Establishment historians write best-sellers in which some of the cruel actions of the Founding Fathers are smudged over if not ignored altogether. They’re guilty of a cover-up.
This is the case with Alexander Hamilton whose life has been scrubbed with a kind of historical Ajax until it sparkles. His reputation has been shored up as an abolitionist and someone who was opposed to slavery. Not true.
Alexander Hamilton married into the Schuylers, a slaveholding family, and participated in the bartering of slaves. One of “Hamilton’s” actors, Renee Elise Goldsberry (“The Color Purple”), who visited the Schuyler home, said the Schuyler sisters, “were the Kardashians of 1780—superstars, but with dignity and grace.”
Maybe they were able to maintain “dignity and grace” because they had 27 slaves serve them. Is this actor disregarding, callously, that the sisters thrived on the labor of enslaved women? No, she probably attended the same schools that I attended, with a curriculum that endowed slave traders and Indian exterminators with the status of deities.
Even Ron Chernow, author of Alexander Hamilton, upon which the musical “Hamilton” is based, admits (kinda), reluctantly, that Hamilton and his wife may, [his italics], have owned two household slaves and may have negotiated the sale of slaves on behalf of his in-laws, the Schuylers. Chernow says that Hamilton may have negotiated these sales, “reluctantly?” How does he know they were reluctant?
Like other Founding Fathers, Hamilton found slavery, an “evil,” yet was a slave trader. The creepy Thomas Jefferson also appears in “Hamilton.” He was even a bigger hypocrite in his blaming King George for the slave trade, a contention that was deleted from the final version of the Declaration of Independence.
Was Lin-Manuel Miranda, who designed this show, aware that Thomas Jefferson’s solution to the Native American problem was “extermination?”
Professor Michelle Duross, of the University at Albany, State University of New York, is much more direct and shows what happens when someone from a class, whose voice has been neglected, invades the all-White male country club of historians. She takes to task the Hamilton biographies written by his awe-struck groupies.
She writes, “No existing documents of Hamilton’s support this claim [of Hamilton as abolitionist]. Hamilton never mentioned anything in his correspondence about the horrors of plantation slavery in the West Indies.
“Hamilton’s involvement in the selling of slaves suggests that his position against slavery was not absolute. Besides marrying into a slaveholding family, Hamilton conducted transactions for the purchase and transfer of slaves on behalf of his in-laws and as part of his assignment in the Continental Army.”
Another historian, Alan McLane Hamilton, writes to counter the claim that Hamilton never owned slaves: “[Hamilton] never owned a Negro slave… is untrue. In his books, we find that there are entries showing that he purchased them for himself and for others.”
In the musical, Black actors play Washington and other Founding Fathers. Are they aware that George Washington is known for creating strategies for returning runaways? Or that he was into “search and destroy” when campaigning against Native American resistance fighters.
According to historians, “Washington authorized the ‘total destruction and devastation” of the Iroquois settlements across upstate New York so “that country may not merely be overrun but destroyed.”
Slave trading usually involved sex trafficking, where the planters turned their plantations into enforced and involuntary harems, an enterprise that fugitive slave writer, William Wells Brown, found disgusting. Washington’s Sally Hemings, according to Black oral tradition, was a slave named Venus. Fifty percent of the slaves at Arlington, where Robert E. Lee lived with the granddaughter of Martha Washington, were “bi-racial.”
Now I have seen everything. Can you imagine Jewish actors in Berlin’s theaters taking roles of Goering? Goebbels? Eichmann? Hitler?
When I brought up the subject of Hamilton’s slaveholding in a Times’ comment section, a White man accused me of political correctness. If Hamilton had negotiated the sale of White people, do you think that an audience would be paying $400 per ticket to see a musical based upon his life? No, his reputation would be as tarnished as that of his assassin Aaron Burr.
This is the best argument I know for the establishment of more Afro-centric schools and Latino-centric schools in order to balance the curriculum promoted by Euro-centric schools, in which perpetrators of genocide and slave holders are honored. Was school integration a mistake? Were these the brainwashing schools attended by the Latino and Black actors who are performing in this thing?
The best argument that I know for the advocacy of such schools came from a Jewish professor who attended Hebrew school before public schools. When a public school teacher praised the Crusades, she was able to point out that the Crusaders set up pogroms.
In the heady times during the slave revolt of the 1960s, the rebels boasted about how they were using the enemy’s language and how they were “stealing his language.” Now things have been turned upside down. Now the masters, the producers of this profit-hungry production, which has already made 30 million dollars, are using the slave’s language: rock and roll, rap and hip hop to romanticize the careers of kidnappers, rapists and murderers.
The very clever salesman for this project is Lin-Manuel Miranda. He compares Hamilton, a man who engaged in cruel practices against those who had been kidnapped from their ancestral homes, with that of a slave, Tupac Shakur. He is making profits for his investors with glib appeals such as this one. The first week’s box office take was $1,153,386.