Don’t Throw Away Your Shot on Hamilton
by Randhika Aturaliya
Before listening to Hamilton, the 10 dollar bill was nothing more than a mode of currency to me. After listening to Hamilton, you will find me sobbing over 10 dollar bills, quietly singing "the dollar founding father without a father...”
The Hamilton Musical written by Lin Manuel Miranda chronicles the larger than life story of the first secretary of treasury, Alexander Hamilton. From his humble beginnings from the Caribbean to his ascension up America's political ladder.
Miranda recounts Hamilton's tale in an unconventional way, using rap and hip hop to tell his story. Who knew history could be so much fun?
Miranda interweaves the 18th century with our very own 21st century with the raps and dialogues, bringing to life the dusty old characters we read in our history books, into unique, multi-faceted rappers. He really draws in the attention of whoever listens to it and the fortunate ones who get to see it on stage.
In my opinion the best songs are the "Cabinet Battles." In the real life Cabinet Battles, Thomas Jefferson and Hamilton debate over topics that many would find dull. As much as I love money, I have no intention of reading pages and pages of Hamilton's financial plan for a National Bank. However, Miranda creatively presents these "battles" in an interesting manner by turning these Cabinet Battles into rap battles. He even incorporates great lines such as "A civics lesson from a slaver, hey neighbor! your debts are paid because you don't pay for labor," bringing to the surface the dark side of Jefferson.
But there is one thing that makes this musical more revolutionary than even the American Revolution. He tells the story of the past, through a diverse cast, with all of his lead characters as people of color. In an interview Miranda said, “This is a story about America then, told by America now."
This is truly remarkable! In our day and age, the lack of diversity in the media is staggering. According to PBS, only 17 percent of top movies in 2014 featured a non-white lead.
Having diverse casts is truly important. Many children find themselves discouraged from the entertainment industries because they feel that they must be white in order to succeed. I wouldn't be surprised if Miranda has inspired some children to act, sing or even direct their own musical.
Lastly, the Hamilton musical features strong, women of color which is also something not commonly seen in the media. However, we are starting to shift away from that with shows such as Jane the Virgin, How to Get Away with Murder and countless others.
Aside from telling the exhilarating and action-packed biography of Alexander Hamilton, Miranda also tells the story of Hamilton’s remarkable wife, Elizabeth Schuyler.
Miranda accounts Hamilton's legacy to none other than his wife. She goes through thousands of his writings, she interviews soldiers who fought by his side, all to preserve her husband's legacy which had been tarnished by Jefferson and the 2nd president, John Adams.
She lived through countless tragedies, the death of her husband, and the death of her oldest son, Philip Hamilton who like his father is killed in a duel. She outlives everyone she loves by 50 years. However, she doesn't let this paralyze her with grief. She accomplished a number of things. She raised funds for the Washington Monument with Dolley Madison and established the first private orphanage in New York City.
Thanks to the work of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton and Lin Manuel Miranda, Alexander Hamilton's story will never be forgotten. He may find AP US History students singing in class, teenagers on Twitter debating over what house the Hamilton characters would be in or people recognizing how far from perfect the founding fathers were. What he has done will always be enough.