Punch Drunk: Alexander Hamilton, Smack-Talking Hipster 


The Richmond-filmed American Revolutionary War spy drama, “Turn,” hadn’t been renewed for a fourth season at press time. So-so ratings may doom the series to oblivion. But the recent appearance of actor Sean Haggarty, who plays a young lieutenant colonel named Hamilton, could be the show’s savior.

Not sure if you heard, but Alexander Hamilton is so hot right now.

He makes Thomas Jefferson look as dull as a dumbwaiter. George Washington? More moldy and madeira-stained than a pair of ivory dentures.

Hamilton, who famously got all pistol-balled up by the coldest founding father, Aaron Burr, has taken on new life as Broadway hip-hop superstar. Never has there been a hotter ticket on the Great White Way than Lin-Manual Miranda’s “Hamilton.”

The musical, whose tickets can fetch as much as $10,000, was inspired by Ron Chernow’s 2004 book, “Alexander Hamilton” — which is back on The New York Times bestseller list thanks to the show — and which contrary to popular belief did not portray Hamilton as a rapper.

For that matter, I very seriously doubt Hamilton ever spent time in the trap house.

That’s not to disparage the musical, which has entertainingly brought one of the most important periods of American history to the masses.

I haven’t seen Hamilton, and judging by ticket availability I never will. But I’ve read the Chernow book, along with other less-heralded Hamilton biographies, and what I’m about to say may hurt your sensibilities. But you need to hear this:

Alexander Hamilton was a jerk.

Hamilton is your pretentious friend who makes it very clear to you, at every opportunity, how smart and successful he is. Your friend who may be the most eloquent orator in the room, yet consistently takes two hours to deliver a speech that can be made in 10 minutes.

This isn’t to say that Hamilton wasn’t a blindingly brilliant man who laid the economic foundations of our great nation, because he was and he did. He also was a true war hero, who bravely led a group of men at Yorktown while storming Redoubt No. 10.

I’m not sitting here and saying that he wasn’t a great man, I’m just saying that he was a longwinded jerk with a huge ego who loved to denigrate his rivals, yet became a petulant baby when someone said something bad about him.

There are far too many examples of this to cover in this small space, so let’s just stick with that time he took a bullet for being a jerk.

Burr may be one of the least sympathetic characters in all of American history and no doubt he was a shady dude. But Hamilton deserved the pistol ball Burr put in him at Weehawken Heights, New Jersey, that day.

Hamilton and Burr had known each other a long time, dating back to before the Revolutionary War. And by many accounts, they were even friends as they rode the New York state lawyer circuit together after the war.

But the friendship proved to be one-sided. In 1800, unbeknownst to Burr, Hamilton used his influence to ensure that Burr lost the presidency to Jefferson after electors deadlocked and the decision went to the House of Representatives — which is ironic, because Hamilton and Jefferson perhaps had an even greater hatred for each other.
It wasn’t until 1804 during a Burr gubernatorial run that a letter came to light in which it was said that Hamilton thought Burr to be a dangerous man unfit to run the government. It also implied that Hamilton was talking mad trash at dinner parties behind Burr’s back.

That’s what beef is.

When Burr asked if this was true, Hamilton deferred. Burr asked again, Hamilton again deferred and as tended to happen in old-timey times, this led to a duel. The causes of the duel were flimsy, but very basically, Hamilton was killed because he got caught being an ass and then wouldn’t say he was sorry.

Had he not died that day, it’s more than likely that Hamilton the smash Broadway play never gets written, and Hamilton doesn’t endure as a hip-hop Founding Father superstar.

Now let’s all thank Aaron Burr and hope that “Turn” gets renewed and Hamilton is given a starring role in season four.

Alexander Hamilton is like the Kim Kardashian of Revolutionary War heroes. We can’t stop talking about him, even if many of us don’t exactly care for him. And I can’t verify the rumors that Hamilton put out a sex tape like Mrs. Kanye West did. But if he did, it should definitely be called “The Pounding Fathers.”

Yeah, I went there.

*looks up at sky, waits for lightning to kill me* S

Jack Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. Connect with him at letters@styleweekly.com, or on Twitter at jackgoesforth.




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