Monday, July 29, 2019

On the Historical Accuracy of the Hit Musical "Hamilton"

Jeff Hummel, professor of economics at San Jose State University, emails:

Earlier this month Lynda and I finally saw the musical “Hamilton.” At one level, I enjoyed it. It measured up to its rave reviews with respect to lyrics, music, singing, and performances.

But I couldn’t help being disturbed by its many historical inaccuracies. I was prepared for its celebration of Alexander Hamilton. After all, I had read Chernow’s biography of Hamilton, on which the musical is supposedly based, and while I strongly disagreed with Chernow's interpretation and emphasis, I’m used to reading and even enjoying and learning from historians I disagree with. But I was quite taken aback by the extent of the musical's exaggerations and outright fabrications, none of which are in Chernow.

In any case, here is a critique of the musical from Nancy Isenberg, who wrote what I consider the best biography of Burr. But she only scratches the surface with respect to the distortions in the musical:



  1. There should be a musical called "Burr" that celebrates the former (and late) Vice President for the great work he did in putting an end to Hamilton's work here on earth.

    But, that is just my opinion... :)

  2. I would recommend Gore Vidal’s historical novel, “Burr” to get a contrarian, sympathetic, and comprehensive view of Mr. Burr.