Alexander Hamilton must be spinning in his grave. Or is that a hip-hop dance?
After more than 200 years of relative obscurity, Hamilton has again taken center stage, both literally and figuratively. Last week, the hip-hop musical “Hamilton” opened on Broadway to excellent reviews.
Hamilton was an amazing man. Raised in the West Indies and orphaned as a child, he went to NYC’s King’s College (now Columbia University), became the first secretary of the treasury, founded the nation’s financial system, was a military hero, lawyer and also founder and publisher of the New York Post.
Who today is as eclectic as Hamilton? Try the play’s author, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the music, lyrics and book, and plays the title role. Miranda’s musical, with a huge advance sale and celebrity-packed crowds, finally gives Hamilton his due as a key founding father and major force in our nation’s history.
But it’s never just good news with Hamilton. In 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr challenged political rival Hamilton to a duel, then shot and killed him. And in 2020, the U.S. Treasury will knock Hamilton off the $10 bill. Well, halfway off.
The movement to place a woman on U.S. currency resulted in Treasury deciding to replace Hamilton’s portrait on the $10, ignoring protests that the $20 bill, now adorned with the deeply flawed Andrew Jackson, would be more appropriate.
Suggestions for the first woman on our paper currency have come in fast and furious, ranging from Harriet Tubman to Eleanor Roosevelt to Caitlin Jenner.
By the end of year, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will make his final choice known. Last month, Treasury came up with the curious decision to leave Jackson alone on the $20, while the $10 will feature portraits of both Hamilton and the woman. Side by side? Front and back? Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, getting tickets for Hamilton is nearly, but not totally, impossible. The musical offers a “Hamilton for a Hamilton” (#Ham4Ham) ticket lottery two hours before each show, with the winners paying just a $10 bill — a Hamilton — to sit in the front row.
Pretty sweet. But what would they call that promotion in 2020? Half a Ham4Ham? Or would that be a bit ham-handed?