February 20, 2015

"And if you’re wondering whether a multiracial musical about one of the founding fathers could possibly amount to anything more than a knee-jerk piece of progressive sermonizing..."

"... get ready for the biggest surprise of all, which is that this show is at bottom as optimistic about America as '1776.' American exceptionalism meets hip-hop: That’s 'Hamilton.'"

Says Terry Teachout, declaring "Hamilton" "the most exciting and significant musical of the past decade." Sample lyric: "Another immigrant, comin' up from the bottom/His enemies destroyed his rep, America forgot him."

39 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Yes, Alexander Hamilton's was the most hopeful story that Americans learned in their History. He was Horatio Alger with a General Washington at his side who would not let Alexander become another old fashioned monarchist.

Bob Ellison said...

That would look like a good show if it didn't incorporate rap and hip-hop shit.

Tattycoram said...

Should "Forgot him" be "Forget 'em"?

EMD said...

I'm not going to lie — I'm intrigued.

But Hamilton was a monarchist.

I'd rather see a show about Jefferson, who understood the true meaning of liberty, even if he had his own flaws.

chickelit said...

Wait, they're saying that Hamilton "was forgot" [sic]?

Whip out a ten dollar bill -- who be that?

madAsHell said...

It can't be a musical with rap and hip-hop. It's just an MTV video.

Remember Tommy??

Tank said...

Why would having some non-white actors make any difference? You have to start out being a racist to think like this.

Hip hop, no thanks.

SMGalbraith said...

Terrific review.

Mr. Teachout is a terrific writer.

William said...

Ron Chernow wrote a fine biography of Hamilton which did much to restore Hamilton's reputation. Hamilton was accused of being a royalist at a time when that word carried some of the freight that fascist does today. Hamilton, however, was mostly pro-business--as are many of those today accused of fascism......Hamilton was an abolitionist. Jefferson owned slaves. It's hard to get around those facts when you consider the relative merits of those two rivals.

sonicfrog said...

"But Hamilton was a monarchist".

His enemies spread that mischaracterization around.... And it stuck. He was far more complex than that.

Yes, read Chernow's book. It is one of the best books about a founder that I've read to date, and there are a lot of really good ones.

Lauderdale Vet said...

chickelit said...
Wait, they're saying that Hamilton "was forgot" [sic]?

Whip out a ten dollar bill -- who be that?


It's all about the Benjamins, baby.

Mitch H. said...

Combine this sentiment:

But unlike Bertolt Brecht, whose “Life of Galileo” is its dramaturgical model, Mr. Miranda is not much interested in Hamilton’s ideas

with the rap-styled book, and I suspect I would loathe this production even if I were the target audience or at all likely to go see a Broadway musical.

Birches said...

I'm more of Jefferson than Hamilton, but we all have to admit Hamilton won for the mind of America.

It's funny this should come up as a post. I just received the Jonah Winter children's book Ann posted about awhile back from the library. It's very good--amusing and easy for my kids to digest. I'll likely purchase it.

But one thing that struck me was Winter listed how many slaves each FF owned and then their position on slavery and how much money they had. Of course, the most wealthy owned slaves, but also condemned the practice.

I knew all of this before, of course, but it held more significance for me in that format. The kneejerk Red State reaction is to downplay the hypocrisy, because the FFs did so many other great things. The kneejerk Blue State reaction is to discount any good these men did, because of their hypocrisy toward slavery. Having the wealth and the slavery issues published side by side made me think about our modern day Cultural and Financial elite and their hypocrisy on Climate Change and taxes and whatnot. The FFs were good men who accomplished a lot to be sure, but if they were around today, I'm sure Washington would be going on and on about Climate Change as he zipped around on his private jet.

sunsong said...

This is a little off but with the other discussion about "hot" presidents and now this:

some of will enjoy this Ellen interview with 5 yo Macey Hensley

Michael said...

There hasn't been a musical staged in NY in 20 years that wasn't multiracial.

Amexpat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dreams said...

"Ron Chernow wrote a fine biography of Hamilton which did much to restore Hamilton's reputation. Hamilton was accused of being a royalist at a time when that word carried some of the freight that fascist does today. Hamilton, however, was mostly pro-business--as are many of those today accused of fascism......Hamilton was an abolitionist. Jefferson owned slaves. It's hard to get around those facts when you consider the relative merits of those two rivals."

I like Ron Chernow, he draws you into the story, I liked his John D Rockefeller book too.

chickelit said...

There hasn't been a musical staged in NY in 20 years that wasn't multiracial.

What Broadway needs in this vein is a multiracial version of "Upstairs Downstairs" but set not in England but rather in the antebellum American South. Specifically, the play could examine the social dynamics of a cotton plantation with all the doings and gossip in the main house and in the slave quarters. Of course the roles of slaves and and masters should be completely mixed racially.

Amexpat said...

