I love Hamilton. I saw the show on Broadway a few years ago, saw a tour at my local theatre, and I’ve watched it about a million times since it was released on Disney + this past summer. With that being said, I am obviously partial to Hamilton. However, I did find both entertainment and value in 1776. The 1972 film starring Mr. Feeny from the hit 90s show Boy Meets World follows a group of founding fathers as they work to draft the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. It’s no masterpiece compared to the phenomenon that is Hamilton, but it gives audiences a story that Hamilton did not: what happened in the meantime. There are brief mentions of the events of each show in the other as well as a few allusions (“Sit down John!”). 1776 shows the political aspect of the revolution (the writing of the Declaration of Independence) while Hamilton shows the military aspect of the revolution (the battles of the first act). 1776 showed why America wanted independence (America had acquired a new nationality, requiring it to become a new nation to paraphrase Ben Franklin) and Hamilton showed how America fought for independence.
However, both of these depictions are guilty of romanticizing the “leaders” of the revolution. Both neglect the role of the working man, let alone women and slaves. Hamilton attempts to justify this by bringing diversity to the story, but it does fail to mention that Hercules Mulligan’s slave did most of the smuggling he was singing about. Neither of these shows are bad because they are romanticized and inaccurate, however. There is no need to chastise either when they are not sources meant to be academic. They are not scholarly articles or books written by experts in the field. The purpose of these two shows is to entertain and leave the audience with a message (similar to art), even if they are based on true stories. I believe that as long as the truth is taught in schools (which isn’t always the case, of course, but one can hope), there is nothing wrong with a little romanticizing.