatest strength and downfall is his inability to be satisfied with his station at any given point.
  • This extends to Burr, always clawing his way up the political ladder; as well as Angelica, who made a calculated choice to pass on Hamilton;  Phillip, who couldn’t let an insult rest; and, in later years, Eliza:

  • I’m not crying, you’re crying.

[COMPANY]
Number two!

[LAURENS]
If they don’t, grab a friend, that’s your second

[HAMILTON]
Your lieutenant when there’s reckoning to be reckoned

  • “The seconds’ duty, above all, was to try to reconcile the parties without violence. An offended party sent a challenge through his second.” [Source: PBS]
  • Laurens grabbed his friend Hamilton as his second in his duel against Lee. [source: Founders Online archive]
  • Double meaning time: a lieutenant is a subordinate acting in their superior’s stead.. but also, Hamilton was a Lieutenant Colonel.

[COMPANY]
Number three!

[LEE]
Have your seconds meet face to face

[BURR]
Negotiate a peace…

[HAMILTON]
Or negotiate a time and place

  • A part of every duel: in the Lee/Laurens duel, it was Edwards and Hamilton who met and negotiated a time and place (“half past three,” in a “wooded situae.” Quaint). [source: Founders Online archives]

[BURR]
This is commonplace, ‘specially ‘tween recruits

[COMPANY]
Most disputes die, and no one shoots

 

  • Burr’s right: dueling was downright trendy in the 18th century, especially among the young men of the British gentry. I’m picturing 1700s-style Rich Kids Of Instagram who would be wearing pastel shorts and Oxford shirts with rolled sleeves today. Just a couple bros, their firearms, and their tender, tender egos.
  • By the late 18th century, dueling was particularly popular among members of the military. ‘Tween recruits.

Number four!

[LAURENS]
If they don’t reach a peace, that’s alright
Time to get some pistols and a doctor on site

[HAMILTON]
You pay him in advance, you treat him with civility

[BURR]
You have him turn around so he can have deniability

  • Part of the typical Code Duello included having a surgeon on site, preferably one with experience with gunshot wounds. Again, the goal was not to have one guy shoot the other guy dead, just to prove that you had the balls to face getting shot dead to uphold your “honor.” BROS. EGOS.

    [Source: Pistols At Dawn: A History Of Dueling]

  • Dueling was illegal, and by turning around the doctor could not be called as a witness (or, presumably, hailed as an accessory).

[COMPANY] Five!

[LEE] Duel before the sun is in the sky

  • Before the sun is in the sky: duels were conducted at dawn for a few reasons. First, to prevent rash decisions: from the Irish Code Duello – “Challenges are never to be delivered at night, unless the party to be challenged intend leaving the place of offense before morning; for it is desirable to avoid all hot-headed proceedings.”
  • Second, at dawn, neither party had the advantage/disadvantage of the sun being in their face.
  • Third, police were often in bed.
  • And finally, it would be harder for witnesses to spot the duelers.

[COMPANY] Pick a place to die where it’s high and dry

  • Hamilton and Burr’s duel site – also used by Hamilton’s son Phillip – fits the description. This might be an old-school application of the mom-tested rule that when splitting a piece of cake, one person gets to cut it and one gets to choose. In the Code Duello, one party chose the ground and the other the distance. If you choose soggy oceanfront property to duel on, you just up your own chances of getting stuck in the mud or staggering into the water.
  • The Weehawken site, for instance, was chosen because it was a high ledge only accessible by water – choosing a high location might have meant that a Colonial villager didn’t accidentally stumble upon your duel.
     
  • “This line mirrors Biggie’s line of “Don’t get high on your own supply.”” [Source: genius.com]

Number six!

[HAMILTON]
Leave a note for your next of kin
Tell ‘em where you been.

