Literatur und Gesellschaft

Vanessa
Vollmann
München

Founding Mothers of Color

A Critical Race Feminist Investigation of the Female Founder Narrative in "Hamilton"

Introduction

Founding stories are myths. And this applies two-fold to Hamilton as the show has twice set a standard of mythical proportions: the first time around was in early 2016 at the end of the Obama presidency when it won 16 Tony awards after its Broadway premiere. The second time was on 4 July 2020 in the midst of the corona pandemic in Trump’s ­America and a BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement that has spread around the world, changing the global discourse on systemic racism for good. When the show’s ­composer, Lin-­Manuel Miranda, brought the musical to Disney+ as a movie on Independence Day 2020 against a social and political backdrop that was strikingly different to ­public sentiment in 2016, he was accused of having painted over narratives of slave ownership. Miranda’s ­response on social media was consensual. He stated that »all criticism is valid« and that he had »fit as much as he could in a 2.5 hour musical«.1 In an era of ­#cancelculture, »this«, as a ­Hamilton fan put it, »willingness to interrogate« even wildly successful ­innovative voices like Miranda’s is surely a »clear sign of change«,2 especially as the show never ­pretended to be historically comprehensive. In 2016 Miranda had said of his musical: »This is a story about America then, told by America now«,3 which speaks to conceding that while ­Hamilton might be an example of selective storytelling, the narrating voices are ­nonetheless unequivocally new and, as this article argues, the musical constructed a hitherto silent voice in the Founding Father discourse: a female founding narrative of Color.

If all those founder narratives that, as of yet, merely exist as alternative knowledge, were to enter the dominant discourse and as a result became myths, founding stories would surely underline President Obama’s vision of there being »not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America — [but a] United States of America«.4 And yet, the »epithet ›Founding Fathers‹ often refers to [only] seven individuals, namely Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison«5 who happen to be White men. Their narrative remains the dominant founding myth of contemporary America. One can argue that it’s fairly easy to understand why that is the case: the historical ­Founding ­Fathers really were men and they really were White. And yet, the fact that the White male narrative remains dominant cannot be ascribed to the ethnicity and gender of the ­historical founders alone. Rather, it is indicative of the fact that the »privileging of whiteness or maleness remains so implicit, [that] it is generally not perceived at all«,6 which is one of the key arguments of Critical Race Feminism (CRF). The public is not even aware to what degree the maleness and the Whiteness of this narrative has become normatively legible,7 to what extent it has become the only one that the dominant culture can relate to. This also means that alternative founder narratives remain not only unrepresented, but also, and more importantly, undocumented.

It was in Hamilton that, for the first time, in the eyes of many, the elitist, ­exceptionalist White male founder narrative was deconstructed. The act of taking »preexisting ­characters – real people, in this case – and [swapping] either their racial identities or their ethnic backgrounds so they can be played by people of color«,8 as implemented in ­Hamilton, is referred to as ›colorbending‹ in this article. By colorbending historical characters, ­Hamilton is viewed as a text that »elevates and celebrates the dismissed and ­undervalued« to ­reclaim the founder narrative »for those who were left out«.9 ›Those who were left out‹ applies ­especially to women of Color, as they have not only been targeted by racism but also by another form of oppression: sexism. To highlight consequences of this oppression and historical erasure, I borrow Mellody Hobson’s words: »The numbers don’t lie.«10 In her TED talk, Hobson refers to significant quantifiable disparities that are the reality in ­corporate America. They reflect the distribution of power, and, as such, of ­representation: While White men make up only 30% of the population, 70 % of corporate board seats are occupied by White men and of the thousands of publicly traded companies in the US, only two are chaired by women of Color, while women of Color make up 37 % of total women in the US population.11 These statistics serve only to highlight the dilemma and are by no means exhaustive.

Analogously to the definition of colorbending in this article, the term ­›genderbending‹ is used to describe the act of a female character adopting characteristics that are ­otherwise exclusively attributed to male historical figures. The terms ›of Color‹ and ›White‹ are ­capitalized in this article and refer to racial groups in the US; ›people of ­Color‹ refers to »those groups in America that are or have been historically targeted by racism«,12 while ›White‹ refers to those that have not been systemically disadvantaged based on race.

This article argues that Hamilton is not only a colorbent counterstory to the White male founding narrative, but that it has also created a Republican Mother of Color in the character of Eliza Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s wife, by additionally ­genderbending the narrative. Disregarding the Jeffersonian view of Alexander Hamilton’s legacy, which validates an oppositional historical female narrative incriminating this legacy, ­Hamilton draws primarily on Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton,13 which ­represents a Hamiltonian reading of history and, as such, does not question this ­legacy, but rather invalidates the female voice. The resulting discursive asymmetry ­regarding the construction of the female characters is therefore also investigated. I argue that the ­»heteronormative [binary] structure of the American musical that reflects popular myths«,14 too, is bent in Hamilton: At the end of the show, it is not a man who is the tour de force, but it is Eliza who reclaims the founder narrative for women. She literally has the last word – a gasp.

Compoundedness in Intersectional Identities

As every individual’s identity is shaped by myriad factors such as religion, gender, age, culture, ethnicity, language, race, class, »[n]o person has a single, easily stated, unitary identity«.15 In this way, all identities are intersectional. However, some of the ­intersectional factors come with systemic advantages and some come with systemic disadvantages.16 ­Hamilton – read as a Founding Father counterstory – speaks to disadvantages caused by systemic racism by using Critical Race Theory’s (CRT) method of telling stories of »minority communities«17 to »cast doubt on the validity of accepted premises or myths, ­especially those held by majority groups«18 and reclaims them for an ­underrepresented minority. In this case, it is the White founding father narrative that is retold and ­reclaimed to include people of Color. This article deals with Eliza’s narrative, who is a woman of ­Color in the musical. Her gender is the other significant component of her identity that is subject to systemic disadvantage. While the identities of White men (the historical founders) and women of Color (Eliza in Hamilton) are influenced by at least two ›compound factors‹ – race and gender – there is a strong disparity in the ways in which these operate. To the legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw’s mind, this is because

the notion of compoundedness is somehow contingent upon an implicit norm that is not ­neutral but is white male. Thus, Black women are perceived as a compound class because they are two steps removed from a white male norm, while white males are apparently not ­perceived to be a compound class because they somehow represent the norm.19

Crenshaw invokes the example of a White man arguing discrimination in court to ­explain this disparity. If this man thinks he was discriminated against, he is not forced to make two separate claims, both a race claim and a gender claim. If a White man did have to make two separate claims, he would only be able to prove race discrimination if White women were also discriminated against and he would only be able to prove gender ­discrimination if Black men were also discriminated against.20 But this is not the case. A White man is allowed a discrimination claim that encompasses both race and gender.

In CRF, intersectionality specifically takes into consideration the experiences of women of Color, as their experiences do not meet what Crenshaw calls the »norm« in two ways. First, as »feminist theory remains white« 21 [emphasis in original], women of Color are once removed from the norm, in this case, from White women. The second removal derives from the fact that anti-racist movements are based on the experiences of men of Color and not on those of women of Color. This leaves women of Color unrepresented,

because the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism, [­therefore] any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner in which Black women are subordinated.22

Disregarding the uniqueness of women of Color’s experiences renders them not only invisible, but also ensures the perpetuation of oppression. Crenshaw draws on the ­analogy of an intersection to explain this:

Discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another. If an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars traveling from any number of directions, and, sometimes, from all of them. Similarly, if a Black woman is harmed because she is in the intersection, her injury could result from sex ­discrimination or race discrimination.23

If the only time an ambulance shows up is when the woman decides whether her injuries are a result of sex or race discrimination, she is faced with an impossible choice.24 Firstly, her experiences of racism exceed the experiences that men of Color are subject to, and, secondly, her experiences of sexism exceed the experiences White women are subject to.25 As her experiences are therefore not represented and she cannot decide between the two, relief would not be provided. At the core of this dilemma is the notion that the ­identities of women of Color are »somehow« compound – a dilemma a White man’s identity is not affected by, because his identity is seen as »somehow non-compound«, due to the normativity described above.

