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Photo: Joan Marcus
Photo: Joan Marcus

Lin Manuel Miranda concedes to criticism of “Hamilton” amid Disney Plus release

The Tony-award winning theater director said the historical figure was complicit in America’s practice of slavery.|

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May 27th, 2022

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The widely popular Broadway musical, Hamilton, was released on Disney Plus on July 3 and although there was a lot of praise, there was also a lot of criticism too. 

A conversation started on Twitter about how the play ignores the founding fathers’ dealings with slavery. 

There’s no evidence of whether or not Alexander Hamilton owned slaves himself, but he wasn’t pro-immigrant nor an abolitionist. 

“He bought and sold slaves for his in-laws, and opposing slavery was never at the forefront of his agenda. He was not a champion of the little guy, like the show portrays,” historian Annette Gordon Reed told the Harvard Gazette.

Another posted a thread with information from historian Gerald Horne, telling her followers that Hamilton was born on the Caribbean Island of Nevis and fled to the North American mainland to flee impending slave rebellions and capitalize off of slavery. 

Others were more willing to look at it from both sides. 

Director Ava DuVernay joined in by acknowledging that Hamilton bought slaves, wrote violent words about Native people and only believed in elites holding political power with no term limits. 

“That’s why I don’t look to art for my history. I study history,” she said. 

However, DuVernay tweeted that she “greatly enjoyed” the show and wouldn’t have studied any of these founders if it wasn’t for it and Lin-Manuel Miranda. 

Miranda chimed in a few days later and said that all the criticisms were valid. He responded to a tweet by Tracy Clayton, host of the Another Round podcast, which interviewed him in 2016. 

Miranda told NPR last month that he believes the show “hits different” in the context of the current global conversation about race and police brutality. 

“Hamilton remained complicit in the system. And other than calling out Jefferson on his hypocrisy with regards to slavery in Act 2, he doesn’t really say much else. And I think that’s pretty honest. He didn’t really do much about it after that. None of them did. None of them did enough,” he said.

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