Lin-Manuel Miranda’s award-winning musical, Hamilton, has propelled Alexander Hamilton’s legacy as “the ten-dollar founding father without a father” to the forefront of a contemporary popular narrative about the formative years of our nation’s history. The musical’s success demonstrates that Hamilton’s life story resonates with audiences today. It is a story about people enacting change in the world—as Miranda himself is quoted in the New Yorker, Hamilton embodies “the word’s ability to make a difference.” The power of words is manifest in Hamilton’s eloquence as he argued on behalf of property rights, ratification of the Constitution, establishment of a modern financial system, and promotion of domestic industry. His efforts helped lay the foundations of American political and economic institutions, and his impact is still apparent over two hundred years after his death.
As national, political, and economic institutions formed in the decades following the Revolutionary War, those developments also played out locally in Newport and Rhode Island--from the debate in Rhode Island regarding ratification, to early development of industry in the Blackstone Valley and the impact of federal jurisdiction over trade in Newport. Today, Newport’s cultural organizations hold historical resources that shed light on the local connection to that broader coalescing of a nation and its institutional foundation. The goal of this digital exhibit is to provide an overview of Alexander Hamilton’s visionary role during the nation’s infancy, and to highlight Newport’s connection to those early national developments.
Image (above): Print of an Alexander Hamilton portrait by John Trumbull, Library of Congress
Image: Home of Alexander Hamilton, Washington Heights, N.Y., by Eliza Greatorex, Preservation Society of Newport County. Click on the image to view the object record in Newportal.