My wife and I saw Hamilton last night. It’s playing in Chicago for an extended run. If you get the chance to see it, see it. Tickets are not cheap, but then live theatre never is. In Chicago these days you can see a lot of cutting edge live theatre in small venues. Some make their way to the big stage but I digress.
Hamilton is one of my favorite founding fathers. After reading Chernow’s book which the play is based on, I was extremely impressed with him. How could you not be? There was much I didn’t know about him.
The play makes a big deal about Hamilton being an immigrant. At the time, I don’t think that was such a big deal in America. What really hurt him was his upbringing. Born on an island as a bastard son. He was lucky to find a mentor that took him under his wing. He studied the classics. Hamilton understood Socrates and Plato. He could quote Shakespeare. He grasped the meaning of the Reformation. It made him able to wrestle with the concepts of his day. It also allowed him to go toe to toe with the rest of the founders who were also steeped in those texts.
The other interesting thing to me about Hamilton is that I don’t think he would be surprised at all by the US today. He was probably singular in foreseeing it. Maybe only John Adams was the other founder who truly saw what the US could become. He laid the ground work for it. Then people made it happen.
I don’t think you can categorize any of the founders by today’s standards. It is impossible. I do think that the Federalist Papers which were co-authored by Hamilton are some of the most important documents in our history. Try reading them. They are fascinating, and due to Hamilton’s ability to project into the future I don’t think he would be appalled at some of the fights we are having in modern society.
I didn’t get the impression that when Hamilton walked into a room, he wore his personal history like a ball and chain. Instead, it propelled him. He ignored it.
We all need to get a little Hamilton in our blood.