Young, Scrappy and Hungry

How well do you know Alexander Hamilton? Get to know the subject of the award-winning musical that recently opened in Salt Lake City.

Don Milne Apr 25, 2018

Mega hit musical Hamilton — with 11 Tony Awards, a Grammy and a Pulitzer to its name — recently opened in Salt Lake City as part of the Zions Bank Broadway at the Eccles series, and is no doubt the hottest ticket in town.

The popularity of Hamilton caught many people by surprise. After all, how many hit musicals are based on an 832-page biography by an author (Ron Chernow) who got his start writing about bankers (The House of Morgan)?

Back in 1990 when Chernow was focused on J. P. Morgan and his banking dynasty, and was years away from writing his Alexander Hamilton biography, he could not know that a then 10-year-old Lin-Manuel Miranda — who would grow up to be a young Broadway sensation — would one day turn his Hamilton biography into a musical box office sensation.

The rest, as they say, is history, and history is coming to town as audiences experience the story of Hamilton and the Founding Fathers via music that ranges from hip-hop to traditional show tunes. Now, even people without PhDs in history know a great deal about Alexander Hamilton.

Are you a Hamilton geek? How many of these Hamilton facts did you already know?

H – Honor:

Hamilton placed a high value on defending his honor. Prior to his famous duel with Aaron Burr he was involved with at least seven challenges that could have ended in duels, but were settled before resorting to violence.

A – Army:

When we think of the head of the U.S. Army, we normally think of people like George Washington or Ulysses S. Grant or Douglas MacArthur or Dwight Eisenhower. Surprisingly, Alexander Hamilton succeeded George Washington as the Senior Officer of the United States Army but served for only six months in 1800.

M – Money:

Alexander Hamilton first appeared on the $10 bill in 1929. He replaced Andrew Jackson who was on the previous $10 bill. Jackson, now on the $20, may be replaced again, this time by Harriet Tubman.

I – Industry:

Banking is a major supporter of industry and Hamilton understood that. Unlike Jefferson who envisioned an agrarian America, Hamilton saw a future America powered by manufacturing.

L – Last:

The last letter George Washington wrote in his life was to Hamilton. Hamilton wanted to set up a military academy to train future army officers and Washington wrote him to agree that it was a good idea.

T – Theater:

Going to the theater in 1801, Hamilton’s 19-year-old son Philip and a friend ran into one of his father’s critics. A heated argument ensued that escalated to a duel. First Philip’s friend took on the critic with both men missing their shot.

Not satisfied that his father’s critic refused to take back his insults, Philip decided it was time to “rise up, rise up, it’s time to take a shot.” The second duel resulted in Philip being mortally wounded and he died the next day. His father would use the same set of pistols in his duel with Aaron Burr three years later.

O – Over half:

Although James Madison is generally referred to as the Father of the Constitution, Hamilton wrote more than half of the Federalist Papers, the essays that made the case to ratify the Constitution.

N – Nevis:

Hamilton was not born in one of the 13 British Colonies. He was born on the island of Nevis in the Caribbean and came to America as a youth.

Whether you see the musical, listen to the score, or read a biography, learning more about Alexander Hamilton can be an enriching experience.

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