There are so many interesting things to unpack in Hamilton. In the content of the show, Hamilton explores such leadership-related issues as race, gender, the founding of a new nation, differing leadership styles (i.e. Hamilton vs. Burr), and idealism vs. practicality, among many, many others. The thing that has always interested me the most is the idea of writing history and leaving behind a legacy. Throughout the entire show, Hamilton is obsessed with his reputation and legacy. He’s ambitious (“My Shot”) and a relentless worker (“Non Stop,” “Take A Break”). In the end, after his death, his story is told by the people he leaves behind (“Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”). Ultimately, the man who loved control could not control the narrative of his own life. Pre-Hamilton, many Americans would probably not name Alexander Hamilton among America’s Founding Fathers. He was mostly known as “that guy who died in a duel.” Despite all the work Hamilton did during his lifetime, he was not remembered for any of it. And this is not because we do not have access to his work (i.e. we didn’t forget Hamilton because he was a mysterious figure). We forgot Hamilton because he wasn’t an interesting historical figure, despite being an instrumental part in the formation of the United States. This speaks to the biased nature of history. The fact that America needed an entire rapping musical to be interested in Alexander Hamilton is a sad one (although it produced an awesome show).
I would love to explore Americans’ awareness of Alexander Hamilton as a historical figure pre-2015 and post-2015. I am sure that the everyday American knows much more about Hamilton since the musical’s debut than they did before. I know I do. This speaks to how cultural artifacts (like music, film, TV, theatre, etc.) can be leaders in their own right. Hamilton has changed the way that Americans learn/think about American history.