Hamilton: The Musical Based on the Man

The Teacher Training program I’m involved with usually goes abroad during the school vacation periods for additional training and cultural experiences in a Western country (USA, Canada, England, Australia, etc). However, since 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, travel abroad has been canceled.

Therefore, I was asked to present on American history or culture in order to provide a small taste of the experience they will miss by not going abroad this session. So, I selected Hamilton: The Musical because it tells the story of the American Revolution up to the founding of the US government through the eyes of one of its key members, the first Secretary of the Treasury, and the man on the $10 bill: Alexander Hamilton.

Additionally, Disney+ released the full Broadway musical as a movie in July 2020 during the pandemic, just before the first time I gave this presentation. The timing was perfect.


Why did I choose to introduce you to this particular musical?

  1. I was asked to present on American History & Culture
  2. 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
  1. 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)
  2. 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
  3. 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

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

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

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).

Notable works:

  1. Influential interpreter & promoter of the U.S. Constitution
  2. Main writer of The Federalist Papers (51 of 85) that argued for ratification of the U.S. Constitution
  3. 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
  4. First secretary of the treasury & the main author of George Washington’s economic policies
  5. Led the federal government’s funding of the states’ debts
  6. Established the nation’s first two de facto central banks, the Bank of North America and the First Bank of the United States
  7. 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.

Act 1

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:

  1. The setup, situation, & characters
  2. War with Britain

The full synopsis of Act 1 can be read on Wikipedia here.

20Alexander Hamilton3:56Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
19Aaron Burr, Sir2:36Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
2My Shot5:33Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
**The Story of Tonight1:31Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
5The Schuyler Sisters3:06Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
Farmer Refuted1:52Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
16You’ll Be Back3:28Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
Right Hand Man5:21Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
A Winter’s Ball1:09Lyrics | 나무위키
9Helpless4:09Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
3Satisfied5:29Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
The Story of Tonight [Reprise]1:55Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
4Wait For It3:13Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
Stay Alive2:39Lyrics | 나무위키
*Ten Duel Commandments1:46Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
*Meet Me Inside1:23Lyrics | 나무위키
That Would Be Enough2:58Lyrics | 나무위키
6Guns and Ships2:07Lyrics | 나무위키
*History Has its Eyes on You1:37Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
1Yorktown4:02Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
What Comes Next?1:39Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
17Dear Theodosia3:04Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
Tomorrow There’ll Be More of Us1:08?Wiki
11Non-Stop6:25Lyrics | 나무위키


Act 2

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:

  1. Establishing a new government
  2. Affair, repercussions, political enemies, tragic end

The full synopsis of Act 2 can be read on Wikipedia here.

14What’d I Miss?3:56Lyrics | 나무위키
**Cabinet Battle #13:35Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
Take a Break4:46Lyrics | 나무위키
13Say No to This4:02Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
7The Room Where it Happens5:18Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
Schuyler Defeated1:03Lyrics | 나무위키
Cabinet Battle #22:22Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
***Washington on Your Side3:01Lyrics | 나무위키
12One Last Time4:56Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
*I Know Him1:37Lyrics | 나무위키
The Adams Administration0:54Lyrics | 나무위키
We Know2:22Lyrics | 나무위키
*Hurricane2:23Lyrics | 나무위키
The Reynolds Pamphlet2:08Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
8Burn3:45Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
*Blow Us All Away2:53Lyrics | 나무위키
***Stay Alive [Reprise]1:51Lyrics | 나무위키
18It’s Quiet Uptown4:30Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
15The Election of 18003:57Lyrics | 나무위키
Your Obedient Servant2:30Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
Best of Wives and Best of Women0:47Lyrics | 나무위키
***The World Was Wide Enough5:02Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키
10Who Lives, Who Dies,
Who Tells Your Story
3:37Lyrics | Wiki | 나무위키

The Duel

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.

Author: Aaron

Aaron Snowberger is an experienced web developer, graphic designer, and educator in ESL and computer technology. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, Master's degree in Media Design, and professional certifications for React (JavaScript) development, and as a Google Certified Educator and Trainer. Aaron is passionate about helping new learners discover the joys of technology, and has presented across the country at multiple local, national, and international conferences in both the ESL and web development fields. His most recent talk was given at the 2019 JSConf (JavaScript Conference) in Seoul on September 3, 2019. (https://2019.jsconfkorea.com/en/tutorials)

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