Why did I choose to introduce you to this particular musical?
- I was asked to present on American History & Culture
- This story tells of the foundation of the United States of America and its government – from the American Revolution against Britain to the establishment of the US government and the third US President (Jefferson)
Alexander Hamilton was a US Founding Father
- 1 of 7 key figures (John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton,
John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, & George Washington)
- He wrote majority of The Federalist Papers (51 of 85), that argued for ratification of the Constitution
- Hamilton is one of very few key figures to appear on US currency. His face is on the $10 bill
- It is one of the most popular & decorated (award-winning) musicals of all time (with 16 Tony nominations, 11 wins, and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama)
- It is musically, lyrically, a work of art – choreographed beautifully, with so many small details, hidden meanings, and foreshadowing, it would be a shame NOT to learn about it
- It was released as a full-length movie on Disney+ in July 2020, just in time for the first time I gave this presentation during the Covid-19 pandemic
Reviews of the Musical
“2015’s best rap album isn’t by Drake, Kendrick Lamar or Dr. Dre — it’s the cast recording of Hamilton, a vital companion to the most creative, most talked-about musical to hit Broadway this millennium.”Billboard Review
“Yes, it really is that good.”New York Times Review
Let’s start with getting to know the three most important people who made this musical / movie possible.
Rob Chernow is a Historian and Biographer whose 818-page biography about Alexander Hamilton served as the main inspiration for the musical. Chernow reviewed over 22,000 archival documents and research papers about Hamilton, including many of Hamilton’s own writings in order to write the book. After publication, it stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for 3-months, and Chernow also served as historical consultant on the musical.
Other notable works:
- The House of Morgan (J.P. Morgan) (812 p.)
- Titan (John D. Rockefeller, Sr.) (774p.)
- Alexander Hamilton (818p.)
- Washington: A Life (904p. + Pulitzer Prize for Biography)
- Grant (Ulysses S. Grant) (1,104p.)
“If Washington is the father of the country and Madison the father of the Constitution, then Alexander Hamilton was surely the father of the American government.“Rob Chernow on Hamilton
Lin-Manuel Miranda is an actor, songwriter, and producer who wrote all the song lyrics for Hamilton: The Musical which first hit Broadway in 2015. Hamilton won 11 Tony awards (16 nominations), and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The Musical has been so famous and popular that it had 7 US productions, and 2 international productions (including Hamburg and Sydney), as well as a full-length movie released on Disney+ in July 2020.
Other Notable Works:
- In The Heights (Broadway, 2008) – 13 Tony nominations (4 wins) + 1 Grammy
- Bring It On: The Musical (Broadway, 2012)
- Hamilton: The Musical (Broadway, 2015)
- Moana (Disney, 2016) – He wrote the songs
- Mary Poppins Returns (Disney, 2018) – He was the chimney sweep
“America then, as told by America now.”Lin-Manuel Miranda on casting non-white actors for the Founding Fathers
(In the 2020 census, there were nearly 40% “non-white” respondents.)
Alexander Hamilton was one of the seven most important Founding Fathers of the US (including John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, & George Washington).
- Influential interpreter & promoter of the U.S. Constitution
- Main writer of The Federalist Papers (51 of 85) that argued for ratification of the U.S. Constitution
- Founder of the nation’s financial system, the Federalist Party (which dissolved after his death), the United States Coast Guard, and the New York Post newspaper
- First secretary of the treasury & the main author of George Washington’s economic policies
- Led the federal government’s funding of the states’ debts
- Established the nation’s first two de facto central banks, the Bank of North America and the First Bank of the United States
- Established a system of tariffs & friendly trade relations with Britain
“I have resolved…to reserve and throw away my first fire, and I have thoughts even of reserving my second fire – and thus giving a double opportunity to Col Burr to pause and to reflect.”Alexander Hamilton reflecting on & writing about his upcoming pistol duel with Aaron Burr
Hamilton: The Musical
Hamilton: The Musical is broken into two Acts with an Intermission between them. Each Act contains 23 songs on the album, although there is a 24th song in Act one that wasn’t released on the album. Additionally, each Act runs approximately one hour and eleven minutes:
- Act 1: 24 songs, 1:11:11+
- Act 2: 23 songs, 1:11:27
The following video shows the “Best 20 Hamilton Songs” as ranked by WatchMojo. For the most part, I agree with this list, but there are a few others that I starred in the lists below that I also think are quite good.