Crenshaw describes the case of five Black women who brought suit against General Motors (GM) in 1976, after they had all been laid off in a recession and the company’s policy of laying off staff was based on seniority. The women argued that because GM had not hired Black women before 1964, they had now suffered a discriminatory ­disadvantage in that they had been excluded from acquiring seniority in the first place. The court, however, rejected the plaintiffs’ attempt to bring a suit on behalf of Black women, arguing that »Black women [were] not a special class to be protected against discrimination«,26 but that they had to decide whether to sue for sex discrimination or race ­discrimination but not a combination of both. The court argued at the time that, while GM did not hire Black women before 1964, the company did hire women before 1964 so that »there was, in the court’s view, no sex discrimination that the seniority system could ­conceivably have perpetuated«.27 The race discrimination complaint was dismissed with the argument that it should be consolidated with another case (involving Black men) against GM. ­After the women had brought to the attention of the court that theirs was not purely a race claim, but specifically a claim of both race and sex discrimination, the court answered that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion, was not established to create a new classification of »black women who would have greater standing than, for example, a black male«.28 In other words, »Congress did not intend to protect compound classes«.29 This response can mean two things: Either the legislative body behind Title VII (Congress) did not think that Black women could be ­discriminated against (which is not likely), or Congress did not see fit to protect women of Color when they were discriminated against.30 Both options are not acceptable.

In the context of the feminist discourse on sexism being defined by the experiences of White women, CRF argues that one cannot simply apply women’s experiences to include all women as feminist ›dominance theory‹ does.31 CRF scholar Angela Harris theorizes that this is because there is no »monolithic ›women’s experience‹ that can be described independently of other facets of experience like race, class, and sexual orientation«.32 The fact that the experiences of women of Color differ greatly from White women’s experiences can be exemplified by highlighting two aspects. Firstly, after ­Reconstruction, the sexual morality of the dominant (White) culture perpetuated the myth that all »black women were sexually loose and innately depraved«.33 A further example of the ­misconception of a unanimous female experience is the fact that, beginning with slavery, »black women [have been] exempt from patriarchal norm«,34 in that they were treated as part of the work force – unlike White women. An example of the work enslaved women on plantations had to perform underlines drastically how different their experiences are and have been:

On any plantation with a substantial number of female slaves, black women performed the same tasks as black men; they plowed, planted, and harvested crop. […] It was believed that the more delicately tapered fingers of the black female made it easier for her to gather the cotton from the pod. White overseers expected black female workers to work as well if not better than their male counterparts.35

The feminist discourse on rape further serves to highlight these differences. Harris takes on ›dominance theory’s‹ colorblind approach to analyzing rape, arguing that for White women, rape means the violent act of inflicting non-consensual sex, a violent manifestation of »the subordination of women to men«.36 In addition, rape laws were initially not understood to protect women from violent non-consensual sex at all, but »to ­protect and maintain a property-like interest in female chastity«37 – for men. Rape laws also only applied to White women well in to the 20th century. Added to this is the fact that during »slavery, the rape of a black woman by any man, white or black, was simply not a crime«.38 This was backed up by the ›loose sexuality myth‹ that considered women of Color to be intrinsically unchaste, as

[a]ccording to governing sterotypes [sic], chastity could not be possessed by Black women. Thus, Black women’s rape charges were automatically discounted, and the issue of chastity was contested only in cases where the rape complainant was a white woman.39

Therefore, Harris argues, rape does not mean the same for women of Color as it does for White women, as »black women had no legal protection whatsoever«.40 Legal statutes did not apply to women of Color as they were not deemed to qualify as ›normative‹ women, but only as a sub-category of women, to which other parameters applied. Therefore, if the feminist discourse propagates to include all women, it must also incorporate the unique experiences of women of Color and must place »black women in their rightful place at the center of the fight against sexual predation […]«,41 which means recognizing that patriarchy is not the only systemic structure oppressing women. If women of Color are not to be viewed merely as a sub-category of ›normative‹ (White) women, the discourse around systemic oppression must include a racism parameter.

Applying the parameters of racism to women of Color is complicated by the fact that the discourse on racism is defined by the experiences of men of Color. Serving as an example here is the female representation in the context of the ongoing BLM ­movement. While the names of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Jonathan Ferrell, Eric Garner, or Mike Brown, to name a few victims of racism that sparked the movement and that have ­become ubiquitously infamous, the names of female victims, including transwomen of Color, have not attained the same level of recognition. Media coverage has failed to ­publicly expose »multitudes of […] women who have either died while in police custody or as the result of interactions with law enforcement«.42

The disparity between the media’s and the public’s reaction to George Floyd’s ­murder and the subsequent current global outcry against police brutality and racial injustice his death has unleashed is striking in the face of the death of the 27-year old ­African ­American woman, Breonna Taylor. She was killed in early April 2020 when ­police »­broke down the door to her apartment in an attempted drug sting, [sic] and shot her eight times«.43 ­Breonna was an EMT training to be a nurse and she had been asleep when the police broke down the door to her apartment with a battering ram. No drugs were found on the raid and while an investigation into her death was opened in May, no ­charges have as yet been filed in July 2020. Tragic examples such as this speak to the non-­representation and invisibility of women of Color in the public consciousness and to the ›compound‹ ­nature of their identities.

If Eliza’s narrative in Hamilton is suggested as a founder narrative, her identity must not be compound, in the same way as a normative identity privilege is allotted to White men. If this does not take place and her character remains compound, her narrative, as a woman of Color, remains invisible because the authority of her experience is not placed on a woman of Color. In the context of Hamilton this means that the voice of a female founder of Color remains unrepresented unless the character is colorbent and genderbent in one person – in this case, Eliza.

Intersectional Colorbending: Colorblind vs Colorbrave

The only historical woman of Color Hamilton refers to is Sally Hemings, a woman born into slavery as the biological daughter of Thomas Jefferson’s father-in-law. As such, when she became Thomas Jefferson’s enslaved mistress and his property, after Martha J­efferson, Thomas Jefferson’s wife and Sally’s sister, had died, she was also, by today’s standards, Thomas Jefferson’s sister-in-law as well as becoming the mother of six children she had with him.44 All the other women actors portray White historical women while being women of Color. This applies to the historical Eliza, her sisters Peggy and Angelica Schuyler and the woman the historical Alexander Hamilton had an affair with, Maria Reynolds. Colorbending the historical narrative in this way, allows a woman of Color’s identity to acquire the compoundedness that is only allotted to White men by highlighting race.

As an anti-racist discourse, Whiteness Studies focus on White Americans ­recognizing their privileged status and acknowledging society to be founded on the ­principle of White supremacism. The notion behind this is that »whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal«.45 Peggy ­McIntosh ­invokes the metaphor of an invisible knapsack, a knapsack of 46 privileges that she, as a White ­person, carries around with her every day without being aware of it.46 The ­argument is that having these innate privileges is what makes White Americans notice people who are different and mark them as ›Other‹. While this is naturally exactly what all the ›Others‹, (e.g. African Americans, Latinx, Native Americans, Asian Americans) do as well when they recognize differences between themselves and White Americans, the point of contention for Whiteness Studies is the fact that the term ›Other‹ ­presumes Whites as the benchmark group by which other ethnic groups are measured.47 This is ­exactly what marks Whites as not thinking of themselves as having a race at all. This ›invisibility of Whiteness‹ as the assertion of the ultimate racial privilege must be seen in stark contrast to the above-mentioned ›visible blackness‹ and its inherent oppressive consequences.48 By drawing attention to the fact that Whiteness, too, is a racialized construct, Whiteness Studies aim to reverse this systemic disadvantage.

