While Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton is all about Alexander Hamilton, there are still numerous connections to George Washington.

Hamilton was a founding father. He served as Washington's aide during the Revolutionary War and was a delegate to the Confederation Congress. He was also a member of the Constitutional Convention and one of the authors of the Federalist Papers. Hamilton was the first secretary of the treasury during Washington's administration and is considered the founder of our nation's economic system. Explore how each song from the original cast recording relates to Washington. 

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

When Hamilton was young, his father left the family and he was raised by his mother. Washington would likely have been able to relate. His father, Augustine Washington, died when he was only eleven, and Washington’s mother, Mary Washington, never remarried.

Aaron Burr, Sir

Hamilton likely met the high society Aaron Burr when he came to New York City in 1773, but did not truly get to know Burr until later. Had they spent more time together, Hamilton might have won him over with his charm, as he excelled at “impressing older, influential men”.1 Washington too made important connections as a young man, including with Lieutenant Governor Robert Dinwiddie. Washington traveled through 250 miles of rough wilderness to deliver an important message to the French for Dinwiddie.2 After this success, Dinwiddie appointed Washington a lieutenant colonel at the young age of 22 and put him in charge of 160 troops.3

My Shot

Much like Hamilton, Washington was not going to throw away his shot at glory. Washington found much of his glory in the military. His first military assignment was as a lieutenant colonel defending Virginia land claims. Washington skirmished at Jumonville Glen with a small group of French troops and won. But the French came back strong and just over a month later defeated Washington’s troops at Fort Necessity. This embarrassing surrender ignited the French and Indian War and led to Washington resigning from the army, but Washington did not throw away his shot. Instead, he rejoined the military a short while later as a volunteer aide to General Braddock.

The Schuyler Sisters

Just like the Schuyler sisters, Washington read Common Sense by Thomas Paine. This famous pamphlet reached around 50,000 people. With its simple and patriotic writing, it created revolutionary fervor in both the masses and the political elite. Everyone from students like Hamilton to land gentry like Washington would have heard about Common Sense.

You'll Be Back

You'll Be Back

King George III’s price for “his love” (military protection) was high taxes on sugar, stamps, paper products, and tea. Many Americans weren’t willing to pay these taxes since they were established in the British Parliament without colonial representation. Washington wrote in 1795, “The Stamp Act, imposed on the Colonies by the Parliament of Great Britain engrosses the conversation of the speculative part of the Colonists, who look upon this unconstitutional method of Taxation as a direful attack upon their Liberties, & loudly exclaim against the violation…”4

Right Hand Man

In "Right Hand Man," Washington is introduced as the general of the Continental Army, leading his New York City Campaign in 1776. The Continental Army performed poorly during this campaign and was chased out of New York State, partly because Washington was outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, and outplanned. So Washington requested supplies, information, and help, from men like Hamilton, who served as his aide-de-camp.

Helpless

Helpless

Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler met, fell in love, and promptly married. The relationship of George and Martha Washington was similar. Martha was an extremely eligible and wealthy widow and George a dashing military man who caught her heart. After courting less than a year, the couple married.

Satisfied

In "Satisfied," Angelica Schuyler could never marry the man who emotionally and intellectually satisfied her, Hamilton. Washington possibly could relate, as he too (might have) loved a married woman. The beautiful and charming Sally Fairfax caught his attention as a young man and their flirtations were well documented in letters. However, Sally Fairfax was married and out of Washington's social league, so the relationship eventually became one of friendship.

Learn More About Washington's Love Life

The Story of Tonight (Reprise)

Hamilton, John Laurens, and the Marquis de Lafayette were all part of Washington’s military family. They spent large amounts of time together throughout the war, responding to Washington’s correspondence and fighting in battles. These men developed close bonds, especially during the daily meal that Washington called “family dinners.”6

Wait For It

Wait For It

Washington was willing to wait for many things in life and his patience made him successful. Washington waited to join the military, as his mother, Mary Washington, did not want him to join the British navy. When he finally joined the army, Washington waited to earn command of troops. This opportunity came during the French and Indian War. Waiting for the correct opportunity is key to diplomacy, which Washington learned and practiced during his presidency.

