Who here has listened to Hamilton? Ya know, the Broadway show about one of our Founding Fathers that every one was obsessing over a few years back. Well, I am still obsessing over it. Slightly.
It was the music that inspired me to go find a biography of Hamilton, and one of Hamilton’s wife. Let me just say that her biography was the more interesting of the two. It could have been author differences, style differences, or that she was a more interesting person even though he changed America. It is still a toss up in my mind.
Now, any time Disney does a ‘historical’ movie. You just assume that they messed up something. It seems to be almost against the rules to keep any history they tell (or any story for that matter) intact and without alterations. However, this wasn’t Disney, and I was willing to give the writers of Hamilton a chance.
News flash, they got some things wrong. Surprise surprise.
For the most part, it hasn’t bothered me much. The main events are still correct, the stream of things just the same as it actually happened. There are just a few things off. And of course, I am going to tell you what they are.
For the most part, the ‘errors’ (most likely on purpose for the stories sake) all involve the love story between Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Hamilton.
In the Broadway show they are engaged within two weeks of meeting each other. Two weeks. Seems a little short don’t you think? Even for that era. If you happened to think that, you are correct.
Alexander and Eliza’s courtship was short, especially in comparison to modern standards. A few months to get to know each other before he popped the question.
And that Winters Ball? That was where he proposed, not where they met. In fact, in preparation for that ball Eliza’s sister Angelica and a family friend wasted no effort on making Eliza as beautiful as possible. Basically they were trying to make this match happen. Aren’t sisters wonderful?
Another big piece of the Broadway show is the idea that Angelica liked Alexander first, and may have married him if not for the fact that her beloved sister had not fallen head over heels with him.
While this made for some great tension and my favorite song (‘Satisfied’). It isn’t quite true to how it happened.
Angelica was married and had a toddler son in tow when she met Alexander. Not exactly marriage material. Also, the first time she met Alexander he was courting her sister and completely off limits. Less a love triangle and more a helpful sister who became great friends with her brother-in-law.
Yes, there were wild rumors at the time of who Alexander was actually in love with. But let me remind you that rumors are not necessarily true, and that Alexander had many enemies who would say and do anything to pull him down.
In short, he was in love with one woman. And that woman happened to be his wife. Novel idea, isn’t it?
The last thing I wanted to point out was that his whole scandal with the infamous Mrs. Reynolds may have in fact been a cover up for something else entirely.
The statesmen had come to Alexander to accuse him of misusing his position to make other family members financially well off. His defense? He was having an affair. He proved his story by providing letters. We have never been able to find the original copies of those letters. They were burned, along with any other evidence that may have proved or disproved his story.
There were people at the time who did not believe his story of an affair, and were convinced that he was hiding something else. What they neglected to see was that Eliza Hamilton herself said nothing. Only that she despised the men who seemed obsessed with ruining her husbands reputation.
So either she was a fool, or there was something else going. Yet, how could the wife of a statesman, beloved mother to 8 children, and wise homemaker, be such a fool over love?
When the whole affair became public she neither railed upon her husband nor left him. In fact from the surviving letters we have of the period they seemed as much in love as ever.
History also seems to forget that the Mrs. Reynolds in question denied the affair until her death. In fact she divorced her husband after the affair become public. In tears, she told whoever would listen that she had been wrongly accused. Some people believed her, some did not.
What truly was the Reynolds affair? In truth, we will never know. Everything that could have pointed up to the right answer was burned after Alexanders death. Historians have pondered this question for years, and we are no closer to the answer. Perhaps he did have an affair and was able to patch things up with his wife. Perhaps it was all an elaborate story to hide abuse of his position. We will never know.
Regardless of wrong facts, I would still recommend the show. It’s a Broadway show about one of the most fascinating periods in history. What is there not to love?