In order to reverse systemic racism, CRT challenges »the belief that blindness to race will eliminate racism«.49 Being colorblind as opposed to being »colorbrave«50 means ignoring the ubiquitous presence of microaggressions51 and consequently also ­disregards the existence of macroaggressions – in other words, ignoring systemic racism.52 Racism refers to »a system of advantage based on race«53 and not only to the existence of ­racial prejudice. Assuming that racism refers only to racial prejudice and thereby mistaking being colorblind for being anti-racist, can lead to negating the existence of systemic ­disadvantage based on race. In doing so, by not taking into regard the negative connotations that define both microaggressions and macroaggressions, the discourse on race does not recognize the need marginalized individuals have for group identity.54 ­Consequently, establishing race visibility is imperative in the fight against systemic racism.

This is what Hamilton did with its »non-White casting call«.55 Miranda’s casting was colorbrave as opposed to colorblind.56 By establishing that all the Founding Fathers be acted by people of Color, Miranda drew attention to a diverse number of racial ­categories, yet simultaneously turned dominant constructions of an ostensible norm and its ›Other‹ upside down. In Hamilton, it is White that is ›Other‹. It is precisely this visibility of race that marks and can therefore counteract the effects of systemic racism.

Miranda enabled the characters of the historical Founding Fathers to be reclaimed by part of an underrepresented community, by men of Color. Hip hopping Founding ­Fathers of Color became legible as a dominant narrative even to very conservative White audiences. As, for instance, Vice-President Pence put it: »My daughter and I and her ­cousins really enjoyed the show. ›Hamilton‹ is just an incredible production, incredibly talented people. It was a real joy to be there«.57 Earlier, President Obama had stated he was »pretty sure that Hamilton is pretty much the only thing Cheney and I agree on«.58

The colorblind casting policy of the other wildly successful musical on the ­Founding Fathers, 1776,59 by Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards, will serve as a brief example to further underline the importance of making all races visible in theatre. 1776 was produced on Broadway against three intrinsically different historical backdrops, in 1969, in 1995, and in 2016. In the 2016 production, 1776 applied colorblind casting. In one show, the actor depicting Thomas Jefferson was White and the actress depicting his wife ­Martha Jefferson was a woman of Color, with the script having Martha flying into ­Thomas’ arms. Set in the context of the DNA evidence that had recently provided proof of Jefferson having fathered six children with Sally Hemings, the audience was confused and »gasped«.60 The audience was simply not sure if the actress was portraying Martha Jefferson or Sally ­Hemings – colorblind casting made the confusion around the historical racism at the core of both Jefferson’s founder narrative and his legacy very visible, and so did not have the reverse-racist effect that was intended.61 

While it must have been disconcerting to the audience not to know the identity of the woman on stage in the arms of Thomas Jefferson, the historian Annette ­Gordon-Reed suggests that there is an additional aspect that might have compounded the ­confusion. Even after the DNA results, some historians were skeptical of the idea that Jefferson and Hemings had an emotional relationship, that they loved each other. One leading voice among the skeptics, the historian Garry Wills, even went on record insisting that »­Hemings could only have been a prostitute to Jefferson«.62 Gordon-Reed sees this »as a rejection of black ties to the founding of the nation«.63 The fact that the relationship between the two went on for over twenty years and that although Hemings was an enslaved person, and was therefore obviously viewed as being inferior by the dominant society, she was also a woman  who is said to have »accepted ›middle-class‹ values of monogamy«,64 irrespective of the fact whether the dominant society included her or not, and who had travelled to Europe with Jefferson after his wife had died.65 Added to the fact that she is said to have been very beautiful,66 this is surely very much indicative of just the type of emotional relationship that was being contested by historians of Wills’ opinion. ­Rejecting »Jefferson’s connection to Hemings was, in effect, a rejection of blacks’ claim to what some white [sic] saw as the ›best‹ America had to offer«.67 »The best« in this case refers to ­Thomas Jefferson. Gordon-Reed argues that this is for two reasons, which are both based in the extreme symbolic value that Thomas Jefferson occupies as a person.

To Gordon-Reed, accepting that some of Jefferson’s children were people of ­Color also means to accept that »a group of blacks are ›closer‹ genetically to Jefferson« than any ­racist claims that seek »to establish whites’ greater claim to America because of their racial connection to white founding fathers«.68 Additionally, accepting that ­there was more than a purely physical relationship devoid of emotions between Hemings and ­Jefferson also means that a woman of Color and a historical founder had been joined in an emotional heterosexual relationship. Bearing in mind the status quo of the ­majority structural norms that Sojourner Truth exposed with her accusatory question »Ain’t I a woman?«, accepting that an emotional heterosexual relationship existed between the two, also means exposing the hypocrisy of the status allotted to Hemings by society, ­namely that of her being merely an ›enslaved person‹ as opposed to a ›woman‹ and therewith ­allowing for the notion of emotional power structures akin to heterosexual relationships at the time. This, according to Gordon-Reed, means that Hemings »would ­necessarily have ­gained some measure of power over Jefferson, in the same way that women ­typically exert power over heterosexual males«.69 A rejection of Jefferson’s connection to ­Hemings was therefore, according to Gordon-Reed, also an outright rejection of the mere possibility that a woman of Color might have had a strong direct influence on a historical White Founding Father ­narrative, in much the same manner as is reflected in »Republican Motherhood«70 values.

In the context of the founder narrative of Color examined in this article, the ­rejection of imagining that women of Color might occupy this Republican space is indicative of the ›double removal‹ that women of Color experience from the normative White ­founder narrative. They are neither White women, nor are they men. Establishing a legible ­female narrative in Hamilton must therefore deconstruct both these ›norms‹. A first step is ­colorbending, a second must speak to gender.

Non-Compound Genderbending and Colorbending: A ­Republican Mother of Color in Hamilton

While the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings surely qualifies as a scandal today, at the time it did not. In fact, DNA evidence from 2019 proving that Aaron Burr, too, had a secret family of Color speaks to the fact that historical White powerful men’s infidelities with historical women of Color were neither uncommon nor ­exceptionally secretive.71 By contrast, in Hamilton, the two women who were at the core of what became America’s first sex scandal are depicted by women of Color, yet are based on historical White women, which made and makes their involvement in matters of infidelity scandalous.

On the one hand, we have the historical Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, whose father was one of the most influential Revolutionary leaders close to George Washington.  She ­possessed what the historical Alexander Hamilton called »all the beauties, virtues and graces of her sex without any of the amiable defects«, while she lacked in formal education, which suited Alexander just fine, as he stated as a bachelor that a wife of his should be »sensible« and that a »little learning will do«. On the other hand, we have the ­historical Maria Reynolds, who, in Chernow’s text, seduced the historical Alexander Hamilton. A few months into the affair, her husband, the historical James Reynolds, blackmailed ­Hamilton. After having been paid hush money, Hamilton did not tell his wife about the affair and it only became public knowledge when, during his first presidential campaign, the historical Thomas Jefferson accused Hamilton of having embezzled government funds while in office after Jefferson had found an unexplainable trail of money leading to Hamilton. Hamilton subsequently published »The Reynold’s Pamphlet« in which he ­publicly admitted details of his affair with Maria Reynolds to protect his legacy, reiterating in the publication that he had not abused his position of Treasury Secretary in any way. This illustration of the historical events has become the »dominant imagination«,72 although, as the historian Tilar J. Mazzeo points out, »there is no evidence that an affair with Maria Reynolds ever happened, apart from Alexander Hamilton’s sole say so«.73 The historical Maria Reynolds herself denied that she had ever engaged in such a relationship with Alexander Hamilton.74

The musical feeds off the dominant representation: Maria seduces Alexander in »Say No To This«, thereby casting the transgressive powerful male as victim of a femme ­fatale. As a consequence, this becomes one of the musical’s most problematic moments as it draws on the sexist honey trap stereotype whom even a man of power cannot resist:

Alexander:
Lord, show me how to say no to this.
I don’t how to say no to this.
But my God, she looks so helpless.
And her body’s saying, »Hell, yes!«

Maria’s character is constructed as the proverbial ›whore‹, when her husband, James ­Reynolds, blackmails Alexander with an extortionist letter:

James Reynolds:
Dear sir, I hope this letter
finds you in good health,
And in a prosperous position to
put wealth
In the pocket of people like me: down on
their luck.
You see, that was my wife who you decided to

Alexander:
Fuuuu ––   

James Reynolds:
Uh-oh! You made the
wrong sucker a cuckold.
So time to pay the piper for the pants
you unbuckled.
And hey, you can keep seein’ my whore wife
If the price is right: if not I’m telling your wife.

