Hamilton, an award-winning musical playing on Broadway, captures the life story of Secretary-Treasurer Alexander Hamilton. Since its debut, audiences have praised Lin-Manuel Miranda for his blending of hip-hop music with the story of America’s founding and the race-conscious casting choices that placed black artists in the role of well-known Founding Fathers, like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The tagline of the show, “This is the story of America then, told by America now” captured what a lot of people felt leaving the theater after the show, a sense of belonging and pride in being American. All the praise, however, has not addressed the lack of representation of African Americans from that time and their role in the Founding Era of America.

The American Revolution in its ideology preached freedom for all, but that American freedom was not given to all after the Revolutionary War. One of the marginalized groups who did not receive the liberty and equality that the Revolution promised was the population of enslaved people who continued to be enslaved for decades after the war. This contradictory element of the Founding Era was never explored in Hamilton. Critics like Annette Gordon-Reed and Lyra Monteiro identified that although Hamilton race-bent well-known Founding Father, the musical spent no time discussing the circumstances of enslaved African Americans and telling their stories.[1],[2] This project is intended to begin to fill in the gap that Hamilton left in the historical retelling of the Founding Era. The topics that will be discussed in this project are the slave trade, black soldiers, and slavery under the Founding Fathers.

I chose to display information through a blog medium with activities in each post to provide a creative rumination of enslaved people’s circumstances during this time and to connect people with the historical works that have been done on this topic. This project, in turn, will provide people a richer interpretation of Hamilton and begin to disclose what the founding era was like for enslaved people.

[1] Lyra Montiero, “Race-Conscious Casting and the Erasure of the Black Past in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton,” The Public Historian 38 (February 2016): 89-98

[2] Annette Gordon-Reed, “Hamilton The Musical: Blacks and the founding fathers,” National Council on Public History (April 2016):  http://ncph.org/history-at-work/hamilton-the-musical-blacks-and-the-founding-fathers/