Pray that hell or heaven lets you in

  • Two drafts of Hamilton’s final note to Eliza exist. You wouldn’t want to tell your wife beforehand, because (a) no way is she going to let that go down, and (b) plausible deniability.
  • From Hamilton’s letter: “Heaven can preserve me and I humbly hope will; but, in the contrary event, I charge you to remember that you are a Christian. God’s will be done! ” [source: Trinity Wall Street.org]
  • And also: “Fly to the bosom of your God and be comforted.  With my last idea; I shall cherish the sweet hope of meeting you in a better world. Adieu best of wives and best of Women.  Embrace all my darling Children for me.” [source: it’s hamiltime!]
  • Great, now we’re all crying.

[COMPANY]
Seven!

[LEE]
Confess your sins.

Ready for the moment of adrenaline when you finally face your opponent

  • The colonies, at this point, are mostly Mainline Protestant – just Catholic-y enough that absolution before death was kind of a thing.
  • The opponents would arrive separately to the site so only saw each other shortly before go time.

[COMPANY]
Number eight!

[LAURENS/LEE/HAMILTON/BURR]
Your last chance to negotiate
Send in your seconds, see if they can set the record straight…

[BURR]
Alexander

[HAMILTON]
Aaron Burr, sir

  • Just a nice little callback to Aaron Burr, Sir earlier in the show.
  • As we mentioned earlier, Edwards was actually Lee’s second, but whatever, this works.

[BURR]
Can we agree that duels are dumb and immature?

[HAMILTON]
Sure
But your man has to answer for his words, Burr

[BURR]
With his life? We both know that’s absurd, sir

  • Fun fact, unless you’re Alexander Hamilton: the man was not that keen on dueling. In the Lee/Laurens duel, he tried to advocate against it and then successfully stopped a second shot from being fired after Lee was injured. [Source: Founders Online archive.]

[HAMILTON]
Hang on, how many men died because Lee was inexperienced and ruinous?

[BURR]
Okay, so we’re doin’ this

  • Oh, when he shit the bed at the Battle of Monmouth (see: Stay Alive)? Literally hundreds, all because Lee wouldn’t follow directions. From George Washington. Who by all accounts was pretty good at leading things … you know, like revolutions and America. [Source: History Net]

[COMPANY]
Number nine!

[HAMILTON]
Look ‘em in the eye, aim no higher
Summon all the courage you require
Then count

[MEN]
One two three four

[FULL COMPANY]
Five six seven eight nine

[HAMILTON/BURR]
Number

[COMPANY]
Ten paces!

[HAMILTON/BURR]
Fire!

  • The Code Duello said that you couldn’t play chicken and fire at the air.
  • But of course, Hamilton threw away his shot, and even stated his intent to do so before the duel.

Hamilton Explained: The Schuyler Sisters

True to our promise, we’re becoming a Hamilton blog. Okay, maybe not full time, but you didn’t really think we’d stop at one post, did you? We’ve both been playing the cast recording nonstop, and new references and allusions rise up in the songs every time we listen. I’m sure we’ll keep discovering more, but we’re ready to start unpacking some of the many-layered references in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics.

First up – our introduction to the O.G. Kardashians, the Destiny’s Child-Made-Entirely-Of-Beyonces, the It Girls Of The Eighteenth Century… the Schuyler Sisters. Lyrics are in italics, the lines that I’m elaborating on are in bold, and our comments are next to bullet points.

The Schuyler Sisters

[BURR]
There’s nothing rich folks love more
Than going downtown and slumming it with the poor
They pull up in their carriages and gawk at the students in the common
Just to watch ‘em talk

  • In 1773, Alexander Hamilton began studying at King’s College – now Columbia University – in New York. King’s College was “overwhelmingly loyalist” at the time. [source]
  • The Liberty Pole in the Common (City Hall Park) was a popular site for debates between the Loyalists and Patriots. [source]
  • As a student, Hamilton wrote treatises, delivered speeches, and was known to frequent the Liberty Pole in the common. [source, source]
  • From genius.com: similar in flow and topic to Melle Mell’s verses in Grandmaster Flash classic The Message. [source, source]

Take Philip Schuyler, the man is loaded

  • The Schuylers were a prominent Dutch American family, and Philip’s wife was Catherine Van Rensselaer of the absurdly-wealthy-and-influential Van Rensselaers. Colonial power couple, right there. [source]
  • And his house was pretty legit:schuyler

