The Tonys this weekend featured a rarity in modern award ceremonies, a massive celebration for a work of art that romanticizes both America and the men that founded it. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit Hamilton racked up 11 awards, including best musical, leading actor (Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr), featured actress (Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler Church) and featured actor for Daveed Diggs (as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson).
As a nationalist-mercantilist who advocated for America replicating much of the government infrastructure of Great Britain, Hamilton himself was perhaps America’s least-libertarian founding father. That being said, liberty conservatives would be amiss to not recognize both the heroic achievements of Hamilton the man, as well as the beautiful themes of both his narrative and the musical it inspired. Hamilton’s rise, after all, is perhaps the perfect personification of the American dream — an orphan immigrant comes to America without a penny to his name and, through his talent, bravery, and work ethic, rises to have an astonishing impact on both American and world history.
Miranda’s musical faithfully captures this only-in-America story, and tells it in a way that can make a lasting impact on its audience. As Brittany Hunter of Generation Opportunity wrote earlier this year, “In our modern society, where Millennials are barraged with accusations of laziness, Hamilton shows its audience what is possible when you are willing to work tirelessly for what you want.”
While any new Hamiltonians would be well served to read Thomas DiLorenzo’s Hamilton’s Curse for a thorough deconstruction of the fallacies of Hamilton’s economics schemes and their long-lasting consequences, here are the five most libertarian songs from the award winning musical:
5: The Schuyler Sisters
The 5th song in the show, this number not only introduces us to Hamilton’s future wife Eliza, but also to his witty and brilliant sister Angelica Schuyler. The number describes the two affluent sisters, as well as their little sister Peggy, strolling around New York City and seeing American soldiers preparing for war with Britain.
I’ve been reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine
So men say that I’m intense or I’m insane
You want a revolution? I want a revelation
So listen to my declaration:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident
That all men are created equal”
And when I meet Thomas Jefferson
I’m ‘a compel him to include women in the sequel!
4. You’ll Be Back
The Declaration of Independence has often been described as a breakup letter between the colonies and England. In You’ll Be Back, King George is portrayed an angry ex-lover determined to win back the affection of his ex – through any means necessary. The entire song does a delightful job highlighting the fact that all relationships between people and their government can be comfortably compared to abusive relationships.
You’ll be back like before
I will fight the fight and win the war
For your love, for your praise
And I’ll love you till my dying days
When you’re gone, I’ll go mad
So don’t throw away this thing we had
Cuz when push comes to shove
I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love
3. What Did I Miss?
Thomas Jefferson takes the stage for the first time in a musical number celebrating his return to America after his stint “kicking ass as the ambassador to France.” Upon arrival back at Monticello, Jefferson is notified that he has been approved to serve as Secretary of State and is immediately informed by James Madison that Alexander Hamilton is posing a threat to the American ideal described in his Declaration of Independence. This is a musical number that even the most vehement Hamilton critic can enjoy.
But who’s waitin’ for me when I step in the place?
My friend James Madison, red in the face
He grabs my arm and
“What’s goin’ on?”
Thomas, we are engaged in a battle for our nation’s very soul
Can you get us out of the mess we’re in?
Hamilton’s new financial plan is nothing less
Than government control
2. Cabinet Meeting # 2
The second of two cabinet meeting rap duels between Jefferson and Hamilton, this number has the intriguing dichotomy of Hamilton taking the libertarian position over Thomas Jefferson. The subject at hand is whether America should intervene in France’s battle with England, with Jefferson advocating for intervention against Hamilton’s strong concerns. In the end, Hamilton’s position of non-interventionism wins, leading to Jefferson resigning from Washington’s cabinet due to the influence Hamilton holds on the president.
Have you an ounce of regret?
You accumulate debt, you accumulate power
Yet in their hour of need, you forget
Lafayette’s a smart man, he’ll be fine
And before he was your friend, he was mine
If we try to fight in every revolution in the world, we never stop
Where do we draw the line?
Alas, I admit it
1. Story of Tonight
The Story of Tonight is a song between Hamilton and his three closest friends during the Revolutionary War, Marquis de Lafayette, John Laurens and Hercules Mulligan. Though all three men are aware of the long odds stacked against their battle for freedom, the men are determined to be free and aware of the long lasting implications of their success. This song could serve today as an ideal drinking song of the liberty movement.
Raise a glass to freedom
Something they can never take away
No matter what they tell you
Raise a glass to the four of us
Tomorrow there’ll be more of us
Telling the story of tonight
They’ll tell the story of tonight