When Alexander publicly humiliates Eliza in »The Reynold’s Pamphlet« to secure his ­legacy, Eliza ostentatiously leaves him and takes herself ›out of the narrative‹ by burning his letters in »Burn«:

Eliza:
I’m erasing myself from the narrative,
Let future historians wonder
How Eliza reacted when you broke her heart.
They don’t get to know what I said […]
I’m burning the letters that might have redeemed you.

In contrast to the construction of Maria’s morally loose character that invokes all the stereotypes of the female temptress, the construction of Eliza’s character indicates not only her profound emotional devotion to her husband, which becomes all too obvious in »Helpless«. Her lyrics in »That Would Be Enough« additionally underline her devotion to his civic cause. This is indicative of the fact that her character is based on the historical Eliza Hamilton as depicted in Chernow’s text and points to her inherent Republican nature as a wife »who […] corrected her husband’s lapses [from his civic virtue]«75 by standing by him in his hour of need despite his very public betrayal and her humiliation.

In the song »Helpless«, in which Alexander and Eliza meet, fall in love and marry, she sings:

You walked in and my heart went »Boom!« […]
Oh look at those eyes. […]
Yeah, I’m
Helpless, I know […]
I’m so into you.

Later, when Alexander is frustrated at not yet having received a commission in the ­Revolutionary War by George Washington, they sing in »That Would Be Enough«:

Alexander:
Will you relish being a poor man’s wife?
Unable to provide for your life.

Eliza:
I relish being your wife […]
But I’m not afraid
I know who I married. […]
Oh, let me be part of the narrative
In the story they will write someday.
Let this moment be the first chapter […]

Both the Princeton Jeffersonian archivist Julian P. Boyd and Mazzeo make a strong case for a very different explanation as to why the historical Alexander Hamilton published the ›Reynold’s Pamphlet‹. Also, they provide a striking alternative to the view that the historical Eliza burnt her husband’s letters simply because he had had an affair. Boyd ­states that his research shows that the letters published in the ›Reynold’s Pamphlet‹ are only fabrications and bolsters this argument with the fact that the historical ­Alexander Hamilton did not publish the historical Maria Reynolds’ original letters but only transcripts.76 ­Mazzeo corroborates Boyd’s argument and takes it even further by pointing to the fact that the transcripts seem to boldly adapt an ineloquent style rather randomly and that they are very similar in structure to the historical Eliza Hamilton’s writing style, which her husband had access to.77 Boyd and Mazzeo both conclude that the historical ­Hamilton did indeed publish the pamphlet to cover up inconsistencies dating back to his time in office and that his wife knew about both them and the cover-up.78

By choosing not to use this Jeffersonian evidence and by invoking Chernow’s ­Hamiltonian sexist stereotypes79 in the depiction of Maria instead, Miranda contrasts the two women and in doing so, strengthens the depiction of Eliza’s dedication to Alexander’s civic Republican cause. Miranda uses the credibility that patriarchal ­structures allot ­Chernow – he is a Pulitzer Prize winning White male author of biographies on ­Founding Fathers, after all – to construct a credible character in Hamilton’s Maria whose sexist ­stereotypical characteristics are legible to the dominant ­imagination. Crenshaw calls this »huge gap between what men can do and get away with and what women can do and be taken seriously«,80 »discursive asymmetry«.81 Here, it refers to the fact that Chernow’s ­description of Alexander Hamilton as a helpless victim of an overtly sexual woman, is more credible than Jeffersonian evidence of the historical Maria Reynolds’ assertion that she never had an affair with the historical Hamilton at all, but that she had instead been set up and »hoodwinked« by him and her husband.82 Discursive asymmetry allows Chernow’s patriarchal White Founding Father narrative to dominate, although the ­woman at the heart of the scandal denied her involvement. After all, as Alexis Coe cynically puts it, »everyone knows that, in absence of evidence to the contrary, a woman is probably a shrew. And shrews, of course need taming«83 – to put paid to the privileging of male assertions of truth in the »dominant imagination«,84 a classic case of ›he said she said‹.

The Hamiltonian assertion that the historical Hamilton’s motivation for publishing the pamphlet was purely to preserve his legacy is also weakened by the fact that evidence of an extra-marital affair, even illegitimate children, did not in the least affect one’s ­political legacy at the time – one need look no further than to Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings as proof of that.85 Even in hindsight, it seems a rather drastic measure, to say the least, to make such an affair public in the detailed manner that Alexander Hamilton went about it (both in Chernow’s text and in Miranda’s musical).86 But it is precisely this version of the scandal that allows for the Hamilton Eliza to be constructed not only as an indomitable wife,87 but highlights the fact that Alexander’s marriage to Eliza is ­precisely the reason he was accepted readily into American society in the first place, despite his being foreign-born and illegitimate.88 He was granted the chance at becoming ­influential in society as he had married well. When Alexander is first introduced to the Schuyler ­family in »Satisfied«, he meets Angelica, Eliza’s older sister, who also harbors a romantic interest in him. She asks him where his family is from and he answers: 

Alexander:
Unimportant. […]

Angelica:
I asked him about his fam’ly, did you see his answer?
His hands started fidgeting, he looked askance
He’s penniless, he’s flying by the seat of
his pants […]

He’s after me cuz I’m a
Schuyler sister.
That elevates his status, I’d
have to be naïve to set that aside […]

In the first song of the musical, Miranda calls Alexander Hamilton the »son of a whore«, thus drawing attention to the fact that Alexander Hamilton was an illegitimate child. At the time, »most illegitimate children in the West Indies bore mixed blood« and the historical Hamilton was mocked for his »Creolian« writing later in life and was introduced as a »mustee – the offspring of a white person and a quadroon«.89 The 11th song of the second act, »The Adams Administration«, even has the distorted voice of John Adams call Alexander a »creole bastard«.

At the same time, the musical highlights his valour and bravery in the ­Revolutionary War as well as his financial genius and achievements as the first US Treasury ­Secretary. This serves to underline the implicit patriarchal structures of the era, in which women were, by contrast, historically excluded from achieving such status on the ­basis of their sex – even if, like Hamilton, they had fought valiantly in the Revolutionary War.90 ­Women could not qualify as being part of the mythical elite club due to their ­gender, ­irrespective of their contribution or race. The term ›Founding Fathers‹ itself was ­coined exactly a hundred years before Hamilton premiered on Broadway and came to substitute the term ›founders‹.91 In this way, even the literal claim women might have had to forming a ­founder narrative of their own receded into illegibility – they were ­reduced to being ­supportive of male founder narratives. This is especially true of women of ­Color. Set against the historic backdrop of the 18th century’s implicit understanding of ­patriarchal society and its heteronormative construction of society along race and gender lines, it is unsurprising that the historical Thomas Jefferson candidly explained, »women’s happiness was best served by their focusing on traditional domestic roles«.92 This was, after all, a time in which »female independence was totally unacceptable«.93

The historical Alexander Hamilton addressed the importance he placed on Eliza’s ­civic responsibility very early on in their relationship, writing to her: »It remains to show ­whether you are a Roman or an American wife«.94 The ›Roman wife‹ refers to the ­historical Portia (Brutus’ wife), who »showed herself strong enough to bear any pain to keep the ­secrets of her husband«.95 In e.g. Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Portia is ­imagined, ­similarly to Eliza, as a politically minded woman whose role as a wife, according to ­Roman standards, confines her aspirations to the private sphere. During the historical Eliza’s life, it seems credible to assume such a spirit in Eliza; that she was a true »­Republican Mother [who] who integrated political values into her domestic life«,96 because Eliza did just this, courtesy of her ability for managing the books. She steered her husband (and her ­family) clear of debtor’s prison, which could easily have become a reality for the Hamiltons.97

In the musical, Alexander’s devotion to his wife is illustrated when he kisses her hand just before he goes off to fight Aaron Burr in the duel in which he dies: He lovingly calls her the »[b]est of wives and best of women«, the name of the song this phrase is sung in. Conversely, her pronounced sense of duty to her role as his wife is depicted in »It’s Quiet Uptown«, when, after the Hamilton’s lose their son Philipp in a duel and in the course of their mourning, she finally forgives him for his misstep, the affair. Angelica, the narrating character in this scene, sings:

Angelica:
They are standing in the garden,
Alexander by Eliza’s side.
She takes his hand. […]

Company (except Alexander and Eliza):
Forgiveness. Can you imagine?