Uh oh, but little does he know that
His daughters, Peggy, Angelica, Eliza
Sneak into the city just to watch all the guys at

  • The Schuyler sisters, raised in the pretty good mansion pictured above, stayed with their aunt and uncle for a time in Morristown, NJ. At the time, Philip was serving in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. [source] They met officers in Morrisown, a revolutionary hotspot. [source]

[COMPANY]
Work, work
[ANGELICA]
Angelica!
[COMPANY]
Work, work
[ELIZA]
Eliza!
[PEGGY]
And Peggy!
[COMPANY]
Work, work
The Schuyler sisters

  • The repeated “work, work” in the chorus is a bit reminiscent of Do You Love Me by The Contours – possible coincidence. [source]

[ANGELICA]
Angelica!
[PEGGY]
Peggy!
[ELIZA]
Eliza!

[COMPANY]
Work!

  • A Rap Genius user suggests that this might be a tribute to the roll call in Hairspray’s The Nicest Kids In Town. [source]

[PEGGY]
Daddy said to be home by sundown
[ANGELICA]
Daddy doesn’t need to know
[PEGGY]
Daddy said not to go downtown
[ANGELICA]
Like I said, you’re free to go

  • I haven’t tracked down evidence of the Schuyler sisters gallivanting through New York – although TBH if it was a stealth sneak-out like Angelica’s describing, I guess I wouldn’t find that anyway. But since New York City was occupied by the British during the war, Philip Schuyler probably wouldn’t have wanted his daughters there. [source]
  • But—look around, look around
    The revolution’s happening in New York
    [ELIZA & PEGGY]
    New York
  • The repeated New York, New York sounds a bit reminiscent of the Alicia Keys chorus in Empire State Of Mind.

[COMPANY]
Angelica
[SISTERS & COMPANY]
Work!

[PEGGY]
It’s bad enough Daddy wants to go to war

  • Gen. Philip Schuyler was chosen as a major-general by the Continental Congress in 1775, and went on to aid the colonists in their instrumental victory at the Battle of Saratoga.[source]

[ELIZA]
People shouting in the square

  • During the Revolutionary War era news and treatises were often read in public (town criers, anyone?) and public debates were common, as mentioned in the first verse. Imagine a live-action internet comments section.

[PEGGY]
It’s bad enough there’ll be violence on our shore
[ANGELICA]
New ideas in the air

[ANGELICA & MALE ENSEMBLE]
Look around, look around—

[ELIZA]
Angelica, remind me what we’re looking for

[ALL MEN]
She’s looking for me!

[ANGELICA (COMPANY)]
Eliza, I’m looking for a mind at work (work, work)
I’m looking for a mind at work (work, work)
I’m looking for a mind at work (work, work)
Woa-oah
[SISTERS]
Woa-oah
[SISTERS & COMPANY]
Work!

  • A twitter user pointed out that “looking for a mind at work” seems to be a West Wing reference:

This was also mentioned on genius.com. [Which I always thought was called Rap Genius??]

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda has confirmed West Wing as an influence in writing Hamilton. [source]

[BURR]
Ooh, there’s nothing like summer in the city
Someone in a rush next to someone looking pretty

  • Potential allusion: The Lovin’ Spoonful’s Summer In The City – Hot town, summer in the city / Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty

Excuse me, miss, I know it’s not funny

  • Potential allusion: Jay-Z’s Excuse Me Miss. Not convinced because the flow sounds nothing like that one, but this verse definitely sounds like … something? Right? Anyone?

But your perfume smells like your daddy’s got money
Why you slummin’ in the city in your fancy heels?
You searchin’ for an urchin who can give you ideals?

[ANGELICA]
Burr, you disgust me

[BURR]
Ahh, so you’ve discussed me
I’m a trust fund, baby, you can trust me

  • A play on “trust fund baby” – a rich kid with family money.

