‘Hamilton’: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Inspiration Was Accidental
Since the show’s debut in 2015, Hamilton has maintained its place as one of the most popular and beloved musicals ever to hit Broadway. Those lucky enough to get tickets raved about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s imaginative writing and incredible portrayal of Alexander Hamilton. Thanks to Disney’s digital release, those that missed out on seeing the show in-person were finally able to stream the musical film from home. After witnessing the show’s genius, many fans were surprised to learn the unintentional circumstances that led Lin-Manuel Miranda to write this innovative musical.
Lin-Manuel Miranda gives rhythm to the revolution
Hamilton tells the story of the historical life of Alexander Hamilton through hip-hop and rap music. The show highlights the often-overlooked fact that Alexander Hamilton immigrated to America before starting his career in politics. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical makes a pro-immigration statement and promotes cultural diversity by exclusively casting actors of color to portray America’s founding fathers.
Hamilton explains how numerous characters surrounding Alexander Hamilton influenced his life. Beginning with Hamilton’s arrival in New York City in 1776, the show details his political endeavors during the Revolutionary War, work with President George Washington, marriage to Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, their son’s death, and his eventual death in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr. The final song, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” focuses on the legacy Hamilton left behind and his lingering influence on politics in America.
Lin-Manuel Miranda found his hip-hop inspiration while leisure reading
Lin Manuel Miranda was browsing for a beach-read while on celebratory vacation for the success of his musical In The Heights. Luckily, he just so happened to pick up Ron Chernow’s biography Alexander Hamilton. In an interview for CBS’s 60 Minutes, Lin-Manuel stated that prior to starting the book, he had very little knowledge of the founding father’s history, “I knew Hamilton died in a duel with the vice president. I knew he was on the $10 bill. But really, I was just browsing the biography section. It could have been Truman.”
As he read the book, Lin Manuel was inspired by the story and immediately resonated with Hamilton’s history. He told The New York Times he found particular inspiration in the poem Hamilton writes before coming to America, “Just the hustle and ambition it took to get him off the island […] That is part and parcel with the hip-hop narrative: writing your way out of your circumstances, writing the future you want to see for yourself.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s historical hip-hop show becomes a worldwide phenomenon
America got its first taste of Hamilton during the White House Evening of Poetry, Music, and The Spoken Word. Lin-Manuel was asked to perform a few songs from his other hit musical, In The Heights — but instead performed the song that would become the future show’s opening number, ‘Alexander Hamilton’. Word of the unfinished musical spread quickly; when Hamilton made its highly anticipated Broadway debut in 2015, it was an immediate success.
At the 2016 Tony Awards, Hamilton received a record-breaking 16 nominations and secured 11 wins including Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. The show generated even more positive buzz after Disney+ released the musical’s film adaptation on July 3, 2020. The movie was shot over the course of three live performances by the original Broadway cast.
Thank goodness Lin-Manuel likes to read biographies, otherwise, we might not have this incredible musical. Hamilton‘s reimagined portrayal of American history makes an important statement in support of immigration and cultural diversity. The world owes Ron Chernow a debt of thanks for writing the biography that provided the inspiration for this musical.