Hamilton the Musical & History: How Accurately Does the Broadway Show Represent Alexander Hamilton’s World?

This is a 10-week seminar, starting on September 27th, 2017

Moderator:                Linda Honan
Day and Time:         Wednesday 2:15-4:15PM
Format:                      Seminar
Location:                   Loomis Village, So. Hadley
                                       (free parking on site)

Based on Ron Chernow’s acclaimed biography, the Broadway hit musical “Hamilton” has re-awakened interest in Alexander Hamilton’s life. We will hear the play and read chapters of the book and consider how accurately the play portrays Hamilton and his contemporaries. We will also consider why the play is so moving.

The musical “Hamilton” is a phenomenal success on Broadway. Its beautiful music and witty score are praised by critics and hugely enjoyed by audiences. As well as considering its historical accuracy, this seminar will look at what makes this play so attractive to us today. We will start by listening to the first half of the play for the first hour, and discussing its main characters and themes during the second hour. For the second session we will hear and discuss the second half of the play, Subsequent sessions will consist of individual or paired presentations on topics chosen from the list provided. Hamilton’s remarkable life began in the Caribbean. He was born on Nevis and orphaned as a child. His first job at age fourteen was as accountant to a slave-trading company. Distinguishing himself in this, his neighbors took up a collection to send him to New York to study. He practiced law, was active in revolutionary politics, and became Washington’s war-time secretary and later Treasury secretary. He wrote most of the Federalist Papers. He established a bank and founded the Coast Guard. He died at age 57 in a duel. Suggested seminar topics: Hamilton’s life; Eliza Hamilton and the orphanage she founded; the women in Hamilton’s life; the influence of the Federalist Papers; 18th century New York; Lafayette, Rochambeau, and the indispensable French; Jefferson and the Republican Party; Hamilton and Jefferson; Federalism versus States Rights; musicals in the late 20th and 21st centuries.

Role of participants:
Each participant will present a 30-40 minute discussion of one of the suggested topics or another relevant topic by arrangement with the moderator, and will then discuss questions for 10-15 minutes. Participants may collaborate on a presentation.

Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording) 2 CD set.
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton. Penguin Books.

About the Moderators:
A retired museum educator, Linda Honan has degrees in English and Medieval Studies. She has published a resource book for teachers on the Middle Ages, and several history activity books for children.

Maximum number of participants: 18

Emeritus/a accepted: yes, up to 2