Stay Alive

Staying alive during the 18th century was tough business. Washington dealt with various illnesses, such as dysentery, smallpox, yellow fever, and the flu. He was also heavily involved in two wars. During the French and Indian War, he gained the reputation of being bulletproof. He had two horses shot out from under him and four near misses during the Battle of Monongahela. During the Revolutionary War, Washington survived standing 30 yards from the British front line during the Battle of Princeton, while his troops fired in his direction.

Learn More About Washington's Health

Ten Duel Commandments

Ten Duel Commandments

Washington strongly opposed duels and never participated in one. After the Battle of Monmouth, Charles Lee slandered Washington’s name. So John Laurens challenged Lee to a duel over Washington’s honor. Hamilton served as Laurens' second. Shots were fired and Lee missed, whereas Laurens' shot grazed Lee.

That Would Be Enough

That Would Be Enough

Martha visited George on the front lines about half of the 104 months he was away during the Revolutionary War. When the two weren’t together, they constantly worried about the other. George feared Martha would be kidnapped and held for ransom, so he ordered an armed guard be with her at all times. Martha worried her husband would be killed, captured, or hung for treason against the crown.

Learn more about Marthat at the front

Guns and Ships

The Marquis de Lafayette and Washington’s relationship was both military and familial. The two met during the Revolutionary War when the younger French man volunteered his services. They quickly became close and Washington told his personal military doctor to treat Lafayette like his son. Even after the war, Lafayette traveled from France to visit Washington at Mount Vernon.

Learn More

History Has Its Eye On You

Washington was only 22 when he received his first military command during the French and Indian War. After the first day of the battle at Fort Necessity, Washington found one-third of his men dead or wounded and all of his horses and livestock had been killed.

Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)

Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)

The Battle of Yorktown was pivotal for Hamilton. Washington finally gave him command of troops and he played a key role during the campaign. Yorktown resulted in a huge victory and signaled the end of the Revolutionary War.

What Comes Next?

On December 23, 1783, Washington resigned his military command. This yielding of power shocked the nation and the world. He planned to retire from politics and spend time with his family. However, he was called back into action, first to negotiate waterway rights in the Mount Vernon Compact, then as president of the Constitutional Convention, and finally as president of the United States.

Dear Theodosia

While Hamilton had eight children, Washington never had any. However, Mount Vernon was constantly home to many children, including Martha’s children and grandchildren from her first marriage and George’s many nieces and nephews. George was a stricter parent than Martha, but he cared deeply for all of the children he helped raise.

Learn More About The Washington Family

Non-Stop

Non-Stop

Washington was asked to lead, and to do the best he could, he needed his right-hand man, Hamilton. Washington appointed Hamilton as the first secretary of the Treasury. During the war, Hamilton had advocated for a national bank and foreign exchange to strengthen the economy.

What'd I Miss

Thomas Jefferson was appointed Secretary of State because of his experience as ambassador to France. Washington and Jefferson’s relationship deteriorated greatly during Jefferson’s tenure in the cabinet.

Cabinet Battle #1

When Washington was elected president, one of the first things he established was the cabinet. The cabinet consisted of men from around the country who could advise the president on important issues, such as the creation of a national bank. The national bank was a contentious subject. Jefferson believed a bank would give the federal government too much power over the states. He also thought that since the Constitution did not explicitly authorize its creation, the bank could not be created. Hamilton argued the Constitution didn’t forbid a bank and that it would tie the fledgling nation together. Eventually, Hamilton’s arguments won and the national bank was created.

Learn More About Hamilton and Jefferson's Disagrements

Take a Break

Take a Break

Washington seldom found opportunities to take a break. He was relentlessly scrutinized in both his public and private life. As president, he was constantly establishing precedents in decorum and behavior that distinguished him from a king. How should people address the ruler of the new nation? What kind of clothes should a president wear? How should the president travel? Take his meals? Meet with the public?

