New Hamilton Play: At Liberty Hall

This fall, Premiere Stages at Kean University will be producing a new play about Alexander Hamilton.

The flyer for the production describes the show as follows:

At Liberty Hall follows two high school students who’ve just moved to New Jersey: Cristian Rosaria, a funny but unfocused teenager from Queens, by way of the Dominican Republic; and Alexander Hamilton, 16, the subject of Cristian’s 10th grade history project.  This time-bending story finds common threads of humor, honor, and awkwardness as told through the experiences of a someday-Founding Father and a kid looking for a way out of the projects.

The show will run from October 16-19 and is part of the exciting Four Centuries in a Weekend events in Union County, New Jersey.  Tickets are available here for $15.

Liberty Hall Museum, which is partnering with Kean University to produce this play as part of the Liberty Live project, recently hosted an excellent CelebrateHAMILTON 2014 event, which I attended.  Liberty Hall was the home of William Livingston, the first governor of New Jersey.  Hamilton was well-acquainted with the Livingston family.  Livingston’s son, Henry Brockholst Livingston, was Hamilton’s classmate at King’s College, and would later be one of his close contemporaries at the New York bar.  Livingston’s eldest daughter, Susan, was married to John Jay in 1774.

Hamilton Graveside Remembrance at Trinity Church (July 14, 2014)

On July 14, 2014, the AHA Society and Trinity Church, hosted a graveside remembrance in honor of the 210th anniversary of Hamilton’s death.  The event flyer states:

July 14th, 210 years ago, was the day of Alexander Hamilton’s funeral, in which a funeral procession led from his brother-in-law John B. Church’s home to Trinity Church, where he was buried. His funeral was one of the most attended funerals in New York City history.

Come join together in remembering Alexander Hamilton on the anniversary of his funeral in the Trinity Churchyard. This special program will include participation by the US Coast Guard, Sector New York, which was founded by Alexander Hamilton, and remarks by Peter Dodge, the President of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati. Mr. Dodge will speak on the history of the Society of the Cincinnati (of which Alexander Hamilton was a member and second President-General), plus the role the Society played in coordinating and leading the 1804 funeral procession for Alexander Hamilton.

The below video, created by Arthur Piccolo, a long-time Hamilton supporter and Chairman of the Bowling Green Association, is a great documentation of the events.

The Trinity Church webcast, containing the full talk by Dr. Joanne Freeman on Alexander Hamilton: Man of Honor is available here.  Dr. Freeman’s talk focused on the importance that Hamilton placed on honor throughout his life, from his childhood in the West Indies, to his conduct during the Revolution, and to the decisions that led to the duel with Aaron Burr.  Freeman has a very interesting perspective on Hamilton and is an engaging speaker, so I encourage you to listen to the whole lecture if you have an hour to spare.

Eliphalet Nott’s “On the Death of Hamilton” and the Condemnation of Dueling

Eliphalet Nott, a notable clergyman in Albany, used the occasion of Hamilton’s death in 1804 to deliver a widely-publicized condemnation of the practice of dueling.  Nott’s sermon was “one of several sermons delivered by prominent preachers at that time, and having for their immediate purpose the breaking up of the custom of dueling.”  William Jennings Bryan also included the sermon in his collection of The World’s Famous Orations, published in 1906, over 100 years after the duel., and it was considered an example of the principles of elocution.

Nott began his sermon with a passionate description of the many facets of Hamilton’s career and personal life that made him worthy of national acclaim.

Would to God my talents were adequate to the occasion. But such as they are, I devoutly proffer them to unfold the nature and counteract the influence of that barbarous custom which, like a resistless torrent, is undermining the foundations of civil government, breaking down the barriers of social happiness, and sweeping away virtue, talents, and domestic felicity in its desolating course. Another and an illustrious character—a father—a general—a statesman—the very man who stood on an eminence and without a rival among sages and heroes, the future hope of his country in danger—this man, yielding to the influence of a custom which deserves our eternal reprobation, has been brought to an untimely end.

The Hero, called from his sequestered retreat, whose first appearance in the field, tho a stripling, conciliated the esteem of Washington, our good old father. Moving by whose side, during all the perils of the Revolution, our young chieftain was a contributor to the veteran’s glory, the guardian of his person, and the copartner of his toils.

The Conqueror, who, sparing of human blood when victory favored, stayed the uplifted arm and nobly said to the vanquished enemy, “Live!”

The Statesman, the correctness of whose principles and the strength of whose mind are inscribed on the records of Congress and on the annals of the council chamber; whose genius impressed itself upon the Constitution of his country; and whose memory the government—illustrious fabric, resting on this basis—will perpetuate while it lasts; and shaken by the violence of party should it fall, which may Heaven avert, his prophetic declarations will be found inscribed on its ruins.