[ANGELICA]
I’ve been reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine

  • Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was a 1776 pamphlet that you probably read or learned about in American history. It was extraordinarily popular and was influential in drumming up popular support for the Patriots’ cause. [source]

So men say that I’m intense or I’m insane

  • One Burr biographer described Angelica as “witty, intelligent, and rambunctious,” which is a nicer way of saying it anyway? [source]

You want a revolution? I want a revelation
So listen to my declaration:

[ALL SISTERS]
“We hold these truths to be self-evident

That all men are created equal”

  • Declaration of Independence,  1776: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal […].”
  • Its words were echoed 70 years later at the Seneca Falls Convention, in the Declaration of Sentiments (We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal). Which will be relevant in like two seconds.

[ANGELICA (COMPANY)]
And when I meet Thomas Jefferson (unh!)
I’mma compel him to include women in the sequel

  • So, there’s that: the words of the Declaration were an important part of Americans’ continued fight for independence. Maybe not an intentional reference, but still interesting.
  • As for the Thomas Jefferson part: Angelica Schuyler Church carried on extensive correspondence with Thomas Jefferson. From his letters to her, it looks like she at least tried to talk politics, to little avail. Jefferson wrote: “You see by the papers, and I suppose by your letters also, how much your native state has been agitated by the question on the new Constitution. But that need not agitate you. The tender breasts of ladies were not formed for political convulsion.” [source] Can’t win ’em all.
  • Aaron Burr, however, would have agreed with Angelica: he was really into Mary Wollstonecraft. [source]. But he was still kind of a dick, though.

[WOMEN]
Work!

[ELIZA]
Look around, look around at how
Lucky we are to be alive right now

  • This could be a reference to the ‘look around, look around, look around’ part of June Is Bustin’ Out All Over from Carousel, which I forgot was like 10 minutes long. [source] Probably not, because Carousel just doesn’t feel like an influence here. Plus “look around” is like …. kind of a common expression.
  • Okay, now we’re heading into repeat lyrics, so it’s a good time to mention that I grabbed the lyrics from genius.com, where folks collaborate on explaining and breaking down lyrics. No doubt more will be added there over time, so you may want to look back in a while. [source]
  • Official lyrics are here.
  • And finally, we can both vouch that dropping $20 on the iTunes album was two Hamiltons well-spent.

[ELIZA, PEGGY]
Look around, look around at how
Lucky we are to be alive right now
[ALL SISTERS]
History is happening in Manhattan and we
Just happen to be in the greatest city in the world

[SISTERS & COMPANY]
In the greatest city in the world!

[ANGELICA (ELIZA, PEGGY) ((MEN))]
Cause I’ve been reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine
(look around, look around)((hey, hey, hey, hey))
So men say that I’m intense or I’m insane
(the revolution’s happening in)((hey, hey, hey, hey))
[ANGELICA (ELIZA, PEGGY) ((WOMEN))]
(New York) You want a revolution? ((look around, look around))
I want a revelation (In New York, woah)
So listen to my declaration ((the revolution’s happening))

[ALL SISTERS (WOMEN) ((MEN))]
We hold these truths to be self evident
(look around, look around) (hey, hey)
That all men are created equal
(at how lucky we are to be alive right now) (hey, hey)

[ALL SISTERS & COMPANY]
Look around, look around
At how lucky we are to be alive right now
History is happening in Manhattan
And we just happen to be
[WOMEN (MEN)]
In the greatest city in the world (in the greatest city)
[COMPANY]
In the greatest city in the world!

[COMPANY]
Work, work
[ANGELICA]
Angelica!
[COMPANY]
Work, work
[ELIZA]
Eliza!
[PEGGY]
And Peggy!
[COMPANY]
Work, work
[ALL SISTERS]
The Schuyler sisters
[COMPANY]
Work, work

[ALL SISTERS (COMPANY)]
We’re looking for a mind at work (work, work)
Hey (work, work)
[ANGELICA (COMPANY)]
Woah-ah! (work, work)
[ELIZA & PEGGY (COMPANY)]
Hey (work, work)
In the greatest city

[ALL SISTERS]
In the greatest city
In the world!

