NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY TO LAUNCH
SUMMER OF HAMILTON
HONORING THE LEGACY AND RESURGENCE OF THE “$10 FOUNDING FATHER”
New York, NY, May 16, 2016—Beginning this July 4th holiday weekend, the New-York Historical Society welcomes visitors to be in “the room where it happens” for a Museum-wide celebration of the life and legacy of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. During the Summer of Hamilton, related artifacts and documents from the Collections of the New-York Historical Society and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History will be on display throughout the Museum and Library, complemented by a series of talks, educational programs, and family-friendly activities that bring to life the remarkable achievements of the man who, until recently, was mostly known as the face on the $10 bill. Now enjoying fervent popularity thanks to the history-making, Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical Hamilton and the bestselling biography by Ron Chernow, Hamilton’s connection to New York and his lasting influence on U.S. government will come together in this summer-long exploration, allowing visitors to discover even more about this American hero.
“When the New-York Historical Society presented Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America, our landmark 2004 exhibition in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, we could never have expected that Hamilton, the man, would have captured the popular imagination in the way that he has with Hamilton, the musical,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO, New-York Historical Society. “Now admirers of the Broadway hit and those interested in learning more about one of New York City’s most influential citizens can decide for themselves, as the show says, ‘who lives, who dies, who tells your story’ as we commemorate the anniversary of Hamilton’s death and the achievements of his life.”
Alexander Hamilton played a leading role in the Revolutionary War and the early years of the founding of the United States. Born in the West Indies, he came to New York City, where he received his education, beginning in 1773, at King’s College, now known as Columbia University. Possessing a brilliant mind, he took part in the Revolutionary War as an aide-de-camp to General George Washington, authored the majority of the Federalist Papers, became the first Secretary of the Treasury, created the Bank of the United States, and founded the Bank of New York and The New York Post. Mired by scandal and controversy in later years, he died on July 12, 1804, in Greenwich Village, succumbing to the wounds he suffered at the hands of Vice President Aaron Burr during their infamous duel.
Among the highlights that will be on view during the Summer of Hamilton are life-size bronze statues depicting Hamilton and Burr in the midst of their deadly duel, pistols drawn and aimed at one another. The statues, created by sculptor Kim Crowley, were previously on loan to The Public Theater and were displayed in its lobby during the off-Broadway run of Hamilton. Also featured will be the monumental tall case clock presented to Hamilton in 1796 by the Bank of New York, which will return to the New-York Historical Society after a years-long loan to the Bank. Hamilton’s desk, at which the prolific writer penned his correspondence, will be exhibited on loan from the Museum of the City of New York.
Displayed with these items, an exhibition by the Gilder Lehrman Institute will present nine key documents from Hamilton’s life, including his famous “nut brown maid” love letter to his fiancée, Elizabeth Schuyler; the infamous pamphlet admitting to his affair with Maria Reynolds; the plan for the federal government that he proposed during the Constitutional Convention; the first federal budget printed in his Report on Public Credit; and a letter supporting Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr in the Election of 1800, which stated “In a choice of Evils let them take the least―Jefferson is in every view less dangerous than Burr.” Above these documents will hang New-York Historical’s portrait of the statesman by John Trumbull, painted shortly after Hamilton’s untimely death in 1804. Select video clips from the Broadway show will also be shown, enhancing the connection between Hamilton the musical and these historical items.
On view in the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, additional documents from New-York Historical’s collection will help answer the question posed in the musical―“who tells your story”―by focusing on Hamilton’s relationships with other Founding Fathers and his widow’s attempt to secure his place in history. Later in 2017, the Library will showcase documents highlighting Hamilton’s impact on public policy in the early republic.
Replicas of the dueling pistols used by Hamilton and Burr, on loan from the JPMorgan Chase Historical Collection, continue to be exhibited as part of New York Rising, a permanent installation on a 42-foot wall in the Museum facing Central Park West, which illustrates New York’s critical contribution to the founding of the U.S. The installation also features the marble cenotaph marking where Hamilton was wounded; a bust of Hamilton by Giuseppe Ceracchi depicting him in the guise of a Roman Senator; a gold mourning ring set with a lock of Hamilton’s hair that Elizabeth Hamilton gave to Nathaniel Pendleton, Hamilton’s second in the duel; Pendleton’s statements about the regulations of the duel; portraits of Aaron Burr and his gifted daughter Theodosia Burr painted by John Vanderlyn; various correspondence written in the aftermath of the duel; and Burr’s death mask.
Photo credit: John Trumbull. Alexander Hamilton, after 1804, oil on canvas (canvas: 30 1/2 x 25 1/2 in.; frame: 39 3/4 x 34 7/8 x 5 in.), New-York Historical Society, Gift of Thomas Jefferson Bryan, 1867.305