Alexander Hamilton thanks to Lin Manuel Miranda is having a resurgence not only on Broadway, but starting over the July 4 weekend, the nation’s first treasury secretary will also be taking over the whole New York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West at 77th for a “Summer of Hamilton.”
This summer, the New-York Historical Society welcomes visitors to be in “the room where it happens” for a Museum-wide celebration of the life and legacy of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. Now enjoying fervent popularity thanks to the history-making, Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical Hamilton and the bestselling biography by Ron Chernow, Hamilton’s connection to New York and his lasting influence on U.S. government comes together in this summer-long exploration, allowing visitors to discover even more about this American hero.
During the Summer of Hamilton, related artifacts and documents from the Collections of the New-York Historical Society and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History will be on display throughout the Museum and Library, complemented by a series of talks, educational programs, and family-friendly activities that bring to life the remarkable achievements of the man who, until recently, was mostly known as the face on the $10 bill.
Alexander Hamilton played a leading role in the Revolutionary War and the early years of the founding of the United States. He took part in the Revolutionary War as an aide-de-camp to General George Washington, authored the majority of the Federalist Papers, became the first Secretary of the Treasury, created the Bank of the United States, and founded the Bank of New York and The New York Post. Mired by scandal and controversy in later years, he died on July 12, 1804, in Greenwich Village, succumbing to the wounds he suffered at the hands of Vice President Aaron Burr during their infamous duel.
Among the highlights on view will be life-size bronze statues depicting Hamilton and Burr with pistols drawn and aimed at one another; the monumental tall case clock presented to Hamilton in 1796 by the Bank of New York; Hamilton’s desk at which the prolific writer penned numerous correspondence, on loan from the Museum of the City of New York; a portrait of the statesman by John Trumbull, painted shortly after Hamilton’s untimely death in 1804; and documents that help answer the question posed in the musical―“who tells your story”―by focusing on Hamilton’s relationships with other Founding Fathers and his widow’s attempt to secure his place in history.
From the Gilder Lehrman Institute, nine key documents explore Hamilton’s life, including his famous “nut brown maid” love letter to his fiancée, Elizabeth Schuyler; the infamous pamphlet admitting to his affair with Maria Reynolds; the plan for the federal government that he proposed during the Constitutional Convention; and a letter supporting Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr in the Election of 1800: “In a choice of Evils let them take the least – Jefferson is in every view less dangerous than Burr.” Select video clips from the Broadway show will also be shown, enhancing the connection between Hamilton the musical and these historical items.
Pay-as-you-wish Fridays will offer visitors additional fun ways to further learn about the statesman and explore the influences behind the musical. Movie versions of the musicals that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda during the writing of Hamilton, such as Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, will be screened for free. Engaging and interactive conversations with noted historical personalities and storytellers will provide audiences new insights into the role Hamilton played in shaping the United States.
On July 4th, New-York Historical will be bursting at the seams with Hamilton-themed family fun. Families will be able to spend a full day meeting a costumed Hamilton living historian, join a dueling history tour, hear revolutionary tales and songs from renowned musical troupe The Hudson River Ramblers, and participate in a Hamilton family trivia contest by Big Quiz Thing.
The Hamilton family theme continues every weekend in July and August when historical reenactors―portraying Revolutionary War soldiers, Hamilton himself, or other figures from the colonial and early republic eras―will be stationed at New-York Historical, ready to bring Hamilton’s history to life. In the DiMenna Children’s History Museum, children and their parents will learn about Hamilton’s childhood at an interactive pavilion that explores how growing up in the Caribbean and seeing the harsh treatment of slaves helped influence his opposition to slavery. Families can also use the Museum’s Hamilton guide to explore Hamilton-related artifacts in a kid-friendly way.
For more information go to nyhistory.org/summer-of-hamilton.