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BWW Blog: Hamilton's Better Half

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As I'm sure you all know, the Hamilton film, or "HamilFilm" as it's being called, was released on Disney+ on the first of July. If you're like me, you've been waiting a long 5 years and millions of soundtrack replays for this day to come. Having seen the legendary musical live in person twice and desperately trying to learn the raps for the past few years, I thought I had nothing else to really learn about Hamilton. But, the truth is, we can always learn something new from this musical and the story within it's two and a half hours.

It's not a secret that Alexander Hamilton wasn't the best man. Although his legacy was that of a great one, there were some significant bumps along the way. In the musical by itself, Hamilton involves himself in certain affairs that were catastrophic to him, his family, and his career. Despite this, he is still considered one of the greats. This mainly being due to the significant amount of accomplishments he had in his lifetime, such as being the lead writer of the Federalist Papers and first American Secretary of the Treasury, establishing the U.S. Coast Guard and National Bank, fighting in many wars, etc....

Hamilton served history in remarkable ways and America deeply loves and values him for that. But, we must not forget the fact that he cheated on his loving wife, exploited the affair to the entire public and advised his son to fight in a duel that ultimately got him killed. Alexander was actually a bit egotistical, insatiable, and truly was non-stop.

Hamilton: An American Musical wasn't given that title purely because of Alexander's works and legacy. As they say, "behind every great man is a great woman." Enter Eliza, that great woman and the better half of Alexander. From the beginning of the musical, we are introduced to the selfless, loving nature of Eliza. She is devoted, caring, and constantly reassures Alexander that he is enough, something he never quite agreed with her on.

Taking a look into Eliza's life, she and Alexander were married when they were twenty-three and twenty-four. Following this, their marriage lasted for twenty-four years, up until Alexander was killed. Eliza was always Alexander's fiercest advocate and a consistent helping hand to the public, the musical doesn't even begin to cover the magnitude of her being. Even as Alexander is living, Eliza devoted her days to helping refugees of the French Revolution, also mothering young orphaned girls and ultimately becoming a founder of the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children.

As the musical describes, Eliza puts herself back in Alexander's narrative after his death. Despite his mistakes and faults during their marriage and life together, she fights daily for her husband's legacy with the fifty more years she is granted on Earth. She co-founds the Orphan Asylum Society in the City of New York and soon becomes President, dedicating everyday to the less fortunate souls and orphans of New York City, dreaming of providing a better life for them. In addition to this, she fights for slavery, raises money for the Washington Monument, and tells the stories of those who couldn't.

Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton's story deserves to be told just as much as her husband's. Her legacy is much less glamorous than Alexander's, having never been a "right hand man" or had an infamous affair. Though it is viewed this way, it does not need to be remembered as such. We can and should equate both of the Hamilton's legacies to being of the utmost importance.

To quote Susan Holloway Scott, author of I, Eliza Hamilton...

"Not long ago, I visited the churchyard of Trinity Church in Wall Street, where Eliza and Alexander Hamilton are buried side by side. It's become something of a pilgrimage site for fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda's phenomenal musical, and Alexander's ornate tomb in particular is often decked with flowers and other tributes.

On this morning, Eliza's much more humble stone - where she is described only as her father's daughter, her husband's wife, as was common for 1854 - was notably bare, and I resolved to find a nearby florist. Before I did, however, I stopped inside the church itself. Near the door is a box for contributions to Trinity's neighborhood missions, and I realized then that Eliza didn't need another memorial bouquet. Her legacy instead continues in the example of her own selflessness, compassion, and generosity to others. With a whisper to the woman who'd lived long before me, I tucked the money I'd intended for flowers into the contribution box."

Eliza, thank you for everything. We'll tell your story, we promise.

Learn more about her legacy and donate today at: https://www.elizasstory.org/

YC: Trinity Churchyard - Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton | Flickr
Eliza Hamilton's tombstone
at Trinity Church Cemetery
in New York City, New York.

"Eliza

I put myself back in the narrative

I stop wasting time on tears

I live another fifty years

It's not enough

I interview every soldier who fought by your side

I try to make sense of your thousands of pages of writings

You really do write like you're running out of time

I rely on Angelica

While she's alive

We tell your story

She is buried in Trinity Church

Near you

When I needed her most, she was right on time

And I'm still not through

I ask myself, "What would you do if you had more time?"

The Lord, in his kindness

He gives me what you always wanted

He gives me more time

I raise funds in D.C. for the Washington Monument

I speak out against slavery

You could have done so much more if you only had time

And when my time is up, have I done enough?

Will they tell our story?

Oh. Can I show you what I'm proudest of?

(The orphanage)

I established the first private orphanage in New York City

I help to raise hundreds of children

I get to see them growing up

In their eyes I see you, Alexander

I see you every time

And when my time is up

Have I done enough?

Will they tell our story?

Oh, I can't wait to see you again

It's only a matter of time."

Hamilton, 2015 "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?"


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