[COMPANY]
In the greatest city in the world!

Saturday Spotlight: #Hamiltunes: I’m Willing To Wait For It

HERE

Of course, we’ve both been following Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash Broadway hit, Hamilton (do they still say “smash Broadway hit?”). This week the live stream of the cast recording was live streaming on NPR – so naturally, we posted a track-by-track reaction of our favorite uses of foreshadowing, Shakespeare references, and Leslie Odom Jr’s gorgeous voice.

THERE

#Hamiltunes: How Lucky We Are To Be Alive Right Now

Because I’m your one crunchy cat aunt, I love NPR. But today I love NPR more than ever, because they posted the full, streaming Hamilton cast recording. If you want to hear it head over fairly quickly, because it probably won’t stay up for too long -but the recording will be available to buy on October 16. And let me tell you, it’s even better than I was expecting.

There’s been some discussion about whether people who haven’t seen Hamilton should listen to the soundtrack. As someone who grew up listening to cast recordings of musicals I hadn’t necessarily seen yet, it’s not an issue for me. Nor am I concerned about “spoilers” since this happened over 200 years ago and I know the basics.  Still, I guess if you’re super spoiler averse, want to hear the music on stage first, or aren’t familiar with Alexander Hamilton’s story, feel free to wait until you can see the show. I know that will probably not happen for me this year, so I never had any intention of waiting.

So what do I love about the Hamilton recording? First of all, Lin-Manuel Miranda provides all of the exposition modern audiences need to understand the story and the time it happens in – without ever talking down to us or underestimating the intelligence of a general audience. The different musical styles assigned to each character actually help further their character development and the plot. There are clever rhymes and allusions, but he is never clever for clever’s sake. Also it’s also just really, really good.

Here’s a brief track-by-track reaction, with the caveat that I jotted down thoughts as I was listening to it for the first time, so I probably mis-assigned the speaker a few times, and there are several tracks for which I didn’t get anything down. Fair warning: spoilers ahead.

Hamilton streaming online: how lucky we are to be alive right now.

1. Hamilton

I have listened to the White House performance of the early draft of this more than a few times, but this feels different.  It’s more musical theater (in a good way) with backing vocals and orchestra. I may be imagining shades of Jay Z’s Empire State Of Mind – both here and in later tracks, like The Schuyler Sisters. Leslie Odom Jr.’s (Aaron Burr) voice is amazing – speaking, rapping, and singing alike.

2. Aaron Burr, Sir

I love the old-school, fun rap wordplay – like pairing Burr, sir with bursar. Burr’s advice: “talk less, smile more, don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for” proves that there has been little change in the practice of politics since the 1770s. I love how the rap styles tell you about characters – the more youthful, energetic American guys vs French-y Frenchman Lafayette.

3. My Shot

This has been the breakout song so far. A really brilliant use of rap wordplay because the pun or double entendre with “not throwing away my shot” lies in foreshadowing. If you’re the kind of adult who reads colonial history for funsies or remembers everything from AP American – guilty! – then you’ll remember the controversy of whether Hamilton genuinely aimed at Burr at the start of the duel, or pointedly threw away his shot to signal that he was not out to kill.

4. The Story of Tonight

The formation of a new nation: this is like the pre-revolution Red And Black of Hamilton.

5. The Schuyler Sisters

This introduces the Schuylers as the Kardashians* of the 1770s (but not vapid, just that they’re rich and well-connected). This track establishes the colonial era as an exciting, modern time to live in. The harmonies between Phillippa Soo (Eliza), Jasmine Cephas-Jones (Peggy, and later Maria Reynolds) and Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica) are amazing and reminiscent of old-school Destiny’s Child.

6. Farmer Refuted

This one gets real 18th century for a sec, and contains actual references to the fact that it’s a musical without busting the fourth wall: “don’t modulate the key then not debate with me.”

7. You’ll Be Back

It’s a 1960s Brit pop-style breakup song, performed by King George. Actually perfect. Jonathan Groff is magic and Lin Manuel is a genius.  “I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love.”