Hamilton was a realist, who foresaw the need for a strong national army and a modern, capitalistic system. In this he was correct and Jefferson, the idealist, wrong.

In terms of personal virtue, Hamilton far surpassed Jefferson. Hamilton earned his money, Jefferson was a profligate spender living off of the labor of the slaves he owned.

During the Revolutionary War, Hamilton displayed courage and brilliant administrative ability. Jefferson showed neither.

____________
Ditto on Chernow's Hamilton book. He has also wrote a good biography of Washington.

chickelit said...

Hamilton was ineligible for the Presidency. All of his grievances seem to stem from that fact.

Amexpat said...

Hamilton was ineligible for the Presidency. All of his grievances seem to stem from that fact.

How was he ineligible? The natural born requirement did not apply to those who were a citizen when the Constitution was adopted.

"No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President..."

chickelit said...

Amexat: Perhaps the framers had Hamilton in mind when they drafted that?

Ron said...

Chickelit, you have $10? I'm impressed...

The Beastie Boys had a magazine for awhile, and they had a great article, "Aaron Burr, Real American Badass". He seems like a psycho, but, hey, we've elected psychos before...

chickelit said...

Amexpat wrote During the Revolutionary War, Hamilton displayed courage and brilliant administrative ability. Jefferson showed neither.

You sound like you'd be a fanboy of Benjamin Thompson. Like you, he became an American expat.

richard mcenroe said...

Having not seen the musical, I speak hypothetically, but I doubt it was GOOD hip-hop: no way you can pull your underwear up out of breeches, they button too high.

On the other hand, how did the bass section sound?

eddie willers said...

GOOD hip-hop

Great example of oxymoron.

Mitch H. said...

chicklit, Hamilton *was* a framer, and yes, that bit is almost certainly an exception put in there for him, as there weren't all that many other immigrant heavyweight politicians who might have taken advantage of it. Maybe Gallatin? Also a future Secretary of the Treasury. There seems to be a distinct trend in heavyweight historical financiers being cross-border or immigrant bankers. The Morgans, the Rothschilds, etc. Probably because their contacts on both sides of a significant financial divide meant that they had a leg up in tapping cash pools isolated by politics or distance from significant sources of demand for capital.

EMD said...

GRUMBLE GRUMBLE HIP HOP BAD GRUMBLE GRUMBLE GRUMBLE.


There's good and bad of everything.

Franklin said...

Even though Hamilton was in favor of a strong central government, he would lead the revolution against what the federal government has today become.

Birches said...

GOOD hip-hop

Great example of oxymoron.


I guess I might be the only one of Althouse's commenters who watches Empire....

Franklin said...

Also, regarding the "immigrant" thing - you can have open borders, or you can have a welfare state. You can't have both.

Pick one, communists/Democrats.

FYI in Hamilton's time there was not a welfare state.

Amexpat said...

...that bit is almost certainly an exception put in there for him, as there weren't all that many other immigrant heavyweight politicians who might have taken advantage of it.

I think the Natural Born requirement was put in the Constitution out of fear that a British or European royal would come to the US in order to become President and then establish a monarchy. I don't think the intent was to stop non royal immigrants from becoming president, as long as they had been long time residents.

chickelit said...

Franklin correctly notes: Also, regarding the "immigrant" thing - you can have open borders, or you can have a welfare state. You can't have both.

I think that was the much-maligned Mick's point about Cloward-Piven made elsewhere. A surefire strategy to destroy the social fabric of the US is to simultaneously open the borders and to increase public assistance. Anyone who promulgates that strategy is an enemy of the US and its people. That should be obvious to anyone.

chickelit said...

Amexpat wrote: I don't think the intent was to stop non royal immigrants from becoming president, as long as they had been long time residents.

Whether or not it was put there to personally cockblock Hamilton or to prevent Eurocrats from gaining control -- one practical aspect was to prevent citizens with dual nationalities from gaining power. Dual nationals have de jure allegiances to more than one nation, under power of revocation of one or more citizenship(s). It's possible that Barack Obama was/is a citizen of both the US and of Great Britain. He certainly was entitled to both given the circumstances of his birth.

traditionalguy said...

Speaking of the contrasts between Hamilton the realist and Jefferson the idealist, we almost lost them both from Aaron Burr's works.

The Great Men theory of historical analysis prevails.

traditionalguy said...

OMG! Did Chickelit just say Obama doesn't love this country?

chickelit said...

traditionalguy said...
OMG! Did Chickelit just say Obama doesn't love this country?

Not at all. I just happen to have married into a family which holds various passports and I know more than the average American about these things. Seven Machos would back me on that -- I believe he used to work in an embassy or a consulate.

gorgo331 said...

They should have named it 'Springtime for Hamilton'

Jack Wayne said...

Those of you who praise Hamilton do not appear to have read the Federalist Papers. He UNEQUIVOCALLY states the Constitution provides for an UNLIMITED government.