July 2020

Celebrate 4th of July with Hamilton

 

On July 3, Disney+ released Hamilton—the award-winning Broadway play that tells the story of the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers, specifically Alexander Hamilton. The Broadway play was written by Lin Manuel-Miranda, who based it off Ron Chernow’s book, Hamilton.

Hamilton is the story of revolution, and the beginnings of our country, told through the eyes of our first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Alexander Hamilton was born in Nevis in the 1750s, and eventually emigrated to New York City in 1773, just before the Revolutionary War. He joined the war and eventually became an aide to General George Washington and the country’s first Secretary of the Treasury. His life story is told through music in the play—Congressional debates become rap battles, primary sources turn into ballads. The original Broadway show debuted in 2015, and its original cast recording went on to become a top album of the year. Manuel-Miranda played Alexander Hamilton, and before leaving the cast the entire musical was filmed over the course of three days.

The movie was originally going to be released in 2021, but due to the COVID-19 emergency, Disney decided to release it in celebration of 4th of July on its streaming platform Disney+, making this American story accessible to all.

Hamilton, while taking some creative liberties in history, still provides an engaging story of our Founding Fathers and the beginning of our nation. A number of the songs reference primary sources to use with your students:

There are also many places online with teaching suggestions for integrating Hamilton into your curriculum. Some of our favorites are:

  • Hamilton’s America, PBS—various videos around topics mentioned in Hamilton, with grade-level suggestions.
  • Teaching with Hamilton, School Library Journal—this resource contains “Hamilessons,” which includes clips, questions to ask your students after each song, and more.

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