Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Thinking About: Hamilton

Over the long weekend, I watched Hamilton thanks to Disney. I was grateful for the "bargain price" of 6.99 vs $$$$.  The music, the cast, and the historical-fiction-musical-infused perspective of America's story were worth the price! 

Lin Manuel Miranda's depiction of Hamilton as progressive and anti-slavery is not historically accurate; yet, the depiction of Hamilton and America's founding fathers as people with economic and political vision combined with a need for power and prestige is part of America's story.  The movie has spurred my thinking, reading and questioning!  

I knew Hamilton was an architect of our economy and was on $10 bills! I didn't know much else and so, many decades after my last history class, I started reading everything I could find about Hamilton and other founding fathers. 
I've been reminded that Hamilton authored many of the Federalist papers that proposed 3 branches of government and he, as well as most if not all of our founding fathers were owners of slaves even while penning documents that "All men are created equal."  

I've been reminded about the power of controversy to spur reading, thinking and learning. If only we could inspire our students with books, films and talk so they want to know more about prejudice, racism, sexism, immigration, privilege, climate change, pollution, health care, education, welfare, critical they can be a part of the change in the  course of our nation's story....


Margaret Simon said...

I haven't seen Hamilton, yet, but I've certainly heard all the hype. History is tricky. It's difficult to get it right, but, like you, I think it's important to inspire our students to want to know more.

Becky Leff said...

I was so lucky to see Hamilton in Chicago when it was here for months. Are you reading the Chernow biography? I read it -- long before I saw the musical. There is no mention in that really long book about Hamilton owning slaves himself. He was certainly friendly with people who owned slaves, and often made compromises to achieve his goals. A big take-away from the biography for me was how many of the institutions and norms of the United States were the brainchildren of Alexander Hamilton. And the musical is terrific!!

ZBayardo said...

Such a great piece of art but one my youngest teen daughter did not appreciate. She refused to sing the name of an adulterer that published his affairs. I tried explaining to her the good things he did but she wouldn't hear of it. Her judgement is harsh. However, I appreciated the conversations we had on history, on forgiveness, on handling disagreements (not in a dual!!!), and so much more. I love how art can give way to those conversations.

Fran Haley said...

I haven't seen the musical yet but I want to, mostly because of Lin-Manuel Miranda's artistry. Hamilton is a fascinating character, his real life full of complexity and flaws as well as brilliance. You're so right about the lure of controversy to reading, thinking, and questioning more.