Embracing my inner history buff through the Hamilton soundtrack

Walking through the Grounds of a revolution

Recently, I’ve become obsessed with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” soundtrack. That’s not a very cool thing to confess — I know — but it’s true nonetheless. I’ve listened through the entire soundtrack, all at once, more times than I can count. There are a lot of songs in the musical — enough that the songs don’t get old and there’s a song to match my many moods. For someone that listens to a lot of music and has a tendency to overplay, this collection of 56 songs really hits home.

I’m not a history major, but I’ve always been a history buff of sorts. It wasn’t love at first sight, admittedly, but a persistent and passionate high school teacher showed me how fascinating history could be — I’ve been hooked ever since. It started with world history, strictly, but slowly radiated to U.S. history. That’s still a big leap from a Hamilton obsession, right? Well, there are two reasons to explain that.

The first reason? In eleventh grade, my history teacher played a shaky, raw video of Miranda performing "The Hamilton Mixtape" with Alex Lacamoire for former President Barack Obama. That was back in 2009. Six years before the musical hit big. Anyway, that sparked my fondness for the forgotten Founding Father.

The other reason? My father attended Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. — a school that was named after the former treasury secretary.

So, the obsession began and here I find myself un-cooly in its grasp.

“You must get sick of it, right?”

“No,” I said, although feigning innocence. While the answer to that right now is “no,” it likely won’t stay that way for much longer. Like I said — I have a tendency to overplay songs.

These past few months I’ve walked around with the musical in my ears and thoughts of the Founding Fathers in my head. When I learned about history in school, I didn’t question what I was being told. I simply accepted it as fact without thinking any deeper. Only later did I really consider the true significance of those facts — young adults, like me, banded together in order to gain freedom for themselves and their descendants.

Being at Thomas Jefferson’s University, it almost feels like we are a part of that history — albeit, in a very microscopic way. We attend his University. We walk the Grounds he did. Every day, we strive to embody his ideals as we pursue our education and future.

It’s true — if you listen to the musical, Miranda clearly conveys Jefferson as one of the antagonists of the story. He stood in the way of Hamilton’s financial plan. Still, they were both on the side of American independence.

Either way, both figures were essential to the establishment of the nation we know and, while listening to the musical may not be an excellent use of time or any kind of social status elevator, it has served a unique and irreplaceable function — to allow people to appreciate exactly how much was given up for this nation and exactly how far we have come. 

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