Learn More About The Challenges Washington Faced

Say No to This

Hamilton was able to have an affair with Maria Reynolds because he had sent his wife and children to upstate New York for the summer. It was common practice for families to leave the city when the summer heat created dangerous and disease-ridden conditions. This danger peaked in 1793 when a yellow fever epidemic raced through the city and killed one-tenth of Philadelphia’s population.9 Even Hamilton became ill, although he eventually recovered. Washington refused to leave the city during the epidemic, determined to continue working. Congress, however, would not reenter the city and the government was temporarily moved to Germantown, Pennsylvania.10

The Room Where It Happens

The Room Where It Happens

“Did Washington know about the dinner, was there presidential pressure to deliver?” It’s impossible to fully answer this question, but it’s likely that Washington supported the outcome. Washington knew how important establishing a national bank was in uniting the states underneath a common debt. Washington also had interest in the federal capital being built near the Potomac, partly because of his holdings in the Potomac River Company. When the deal was made, New York City became the financial center and the Potomac area became the federal capital. Washington was highly active in designing and supporting the federal city even after he became a private citizen.

Schuyler Defeated

Washington disliked Arron Burr because of his “penchant for intrigue [and] a lack of sufficient deference” during the Revolutionary War.11 Burr was relegated to an outsider and quit his post in Washington’s camp. As a result, Burr equally disliked Washington, once saying in 1798, that “he despised Washington as a man of no talents and one who could not spell a sentence of common English.”12 With such hostility between the two men, it seems likely that Washington would have disapproved of Burr switching political parties to run against his friend Philip Schuyler for the New York Senate.

Washington On Your Side

Washington never publicly supported a political party, but his policies and actions usually aligned with Federalists such as Hamilton. Democratic-Republicans among them, Jefferson and Madison saw this as Hamilton’s influence on Washington. However, it is likely that Washington’s desire for a strong executive branch and tax enforcement came from his experience with a weak and ineffectual Congress during the Revolutionary War.

Learn More About the Democratic-Republicans

One Last Time

One Last Time

“[A]fter forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.”13 These were only some of the words that Washington and Hamilton wrote to the American people announcing Washington’s retirement from the presidency. Published in papers across the country, this letter became known as Washington’s Farewell Address.

I Know Him

Washington surprised many when he yielded his power and stepped away. People were fearful the nation would tear itself to pieces while picking a new president. Any successor next to Washington looked small. But the nation did not fall apart and John Adams was elected.

The Adams Administration

The Adams Administration

“Welcome folks, to the Adam’s Administration.” Washington was aware of the difficulties Adams faced as president. In 1795, Washington ratified the Jay Treaty with England. The treaty angered the French, who responded by harassing American vessels at sea. Adams sent ambassadors to France in what became known as the XYZ Affair. These negotiations angered Adams and a two-year undeclared war with France followed.

We Know

Washington didn’t initially know about Hamilton’s affair despite the fact that he was a spymaster. During the Revolutionary War, Washington set up the Culper Spy Ring, to spy on the British. Led by Benjamin Tallmadge, this widespread network of civilians and military officers fed Washington information about British troop movements, army and naval sizes, and future plans of attack.

Hurricane

Washington also survived a hurricane. In July of 1788, he recorded the destruction of the storm, "driving the Miniature Ship Federalist from her Moorings, and sinking her...In aword it was violent and severe."

Read the rest of Washington's record

Burn

Burn

Lin-Manuel Miranda speculates Elizabeth Hamilton burned the letters sent between her and Alexander Hamilton because he published the Reynolds Pamphlet. Burning personal correspondence was commonplace in the 18th century. Whether out of a desire for privacy or modesty, women such as Elizabeth Hamilton and Martha Washington set fire to personal letters. Almost all of Martha Washington’s letters to and from George Washington were lost however, three survive.