8. Right Hand Man

Like in the opening track, this is a great use of expository rap which I am just learning is a thing. That I am obsessed with.

9. A Winter’s Ball

Just your classic rap braggadocio that includes the claim that George Washington and Martha Washington’s feral tomcat was named after Hamilton.

10. Helpless

Eliza and Hamilton meet, and it’s like the perfect blend of an 18th century story, a very 2015 musical, and 90s pop/ R&B styling.

11. Satisfied

Renee Elise Goldsberry is a fantastic rapper. I love how Lin-Manuel Miranda creates this tension between Eliza’s relationship with Alexander against his feelings for Angelica, but you never question the loyalty between the sisters. Also a testament to Soo and Goldsberry’s performances, though.

12. The Story Of Tonight (Reprise)
13. Wait For It

If the lyrics weren’t about 18th century politics, I would think it was something on the radio when I was in 6th grade (in 1997-1998, for reference).  It’s also just a lyrically lovely song that does a lot to turn Burr from a villain into a man.

14. Stay Alive

It’s not just military strategy, but catchy military strategy.

15. 10 Duel Commandments

This track is not just a lot of fun, but actually necessary information for the Burr/Hamilton duel later on – it will be important that we know about seconds, that shots often aren’t fired in a duel, making sure there are no technical witnesses, etc.

16. Meet Me Inside
17. That Would Be Enough

They’ve been largely silent, but I’ve definitely heard some (often older, stodgier) musical theater purists bemoan a rap musical – especially one set in the 1700s. You know, as though your classic Musical Theater torch songs and 11 o’clock numbers would bear any resemblance to things people were singing in the 1780s. Well, I think numbers like That Would Be Enough should silence some of those folks. Some numbers are definitely more “musical theater” and this is one of them.

18. Guns and Ships

More expository rap, as Burr, Lafayette, and Washington strategize.

19. History Has Its Eyes On You

I don’t mean at all that Miranda’s rap is old-fashioned or boring – exactly the opposite – but I have to say it’s amazing to listen to a rap track narrated featuring George Washington (Christopher Jackson) and think to myself “my dad might like this musical.” [Background: my dad, an old white man, categorically hates rap – along with most music – and is so befuddled by musicals that he left Cats in the early 90s muttering “I just don’t get it.”]

20. Yorktown (The world turned upside down )

Consider this one sort of a My Shot reprise.

21. What Comes Next

YES. More ’60s pop from Groff. When you get excited to just hear a character again  – not even see them walk on stage –  you know it’s a good score.

22. Dear Theodosia

Aaron Burr sings to his baby daughter and it’s really moving (and for us history nerdos, extra sad when he says “someday you’ll blow us all away” and you know that she actually died at sea in her 20s). Alexander sings the same to his son Philip – we’ll get to why that’s sad later. Great way to humanize these historic figures. [Fun fact: Theodosia was the first person recorded to have honeymooned at Niagara Falls.]

23. Non-Stop

Miranda excels where a lot of librettists bore me: incorporating earlier numbers. After listening to this I realized this was probably at the act break, so it makes sense that it’s a bigger number with a lot of throwbacks.

24. What’d I Miss

So brilliant: this is like an oldschool motown tune because Thomas Jefferson (Daveed Diggs) has been gone for years since the revolution and he’s a little behind. He “basically missed the late ’80s.”

25. Cabinet Battle #1

I could see a cool history teacher using this to help explain how the US treasury was formed, as well as state vs national taxation and currency. So good.

26. Take A Break

I LOVE how in his raps, Miranda incorporates references and allusions that would have been available to these guys during their lifetimes – like Banquo and Macduff from Macbeth. The occasional baroque riffs are awesome, too.

27. My Dearest Angelica

Again, Miranda doesn’t underestimate his audience, and it pays off. This number actually discusses how punctuation changes the meaning of a sentence in a letter Eliza sent to Angelica.  Okay, we’re starting the Tony For Renee Elise Goldsberry campaign.

