A Summer of Hamilton

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Chris De'Sean Lee, Jose Ramos, Wallace Smith, Miguel Cervantes - HAMILTON Chicago Company. Photo: Joan Marcus

Everyone in Washington seems to be a little Alexander Hamilton-crazy this summer. The monster hip-hop hit “Hamilton: An American Musical” at the Kennedy Center for 109 performances from mid-June to mid-September has generated a frenzy among fans. The Kennedy Center established a clever system to make ticket acquisition honest and accessible, both for its members and the public. Full price tickets are still available. They have also held back 40 rush” tickets, $10 each, for each performance. More about this later.

While his wife Eliza spent her last years on H Street NW near the White House holding court among her late husband’s things, Alexander Hamilton never lived here. He did, however, make the deal with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison that resulted in the Federal District being permanently located in the south along the Potomac River. His presence is everywhere in our buildings, institutions, money, museums, papers and surviving dueling pistols. Take a self-guided tour of area Hamilton destinations. Brace yourself. This man was a fast mover.

The Society of the Cincinnati Eagle insignia owned by Alexander Hamilton, made by Nicolas Jean Francastel and Claude Jean Autran Duval, Paris, 1784. Gold, enamel, silk and metal. Private collection.

First stop is the Society of the Cincinnati’s Alexander Hamilton’s American Revolution at Anderson House, 2118 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Through Sept. 16, this exhibition tells the Hamilton story through nearly forty manuscripts, rare books, artifacts and works of art drawn primarily from the its collections. Established in 1783, as the American War for Independence ended, the society is the oldest private patriotic organization in the United States. Alexander Hamilton was its second President General.

Anderson House this summer hosts lectures and a concert:

  • June 7, 6 p.m., “A Fratricidal Affair of Honor-The Society of the Cincinnati’s Reaction to the Hamilton-Burr Duel;”
  • June 15, 12:30 p.m., “Hamilton and The Federalist;”
  • July 2, 6 p.m., “Celebrate Independence-Music of Hamilton’s Time;”
  • Aug. 2, 6 p.m., Historians on Hamilton-How a Blockbuster Musical is Restaging America’s Past;
  • Aug. 28, 6 p.m., “Washington and Hamilton-The Great Collaboration;”

On July 19, 6 to 8 p.m., Anderson House presents “A Vintage Evening: Toast Hamilton.” Learn about the spirits served to Hamilton and his fellow Society members. Enjoy brandy tastings offered by Catoctin Creek Distilling Company. $25. societyofthecincinnati.org.

Through June 24, the original dueling pistols used by Hamilton, former secretary of the treasury and retired two-star general, and Vice President Aaron Burr in the duel that resulted in Hamilton’s death on loan from JPMorgan Chase & Co. are on display at the National Postal Museum, 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE. They are featured in the exhibition “Alexander Hamilton: Soldier, Secretary, Icon.” The show also has mail, portraits, and postage and revenue stamps reflective of Hamilton’s life and career as the first US treasury secretary. This rare public showing represents the first time the pistols have been on public display in the Washington area. postalmuseum.si.edu.

On Saturday mornings, at 9, 9:45, 10:30 and 11:15 a.m., take a one-hour tour of the Department of the Treasury. This is arranged only through Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton’s office. Some tour highlights are the Salmon Chase and Andrew Johnson Suites, the newly restored West dome and lobby as well as the Cash Room. Space is quite limited. Visit to house.gov or senate.gov.

The original dueling pistols used by Hamilton, former secretary of the treasury and retired two-star general, and Vice President Aaron Burr in the duel that resulted in Hamilton’s death.

Through Oct. 1, Mount Vernon’s “History Has Its Eyes on You: George Washington & Alexander Hamilton” features an engraving of Hamilton standing beside General Washington of the British surrender at Yorktown flanked by French and American officers. Eager to prove himself in battle, Hamilton had led 400 light infantry in a successful assault on British defenses during the conflict. As Washington’s aide, Hamilton drafted much of Washington’s correspondence during the Revolutionary War. A letter from Washington, in Hamilton’s handwriting, is on view. A condolence letter to Martha Washington from Hamilton following Washington’s death is also on view in addition to a letter from Martha to Eliza Hamilton. Visit mountvernon.org for details.

John Trumbull’s famous Alexander Hamilton portrait is at the under-appreciated National Portrait Gallery, Eighth and F Streets NW. The mission of the National Portrait Gallery is to tell the story of America by portraying the people who shaped the nation’s history, development and culture. The Hamilton portrait in oil was painted two years after his death. Visit npg.si.edu for more information.

Through Aug. 21, Letters and documents from the papers of Alexander Hamilton are on display at the Library of Congress. They offer a glimpse at the original source material for key themes and lyrics in the Hamilton musical. Ten items were selected for “Letters to Lyrics: Alexander Hamilton at the Library of Congress.” They include Hamilton’s writings on the Revolutionary War, the formation of the US Constitution, his role as treasury secretary, his correspondence with his wife Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton and his fatal duel with Aaron Burr.

The Library of Congress holds the world’s largest collection of Hamilton’s papers, totaling 12,000 items dating primarily from 1777 until his death in 1804, as well as portraits of Hamilton and his contemporaries. Hamilton’s papers include drafts of his speeches, a proposal for how to structure the federal government among other writings. The Hamilton papers were digitized and made available last year at loc.gov/hamilton.

On Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from June 15 to Sept. 16, at 2 p.m., take a two-hour Ten-Dollar Founding Father Walking Tour. No reservations necessary. Just show up at 2301 I St. NW. The cost is $20. Read more at washingtonwalks.com.

Back to the $10 Hamilton tickets. At press time, the Kennedy Center hasn’t released the details of how to get them. Visit kennedy-center.org often as June 12 draws near. So far, their ticket distribution system has been impressive.

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