Blow Us All Away

While Washington never had a biological son he did have a step-grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, known as Washy. Washy was a poor student and spoiled by his grandmother, Martha Washington. When George Washington returned from the war he attempted to put Washy back on the right path. However, Washington failed as Washy was secure that he would inherit the Custis fortune from his grandmother.

The Election of 1800

The Election of 1800

In his inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson called Washington “our first and greatest revolutionary character, whose preeminent services had entitled him to the first place in his country’s love.” Back at Mount Vernon, Martha Washington dismissed Jefferson's "sarcastic" remarks, claiming his election was the "greatest misfortune our nation has ever experienced."16

Best of Wives and Best of Women

In the last letter Alexander Hamilton wrote to his wife Elizabeth, he signed it “best of wives and best of Women.”17 Martha Washington was also the best of wives and women, supporting and loving George Washington throughout their forty years of marriage. Martha followed George everywhere, from the cold front lines of war to Philadelphia and New York as first lady.

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

Martha Washington and Elizabeth Hamilton outlived their husbands and helped to shape their legacies. Alexander Hamilton’s legacy has experienced a recent revival thanks to Hamilton, and as a result, Washington’s legacy is being revived as well by a new generation of Americans. How we view our founding fathers impacts how we view ourselves as a country and by digging into their lives we can find parallels within our own.

Alexander Hamilton

Founding father, Washington's aide, delegate to the Confederation Congress and Constitutional Convention, co-author of the Federalist Papers, first secretary of the treasury, founder of our nation's economic system, and more!

Learn More

Notes

1. Chernow, Ron, Alexander Hamilton, (New York: The Penguin Press, 2004), 43.
2. Chernow, Ron, Washington: A Life, (New York: The Penguin Press, 2010), 32.
3. Chernow, Ron, Washington: A Life, 40.
4. George Washington to Robert Cary & Company, September 20, 1765, Colonial Series, http://rotunda.upress.virginia.edu/founders/GEWN-02-07-02-0252-0001.
5. According to one expert on Alexander Hamilton, the story about Martha Washington naming her cat for Hamilton can be traced back to a satirical piece written by a British Captain Smythe in January of 1780, which was “designed to embarrass the American revolutionaries” (see Stephen F. Knott, “The Adams Family’s Revenge Against Alexander Hamilton,” in http://thefederalist.com/2015/10/08/the-adams-familys-revenge-against-alexander-hamilt (accessed October 20, 2015). Hamilton the tomcat was also mentioned in Preble, History of the Flag of the United States of America, 264n1, which cites the Journal of Captain Smythe, R.A., January 1780. And Ives, Washington’s Headquarters, 212; Rogow, A Fatal Friendship, 56-57.
6. Chernow, Ron, Washington: A Life, 290.
7. Chernow, Ron, Washington: A Life, 393.
8. Chernow, Ron, Alexander Hamilton, 159.
9. Chernow, Ron, Washington: A Life, 701.
10. Chernow, Ron, Washington: A Life, 702.
11. Chernow, Ron, Alexander Hamilton, 74.
12. Chernow, Ron, Alexander Hamilton, 562.
13. George Washington to “The People of the United States of America,” September 19, 1796, https://www.mountvernon.org/education/primary-sources-2/article/washingtons-farewell-address-1796/.
14. Chernow, Ron, Washington: A Life, 781.
15. Chernow, Ron, Washington: A Life, 811.
16. Chernow, Ron, Washington: A Life, 816.
17. “From Alexander Hamilton to Elizabeth Hamilton, 4 July 1804,” Founders Online, National Archives, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Hamilton/01-26-02-0001-0248. [Original source: The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 26, 1 May 1802 – 23 October 1804, Additional Documents 1774–1799, Addenda and Errata, ed. Harold C. Syrett. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979, p. 293.]

 

By Charlotte Skala

Buy Tickets What to Do Calendar Shop Restaurant Donate Membership
Estate Hours

Open today from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

iconDirections & Parking
buy tickets online & save