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1776 and Hamilton

1776 was entertaining and informative. I learned a lot about the continental congress that I hadn’t known before. The movie musical set in, 1776 Philadelphia, depicts the proceedings of the continental congress. We are introduced too many famous historical figures, most notably,  John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, and John Dickinson. The movie focuses on John Adams struggle to get congress to agree to fight for freedom against the British. I never realized there was such an intense internal struggle within congress. I had just assumed that every delegate was completely against the British monarchy and for freedom. In the movie when anything is put to a vote it always ends in a tie with the same colonies voting on the same side and New York courteously abstaining. I wonder why New York is the one state to always abstain?

The portrayal of the presidential cabinet in the musical Hamilton is similar to that of the continental congress in 1776. In Hamilton Alexander Hamilton is constantly struggling against Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Before seeing Hamilton I never knew about the internal conflict within Washingtons administration. In the cabinet battles Lin Manuel Miranda illustrates Hamilton and Jefferson in a constant childish battle.

“Sittin’ there useless as two shits/Hey, turn around, bend over, I’ll show you where my shoe fits” (Hamilton in the First Cabinet Battle).

Jefferson: “Yeah, well, someone oughta remind you
Hamilton: What
Jefferson: You’re nothing without Washington behind you
Daddy’s calling” (Second Cabinet Battle)

I wonder why we never learn about all of these internal conflicts within our founding congress and presidential cabinet? Is it to protect patriotism? To create a narrative that all of the founding fathers were against the British and devoted to the creation of a free nation?.I found 1776 very funny and wonder if the delegates actually acted as childish in real life as they do in the movie? Are they just portrayed like that in the movie/musical? Or were they actually silly/childish? We still have to take everything in the movie and musical with a grain of salt. I question how much in the movie and musical is completely accurate? To what degree can we just the historical fact behind both pieces?

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One Comment

  1. Christopher Wilson Christopher Wilson

    Indeed, 1776 was extremely informative as I did not know the nuances each state had behind its decision to advocate for or against independence from Britain. In hearing the characters, who portrayed John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, speak about why they wanted independence from Britain, I saw many similarities in the information that Zinn brings up in his book. For instance, both John Adams and Benjamin Franklin argue that the colonists in America may be Englishmen; however, the society they live in and the rules they have created to live more civilly in America are radically different from that of England. Thus, as Benjamin Franklin said, they need to declare their own nationality and separate from Great Britain so that the nation can truly support itself.

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