This extremely pronounced sense of duty also speaks to the credibility of the notion that the historical Eliza would aid her husband in covering up a political scandal that would today qualify as insider trading.98 After all, she dedicated her widowed life well into her 90s to securing his legacy. In Hamilton, this dedication is extensively elaborated in the ­final song of the show, which establishes Eliza’s character as a woman whose dedication to the cause is unwavering. As a »Republican Mother«, her character in Hamilton depicts a woman (of Color) »whose life was dedicated to the service of civic virtue«,99 when, after Alexander dies, she sings that she is aware of the duty that comes with her role:

Eliza:
I stop wasting time on tears. […]
I live another fifty years.
It’s not enough […]
I try to make sense of your thousands of pages
of writing […]
And I’m still not through […]
The Lord in his kindness, […]
He gives me what you always wanted.
He gives me more ––
Time.

The most outstanding example of a historical Republican Wife and Mother is surely ­Abigail Adams, one of the select few women to have so far been considered worthy of being included in the normative historical White male founder narrative.100 Her strong political convictions concerning women’s rights and women’s education as well as her abhorrence of the institution of slavery can very much be verified in writing even 250 years later.101 However, it is not only the nature of her writings that have qualified her as a Founding Mother, but also the mere fact that her written testimony has been ­preserved for posterity. This speaks to the privilege she enjoyed, courtesy of her being married to a privileged White man, a president, no less. Her correspondence with him was thus deemed worthy of safekeeping. Conversely, the lack of privilege that applied to most other women in times in which »the founders took patriarchy for granted and forgot about the ladies«,102 deemed their writing unworthy of preservation. This also ­underlines how education and therewith the ability to generate writing was a privilege that not even White women had access to at the same standard as their male peers. Even Abigail Adams’ education was not comparable to that of her male siblings, although she was considered worthy of education by her father and although she can by all the standards of the time be considered privileged.103

As, at the time the nation was founded, people of Color, women above all, were excluded from creating written testimony and were not considered worthy of being the subject of historical testimony, constructing a female founder narrative of Color only on the existence of written testimony is doomed to be stunted. If the standard a founder is defined by remains today the existence of written testimony of that person’s endeavours, then unprivileged persons can only be included or represented in the founder narrative if privileged authors of written testimony chose and choose to include them. The tradition of oral literature and oral history for the construction of African American narratives is one example of an alternative to this exclusionist structure, one very prominent example being Alex Haley’s non-fiction account of his history.104

In Hamilton, Eliza’s character, as a woman of Color, reclaims this privileged standard of written testimony for her character, because, although there is no written evidence of a founder narrative, there is certainly evidence of letters that speak to her involvement in Alexander’s life. When she burns them, she does so in her capacity as a Republican Wife and Mother. By burning his letters, she reclaims the exclusionist privileged standard of a written historical legacy to include her female voice, one of going silent, of taking herself out of the narrative. She sings:

The world has no right to my heart.
The world has no place in my bed.
They don’t get to know what I said.

Later, Alexander says to Eliza in the scene in which he dies by duel: »My love, take your time. I’ll see you on the other side«, in which he alludes to the afterlife, effectively ­leaving her to deal with his legacy alone, albeit with his blessing. As Miranda ­outfitted Eliza with the characteristics that define a Republican Wife and Mother by drawing ­extensively on Chernow’s text, Eliza in Hamilton is up to the challenge and thus appropriates Alexander’s founder’s cause. I argue that this is because, according to Chernow, when the historical Alexander Hamilton went into the duel with Aaron Burr in 1804, he was aware of the risk he was taking. He knew that his surviving seven children and his wife would be penniless if he was killed and yet he went anyway.105 Chernow describes – and I argue ­Miranda draws on this – that after his death, some of Hamilton’s friends opened up a ­secret fund and donated money secretly in order to make sure that the Hamilton ­children »would never know want« and this remained confidential until 1937.106 Chernow also writes how the historical Eliza waited for her husband’s arch enemy ­Thomas Jefferson to vacate the White House and under President Madison secured an army pension,107 and made sure over the decades that her husband’s achievements were not forgotten although the ­ensuing administrations had all been at odds with her husband. »She ­buttonholed ­elderly ­politicians and peppered them with detailed ­questionnaires, s­oliciting their ­recollections of her husband«.108 She never tired of serving her ­community, even in ­poverty, and ­became the directress and founder of the Orphan Asylum ­Society in New York, a »­Society for the ­Relief of Poor Widows and Small Children« which still exists today as the ­welfare organization Graham Windham. She continued to buy up reprints of her husband’s ­confession of his affair with Maria Reynolds109 and remained devoted to his cause until her own death in 1848.

In Hamilton, this translates to what Eliza sings in the final song of the musical. I therefore argue that Eliza’s character in Hamilton can be viewed as a ­counternarrative to Alexander’s narrative; she can be read as a racebent Roman wife. Translated to ­American terms, this means, Eliza in Hamilton becomes a Republican Wife and Mother of ­Color and thus both colorbends and genderbends the founder voice in a non-compound ­character.

Conclusion: Who Tells Your Story?

Although the Founding Fathers dance hip hop and rap in Hamilton, Miranda does not call it a ›hip hop musical‹, but ›an American musical‹. »Hip hop is culturally coded to mean non-White music and is seen as being oppositional in some way, while ­American is coded to mean White and mainstream«.110 Hamilton was criticized extensively by ­historians for being »historically incorrect«, because »founding fathers did not engage in rap battles«,111 as one scholar put it. And yet, 1776 received no such criticism, although in this musical, we find the Continental Congress singing and dancing and rhyming words with ›Connecticut‹. This underlines the different standards the musicals were ­evaluated against: In 1776, choir-singing and stepping Founding Fathers were legible in their ­musical interpretation of White mainstream music. And yet, Hamilton features more than rap and does indeed have »a distinctly American sound«112 by

evoking gospel for George Washington (»History has its eyes on you«), boogie woogie for Thomas Jefferson («What’d I miss»), and contemporary R&B à la Destiny’s Child for Angelica, Eliza and Peggy («The Schuyler Sisters») as well as banjo accompaniment, jaunty syncopations, and blue note embellishments, Jamaican dancehall and Puerto Rican reggaeton.113

This music is sharply contrasted with »the white-sounding music of their British foes«, evoking a waltz over »Bach-like harpsichord accompaniment«114 to reflect the »White« vs. »of Color« binarity in American popular culture. In »Who lives, who dies, who tells your story«, the last song of the show, after Hamilton’s death by duel, Eliza sings that she spent all the decades after her husband’s death securing her husband’s legacy by becoming a political actor of the times, by »speak[ing] out against slavery« (something her husband would have done had he »only had more time«), by raising »funds in D.C. for the Washington Monument« and by establishing »the first private orphanage in New York City«.

While on the one hand, Hamilton reflects the heteronormative structure of American musicals in that the most central relationship in the musical is between Alexander and Eliza, it has also bent the musical genre to match history. Although American musicals have in the past often been conceived to »end with marriage (or its symbolic representation)«,115 Hamilton does not. The ending does not reflect the binary structure at the core of American popular mythology, namely the construction of » […] man as a wandering source of energy, woman as the stable factor who ties him down«,116 but it is Eliza’s voice that is heard last and it is her energy that tells the story. In this way, her character bends the cultural code surrounding the founder myth three-fold: She colorbends and genderbends the founder narrative in one character and takes over the narration of the founder myth in the musical genre on her own.