28. Say No To This

The orchestration is also wonderful throughout, as in the violin of romantic tension in this track. Hamilton meets Maria Reynolds, begins an affair, then gets a letter from her husband blackmailing him. Jasmine Cephas Jones really rocks her dual role of Maria Reynolds and Peggy Schuyler.

29. The Room Where It Happens

Hamilton has now adopted Burr’s advice from Act I. Yes, this is a rap musical, but to reduce it to just that ignores how great Miranda is with melody.

30. Schuyler Defeated
31. Cabinet Battle #2
32. Washington On Your Side
33. One Last Time

Christopher Jackson as Washington has such a gorgeous, smooth voice for this R&B-incluence number. American history teachers take note: this is a much better way to explain the two term custom than whatever’s in your textbook. Seamlessly incorporates Washington’s gorgeous farewell address, so well written (possibly by Hamilton, possibly not) that it fits in brilliantly with Miranda’s other lyrics.

34.I know Him

GROFF. I can’t overstate how the musical styles assigned to each character help move their characterization and the plot forward, as in this song where King George gets news that John Adams is taking over.

35. The Adams Administration
36. We Know

American political scandals have changed so little. In this song, it has broken that Hamilton gave hush money to Maria Reynolds’ husband.

37. Hurricane

Hamilton sings “I wrote my own deliverance.” Like so many politicians since, he admitted one bad act (his affair with Maria) to quiet talk of another (involvement in Reynold’s financial scheme involving back wages to Revolutionary War vets). How hasn’t there been a musical about Hamilton yet? His arc is amazing.

38. The Reynolds Pamphlet

Hamilton’s peers react to his publication.  It’s so good, and very similar to the reaction today when a politician’s rival falls: “never going to be president now/ one less thing to worry about.”

39. Burn

Eliza burns Hamilton’s letters, a clever way to explain why we don’t know how Elizabeth reacted to Alexander’s affair and the publication of Maria’s letters. Miranda turns Eliza’s silence into an act of agency: “I’m erasing myself from the narrative/ let future historians wonder how Eliza reacted when you broke her heart.” So gorgeous. Tony for Phillipa Soo as well, please.

40. Blow Us All Away

The new generation is taking over, and Hamilton’s son Phillip (Javier Munoz) is ready to “blow us all away” as predicted in Act I. There’s a duel between Philip and Burr’s man George Eaker. Yeah, dueling was really big. They went across the river to New Jersey (“everything is legal in New Jersey”) to the same dueling ground Alexander would visit years later. This number also helpfully reinforces the rules of dueling, which will be handy later.

41. Stay Alive (Reprise)

Phillip’s death. I know I’d be crying if I saw this live, because I’m crying listening to NPR (to be fair, I probably cry listening to NPR on a fairly regular basis).

42. It’s Quiet Uptown

Alexander’s grief after Phillip’s death. Great use of the ensemble. Really beautiful and melodic, further develops Angelica/Eliza/Alexander relationship. Again: Not just a rap musical.

43. The Election Of 1800

Love the electorate’s observations of Jefferson, Madison, Addams, Burr – a wonderful glimpse into the history of campaigning in the US as we head into another year and a half long election cycle, too.

44. Your Obedient Servant

Hamilton and Burr arrange their duel. I love their relationship as cordial enemies .. not all the way to frenemies. Political rivalries were so classy back then. The duel is on.

45. Best Of Wives And Best Of Women

This was more of an interlude. Adios, Eliza.

46. The World Was Wide Enough

Miranda brings back the rules of dueling in case you had forgotten some of them (I had). He also provides evidence for whether or not Hamilton intended to shoot Burr to kill (wearing glasses, for instance) or whether he was throwing away his shot. The action pauses as we enter Hamilton’s thoughts as his last moments play out. Miranda still leaves enough ambiguity – just like the historical record – that the audience can decide for themselves what happened. You also get some tones of regret from Burr.

47. Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

Eliza is the one who recorded Hamilton’s legacy, interviewed his contemporaries, and controlled how Hamilton was represented in history — as she says, she put herself back in the narrative.  I’m crying again, it’s okay.