What Hamilton Gets Wrong (and Right) About the Founding of America
NYU Law professors grade the Tony-award-winning musical on its portrayal of history.
- •WRONG: Hamilton as Populist“The musical totally ignores Hamilton's anti-populist sentiment. Scrappy, hungry young immigrant? Sure. But also a guy who was deeply contemptuous of mass democracy, believing that the mob would be misled by demagogues into ignoring treaties and confiscating property.” —Professor Roderick Hills
- •RIGHT: The Spirit of Rebellion“What Hamilton does particularly well is capture the spirit of rebellion and courage of the founding generation (men and women). I love the way it shows them as “young, scrappy, and hungry” instead of the misperception that sometimes exists that these were stately, formal stiffs in powdered wigs giving speeches.” —Professor Rachel Barkow
- •WRONG: Hamilton as Pro-Immigrant“Though he was an immigrant, Alexander avidly backed the Alien & Sedition Acts, expelling foreigners like Citizen Genet for their intrigues on behalf of the Revolutionary French government.” —Professor Roderick Hills
- •RIGHT: The Role of Immigrants“I love the emphasis on the role of immigrants in our country’s success from the very beginning. That spirit is something that speaks to people today who are looking for their own shot and who are striving to make America more inclusive.” —Professor Rachel Barkow
- •WRONG: Hamilton as Anti-Monarchist“Some things less flattering to Hamilton are left out of the musical. Hamilton was something of an elitist. He did have a lot of attraction to making the president look like a modest king, and many of his suggestions were not well received at the convention, and rightly so. But that was true of just about everyone who had some time bound ideas or half-baked proposals for a constitution that charted a path through unknown history.” —Professor Richard Epstein
- •RIGHT: The History“On the history just about everything that is in the show is true, and done to tolerable accuracy given the medium.” —Professor Richard Epstein