How Historically Accurate is the Hamilton Musical?
Updated: Dec 7, 2020
This summer, due to Broadway being shut down, Hamilton: An American Musical was released on Disney Plus. However, not many people know that there are many inaccuracies in the Hamilton musical, and Lafayette rapping nineteen words in about three seconds isn’t the only one.
The first and most apparent inaccuracy is that the founding fathers were mostly white. The cast of Hamilton are all people of color, but the characters they play were all white with the exception of Hamilton himself. Lin Manuel Miranda, the guy who wrote Hamilton, said, “I wanted to write a hip-hop, R&B musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton. If it had an all-white cast wouldn’t you think I messed up?” In the past, he has also talked about the lack of diversity on Broadway and theater in general. His motive for diversifying Hamilton was wanting America from the past to be portrayed by America in the present, and in his eyes, people of color are the realistic portrayal of the United States.
Also, in the musical, Angelica Schuyler fell in love with Alexander Hamilton even though her sister, Eliza, was also in love with him at the same time. When faced with the conflict of wanting to be with him, she decides to let Eliza have him. One of the reasons is that she loves her sister more than she loves Alexander. Another reason is her obligation to marry rich and Hamilton was poor. Most of this is historically correct, but the way it is portrayed in the musical is not. In the song “Satisfied,” Angelica sings, “I’m a girl in the world in which my only job is to marry rich. My father has no sons so I’m the one who has to social climb the one.” In real life, this was not true. Her father did have sons, three of them, and she didn’t need to marry rich. Angelica was already married with kids when she met Alexander, but in the musical, she wasn’t.
Another inaccuracy includes when John Adams fired Hamilton once he became president. In real life, Hamilton quit before Adams was even elected. It is presumed that Lin Manuel Miranda did this to add drama and suspense to the production.
The musical has Aaron Burr and Hamilton duel in 1800 but they actually dueled in 1804. We all know Hamilton died because of this duel, but the musical portrays Burr as regretting that he killed the former Treasurer of the United States. Aaron Burr didn’t actually care all that much when he killed Hamilton in real life. Burr believed that he’d be celebrated for killing Hamilton, but he was wrong. He was almost charged with murder, but he found a way out of it. It’s believed that Aaron Burr thought Hamilton brought his death on himself and it wasn’t his fault he died.
This last inaccuracy might be missed if you’re not an expert on fashion, but some outfits worn by the actors are not completely historically correct. The female ensemble wears beige tights, beige stays, and a scarf around their necks. This outfit is easy to dance in and looks good, although not historically correct. The Schuyler sisters, Angelica, Peggy, and Eliza wear big dresses with front closures. During the time period and place that the musical takes place in, this outfit would not be too common. This type of dress would be more commonly seen in Italy at the time.
Even though the Hamilton musical is not totally historically correct, it is still an amazing musical with a spectacular soundtrack.