Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion ex­hibit re­traces Philly’s ef­fect on Hamil­ton.

The Review - - FRONT PAGE - By Brian Binga­man bbinga­man@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @bri­an­binga­man on Twit­ter

New York gets much at­ten­tion in the run­away Broad­way smash “Hamil­ton: An Amer­i­can Mu­si­cal,” which is in the mid­dle of an area run at the For­rest Theatre through Nov. 17. But did you know that more than just a few im- por­tant mo­ments in the life and and work of Alexan­der Hamil­ton ac­tu­ally hap­pened in Philadel­phia?

The whole fam­ily can find out what through March 17 at the Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, where “Hamil­ton was Here: Ris­ing up in Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Philadel­phia” high­lights fun Alexan­der Hamil­ton facts that the mu­si­cal un­for­tu­nately omits, or places in New York in­stead of Philly. Here’s a sam­pler:

• Philadel­phia’s City Tavern was where Hamil­ton, Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton and oth­ers cel­e­brated the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. Hamil­ton was a del­e­gate at the 1787 Con­sti­tu­tional Con­ven­tion at In­de­pen­dence Hall

• In his Philadel­phia of­fice as Amer­ica’s first Sec­re­tary of Trea­sury, Hamil­ton laid the fi­nan­cial frame­work for the new na­tion.

Said Jim Dever, the Philadel­phia mar­ket pres­i­dent of “Hamil­ton was Here” pre­sent­ing spon­sor Bank of Amer­ica: “As a banker, we view Alexan­der Hamil­ton in a spe­cial light. Like the Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, (the ex­hibit) will be ac­ces­si­ble to peo­ple of all ages.”

• It was in the Port Richmond sec­tion of the city where Hamil­ton took part in his first duel. In 1778 Hamil­ton served as John Lau­rens’s “sec­ond” in a duel with Con­ti­nen­tal Army Ma­jor Gen­eral Charles Lee. Lee sus­tained a graze wound, and both men wanted to fire an­other shot. Hamil­ton some­how talked them out of it.

• Philadel­phia — where Hamil­ton lived with his wife, El­iza, from 17901795 — was orig­i­nally the US cap­i­tal city. Hamil­ton ad­vised Wash­ing­ton at the Pres­i­dent’s House on Mar­ket Street and per­suaded him to set aside an hour on Tues­days to meet with mem­bers of the pub­lic. A few news­pa­pers of the time were crit­i­cal of the move, say­ing that it was too much like a king hold­ing court. Hamil­ton also in­flu­enced Wash­ing­ton’s dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to use a mili­tia to put a stop to the 1794 Whiskey Re­bel­lion in west­ern Penn­syl­va­nia.

The be­gin­ning of the end for the city’s des­ig­na­tion as na­tional cap­i­tal came af­ter a mob of Con­ti­nen­tal Army vet­er­ans gath­ered at In­de­pen­dence Hall in 1783 de­mand­ing pay­ment of IOUs is­sued for their ser­vice in win­ning the coun­try’s in­de­pen­dence. Prior to the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion, Congress had no di­rect con­trol of the mil­i­tary, ex­cept dur­ing wartime. Penn­syl­va­nia’s state gov­ern­ment re­fused a re­quest from Hamil­ton and Congress to send a mili­tia to quell the re­bel­lion. The in­ci­dent an­gered Hamil­ton and was one rea­son he sup­ported a strong fed­eral gov­ern­ment, lo­cated in an in­de­pen­dent fed­eral dis­trict.

• Alexan­der and El­iza Hamil­ton as­sisted refugees from France who had been among that coun­try’s rich and elite, but were flee­ing for their lives in the af­ter­math of the French Rev­o­lu­tion.

• When Hamil­ton lived here, he en­gaged in a scan­dalous, ca­reer-end­ing af­fair with a mar­ried woman.

The ex­pe­ri­ence also in­cludes scenic en­vi­ron­ments, like a re­cre­ation of the state din­ing room of the Pres­i­dent’s House; in­ter­ac­tive games, such as a block and scale game that shows the dif­fer­ences be­tween the bal­ance of state and na­tional pow­ers be­fore and af­ter the adop­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion; and play­ful ac­tiv­i­ties from dress­ing up in re­pro­duc­tion 1790s cloth­ing to meet Pres­i­dent Wash­ing­ton, to load­ing a full-sized replica can­non and de­sign­ing a coin in­spired by early Amer­i­can sym­bols — all with a con­nec­tion to Hamil­ton’s con­tri­bu­tions to the found­ing of the United States.

Each ac­tiv­ity seeks to in­spire vis­i­tors to think about how they can carry these lessons for­ward as they face the chal­lenges of ci­ti­zen­ship to­day. “The fu­ture of our na­tion de­pends on the cit­i­zens we cre­ate to­day,” com­mented Pe­dro A. Ramos, pres­i­dent and CEO of The Philadel­phia Foun­da­tion, which is a com­mu­nity part­ner with the mu­seum in pre­sent­ing “Hamil­ton was Here.”

At the con­clu­sion of the ex­hi­bi­tion, cast your vote on what you feel was Hamil­ton’s most im­por­tant ac­com­plish­ment in Philadel­phia.

The mu­seum’s core ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures nearly 30 Hamil­ton-re­lated ar­ti­facts, in­clud­ing ob­jects on loan from the New York His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, the Li­brary of Congress, and the Philadel­phia His­tory Mu­seum. Among them are let­ters writ­ten by Hamil­ton at Val­ley Forge and a 1775 edi­tion of one of Hamil­ton’s first po­lit­i­cal pam­phlets, “The Farmer Re­futed.” In the mu­seum’s lobby vis­i­tors can pose with life-size bronze stat­ues de­pict­ing Hamil­ton’s fate­ful 1804 duel with Aaron Burr.

Each vis­i­tor to “Hamil­ton was Here” will re­ceive a “Flat Hamil­ton” cut-out to take home, as well as a map of lo­ca­tions in the re­gion where Hamil­ton made his mark. You’re en­cour­aged to fol­low in Hamil­ton’s foot­steps and snap a pic­ture of Flat Hamil­ton at the var­i­ous lo­ca­tions to share on so­cial me­dia with the hash­tag #Hamil­tonWasHere.


The core ex­hi­bi­tion of the Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion tem­po­rar­ily fea­tures this por­trait of Alexan­der Hamil­ton, painted af­ter his death in 1804


Stu­dents from the Ship­ley School in Bryn Mawr use sym­bols of the early Amer­i­can repub­lic to cre­ate a na­tional coin cur­rency in “Hamil­ton was Here.” Dur­ing the colo­nial days each state had its own cur­rency.


Alexan­der Hamil­ton was an ar­tillery com­man­der in the Con­ti­nen­tal Army. Vis­i­tors can ex­pe­ri­ence how chal­leng­ing it was for a seven-per­son crew to fire one 18th cen­tury can­non in “Hamil­ton was Here.”


Tip the bal­ance of power be­tween the states and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment with this in­ter­ac­tive from “Hamil­ton was Here” at the Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion.


Still wear­ing a re­pro­duc­tion 1790s hat from the “Hamil­ton was Here” ex­hibit, a vis­i­tor checks out some de­tails on how Alexan­der Hamil­ton came up with how the new United States of Amer­ica was go­ing to han­dle its credit, debt, mint and tax rev­enue.


Alexan­der Hamil­ton’s First Bank is di­rectly across Third Street from the Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion.


De­tail of a statue of Alexan­der Hamil­ton, tem­po­rar­ily in the lobby of the Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, tak­ing aim at Aaron Burr in a duel that ul­ti­mately cost Hamil­ton his life.

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