Hamilton: An American Musical took the country by storm in June 2016, chronicling the story of American Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton through the seamless use of hip hop, R&B, pop, soul, and traditional show tunes-style music with non-white actors cast as the Founding Fathers and other historical figures. The musical won over 50 awards including 11 Tony Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, an NAACP Image Award, and a Grammy Award, making it one of the winningest Broadway musicals of all time. Hamilton regained popularity this weekend by debuting on streaming service, Disney+, giving the rest of the world a chance to bear witness to the highly esteemed show from the comfort of their own homes.
What does Alexander Hamilton have to do with higher education? He’s an alumnus of Columbia College in New York! Columbia College is the oldest undergraduate college of Columbia University. Alexander Hamilton attended the college back when it was called King’s College in 1774 -- yes, two years before The Declaration of Independence! Hamilton’s unconventional demands of attending college on his own strict terms after moving from the Caribbean led to a decline from Princeton (then the College of New Jersey) before getting accepted into King’s College and given a special tutor to fast-track his education.
During his time at King’s College, Hamilton partook in political debates pushing Parliamentary injustices into the forefront and drafting letters to the Continental Congress at age 18. Unfortunately, the Revolutionary War broke out before Hamilton had a chance to graduate (instruction at the college was suspended from 1776-1784) and he decided to enter the battlefield with the Patriots while advising then General George Washington. After the Revolutionary War ended, Hamilton pursued a legal and political advising career before co-writing the Federalist Papers alongside James Madison and John Jay.
Despite not being a true alumnus of King’s College by definition, Hamilton served on The Board of Trustees for the newly renamed Columbia College, and played an influential role in the restructuring of the college after King’s College dissolved. While serving as the first United States Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton helped oversee the financial aspects of the college and served on the Board until his death-by-duel with Aaron Burr (ironically, a graduate of Princeton) in 1804.
Have you gotten bit by the Hamilton bug?! Has it led you to brush up on your history a bit? Let us know in the comments!