So I’ve read about halfway through the book (pg 357) and its just now that I feel confident that I can have an informed opinion on this song. I mean the music is great, that much is obvious. Its super catchy and gets stuck in your head in a I-can’t-remember-all-the-words-but-I’m-going-to-try-to-sing-it-anyway kind of way.
Factually I can’t find any errors in the song although there are some exaggerations. The interesting thing I find is what the song chooses to emphasize. This whole musical is a historical parable of the American Dream and you can hear it in this very first song. Hamilton is portrayed as the quintessential immigrant who works hard, pulls himself up by his own bootstraps, and makes a name for himself. Nothing is ever that simple, and the musical gets into the complexities a bit later on and so will I. However, this intro does give one glimpse into the making of Hamilton’s greatness that was not of his own doing.
The book obviously goes into more detail about this, but I think its instructive that this great and talented man needed a local minister to recognize his talent, care about his down and out situation, open up writing opportunities, and take action to collect funds for his education. Those funds are what sent him to New York and set him on the path of becoming and doing all that he became and did.
As I’ve said many times (and will in the future) ‘Great Man History’ isn’t all its cracked up to be. Nothing is ever that simple.
The preacher’s name was Rev. Hugh Knox, who until this reading I had never heard of.
Side Note: The actual intro to the book starts with Eliza Hamilton, who outlived her husband by many years. She is fascinating, but more about her later.