Overall, the entire musical is a lyrical phenomenon, so it’s hard to judge between them. But this is a pretty good list to get started with.
I’ve also provided links to the Wikipedia page for each song (where one exists), as well as the full lyrics, and the Namu Wiki page for my Korean students to have a better time understanding.
In which Hamilton joins the Revolutionary Army in the battle for independence from England.
Act 1 can be broken into two parts of relatively equal length:
- The setup, situation, & characters
- War with Britain
|20||Alexander Hamilton||3:56||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|19||Aaron Burr, Sir||2:36||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|2||My Shot||5:33||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|**||The Story of Tonight||1:31||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|5||The Schuyler Sisters||3:06||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|Farmer Refuted||1:52||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|16||You’ll Be Back||3:28||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|Right Hand Man||5:21||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|A Winter’s Ball||1:09||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|9||Helpless||4:09||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|3||Satisfied||5:29||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|The Story of Tonight [Reprise]||1:55||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|4||Wait For It||3:13||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|Stay Alive||2:39||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|*||Ten Duel Commandments||1:46||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|*||Meet Me Inside||1:23||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|That Would Be Enough||2:58||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|6||Guns and Ships||2:07||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|*||History Has its Eyes on You||1:37||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|1||Yorktown||4:02||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|What Comes Next?||1:39||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|17||Dear Theodosia||3:04||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|Tomorrow There’ll Be More of Us||1:08?||Wiki|
|11||Non-Stop||6:25||Lyrics | 나무위키|
In which Hamilton’s efforts in the birth of the fledgling nation takes an increasing toll.
Act 2 can also be broken into two parts of relatively equal length:
- Establishing a new government
- Affair, repercussions, political enemies, tragic end
|14||What’d I Miss?||3:56||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|**||Cabinet Battle #1||3:35||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|Take a Break||4:46||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|13||Say No to This||4:02||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|7||The Room Where it Happens||5:18||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|Schuyler Defeated||1:03||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|Cabinet Battle #2||2:22||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|***||Washington on Your Side||3:01||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|12||One Last Time||4:56||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|*||I Know Him||1:37||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|The Adams Administration||0:54||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|We Know||2:22||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|*||Hurricane||2:23||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|The Reynolds Pamphlet||2:08||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|8||Burn||3:45||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|*||Blow Us All Away||2:53||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|***||Stay Alive [Reprise]||1:51||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|18||It’s Quiet Uptown||4:30||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|15||The Election of 1800||3:57||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|Your Obedient Servant||2:30||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|Best of Wives and Best of Women||0:47||Lyrics | 나무위키|
|***||The World Was Wide Enough||5:02||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
|10||Who Lives, Who Dies, |
Who Tells Your Story
|3:37||Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키|
The duel with Aaron Burr is the most (in)famous part of Hamilton’s life, and before the Musical, probably one of the only things (besides his face on the $10 bill) that many children in the US would remember about his life.
And given the significance of this event, I thought it would be good to include the song from the Musical that details it.
In the song:
“Burr and Hamilton travel to New Jersey for the duel. Burr reflects on the moments leading up to the duel, stating that one of them will have to die. Burr and Hamilton walk the requisite ten paces, with Burr firing first, and time freezes as Hamilton reflects on his legacy, before throwing away his shot. Burr shoots him between the ribs and Hamilton eventually dies, mourned upon by Eliza, Angelica, and the rest of the cast. Burr laments that though he survived, he is cursed to be remembered as the villain who killed Hamilton.” (Wikipedia)
So, Hamilton is dead, but Burr’s life is destroyed. Though he was the third Vice President of the US, along side Thomas Jefferson as President, he would never again hold any public office.
As a final note, and to further prove the popularity and cultural relevance of Hamilton: The Musical, here is a “Weird Al” polka of Hamilton. In the US, you know you’ve “made it” to the big time whenever Weird Al does a parody or a polka of one (or more) of your songs.