Many moons ago (2009 to be exact), before Hamilton was a big hit on Broadway, Lin Manuel Miranda presented a rap song to President Obama at the White House Poetry Jam. It was funny, fresh and historically accurate – in other words PERFECT for my US history class to view.
The first year I showed the clip, my students were enamored. I had them rap it as a class the second time around. WHO IS THIS GUY?! asked the students (referring to both Hamilton AND LIN!)
As the years went on I joshed to my students, “Oh, they are supposed to make this into a Broadway show some day, maybe you will get tickets to see it once you graduate”. Little did WE know that this was going to be the biggest musical hit of our generation! I have had so many students have email me over the past year asking “WERE YOU IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS?!” aka, “DID YOU GET HAMILTON TICKETS YET?!” The answer, yes…. I was one of the lucky ones. I was not giving away My Shot. In fact, I tried every day when it played at the Public Theatre to no avail. But once it was released on Broadway I bought tickets for the first week (6 months out of course).
Opening week, there I was, mouthing every word to the opening song “Hamilton”.
I was obsessed. I knew I had to bring more of the play into my classroom. Previously, when I taught the topic of the early Colonial Period and the American Revolution, I did a painting analysis of John Trumbell’s Revolutionary War paintings. BUT… when the play came out I created more curriculum to bring in lyrics from the play.
Here’s how I did it by Topic:
All the lyrics are online for you to view here: http://atlanticrecords.com/HamiltonMusic/
My recommendation is to print out lyrics for students to underline, then analyze as you listen to the music.
The Early Colonial Period
Obviously, the first song “Hamilton” is the hook. Have students review the lyrics.
Questions to consider:
Infer – what was the immigrant experience like in the 1700s?
Can you draw any parallels to today? Can any of you relate to Hamilton? Why?
Notable Lyric Sample:
We are waiting in the wings for you
You could never back down
You never learned to take your time!
Oh, Alexander Hamilton
When America sings for you
Will they know what you overcame?
Will they know you rewrote the game?
The world will never be the same, oh
The ship is in the harbor now
See if you can spot him
Comin’ up from the bottom
His enemies destroyed his rep
America forgot him
Topic: American Revolution
Subject Matter: Loyalists vs Tories, Olive Branch Petition
Song: Farmer Refuted
Questions to consider:
How can we differentiate between the Loyalists/Tories and Fence sitters during the American Revolution?
Which side would you be on and why?