Hamilton: Art Fails as Politics


The United States have already felt the evils of incorporating a large number of foreigners into their national mass; by promoting in different classes different predilections in favor of particular foreign nations, and antipathies against others, it has served very much to divide the community and to distract our councils. It has been often likely to compromise the interests of our own country in favor of another. The permanent effect of such a policy will be, that in times of great public danger there will be always a numerous body of men, of whom there may be just grounds of distrust; the suspicion alone will weaken the strength of the nation, but their force may be actually employed in assisting an invader.

Alexander Hamilton, “Examination of Jefferson’s Message to Congress of December 7, 1801” (1802)





I have rather liked the musical Hamilton, although I have understood that it bore only an accidental relationship to the history it purported to represent.  However, at Reason Nicholas Pell has a scathing review of Hamilton, and he makes some good points:



Some are irritated about the people who aren’t white playing white people, but I’m not. The whole production plays so fast and loose with the truth that it’s hard to pick any particular piece to criticize, there’s a reality correlation approximating that of the Weekly World News. At the top of the list, though, has to be casting Alexander Hamilton as some sort of proto-multicultural progressive. That’s either stupidity or mendacity, take your pick. Hamilton was, if anything, the most aristocratic of the Founding Fathers, the closest thing to a Colonial Tory. You know that electoral college you’ve been gnashing your teeth over for the last couple months? Guess whose idea that was?



Go here to read the rest.   Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the thing and who starred as Hamilton, recently auctioned off tickets to the play as a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood.  Mr. Miranda can of course embrace any politics he wishes, but he obviously bought into the KoolAid that saw the success of Hamilton as evidence that America was turning to the Left.  In that reading of the political tea leaves, he did emulate the political acumen of Hamilton who led the Federalists into a political wilderness from which they never recovered.  Whenever Art mixes with contemporary politics it usually is bad for the Art and has little impact on politics, as Art has ever been the tool of all types of regimes down through the ages, but rarely, and then only fleetingly, its master.

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  1. I hope nobody went to Hamilton to learn the history. But then, that’s my hope with most productions – which isn’t bad. As long as we know better, even the most twisted versions of history can be enjoyable. Just don’t get our info about the history from them.

  2. Every author has an agenda, whether he realizes or not. Make sure that the author’s agenda is scrutinized by the audience. Life is too short to be seduced and succumb to nonsense. An example: author Ian Fleming, (James Bond) believed that all law was the “crystalization of man’s prejudice” I guess Ian Fleming did not believe that murderers ought to be punished and a person’s killing is OK…not

  3. Though the author at Reason made a few fair points, he overshot the mark. His subjective dislike in the music is fine – I’m generally no fan of rap myself – but he comes off sounding as a crank. His politics aside, Miranda is artistically gifted, and the deeper you dive into the lyrics the more impressive his artistry becomes.

    I’ve gotten past most of the historical liberties, though “the Election of 1800” can be more difficult to overlook.

    The greater issue is Miranda doesn’t actually understand Hamilton’s political thought. As I wrote on my blog, Hamilton’s writing on immigration don’t sound all that dissimilar to Mark Krikorian’s. Meanwhile, one of the antagonists of the musical is Jefferson. For example, the old timey music that accompanies Jefferson – another subtle sign of Miranda’s artistic genius – is meant to signify Jefferson as being the one with outdated, old-fashioned ideas, yet it is Jefferson’s politics that line up more with Miranda’s than Hamilton.

    The final nail in the coffin is Miranda promising to play the part of Hamilton in the Chicago showing of the musical for Oscar Lopez Rivera. As i wrote on Facebook, I don’t think the man who was set to shoot rabble rousers during the Whiskey Rebellion would appreciate being the centerpiece of an exhibition meant to honor a convicted terrorist.

  4. The only difference between acting and bigotry, is the expensive sets and the exorbitant pay of the actors.
    Timothy R.

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