The Counselor, who was at once the pride of the bar and the admiration of the court; whose apprehensions were quick as lightning, and whose development of truth was luminous as its path; whose argument no change of circumstances could embarrass; whose knowledge appeared intuitive; and who, by a single glance, and with as much facility as the eye of the eagle passes over the landscape, surveyed the whole field of controversy; saw in what way truth might be most successfully defended and how error must be approached; and who, without ever stopping, ever hesitating, by a rapid and manly march, led the listening judge and the fascinated juror, step by step, through a delightsome region, brightening as he advanced, till his argument rose to demonstration, and eloquence was rendered useless by conviction; whose talents were employed on the side of righteousness; whose voice, whether in the council chamber, or at the bar of justice, was virtue’s consolation; at whose approach oppressed humanity felt a secret rapture, and the heart of injured innocence leaped for joy.

Where Hamilton was, in whatever sphere he moved, the friendless had a friend, the fatherless a father, and the poor man, tho unable to reward his kindness, found an advocate. It was when the rich oppressed the poor; when the powerful menaced the defenseless; when truth was disregarded or the eternal principles of justice violated—it was on these occasions that he exerted all his strength; it was on these occasions that he sometimes soared so high and shone with a radiance so transcendent, I had almost said, so “heavenly, as filled those around him with awe and gave to him the force and authority of a prophet.”

The Patriot, whose integrity baffled the scrutiny of inquisition; whose manly virtue never shaped itself to circumstances; who, always great, always himself, stood amid the varying tides of party, firm, like the rock which, far from land, lifts its majestic top above the waves and remains unshaken by the storms which agitate the ocean.

The Friend, who knew no guile; whose bosom was transparent and deep; in the bottom of whose heart was rooted every tender and sympathetic virtue; whose various worth opposing parties acknowledged while alive, and on whose tomb they unite, with equal sympathy and grief, to heap their honors.

He then went on to criticize societal institutions for permitting the custom of dueling to continue and used the tragedy of Hamilton’s death to spur his audience to take action to condemn dueling.

But I have said, and I repeat it, there are those whom I can not forgive. I can not forgive that minister at the altar who has hitherto forborne to remonstrate an this subject. I can not forgive that public prosecutor who, entrusted with the duty of avenging his country’s wrongs, has seen those wrongs, and taken no measures to avenge them. I can not forgive that judge upon the bench, or that governor in the chair of state, who has lightly passed over such offenses. I can not forgive the public, in whose opinion the duelist finds a sanctuary. I can not forgive you, my brethren, who till this late hour have been silent while successive murders were committed.

No; I cannot forgive you that you have not in common with the freemen of this State, raised your voice to the powers that be and loudly and explicitly demanded an execution of your laws; demanded this in a manner which, if it did not reach the ear of government, would at least have reached the heavens and pleaded your excuse before the God that filleth them—in whose presence as I stand I should not feel myself innocent of the blood that crieth against us had I been silent. But I have not been silent. Many of you who hear me are my witnesses—the walls of yonder temple, where I have heretofore addressed you, are my witnesses, how freely I have animadverted upon this subject in the presence both of those who have violated the laws and of those whose indispensable duty it is to see the laws executed on those who violate them.

A short time since, and he who is the occasion of our sorrows was the ornament of his country. He stood on an eminence, and glory covered him. From that eminence he has fallen—suddenly, for ever fallen. His intercourse with the living world is now ended; and those who would hereafter find him must seek him in the grave. There, cold and lifeless, is the heart which just now was the seat of friendship. There, dim and sightless, is the eye whose radiant and enlivening orb beamed with intelligence; and there, closed for ever, are those lips on whose persuasive accents we have so often and so lately hung with transport! From the darkness which rests upon his tomb there proceeds, methinks, a light in which it is clearly seen that those gaudy objects which men pursue are only phantoms. In this light, how dimly shines the splendor of victory; how humble appears the majesty of grandeur! The bubble which seemed to have so much solidity has burst; and we again see that all below the sun is vanity.

Nott’s sermon was not alone.  At a Philadelphia meeting, one of the resolutions was that “the clergymen of several denominations, be requested to expatiate, on Sunday next, upon the irreligious and pernicious tendency of a custom, which has deprived our country of one of her best and most valuable citizens.”

Hamilton at the Public Theater: Additional Casting Underway

Broadway World reported today that “auditions are currently underway to fill several key roles” in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s forthcoming Hamilton play at the Public Theater.  The show is scheduled to run from January 20-February 22, 2015.  Tickets for the show went on sale to Public Theater members last week and tickets to the general public will go on sale July 29.  (I am going to the January 21 and January 23 performances!).  Interestingly, the casting call lists an extension closing date of May 10, 2015, suggesting that perhaps the theater is anticipating a longer run for the show.

