NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY TO LAUNCH
SUMMER OF HAMILTON
HONORING THE LEGACY AND RESURGENCE OF THE “$10 FOUNDING FATHER”
Special Exhibitions and Programs Begin July 4th Weekend
New York, NY, May 16, 2016—Beginning this July 4th holiday weekend, the New-York Historical Society welcomes visitors to be in “the room where it happens” for a Museum-wide celebration of the life and legacy of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. During the Summer of Hamilton, related artifacts and documents from the Collections of the New-York Historical Society and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History will be on display throughout the Museum and Library, complemented by a series of talks, educational programs, and family-friendly activities that bring to life the remarkable achievements of the man who, until recently, was mostly known as the face on the $10 bill. Now enjoying fervent popularity thanks to the history-making, Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical Hamilton and the bestselling biography by Ron Chernow, Hamilton’s connection to New York and his lasting influence on U.S. government will come together in this summer-long exploration, allowing visitors to discover even more about this American hero.
“When the New-York Historical Society presented Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America, our landmark 2004 exhibition in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, we could never have expected that Hamilton, the man, would have captured the popular imagination in the way that he has with Hamilton, the musical,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO, New-York Historical Society. “Now admirers of the Broadway hit and those interested in learning more about one of New York City’s most influential citizens can decide for themselves, as the show says, ‘who lives, who dies, who tells your story’ as we commemorate the anniversary of Hamilton’s death and the achievements of his life.”
Alexander Hamilton played a leading role in the Revolutionary War and the early years of the founding of the United States. Born in the West Indies, he came to New York City, where he received his education, beginning in 1773, at King’s College, now known as Columbia University. Possessing a brilliant mind, he took part in the Revolutionary War as an aide-de-camp to General George Washington, authored the majority of the Federalist Papers, became the first Secretary of the Treasury, created the Bank of the United States, and founded the Bank of New York and The New York Post. Mired by scandal and controversy in later years, he died on July 12, 1804, in Greenwich Village, succumbing to the wounds he suffered at the hands of Vice President Aaron Burr during their infamous duel.
Among the highlights that will be on view during the Summer of Hamilton are life-size bronze statues depicting Hamilton and Burr in the midst of their deadly duel, pistols drawn and aimed at one another. The statues, created by sculptor Kim Crowley, were previously on loan to The Public Theater and were displayed in its lobby during the off-Broadway run of Hamilton. Also featured will be the monumental tall case clock presented by Hamilton in 1797 to the Bank of New York, which will return to the New-York Historical Society after a years-long loan to the Bank. Hamilton’s desk, at which the prolific writer penned his correspondence, will be exhibited on loan from the Museum of the City of New York.
Displayed with these items, an exhibition by the Gilder Lehrman Institute will present nine key documents from Hamilton’s life, including his famous “nut brown maid” love letter to his fiancée, Elizabeth Schuyler; the infamous pamphlet admitting to his affair with Maria Reynolds; the plan for the federal government that he proposed during the Constitutional Convention; the first federal budget printed in his Report on Public Credit; and a letter supporting Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr in the Election of 1800, which stated “In a choice of Evils let them take the least―Jefferson is in every view less dangerous than Burr.” Above these documents will hang New-York Historical’s portrait of the statesman by John Trumbull, painted shortly after Hamilton’s untimely death in 1804.
On view in the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, additional documents from New-York Historical’s collection will help answer the question posed in the musical―“who tells your story”―by focusing on Hamilton’s relationships with other Founding Fathers and his widow’s attempt to secure his place in history. Later in 2017, the Library will showcase documents highlighting Hamilton’s impact on public policy in the early republic.
Replicas of the dueling pistols used by Hamilton and Burr, on loan from the JPMorgan Chase Historical Collection, continue to be exhibited as part of New York Rising, a permanent installation on a 42-foot wall in the Museum facing Central Park West, which illustrates New York’s critical contribution to the founding of the U.S. The installation also features the marble cenotaph marking where Hamilton was wounded; a bust of Hamilton by Giuseppe Ceracchi depicting him in the guise of a Roman Senator; a gold mourning ring set with a lock of Hamilton’s hair that Elizabeth Hamilton gave to Nathaniel Pendleton, Hamilton’s second in the duel; Pendleton’s statements about the regulations of the duel; portraits of Aaron Burr and his gifted daughter Theodosia Burr painted by John Vanderlyn; various correspondence written in the aftermath of the duel; and Burr’s death mask.
