Here’s a thing I am really curious about:

Non-Americans who are into Hamilton.

Like, what’s that like? What’s so interesting about it? 

I’m not gatekeeping or like, discouraging anyone– I just want to know!

My parents actually met because of the American Revolution’s bicentennial celebrations; they were re-enactors in 1976. Dad was a Dep’t of Historic Preservation of NY State employee, and mom was the curator of the Rensselaer Co. Historical Society. This is local history, for us; the Schuyler Mansion where Alexander and Eliza were married is less than ten miles from where I was born. My father personally idolized George Washington and I grew up hearing stories about him, like how in the middle of the war his officers came to him and said “let’s just crown you king” and he refused because that wasn’t the point. And how everyone said he had to be President for life and he refused because that wasn’t the point. I grew up believing that’s what leadership was about, an eschewing of individualism for principles. (And I’m super bummed the Battles of Saratoga didn’t make it into the play at all, because you can see my house from there, basically, and I grew up visiting that battlefield site like three or four times a summer; in short, for anyone who didn’t know, the Americans beat the British soundly for the first time there in 1777, and that was why when Lafayette asked for more guns and ships, the French said yes, because there was concrete evidence the Americans could actually win.)

But like. They don’t really teach American history abroad, I’ve found. Only our movies get exported. So like. I see some of y’all I know aren’t from here, excited about Hamilton– which is awesome, because it is so good– but what is your context? What does it mean to you? It’s not like Americans all know either but we at least have folklore-ish rote learning from elementary school classrooms, and the basic assumptions we all know (starving at Valley Forge, Paul Revere’s midnight ride, that kind of shit). What possible meaning does it have for you, absent those contexts? Are you more interested in it through the lens of the hip-hop retelling, or is it fresh, or is it confusing, or– what could it all possibly mean, without that context?

Can you even begin to relate it to the circus of our Presidential election, wherein we are debating whether the democratic process is more than a farce? Can you imagine how painful it is when you grew up with George Washington as your hero, to watch blustering oligarchs debate whether all men really are created equal?
So my sister’s house was built in 1825 in its current form, which we know from the probate file dating to 11 years later when the first property owner’s will was contested. But a section of it was indeed moved 100 yards from its original location; the original owner’s wife, the heir’s mother, still lived in it. It dates to about 1789, which is around when the property was first purchased.
The deed is extant.
It is signed by Stephen van Rensselaer, who I’ve mentioned here before.
But it is initialed by the secretary who wrote it. And we haven’t verified this, but the initials are A dot H, and for a time Van Rensselaer did indeed have Alexander Hamilton working for him.
(After 1780, Hamilton was a relative by marriage; Eliza Schuyler’s mother was a van Rensselaer, as I’ve geeked out about before.)

Anyway. My mother the historian thinks it improbable Hamilton would have had time to be up in Poestenkill writing a deed, but the deed is in the town hall so we can go look sometime. I’ll let y'all know.

Next order of business: making my parents listen to Hamilton. My father still has accepted rock n roll music as a thing so I doubt he’d appreciate it beyond as a novelty, but my mom may be more receptive.
Ha one of my FOG snippets got reblogged by apparently someone famous (and I saw it several times in the wild on my dash, which, like, blew my MIND, some people I am a total fangirl over thought it was funny, I am in transports of rhapsody I tell you what) at the same time as Hamilton tag-surfers reblogged my observations on Hercules Mulligan and his slave Cato, so that was an entertaining evening in my notifications. 

The FOG snippet, hilariously, is the one where Clint discovers that Bucky doesn’t know about Bucky Bears? I was writing that and it turned into Bucky realizing that HYDRA had infiltrated the leadership of the corporation that oversaw the expanded market of children’s cartoons right in that era where they figured out that you literally could not make a children’s cartoon too cheaply; kids will watch anything. And the HYDRA guy was the one who came up with the Bucky Bear idea. Because he knew about Bucky, and at that point in the Winter Soldier project they’d effectively removed his ability to speak. And it swerved and went way dark, so I cut it off right there and posted it because shit, I did not have time to put that in FOG with the other shit I was working on right there. 

So that’s kind of hilarious to me, to have that be possibly my most successful snippet to date. [I should collect snippets on AO3 or at least have a good consistent tag but I’ve literally never successfully searched for anything by tags on this fucking website so I don’t know how to do that correctly.]

As far as Hamilton goes, I really really really really want to do a post unpacking the “your debts are paid ‘cuz you don’t pay for labor” line in relation to Hamilton’s in-laws; he married into some old Dutch money, the patroons of a government-granted estate, and it was not until 1839 that a revolt in upstate NY freed the Hamilton’s in-laws tenants who were operating under an old-school actual-feudal kind of deal that made their landlords the richest men in America [including a man who remains in the top ten TO DATE, adjusted, suck on that, Trump]. (I’m not saying it was anything like chattel slavery, but I am saying, Hamilton’s people didn’t pay for labor either. This was not free-market capitalism.)

I want to do this post, but I probably won’t, so– but take that into account. This isn’t advanced research, which my mother could certainly do, this is just a basic Wikipedia surf, but you gotta know to look for it.

(Also the Van Rennselaers and Schuylers were hella inbred which makes me feel better because I know enough of my family tree to know my genetics are similar, only the sides of those families with no money, so. At least the rich folks were doing it too? Seriously tho I can’t figure out the exact relationship of Hamilton and Stevie Rensselaer because… Philip Schuyler married Catherine Van Rensselaer and then his daughter Margarita married Stephen Van Rennselaer whose mother’s mother had been a Schuyler, so like, how many times are they connected? This is my brother-in-law-by-blood? What? Oh, how I used to laugh at the Hapsburgs, but guess whose adult molars never all grew in. Don’t laugh about inbreeding, any of you, I promise if you do enough research you are too. There’s a reason they made laws about it.)
So Hamilton fans, I haven’t seen any posts on this yet but has anybody else looked up Hercules Mulligan? Cuz I was like, OK, I am a big history nerd but I don’t know who tf this guy is.
The character in the play is clearly a combination of the historical Hercules Mulligan, an Irish immigrant and popular NYC tailor who was an invaluable spy for the Sons of Liberty, and his African-descended slave Cato, who did a lot of the dangerous work of running messages. (Partly because, as a black slave, he was below the notice of the British, who repeatedly let him through barricades and such because they assumed he couldn’t possibly be a spy.)
Both Hercules and Cato risked their lives and were tortured and imprisoned for it, and were viewed with suspicion by both sides. Until the end of the war when Washington, who had foiled several assassination plans because of their information, made a point of dining with Mulligan promptly upon his entry into the city.

Anyway it’s fascinating, and the play’s decision to combine the characters into one and have an African-descended actor play the part is an interesting touch.
And as a history nerd: I don’t ever remember learning about Mulligan, but I remembered Cato. I think because even before, I was aware how often POC get erased from stuff like this, and thought it was cool we even still knew the guy’s name.

(I’m sure someone has posted about this! I just hadn’t seen it. So I figured I would.)



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