Alexander Hamilton: Founding Father or Musical Artist?

Liz Daley, Staff Writer

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Alexander Hamilton, a name most have long forgotten. That is, until a man by the name of Lin-Manuel Miranda came along and decided to write a hip-hop musical about him. Odd, right? Well, as odd as it may sound, it turned into what might be one of the biggest musicals of the twenty-first century. It first hit the stage on February 17, 2015 before making its way to the biggest stage of all – Broadway. So, how did this strange play sneak its way up to the top? Where did it all start?

It all started when Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer of Hamilton, decided to read a biography of Alexander Hamilton while on vacation. This gave him the inspiration to write a rap about Alexander Hamilton; Miranda used his creative genius to write a series of songs called The Hamilton Mixtape, which includes many of the songs featured in his play.

This led him into the writing of the play, Hamilton, and after several years, he managed to get the show onto an off-broadway stage. The show was sold out when their first performance aired, and by the end of the year, Miranda’s genius work was on Broadway with Miranda himself playing the lead role as Alexander Hamilton. The role was perfect for him, and since his final show on July 9, 2016, the part has not been the same. It’s hard to live up to the legacy of the man who wrote the play, after all.

The play follows the life of one of America’s first Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton. It goes through his life story through the power of song, an essence that Lin-Manuel Miranda was able to capture beautifully. Each song follows another stage of Alexander’s life. Although there are forty-six songs in all (twenty-three songs per act), there are a few that fans love more than others.

There’s the classic song known as “Alexander Hamilton” which starts off the play as the beginning song. “My Shot” is another favorite that illustrates Hamilton’s desire to be something more. It captures his personality in a way that no one else besides Lin-Manuel Miranda could, but even then, the song took him a year to perfect. “Non-Stop” is also loved by fans across the world, showing Hamilton’s dedication to his work and his power with words. The amount of writing he did in his life was outstanding, and Miranda was able to express this in his fan-favorite song. “Burn” is another powerful song that expressed the feelings of Hamilton’s wife, Eliza, when she had found out about her husband’s affair. The power behind the song is incredible, but I’m sure everyone can agree that the last two songs are the saddest of all.

“The World Was Wide Enough” is possibly one of the most heart-wrenching songs in the play. It follows the death of Hamilton in a duel with his sworn enemy, Aaron Burr, who only then realizes that the world was wide enough for the both of them. The emotions felt by Burr, who regrets his decision to end Hamilton’s life when he refused to fight, is one of the saddest moments of all.

However, the song that follows might be even worse, in a sense. Hamilton’s wife, Eliza, was left to cope without her husband, thus the song “Who lives, Who dies, Who tells your story” was born. She sings about following in her husband’s footsteps and continuing to fight for him, vowing to tell his story to the world herself. In the song, she watches as everyone dies around her, and she does what she believes Hamilton would have wanted her to do. She fights his battle until her death, and it ends with her meeting him again in the afterlife. It is a song that moves everyone, since it is the final installment to the beloved play, and ends the play on a bitter-sweet note.

Since its release in 2015, Hamilton has grown beyond measure. It has fans across the entire world, and many have come to love Lin-Manuel Miranda’s masterpiece. The music is available everywhere, and even for those of us who haven’t seen the play, the music itself tells the story of Alexander Hamilton.