Beginning in May, New-York Historical will offer Hamilton-focused group tours. Through an exploration of the wide range of Hamilton-related objects and documents on display, the tours will acquaint visitors with an in-depth portrayal of the visionary whose life inspired discussion and controversy and shaped the America we live in 200 years after his death.
Pay-as-you-wish Fridays during the Summer of Hamilton will present fun ways to further learn about the statesman and explore the influences behind the musical. Movie versions of the musicals that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda during the writing of Hamilton, such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, and 1776, will be screened for free. Engaging and interactive conversations with noted personalities and storytellers will provide new insights into the role Hamilton played in shaping the United States. (More details will soon be announced online at nyhistory.org/summer-of-hamilton.)
Family Programs and Summer Camp
On July 4th, New-York Historical will be filled with Hamilton-themed family fun. Families will be able to spend a full day meeting a living historian dressed as Hamilton, join a dueling history tour, hear revolutionary tales and songs from renowned musical troupe The Hudson River Ramblers, and participate in a Hamilton family trivia contest designed and run by Big Quiz Thing.
During “Camp History: Alexander Hamilton’s World,” week-long camps for middle school-age kids during summer vacation in August, campers will learn about Hamilton’s world in the mornings and develop an understanding of his life by writing about it in the afternoons. Campers will immerse themselves in the world in which Hamilton lived with tours of the Museum galleries, exploration of rare documents and images in the Library, meetings with Hamilton experts, and 18th and early 19th century crafts and activities. Campers will also work on creative writing pieces―poems, songs, stories, or skits―about Hamilton’s life and adventures with expert author-educators from Writopia Labs. At the end of each Camp History session, campers will share their writing with a special performance at the family party.
Throughout the summer, children visiting the Museum will become history detectives during Hamilton-focused family programs. The “Hamilton’s World” theme continues every weekend in July and August when historical reenactors―portraying Revolutionary War soldiers, Hamilton himself, or other figures from the colonial and early republic eras―will be stationed at New-York Historical, ready to bring Hamilton’s history to life. In the DiMenna Children’s History Museum, children and their parents will learn about Hamilton’s childhood at an interactive pavilion that explores how growing up in the Caribbean and seeing the harsh treatment of slaves helped influence his opposition to slavery. Families can use the Museum’s Hamilton guide to explore Hamilton-related artifacts in a kid-friendly way. Hamilton-themed birthday parties are also available, allowing children to celebrate their special day with a historical perspective.
The Reading into History Family Book Club celebrates Hamilton’s life and adventures by selecting Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider by Jean Fritz as its summer read. The group will meet on August 28 to discuss the book and see treasures from the Gilder Lehrman Collection related to Hamilton and others in his circle.
Teachers are invited to participate in “Alexander Hamilton in His Own Words,” a summer professional learning workshop on Tuesday, July 19 from 9:30am ̶ 12:30pm. Participants will examine documents from Hamilton’s life to unpack his visionary politics and will learn how to weave his story into their teaching.
The Summer of Hamilton carries over into the fall, when thousands of New York City school children and their teachers will visit the New-York Historical Society and participate in related educational and interactive workshops. Through primary sources from New-York Historical’s collection, including Hamilton’s letters, published works, and maps, high school students will make connections to Hamilton the man to better understand his place in history and the founding of the United States.
Opening September 23, the exhibition The Battle of Brooklyn will examine the first major armed campaign for the colonies after they declared independence from Great Britain, a battle in which Hamilton participated. Taking place on August 27, 1776, on the marshy fields of Gowanus and Red Hook, the largest single battle of the Revolutionary War saw George Washington and his rag-tag army of untrained soldiers ingloriously defeated by the Royal Army. The Battle of Brooklyn will present the dramatic story of the near-disaster that both threatened and abetted the outcome of the war for American independence through 90 objects and documents, including a bust of Hamilton by John Dixey, Hugh Gaine’s printing of the Declaration of Independence, a camp bed used by George Washington during the war, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, and a rare hunting shirt that became the first “uniform” of the Continental Army.
Later in the year and in 2017, public programs featuring historians Richard Brookhiser and John Steele Gordon, and military historian Patrick O’Donnell will delve into the relationship between Hamilton and Washington, their influences on each other, and Hamilton’s role in the war.
About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.
Photo credit: John Trumbull. Alexander Hamilton, after 1804, oil on canvas (canvas: 30 1/2 x 25 1/2 in.; frame: 39 3/4 x 34 7/8 x 5 in.), New-York Historical Society, Gift of Thomas Jefferson Bryan, 1867.305