Before the song begins, the entire cast, except only Eliza and Alexander, comes on stage. The actors depicting the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, George ­Washington, and James Madison, break the fourth wall and give the audience a summary of their ­position towards Alexander Hamilton’s legacy:

Washington:
Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory.
You have no control:
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story.

Jefferson:
I’ll give him this: His financial system is a work of genius…
I couldn’t undo it if I tried.
And I tried.

Madison:
He took our country from bankruptcy to prosperity,
I hate to admit it, but he doesn’t get enoughF
credit for all the credit he gave us.

Angelica takes over and the narrative voice shifts as the three presidential voices are sung against the backdrop that Eliza had »taken herself out of the narrative« in »Burn«. In view of Eliza’s lifelong devotion to Alexander’s legacy, Aaron Burr asks who has been the narrating voice in this version of Alexander Hamilton’s story and the men in the cast (including the founders) answer.

Anjelica:
Every other Founding Father story gets told.
Every other Founding Father gets to grow old.

Burr:
And when you’re gone, who remembers your name?
Who keeps your flame.

Burr, men:
Who tells your story?

Anjelica, women:
Who tells your story?

Eliza enters center stage and the women answer:

Eliza. […]

The company reiterates:

Eliza.

Eliza supplements this answer and actively takes on the part of the conscious narrating voice by singing:

I put myself back in the narrative.

As the song progresses, it becomes clear what exactly she means when she states that she has reclaimed her narrative in this story: The Revolutionary soldiers sing that it is Eliza who tells their story because she interviews every soldier who fought by Alexander’s side. George Washington confirms that Eliza has also told his founder story. Eliza narrates to the audience her endeavors until Alexander comes on stage. This develops a new dimension, because in the musical’s storyline, Alexander has since been killed and this scene takes place 50 years after his death. His character, too, breaks the fourth wall and in the last line of the show, he solidifies Eliza’s narrative by asking the audience:

Who tells your story?

Eliza’s narrative is thus endorsed by Alexander: Had it not been for her tireless endeavor of keeping his story alive, making sure his legacy was secured in writing, there would be no Alexander Hamilton founder narrative at all.

In the final line of the play, the full company (all the founders including Alexander Hamilton) then also speaks to the question of the narrating voice and ask:

Full company:
Who tells your story?

And it is not to the characters depicting the historical founders to whom Miranda has ­allotted the final scene, it is to Eliza. She looks beyond the audience, against the backdrop of the company that offsets her presence, and when the music ends, there is one more sound before the lights go out after the spotlight is on her: Eliza’s loud gasp. ­Although this gasp has been extensively debated on Miranda’s and Hamilton’s Twitter feed since the show premiered on Broadway, its meaning remains ambiguous. And yet, one of Miranda’s more recent comments, following the Disney+ movie launch, regarding ›the gasp‹ reads: »I do think that [the gasp] traverses time in some way. Whether that thing she is seeing is Hamilton, whether that thing she is seeing is heaven, or ­whether that thing she is seeing is the world now. Those are all valid and are all fair. I do think she is seeing across a span of time«.117 This view solidifies the interpretation that, by ­becoming the ­caretaker of Alexander’s legacy after his death, Eliza’s narration serves as a ­counterstory to the White male founder narrative and therefore makes a hitherto »­silenced minority«118 narrative visible across time.

Despite the intersectional nature of the identities of women of Color, Eliza’s ­character in Hamilton thus reclaims the non-compound White male founder ­narrative. If, ­additionally, Eliza’s character is understood to appropriate notions of Republican ­Motherhood for women of Color that were formerly reserved for White women, then her female founder narrative of Color represents the founding narrative of all women, White and of Color. By putting herself back »in the narrative«, the character of Eliza Hamilton has therefore created a female countervoice to the Founding Fathers for all women, a Founding Mother of Color.

 

