Hamilton, the phenomenal Broadway musical, landed on Disney's streaming service, Disney+ on Friday. Here are 10 reasons why every service member and veteran should watch it.
1. It tells the story of an unlikely American Hero
How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore
And a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot
In the Caribbean by providence impoverished
In squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?
The ten-dollar founding father without a father
Got a lot farther by working a lot harder
By being a lot smarter By being a self-starter
By fourteen, they placed him in charge of a trading charter
(Song: Alexander Hamilton)
The opening lyrics to the now legendary Broadway musical call out to all history buffs, patriotic Americans, hip-hop fans and lovers of culture and just takes off from there.
When Lin-Manuel Miranda first floated the idea of doing a hip-hop concept album about Alexander Hamilton, people scoffed. There is even a famous video of him performing the opening (and only song at that point) at the White House for President Barack Obama. Everyone laughs, but by the end he got a standing ovation.
Miranda likened Hamilton to a hip-hop artist. A young man who came from an impoverished background and worked his way to the top. Growing up in the Caribbean, he worked his way off the British West Indies and ended up in New York City.
2. If you love American history, you will love Hamilton
Raise a glass to freedom
Something they can never take away
No matter what they tell you
Raise a glass to the four of us
Tomorrow there'll be more of us
Telling the story of tonight
(Song: The Story of Tonight)
The play starts off while America is in the throes of Revolutionary fervor. Hamilton meets several men that will be his brothers during the Revolution (Aaron Burr, Marquis de Lafayette, John Lawrence and Hercules Mulligan). He also meets the women that will shape his life (Eliza, Angelica…. And Peggy)
The songs that follow take us on the journey that Americans felt while championing for their rights to be free.
3. You like to poke fun at the British
Oceans rise, empires fall
We have seen each other through it all
And when push comes to shove
I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love!
(Song: You'll Be Back)
Yeah, there are a lot of jokes at England's expense, especially the Monarch we despise; King George III. Hamilton makes him a fool instead of a villain, a king from afar that is very out of touch with his colonies. He comes off like a bad boyfriend and just to make sure we know the English are different; he sings his songs in a Beatles-like style.
4. It’s got a great love story
So, so, so
So this is what it feels like
To match wits with someone at your level
What the hell is the catch?
It's the feeling of freedom
Of seein' the light
It's Ben Franklin with a key and a kite!
You see it, right?
Hamilton takes on its namesake's love story by being as honest as possible. His love for his wife Eliza, his connection with her sister Angelica and his affair with Maria Reynolds. That affair was one of the first political scandals in the young United States' history and would be pivotal in shaping Hamilton's career and his marriage to Eliza.
5. We win our independence
We negotiate the terms of surrender.
I see George Washington smile.
We escort their men out of Yorktown.
They stagger home single file.
Tens of thousands of people flood the streets.
There are screams and church bells ringing.
And as our fallen foes retreat
I hear the drinking song they're singing
The world turned upside down
(Song: Yorktown - The World Turned Upside Down)
The play's most thrilling moment is the Battle of Yorktown. Hamilton and his buddies rally together and beat the British, under the leadership of General George Washington. The thrill of victory and, later King George's agony of defeat, make this such an amazing moment.
6. You love politics
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
We fought for these ideals we shouldn't settle for less
These are wise words, enterprising men quote 'em
Don't act surprised, you guys, 'cause I wrote 'em (ow)
(Song: Cabinet Battle #1)
In the second act, we meet two of the men that would be a thorn in Hamilton's side as a new country finds its footing. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison make their appearance and Miranda famously portrays their bitter Cabinet arguments as rap battles. Nothing like learning about big government vs small government with two men spitting lyrics at each other.
7. If you want to know why our country is set up the way it is
No one else was in
The room where it happened
The room where it happened
The room where it happened
In God we trust
But we'll never really know what got discussed
Click-boom then it happened
And no one else was in the room where it happened
(Song: The Room Where it Happened)
Ever wonder why we had a strong central bank? Ever wonder why Washington D.C. ended up being the capitol instead of New York? Ever wonder who made those decisions? Hamilton does an amazing job of bringing up political intrigue and quid pro quo. Hamilton has a closed-door meeting with Jefferson and Madison to discuss how the country should be organized. The event spurs Hamilton's acquaintance Aaron Burr to seek more political power as he now wants to be "In the room where it happens".
8. It has heartbreak
There are moments that the words don't reach
There is suffering too terrible to name
You hold your child as tight as you can
And push away the unimaginable
The moments when you're in so deep
It feels easier to just swim down
(Song: It's Quiet Uptown)
In a precursor to his own fate, Hamilton deals with the death of his son Philip who dies after a duel while defending his father's reputation. Hamilton and his wife (who were on the rocks after his affair) find solace with each other as they grieve for their son together.
9. It has duels
It's the Ten Duel Commandments
The challenge, demand satisfaction
If they apologize, no need for further action
If they don't, grab a friend, that's your second
Your lieutenant when there's reckoning to be reckoned
Have your seconds meet face to face
Negotiate a peace
Or negotiate a time and place
This is commonplace, 'specially 'tween recruits
Most disputes die, and no one shoots
(Song: The Ten Duel Commandments)
Of course, you know that Alexander Hamilton, our first Secretary of the Treasury, and Aaron Burr, a Vice President under Thomas Jefferson, have a duel which results in Hamilton's untimely death. Can you imagine if Timothy Geithner dueled with Dick Cheney? Yeah, crazy times back then. Miranda, over the course of the whole play builds up the relationship with Burr and Hamilton from their days pre-Revolution to political rivals. Unfair of not, it makes Hamilton to be Mozart while Burr is his Salieri. It comes to a head on that fateful day in New Jersey.
10. It is our story and we shouldn’t forget it
I'll give him this: his financial system is a work of genius
I couldn't undo it if I tried
And I've tried
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?
He took our country from bankruptcy to prosperity
I hate to admit it
But he doesn't get enough credit for all the credit he gave us
(Song: Who lives, Who dies, Who Tells Your Story)
Before the play Hamilton came out, there was actually a movement to replace Hamilton on the $10 bill as many didn't know the impact he had on our country's foundation. That plan was scrapped after the play was released as Miranda did bring awareness to the complexities of our Founding Fathers. They weren't perfect, they weren't without sin and they were perfectly human. But when you hear their words, you find that regardless of your background, political beliefs, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, you have a lot in common with the men that founded the United States. There is a reason why many younger people have been inspired by the musical.
Check it out on Disney+ and let us know what you think!