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Crooked Histories: Re-presenting Race, Slavery, and Alexander Hamilton Onstage

Crooked Histories: Re-presenting Race, Slavery, and Alexander Hamilton Onstage Crooked Histories Re-presenting Race, Slavery, and Alexander Hamilton Onstage H E AT H E R S . N AT H A N S "American history can be told and retold, claimed and reclaimed, even by people who don't look like George Washington and Betsy Ross," observes Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton: The Revolution. Miranda's Broadway triumph boldly reinvents Alexander Hamilton's biography as a deconstruction of national identity formation, subverting audience expectations not only of musical theater, but about how contemporary audiences should imagine the racial and ethnic backgrounds of America's founding fathers and mothers. And as other scholars have noted, in addition to using actors of color to represent white historical figures (such as Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, Washington), Miranda laces his retelling of the Revolution's history with pointed comments about America's slave past including Hamilton's intersections with the slave trade in Nevis, with sly allusions to Sally Hemings, and with insults hurled at Thomas Jefferson in the song "Cabinet Battle 1," when Hamilton reminds Jefferson, "Your debts are paid cuz you don't pay for labor." Yet Miranda is not the first playwright to use Hamilton to wrestle with issues of race and national identity. For more than two Heather http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the Early Republic University of Pennsylvania Press

Crooked Histories: Re-presenting Race, Slavery, and Alexander Hamilton Onstage

Journal of the Early Republic , Volume 37 (2) – May 24, 2017

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.
ISSN
1553-0620
Publisher site
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Abstract

Crooked Histories Re-presenting Race, Slavery, and Alexander Hamilton Onstage H E AT H E R S . N AT H A N S "American history can be told and retold, claimed and reclaimed, even by people who don't look like George Washington and Betsy Ross," observes Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton: The Revolution. Miranda's Broadway triumph boldly reinvents Alexander Hamilton's biography as a deconstruction of national identity formation, subverting audience expectations not only of musical theater, but about how contemporary audiences should imagine the racial and ethnic backgrounds of America's founding fathers and mothers. And as other scholars have noted, in addition to using actors of color to represent white historical figures (such as Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, Washington), Miranda laces his retelling of the Revolution's history with pointed comments about America's slave past including Hamilton's intersections with the slave trade in Nevis, with sly allusions to Sally Hemings, and with insults hurled at Thomas Jefferson in the song "Cabinet Battle 1," when Hamilton reminds Jefferson, "Your debts are paid cuz you don't pay for labor." Yet Miranda is not the first playwright to use Hamilton to wrestle with issues of race and national identity. For more than two Heather

Journal

Journal of the Early RepublicUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: May 24, 2017

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