Is Hamilton Educational?

Do you think Hamilton is educational? Some people don’t think that Hamilton should’ve been created because it poses serious risks to historical realism. However, others think it has helped kids learn about the other founding fathers with an easier way to remember them through song! 

Historian Renee Romano of Oberlin College said, “What does it mean to be raising a generation of kids from rural Ohio to think that George Washington could have been black? It is vital to say that people of color can have ownership over American origin stories… to displace this long standing connection between true American belonging and whiteness,” said Romano.

Northwestern University‘s Leslie Harris believes that “that in addition to the existence of slaves in colonial New York City (none of whom are portrayed in Hamilton), there also was a free black community in the city where African-Americans did serious work toward abolition. To her, excluding these narratives from the show constitutes a missed opportunity, forcing people of color in the cast to promulgate a historical narrative that still refuses to give them a place in it.” They don’t really talk about the racism that happened back then, like the third president Thomas Jefferson, who owned over 600 African-American slaves throughout his adult life. If you have seen Hamilton, you would know that in the original cast Thomas Jefferson was played by an African-American named Daveed Diggs. George Washington, our first president, owned 317 slaves at Mount Vernon until the time of his death. Of these, 123 individuals were owned by George Washington and were stipulated in Washington’s will to be freed upon his wife’s death. They said nothing about this in the musical production.  

Another opinion is Joe Adelman of Framingham State University. He writes that “though Hamilton is “not immune from criticism, it’s important to note that as a writer of people’s history, Miranda [creator and director] had to find ways to make the story personal for his audience.” He lauds the profundity of Miranda’s scholarship, saying that the ending duel scene in particular “reveals deep research, an understanding of the complexities of evidence, a respect for the historical narrative, and a modern eye that brings fresh vision to the story.” Romano says she recounts how the reach of the musical dawned on her when she overheard a group of high school students in her majority white, conservative Ohio town singing songs from the show. “It’s not just a Broadway thing, not just a liberal elite thing,” she remembers thinking. “This is reaching to populations that really go beyond those who typically would be paying attention to those kinds of cultural productions being produced by a liberal from the East Coast.” 

This musical has reached generations and places that historical musical’s usually wouldn’t; kids and adults both watch the show, and people that aren’t into historical things, like myself, find a special liking for this musical. 

My opinion is that Hamilton is educational no matter the diverse cast. It is catchy and it helps kids remember events that happened in the past. They also mention years such as 1776 (the year in the musical when all the characters are introduced), 1780 (the year Hamilton married his wife, Elizabeth), 1789 (the year Washington becomes president), and 1797 (the year Hamilton published the Reynolds Pamphlet). They also included 1800 (the year of the election), 1801 (the year Hamilton’s son Philip dies), and 1804 (the year Hamilton dies). 

If you would like to read more about this topic you can go to: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/issue-table-hamilton-good-history-180969192/

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