Alexander Hamilton — the Right Hand Man

Posted: February 21, 2017

The American Revolution has been presented using historical insight from primary sources as well as theatrical scenes. Lin-Manuel Miranda narrates in his lyrics, “The Right Hand Man,” the process through which George Washington chose his “right hand man” during the war against British. Sources such as the letters written to Alexander Hamilton by George Washington and Hamilton to John Hancock also reveal the historical events. From the review of Miranda’s explanation of the sequences, it is clear that art provides more clear insight on the American history compared to the primary sources archived. This is evident through the art’s illustration of the intensity of the events and the narrated historical proceedings emphasizing their significance.

Art creates a scenario in which the emphasis and intensity of historical events can be felt. Miranda explores how the members of the congress and George Washington felt about the impact of the war on Americans. In the “Right Hand Man,” Washington first tells the people that there are over 32,000 British troops in the New York Harbor ready to attack the city. He further illustrates the country’s position in regards to its defense; they lack resources needed to fight back. He states, “We are outgunned / Outmanned / Outnumbered / outplanned… They’re battering down the Battery.” The theatrical scene explains the real situation in New York during the British attack. The primary sources, however, do not clearly explain these circumstances. In a letter that Hamilton wrote to John Hancock on 18 September, 1777, he explains, “If Congress have not yet left Philadelphia, they ought to do it immediately without fail, for the enemy have the means of throwing a party this night into the city.”This statement, unlike Miranda’s art, does not explain the intensity of the war because the letter was definitely written urgently to address the alarming situation. Additionally, primary sources like letters cannot be detailed; they would take long pages and time to write.

Art explains the historical proceedings that led to each event. In the “Right Hand Man,” the play explains how Hamilton was chosen by George Washington to help in planning against the war due to his experience and trust by the people. The art further reveals the connection between George and Hamilton when Gorge states, “It’s alright, you want to fight, you’ve got the hunger. / I was just like you when I was younger. / Head full fantasies of dyin’ like a martyr.” Washington explains how ambitious and determined Hamilton is. On the contrary, the historical primary sources do not reveal these key details. The General Orders to appoint Hamilton noted only that, “Alexander Hamilton Esquire is appointed Aide-De-Camp to the Commander in Chief; and is to be respected and obeyed as such.” This does not explain the proceedings of how the selection was done. The letter on reveals that Hamilton was appointed; however, unlike the musical art, it is not clear why Washington preferred him or the circumstances through which he got selected. Therefore, it is evident that art provides more insight to history through the event proceeding.

The historical fiction and facts both explain the events that happened during war against the British. The artistic instrument used by Miranda provides emphasis and intensity of the events witnessed. Further, it explains the proceedings through which key decisions were made, such as the appointment of Hamilton to become the “Right Hand Man” of George Washington. These key aspects provide readers with more insight on the events such as why Washington preferred Hamilton to other men and how he became to be selected as the right hand man. These details, however, cannot be reflected in the primary sources that briefly highlight the actions of the historians, thus, limits readers’ imagination of their significance. It is important to consider the difference between the historical facts and the art fiction in order to not distort the real information of the events that occurred. Even though art has acted the historical events, less exaggerations and fallacy has been committed; this makes it closely accurate to the primary sources.

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