'Hamilton' The Musical, History, Documentation

Who Tells Your Story?

There is value in the forgotten narrative.


There is an old African Proverb: "Until the story of the hunt is told by the lion, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."

So it is with history.

So it is with "Hamilton."

Now, don't get me wrong, I am one of the biggest fans of "Hamilton." I accredit the musical with sparking my interest in history (now my major), and I have seen it twice live. It deserves all the accolades it has received. It's a good musical, but not a good tool for education.

The fact that it's not completely accurate aside (it's a musical first), "Hamilton" is biased because its source material was biased.

Like most biographies, historical narratives, and even textbooks, all history has biases.

Ron Chernow's biography, named Hamilton, plays on the phenomena named "Founders Fever": in this time of political unsureness, the public craved romanticized, elegant stories about the founding fathers. They want their anxieties eased with the reassurance that since the Founding Fathers were men that led America through the rockiest path in American history, then American will make it through this troubled time too. Yet, because the Founding Fathers did great things does not mean that there were great men, nor should they be idolized.

Jefferson and Washington owned slaves (lots of them). There's a lot to unpack in that one sentence, but thanks to "Hamilton: An American Musical," most know about the Sally Hemmings debacle.

Hamilton himself was a master of deception, a believer in big money and corporate domination, and believed that the government should focus on its military force; he was the one who encouraged Washington to march with an exorbitant number of soldiers to stop the Whiskey Rebellion.

There was one thing he was hesitant about: Democracy. He believed that power to stay in the aristocracy and that the "common people" were not to be trusted when it came to politics. He even wrote to Arron Burr that democracy was the country's "real Disease."

But, this is not the Alexander Hamilton many have come to know and love, thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda. He is portrayed as an immigrant that was able to rise above the ranks and become a powerful man in American politics. That isn't true. Hamilton lived in the Caribbean, and although he grew up in a tropical environment instead that of a city, he wasn't an immigrant. Both the Caribbean islands and the thirteen colonies were under British jurisdiction, so instead of immigrating to America, Hamilton's journey was more like changing states. He also was never in extreme poverty, and although both his mother and father died, it was recorded that he had a black servant named Ajax, signaling his wealth.

Not very revolutionary, is it?

Yet, to gain public appreciation, that is how the biography and the musical portray Alexander Hamilton. He was not an avid abolitionist; instead, he married into a family that built their wealth on the labor of enslaved peoples. He was not an immigrant. He wasn't poor. He did incredible amounts of work, but not to change his position in society. That he didn't have to work for.

However, that Hamilton is not the "Hamilton" that the American public needed in 2016, or the one it needs right now. They need someone who represents their views and their beliefs. They need someone that reflects them. And yet, while the Hamilton presented in the musical is not accurate, even though slaves are forgotten and overlooked and policy ignored, people still believe in that version of him.

History is always something that is fluid. There is no "real" or "right" narrative to history. There is inaccurate, sure, but there are two or more sides to every story. The "real" story is not European or white-dominated. The real story is every narrative that one can find, combined into one. Historians (and everyone else) need to make more of an effort to tell the story of all, to dig for the narrative of the unheard. To let the lions tell the story of the hunt, instead of the hunter.

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?


Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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