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  • 1. Starr Browenbank: »Lin-Manuel Miranda Calls All Criticism of Hamilton ›Valid‹ After Receiving Backlash Online«. In: MSN, 7 July 2020. https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/lifestyle-buzz/lin-manuel-miranda-calls-all-criticisms-of-hamilton-valid-after-receiving-backlash-online/ar-BB16s3l7 (accessed 20 July 2020).
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Edward Delman: »How Lin-Manuel Miranda Shapes History«. In: The Atlantic, 29 September 2015. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/09/lin-manuel-miranda-­hamilton/408019 (accessed 27 December 2016).
  • 4. Barack Obama: »Keynote Speech at 2004 DNC Convention«. In: YouTube, 18 August 2008. 00:13:24. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWynt87PaJ0 (accessed 15 February 2019).
  • 5. Heike Paul: The Myths that Made America. An Introduction to American Studies. Bielefeld 2014, p. 199. (Below cited as The Myths that Made America).
  • 6. Kimberlé Crenshaw: »Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics«. In: University of Chicago Legal Forum 139.8 (1989), pp. 139–167, here: p. 151. (Below cited as Demarginalizing). https://­chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/uclf/vol1989/iss1/8 (accessed 11 November 2018).
  • 7. The term ›legibility‹ is borrowed here from the scholar David J. Leonard in his description of the illegibility of ›Black innocence‹ and ›White guilt‹ in the context of gun violence in contemporary America. ›Legibility‹ refers to how »stereotypes that circulate in contemporary American culture« reflect the notion that a non-White founder narrative remained impossible to compute »within the dominant imagination«. (David J Leonard: »Illegible Black Death, Legible White Pain: Denied Media, Mourning, and Mobilization in an Era of ›Post-Racial‹ Gun Violence«. In: Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies 17.2 (April 2017), pp. 101–109, here: p. 102. (Below cited as Legible White Pain). https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1532708616664234 (accessed 11 September 2017).
  • 8. Aja Romano: »Hamilton is Fanfic, and Its Historical Critics are Totally Missing the Point«. In: Vox, 4 July 2016. (Below cited as Hamilton is fanfic). https://www.vox.com/2016/4/14/11418672/­hamilton-is-fanfic-not-historically-inaccurate (accessed 1 October 2019).
  • 9. Ibid.
  • 10. Mellody Hobson: «Colorblind or Colorbrave? » In: Ted Talk, March 2014. 00:07:14 https://www.ted.com/talks/mellody_hobson_color_blind_or_color_brave (accessed 15 October 2017).
  • 11. Cf. »Workplaces that Work for Women«. In: Catalyst. https://www.catalyst.org/research/­women-of-color-in-the-united-states/ (accessed 2 April 2020).
  • 12. Beverly Daniel Tatum: Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? New York 2017, p. 94. (Below cited as Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?).
  • 13. Loren Kajikawa: »›Young, Scrappy, and Hungry‹: Hamilton, Hip Hop, and Race«. In: ­American Music 36.4 (2018), pp. 467–486, here: p. 470. (Cited below as Hamilton, Hip Hop, and Race). www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/americanmusic.36.4.0467 (accessed 11 November 2019). The historical ­Eliza Hamilton inspired all three men, Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow and Lin-Manuel ­Miranda: In his last letter to his wife, to be delivered to her upon his death by duel, Alexander Hamilton addressed his wife as the »best of wives and the best of Women« (»From Alexander Hamilton to ­Elizabeth Hamilton, [4 July 1804]«. In: Founders Online, National Archives, [Original source: The ­Papers of Alexander Hamilton, 26.1 (May 1802 – 23 October 1804), Additional Documents 1774–1799, Addenda and Errata. Harold C. Syrett (ed). New York 1979, p. 293.]. https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Hamilton/01-26-02-0001-0248 (accessed 15 February 2019). Exactly 200 years later, Ron Chernow borrowed Hamilton’s words to dedicate the biography Alexander Hamilton to his own wife, Valerie, and in 2016, Lin-Manuel Miranda declared that his wife, Vanessa, »really is the ›best of wives and the best of women‹ »and that Hamilton« simply doesnt exist without Vanessa. It is a love letter to her» (Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter: Hamilton. The Revolution. New York 2016, p. 269; below cited as Hamilton. The Revolution).
  • 14. Rick Altman: The American Film Musical. Indiana 1987, p. 250.
  • 15. Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic: Critical Race Theory: An Introduction. New York 2001, p. 8. (Below cited as CRT 2001).
  • 16. Cf. Tatum: Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? (ref. 12), here: p. 87.
  • 17. Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic: Critical Race Theory: An Introduction.  New York 2017, here: p. 50. (Below cited as CRT 2017).
  • 18. Delgado and Stefancic: Critical Race Theory 2001 (ref. 15), here:  p. 144.
  • 19. Crenshaw: Demarginalizing (ref 6). here: p. 143.
  • 20. Ibid, here: p. 142.
  • 21. Ibid, here: p. 154.
  • 22. Ibid, here: p. 140.
  • 23. Ibid, here: p. 149.
  • 24. Ibid, here: p. 149.
  • 25. Cf. Kimberlé Crenshaw: »The Urgency of Intersectionality«. In: YouTube, 12 December 2016. (Below cited as The Urgency of Intersectionality). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akOe5-UsQ2o (accessed 9 February 2019).
  • 26. Crenshaw: Demarginalizing (ref. 6), here: p. 141.
  • 27. Ibid, here: p. 142.
  • 28. Ibid.
  • 29. Ibid.
  • 30. Ibid.
  • 31. Ibid, here: p. 143.
  • 32. Angela Harris: »Race and Essentialism in Feminist Legal Theory«. In: Adrien Katherine Wing (ed.): Critical Race Feminism: A Reader, 2nd edition. New York 2003, pp. 34-41, here: p. 11. (Below cited as Race and Essentialism in Feminist Legal Theory).
  • 33. bell hooks: ain’t I a woman. black women and feminism. Oxon 2015, p. 55. (Below cited as ain’t I a woman).
  • 34. Crenshaw: Demarginalizing (ref. 6), here: p. 156.
  • 35. bell hooks: ain’t I a woman (ref. 33), here: p. 23.
  • 36. Harris: Race and Essentialism in Feminist Legal Theory (ref. 32), here: p. 38.
  • 37. Crenshaw: Demarginalizing (ref. 6), here: p. 157.
  • 38. Harris: Race and Essentialism in Feminist Legal Theory (ref. 32), here: p. 38.
  • 39. Jennifer Wriggins: »Rape, Racism, and the Law«. In: Harvard Women’s Law Journal, 6 (1983), pp. 103–141, here: p. 126. https://digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu/faculty-publications/51/ ­(accessed 2 February 2018).
  • 40.   Harris: Race and Essentialism in Feminist Legal Theory (ref. 32), here: p.  39.
  • 41. Kimberlé Crenshaw: »We Still Haven’t Learned from Anita Hill’s Testimony«. In: The New York Times, 27 September 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/27/opinion/anita-hill-clarence-­thomas-brett-kavanaugh-christine-ford.html (accessed 6 March 2019).
  • 42. Cf. Crenshaw: The Urgency of Intersectionality (ref. 25).
  • 43. AJ Willingham:  »Breonna Taylor would have been 27 today. Here’s where her case stands«. In: CNN, 5 June 2020. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/05/us/breonna-taylor-birthday-charges-arrests-case-trnd/index.html (accessed 10 July 2020).
  • 44. Annette Gordon-Reed: »Engaging Jefferson: Blacks and the Founding Father«. In: The William and Mary Quarterly 57.1 (2000), pp. 171–182, here: p. 174. (Below cited as Engaging Jefferson). https://www.jstor.org/stable/2674364 (accessed 28 December 2019).
  • 45. Jun Mian Chen: »The Contentious Field of Whiteness Studies«. In: Journal for Social Thought 2.1 (2017), pp. 15–25, here: p. 17. https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/jst/vol2/iss1/3 (accessed 7 January 2019) (Below cited as Whiteness Studies).
  • 46. Peggy McIntosh: »White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack«. In: Peace and Freedom Magazine, July/August 1989, pp. 10-12, here: p. 10. https://nationalseedproject.org/Key-SEED-Texts/white-privilege-unpacking-the-invisible-knapsack (accessed 10 October 2018).
  • 47. Cf. Chen: Whiteness Studies (ref. 45), here: p. 17.
  • 48. Ibid, here: p. 16.
  • 49. Francisco Valdes, Jerome McCristal Culp, and Angela P. Harris: »Battles Waged, Won, and Lost: Critical Race Theory at the Turn of the Millenium«. In: Valdes, McCristal and Harris (eds.): Critical Race Theory. Philadelphia 2002, pp. 1–6, here: p. 1.
  • 50. Mellody Hobson: Colorblind or Colorbrave? In: Ted Talk. March 2014. (00:07:47). https://www.ted.com/talks/mellody_hobson_color_blind_or_color_brave 00:07:47 (accessed 15 Oct. 2017).
  • 51. CRT scholar Charles R. Lawrence III describes an experience he had as an example of the existence of microaggression as follows: »[…] I am a student at Haverford College. Again, I am a token black presence in a white world. A companion whose face and name I can’t remember seeks to compliment me by saying, ›I don’t think of you as a Negro.‹ I understand his benign intention and accept the compliment. Once again, I have betrayed myself.« (Charles R. T Lawrence III: »The Id, the Ego, and Equal Protection: Reckoning with Unconscious Racism«. In: Kimberlé Krenshaw et al. (eds.): Critical Race Theory. New York 1995, pp. 235–255, here: p. 235).
  • 52. Anthony Dunbar: »Hamilton. Social Justice Lessons from Critical Race Theory Part Two«. In: YouTube, uploaded by Morraine Valley Community College Library, 27 June 2017. https://www.­youtube.com/watch?v=IGxTOBBDFOA (accessed 10 Feb. 2019).
