Hamilton: Does it conceal Alexander Hamilton’s controversial past?

During this pandemic, the audience on Disney+ Hotstar gets the best way to pass their time. They can now watch the agile cinematography that documents Hamilton.

But, after watching this, a lot of people are calling it out for romanticizing Alexander Hamilton’s controversial, slave-owning past. One such reply is the one from the great Historian Annette Gordon-Reed.

Key players in Hamilton
Image source: mentalfloss.com

How does Annette Gordon-Reed’s react to Hamilton?

She says that she is a fan of this musical. But, she feels that people should understand that “a Broadway show is not a documentary”. Also, she adds, she believes “artists have the right to create,” but with that, “historians have the right to critique.”

Gordon-Reed is currently a history professor at Harvard in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

What does the Historian say about the musical at the event?

At a student-sponsored event, while speaking about Hamilton, she says, “in the sense of the Ellis Island immigrant narrative,” Alexander Hamilton “is not an immigrant,” and “is not pro-immigrant, either.”After that, she says, ” He was someone who buys and sells slaves for his in-laws. Plus, opposing slavery was never at the forefront of his agenda.”

Later, Gordon-Reed says that Hamilton “is not a champion, like the show portrays. He was in favor of becoming a president in his life.” According to her, “the Hamilton on the stage is more palatable and attractive to modern audiences” because that is what creates a more simplified version of the real history.

Historian Annette Gordon-Reed
Image source: Clark University

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author not only points out the issue with Hamilton’s depiction in the show but also how different is the portrayal of the historical figure from their real life. She also, “In the musical, only Jefferson is a slaveholder, but in real life, Madison was also one and so was George Washington.”

Also read: Hamilton Musical: First Clip Revealed By Disney

Does the historian appreciate the musical?

She also appreciates the musical for using a different type of cast to play the roles of the slave-owning Founding Fathers. In the end, she added that play offers its fans a very different version of this complicated narrative. This is one of the few stories that historians have been trying to teach for the past several decades. She said, “It’s not a purely heroic narrative. It’s not just a celebration. The Founders accepted slavery as an institution.”

Despite of the unacceptably problematic representation of the Founding Fathers, Gordon-Reed said that she finds the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, to be a “genius.” She ends by adding that she hopes Hamilton’s popularity will spark a chance that more people will take a more in-depth look at what history tells us about our past.

Hamilton will be airing on Disney+ on July 3.

Stay safe and keep reading for more updates.

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