Backstage reprinted the casting call, which seeks actors for the parts of Aaron Burr, George Washington, and a few other characters:

Dir: Thomas Kail
Music/Lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Music Spvsr: Alex Lacamoire
Choreo: Andy Blankenbuehler
Casting: Telsey + Company/Bethany Knox
1st reh: 11/24/14. Runs: 1/20 – 2/22/15
Extension Closing: 5/10/15

GENERAL NOTE: Looking for people of all ages and all ethnicities for these roles. This storyline spans 25 years+, so age is not literal – like Aaliyah said, it’s nothin’ but a number.


AARON BURR: tenor/baritone, sings and raps in equal measure. Our narrator. A cool, steely reserve. An orphan raised in wealth, plays his cards and opinions close to the vest. Slow to anger, but when he gets there, look out. Javert meets Mos Def.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: tenor/baritone, sings and raps in equal measure. Authoritative, regal, aloof, aware of his place in history at all times. John Legend meets Mufasa.

HERCULES MULLIGAN/JAMES MADISON (dual role): Tenor/baritone, MUST be able to sing and rap well.
MULLIGAN is the life of the party, dripping with swagger, streetwise and hilarious. Joins the revolution to get out of being a tailor’s apprentice, and befriends Laurens, Hamilton and Lafayette. Busta Rhymes meets Donald O’Connor. MADISON is incisively intelligent, quiet, professorial. A former Hamilton ally, he becomes Jefferson’s detail man concerning all matters—he gets things done. RZA meets Zach from Chorus Line.

KING GEORGE: tenor, British accent. The King of England. Entitled, pouty nihilist. Sees the American Colonies as a deluded former lover, who will come crawling back. Rufus Wainwright meets King Herod in JCS.

PEGGY SCHUYLER/MARIA REYNOLDS (dual role.): Mezzo-soprano. PEGGY SCHUYLER: sweet, shy, youngest of the three Schuyler Sisters. The Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child. MARIA REYNOLDS: sultry, young, calculating. Affects the role of a damsel in distress to seduce Hamilton. Jasmine Sullivan meets Carla from Nine.

All other roles have been CAST.

Hamilton, Paterson, and Economic Independence

Leonard A. Zax, president of the Hamilton Partnership for Paterson, recently published an article in regarding Hamilton’s role in pushing America towards economic independence by building strong support for American innovation.  Zax states:

Fifteen years after the Declaration of Independence and long after the British had surrendered, America remained woefully dependent upon England for all manufactured goods, including military supplies. Hamilton recognized that America could never be free from foreign dominance without economic independence, and as treasury secretary he created an ambitious strategy to achieve it, starting in Paterson.

Hamilton’s plan was to harness the force of the Great Falls, then the most forceful waterfall in America —the British still claimed the lands around Fort Niagara — to power the new industries that would secure our economic future. The Paterson Great Falls are 300 feet wide and 77 feet high and pour up to 2 billion gallons of water into a narrow chasm each day. Hamilton knew the Falls could provide power to mills at a time when there was virtually no manufacturing in the United States.

Paterson became the world’s first planned city of innovation, the Silicon Valley of the American Industrial Revolution. Today, the Great Falls is a living reminder of the birthplace of American industry at a time when manufacturing was the high-tech of the day.

Paterson Great Falls

The Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park website states:

The history of the City of Paterson includes its beginnings as the ambitious project of Hamilton and the Society for Establishing Useful Manufacturers (S.U.M.) in 1792 at the Great Falls, the early development of water power systems for industrial use, and the various types of manufacturing that occurred in the District’s mills into the 20th Century. These included cotton fabrics, railroad locomotives, textile machinery, jute, and silk spinning, weaving, and dyeing, among many others. preserves this important legacy.

Founders Online features many fascinating primary source documents showing Hamilton’s ambitious architecture for this early Silicon Valley hybrid.  These documents make clear how important Hamilton’s farsightedness was to the ultimate success of America’s early industrial revolution.  As Sax suggests, without Hamilton’s economic vision, the United States could have been a nation with independence in name only, dependent on Great Britain to supply all manufactured goods.

  • Prospectus of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures
  • Proposals to Contract for the Construction of the Manufacturing Plant of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures
  • Draft Minutes of a Meeting of a Committee of the Directors of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures

Celebrate Hamilton Weekend 2014: Hamilton Grange Speech

This weekend, the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society, in partnership with various organizations in New Jersey and New York City, is putting on a series of events honoring the 210th anniversary of Hamilton’s death.

The events are taking place in various parts of New Jersey and Manhattan and cover a wide variety of Hamilton topics.  For more information on the events, go to the virtual flyer.

I will be speaking on Hamilton’s role in Rutgers v. Waddington, a case that laid the foundations for judicial review, changed the course of anti-Tory legislation in New York after the Revolution, and preserved the fragile Treaty of Paris of 1783.  My talk is entitled “A Bar Fight” that Changed America: Alexander Hamilton, the Trespass Act, and the Case of Rutgers v. Waddington.  It will take place this Saturday, July 12, at 10:30 a.m. at Hamilton Grange National Memorial (414 W. 141st Street).  Come check it out if you are in the city!  All the events should be informative and entertaining.