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  • Writer's pictureStephen Himes

From Hamilton to *Hamilton*: The role of musical theater in historical memory

Hamilton is perhaps the artistic landmark in the last decade of American art forms. So much so that its lines are quoted by Congresspeople, and its depictions of events in the Revolution have deeply influenced who not just lay people, but politicians and some historians see this era. But how accurate is it? How much does accuracy matter? Famously, Lin-Manuel Miranda didn't just rely on, but brought biographer Ron Chernow onboard as a consultant, but in recent years, Chernow's "definitive" biography has come under fire for creating a distorted portrait of Hamilton's views on slavery, relationship with Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, and other aspects of his life. New scholarship on Hamilton's family's ownership of enslaved people, as well as his role in the Whiskey Rebellion, has complicated the story that Hamilton tells. And yet, what truths are still embedded in this radical, racialized imagining of the Founding Era.

This course will take us all over New York City to find the rooms where it happened, from Hamilton's former home north of Central Park, to the Financial District near the New York Stock Exchange, to Broadway itself to uncover the accuracies and the truths about the most important founder who never become President.

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