Just You Wait
Last weekend my mom flew up because she got us tickets to the infamous musical, Hamilton. I thought it might have been hyped and I really hadn't gotten that into the songs the way that a lot of people I know had, so I had no idea what to expect. I was quite frankly blown away. I laughed, I cried (well I teared up), I learned a good amount of history, and I left the theater feeling inspired. It did everything a good production should do and then some. Throughout the whole performance I was struck time and again by its absolute brilliance.
It follows the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the U.S. Founding Fathers, an orphaned child who came from next to nothing and worked his way through the ranks with perseverance, integrity, and intellect. It's the original story of the American dream. He fought in the Revolutionary War and became George Washington's right hand man, then after the war was elected to Congress and established many of the banking systems that we have in place today. He was studious and outspoken and did not get along with the more cunning types of politicians he interacted with in the newly formed government. In his personal life, he married Elizabeth "Eliza" Schuyler and they had eight children together, though the play only focuses on his first born, Philip. George Eacker, a supporter of Thomas Jefferson and thus on the opposite party as Hamilton, made derogatory remarks about Hamilton's character which infuriated his son Philip. Philip confronted Eacker and after a heated argument challenged him to a duel, though when the duel occurred he did not raise his pistol as his father had advised him in order to maintain his honor. Eacker, however, did, and he shot Philip, who died 14 hours later with his family by his side. It threw the family into disarray and Alexander and Eliza never quite recovered. Three years later, Hamilton would be fatally shot in almost the same spot as his son in a duel against Aaron Burr, the then Vice President. Hamilton and Burr had long had a contentious relationship and after a series of attacks the two made against each other, they arranged a duel. Hamilton wrote a defense of his decision to duel beforehand and in it spoke of his intention to throw away his shot to satisfy his morals. Again, like happened to Philip, Burr did not take the same moral high ground and he shot Hamilton, who died the next day. Hamilton's wife, Eliza, lamenting that he had died too young, dedicated herself to preserving his legacy. She went on to live for another 50 years and in that time reorganized all that he'd ever written into a biography of his life, founded the Orphan Asylum Society, defended Alexander against his critics, and worked tirelessly with charities until she was 97 years old and was finally laid to rest next to her husband.
I walk by Alexander and Eliza all the time in Trinity Church, I'd certainly seen their tombstones, but now they have taken on new meaning. Hamilton and his wife were incredible people and the play does a magnificent job bringing them and their contemporaries to life in a way the resonates with a modern audience. If you have the chance to get tickets, do so. And remember: If you stand for nothing you'll fall for anything!