  • 53. Tatum: Why are all the black kids sitting at the back of the bus? (ref. 12), here: p. 90.
  • 54. Kimberlé Crenshaw: »Race, Reform, and Retrenchment«. In: Kimberlé Krenshaw et al. (eds.): Critical Race Theory. New York 1995, pp. 103-122, here: p. 105.
  • 55. Afeef Nessouli and Ray Sanchez: »Broadway’s ›Hamilton‹ hit under for controversial casting call«. In: CNN, 3 March 2016. http://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/30/entertainment/hamilton-broadway-­casting-call (accessed 18 April 2017).
  • 56. Colorblindness refers to the concept of defeating racism by treating all people equally, without regard to their race (Delgado and Stefancic CRT 2017 (ref. 17), here: p. 170). While this is a noble endeavour, it disregards the fact that, in a White supremacist society, people of Color’s experiences and realities differ strikingly from White people’s realities and experiences, irrespective of the fact whether White people consciously welcome the advantages allotted to them or not. Not acknowledging said differences is therefore not an effective measure to combat racism.
  • 57. Eric Bradner: »Pence: ›I wasn’t offended by Message of ›Hamilton‹ Cast‹«. In: CNN, 26 November 2016. https://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/20/politics/mike-pence-hamilton-message-trump/index.html (accessed 1 October 2019).
  • 58. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter: Hamilton. The Revolution (ref. 13), here:  p. 284.
  • 59. Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards: 1776 – A Musical Play. New York 1964.
  • 60. Jesse Green: »Theater Review: The Encores! Revival of 1776 Adds Modern Touches to a Powerful and Deserving show«. In: Vulture, 31 March 2016. http://www.vulture.com/2016/03/theater-­review-the-encores-revival-of-1776.html (accessed 3 October 2017).
  • 61. Although he authored the ›self-evident truth that all men are created equal,‹ Jefferson did not extend his views on citizenship to men of Color, but remained until his death deeply committed to slavery. (Cf. Paul Finkelmann: »The Monster of Monticello«. In: The New York Times, ­
    11 ­November 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/01/opinion/the-real-thomas-jefferson.html
    (accessed ­23 December 2017).
  • 62. Gordon-Reed: Engaging Jefferson (ref. 44), here: p. 178.
  • 63. Ibid, here: p. 174.
  • 64. Ibid, here: p. 179.
  • 65. Cokie Roberts: Founding Mothers. The Women Who Raised our Nation. New York 2005, p. 184. (Below cited as Founding Mothers).
  • 66. Gordon-Reed: Engaging Jefferson (ref. 44), here: p. 178.
  • 67. Ibid.
  • 68. Ibid, here: p. 174.
  • 69. Ibid, here: p. 179.
  • 70. Linda Kerber: »The Republican Mother: Women and the Enlightenment – An American Perspective«. In: American Quarterly 28.2 (1976), pp. 187–205, here: p. 202. (Below cited as The Republican Mother).
  • 71. Aaron Burr had a secret family of Color, as well. (Cf. Hannah Natanson: »Aaron Burr – Villain of ›Hamilton‹ Had Secret Family of Color, New Research Shows«. In: The Washington Post, 24 August 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/08/24/aaron-burr-villain-hamilton-had-secret-family-color-new-research-shows/ (accessed 24 December 2019).
  • 72. Leonard: Legible White Pain (ref. 7), here: p. 102.
  • 73. Cf. Tilar J. Mazzeo: Eliza Hamilton. The Extraordinary Life and Times of the Wife of Alexander Hamilton. New York 2018, p. 295. (Below cited as Eliza Hamilton).
  • 74. Ibid, here: p. 191.
  • 75. Kerber: The Republican Mother (ref. 69), here: p. 202.
  • 76. Cf. »Printed Version of the ›Reynolds Pamphlet‹, 1797«. In: Founders Online, National Archives, [Original source: Harold C. Syrett (ed.): The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, 21 (April 1797 – July 1798), New York 1974, pp. 238–267].  https://founders.archives.gov/documents/­Hamilton/01-21-02-0138-0002 (accessed 17 July 2016).
  • 77. Mazzeo: Eliza Hamilton (ref. 73), here: p. 192.
  • 78. Ibid, here: pp. 191-195.
  • 79. According to the historian Alexis Coe, Chernow has used this instrument before when he describes female characters in his biography on George Washington. Alexis Coe: You never forget your first. New York 2020, p. xxxvii.
  • 80. Kimberlé Crenshaw: »Is It the Group, not the Individual that Matters most in Today’s America? Professor at Law – Kimberlé Crenshaw«. Interview by Stephen Sackur. In: Hardtalk, 15 October 2018. 00:09:51. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3cswj93 (accessed 19 December 2018).
  • 81. Ibid, here: 00:10:50.
  • 82. Ron Chernow: Alexander Hamilton. New York 2004, pp. 409-417.
  • 83. Alexis Coe: You Never Forget Your First. New York 2020, p. xxxvi.
  • 84. Leonard: Legible White Pain (ref. 7), here: p. 102.
  • 85. Cf. Gordon-Reed: Engaging Jefferson (ref. 44), here: p. 174.
  • 86. In fact, Alexander Hamilton making details of his affair («I had frequent meetings with her, most of them at my own house»), (Printed Version of the «Reynolds Pamphlet», ref. 76), the center of his pamphlet speaks to a contextual inconsistency. Affairs at the time were tolerated for gentlemen, they were not publicly flaunted. This view was dominant in the newspaper coverage of the scandal at the time. (Cf. Mazzeo: Eliza Hamilton (ref. 73), here: p. 191).
  • 87. Cf. Miranda and McCarter: Hamilton. The Revolution (ref. 13), here: p. 108.
  • 88. Cf. Roberts: Founding Mothers (ref. 65), here: p. 190.
  • 89. Ron Chernow: Alexander Hamilton (ref. 82), p. 245.
  • 90. One such example is Deborah Sampson, who fought as ›Robert Shurtliff‹, was wounded twice and still continued to volunteer for hazardous duty, all the while having to hide her gender. After the war, she met with George Washington and Congress voted to grant her a pension and some land in recognition of her military service (Ibid, here: p. 82).
  • 91. Jone Johnson Lewis: »Founding Mothers: Women’s Roles in American Independence«. In: ThoughtCo, 10 October, 2019. www.thoughtco.com/who-were-the-founding-mothers-3530673 ­(accessed 23 December 2019).
  • 92. Jeanne E. Abrams: First Ladies of the Republic: Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, and the Creation of an Iconic American Role. New York 2018, p. 132. (Below cited as First Ladies).
  • 93. Coe:  You Never Forget Your First (ref. 83), here: p. xxxix.
  • 94. Mazzeo: Eliza Hamilton (ref. 73), here: p. 171.
  • 95. Ibid, here: p. 82.
  • 96. Kerber in Abrams: First Ladies (ref. 93), here: p. 27.
  • 97. Eliza Hamilton was also very capable in matters of accounting and there is evidence pointing to the fact that Eliza had a very real fear of debtor’s prison (Mazzeo: Eliza Hamilton (ref. 73), p. 161).
  • 98. Ibid, here: p. 159. This historical James Reynolds’ business partner was in debtor’s prison at ­exactly the time in which Alexander’s financial dealings were being investigated and it was this imprisoned man who claimed to have evidence of Alexander’s financial impropriety. After a meeting between James Reynolds and Alexander Hamilton, this imprisoned man’s debts were settled and he was subsequently freed. It was only after these events took place that James Reynolds publicly stated that his wife had had an affair with Alexander and that he had blackmailed him.
  • 99. Kerber: The Republican Mother (ref. 70), here: p. 202.
  • 100. Cf. Paul: The Myths that Made America (ref. 5), here: p. 223.
  • 101. Abigail Adams’ writings to her husband had a distinctive «proto-feminist streak [and she is] commonly considered a radical in regard to women’s rights at a time when [m]ost founders could not imagine a society where women were free and equal and were governed by their own consent […]» (Kann qtd. in Paul: The Myths that Made America (ref. 5), here: p. 225).
  • 102. Mark E. Kann: The Gendering of American Politics: Founding Mothers, Founding Fathers, and Political Patriarchy. Westport 1999, p. 7.
  • 103. Cf. Roberts: Founding Mothers (ref. 65), here: p. 149 and Abrams: First Ladies of the Republic (ref. 93), here: p. 125.
  • 104. Darwin T. Turner: African-American History and the Oral Tradition. In: Iowa Research Online. https://ir.uiowa.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1186&context=bai (accessed 11 July 2020), p. 7. A comprehensive examination of the plagiarism accusation Alex Haley faced with »Roots« would go beyond the scope of this article.
  • 105. Cokie Roberts: »The Hamilton I’d Put on the $ 10 Bill«. In: The New York Times, 20 April 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/20/opinion/the-hamilton-id-put-on-the-10-bill.html (accessed 14 February 2017). (Below cited as The $ 10 Bill).
  • 106. Chernow: Alexander Hamilton (ref. 82), here: p. 725.
  • 107. Ibid.
  • 108. Ibid, here: p. 727.
  • 109. Cf. Roberts: The $ 10 Bill (ref. 106).
  • 110. Kajikawa: Hamilton, Hip Hop, and Race (ref. 13), here: p 468.
  • 111. Romano: Hamilton is Fanfic (ref. 8).
  • 112. Kajikawa: Hamilton, Hip Hop, and Race (ref. 13), here: p. 469.
  • 113. Ibid.
  • 114. Ibid.
  • 115. Rick Altman. The American Film Musical (ref. 14), here: p. 262.
  • 116. Ibid, here: p. 250.
  • 117. Lin-Manuel Miranda: »The Hamilton Cast answers Hamilton Questions from Twitter«. In: ­YouTube, 3 July 2020. 00:14:50. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3cswj93 (accessed 9 July 2020).
  • 118. Delgado and Stefancic: Critical Race Theory (ref. 15), here: p. 50.