A: Character Development
The main characters in this song are George Washington, Hamilton, and Aaron Burr. The song starts off introducing George Washington as the “General”. He was leading 32,000 troops during the battle of Kip’s bay. Near the end of the song, George Washington invites Hamilton to become his right-hand man. Aaron Burr also comes to apply for the position but gets rejected by Washington. At this point in the musical, Hamilton is already in the process of rising up to power. Alexander Hamilton is irritated that he cannot rise to the position of command in the continental army, and the only one that can help him is George Washington. Hamilton attracted George Washington’s attention when he captured British cannons that were attacking his unit. Washington then hires Hamilton to become his right-hand man. The wants and fears in this song was quite obvious. George Washington wants to protect America from the British and to protect his troops. He fears that the British will catch up to them and destroy their ships. Alexander Hamilton wants to become the position of command in the continental army but he fears that the British will win the war against the Americans. Aaron Burr really wants to become George Washington’s right-hand man. He wants to rise to power quick. He is really afraid and jealous of Hamilton and how Hamilton can rise-up to power faster than he can.
B: Connections to Historical Element
So this song took place in the battle of Brooklyn Heights in 1776, that battle was the very first major battle after America declared independence. The song starts of with British Admiral Howe’s got troops on the water, thirty-two thousand troops in New York harbour. This described the scene when George Washington say the 32,000 troops that he had to face with little resources and no men “We are outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, outplanned”. George Washington brought the Continental army to defend New York harber, located southern end of Manhatten Island. Washington understood that the city’s harbour would provide an excellent base for the Royal Navy, so he established defences there and waited for the British to attack. In July, the British under the command of General William Howe landed a few miles across the harbour from Manhattan on the sparsely-populated Staten Island, where they were reinforced by ships in Lower New York Bay during the next month and a half, bringing their total force to 32,000 troops. In the lyrics:
We gotta run to Harlem quick, we can’t afford another slip
Guns and horses giddyup
I decide to divvy up
My forces, they’re skittish as the British cut the city up
This close to giving up, facing mad scrutiny
I scream in the face of this mass mutiny:
Are these the men with which I am to defend America?
We ride at midnight, Manhattan in the distance
It tells the story of how George Washington was forced to retreat his troops back to Manhattan. This happened because Washington thought that the first target of the British would be Guan Heights. He deployed all of his defences there, little did he know, Howe only sent a small amount of troops to Gaun Heights and sent his main army and attacked Washington’s flank. The Americans panicked, resulting in twenty percent losses through casualties and capture. The remainder of the army retreated to the main defences on Brooklyn Heights. The British continued to push in, however, on the night of August 29–30, Washington retreated his entire army to Manhattan without the loss of supplies or a single life. Washington and the Continental Army were driven out of New York entirely after several more defeats and forced to retreat through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. I did not find evidence to help me figure out what the rest of the lyrics meant. I made inferences, however. Aaron Burr wanted to help George Washington with the war, but he accidentally offended Washington when he criticized his attack strategy. When Alexander Hamilton came, Washington asked Burr to close the door on his way out. Washington recruited Hamilton to become his right-hand man, and they quickly started planning attack strategies. Hamilton said that he had a few friends that could help, Laurens, Mulligan, and Lafayette. Hamilton sent Hercules Mulligan to the British side as a spy. He said that he’ll write to the Congress for supplies while Washington gathers up his army and gets ready for a surprise attack. The song ends with Washington telling everyone that Hamilton is now his right-hand man.
This song connects to The physical enviroment influences the nature of political, social, and economic change. The song describes the physical enviroment around George Washington really well “Thirty-two thousand troops in New York harbor” really painted the image of Washington’s troops being surrounded by the British army. The economy during the war of Brooklyn Heights dropped down dramatically, all of the colonists were giving up food and resources to the continental army. Buildings were destroyed and explosions lit the ground. People’s home’s were destroyed and there was no time to raise the economy. Any colonist who had a bit of power back then were leading armies and fighting for America. Their “political leader” George Washington was at the height of power, but he used all of his power for his country, he lead the continental army to victory eventually. The time was also a time where people can create an unbreakable bond. For example, Hamilton and his friends, Laurens, Mulligan and Lafyette created a strong friendship and took down the British army using the trust and strength of each other. Washington also created a bond with Hamilton by making Hamilton his right-hand man. Washington trusted the Hamilton has the abilities to help him and eventually lead them to a victory. In short, the war affected how the colonists lived and acted, their lives completely changed as their physical surrounding changed. As their surroundings changed, they also had to change to survive and fight back.
C: Guided Question
An really important line in this song that has been repeated many times is “We are outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, outplanned.” This line really shows how much George Washington and the American troops were struggling against the 32,000 of British troops. Washington was desperate but he couldn’t abandon his land. All of the colonists knew, every inch of land that they surrender to the British means less space for them to live in. George Washington eventually had to evacuate his men, the situation had to be very bad for him to give up so much.
The line “Let’s take a stand with the stamina God has granted us. Hamilton won’t abandon ship. Yo, let’s steal their cannons.” highlights how Hamilton and many others haven’t given up even though the odds weren’t in their favors. Hamilton and many others believe that God himself have blessed them with stamina and that gave them a huge boost. Since God is almighty and the most powerful, if God himself have blessed the colonists, then they were invincible. The line “Yo, let’s steal their cannons.” Shows how they are trying to fight against the odds, trying to take the advantage out of their enemies.
“Dying is easy, young man. Living is harder” Was a lesson hard-learned by Washington. After doing a little bit of research on Washington, I found out that when he was young, he was quite like Hamilton. They were both reckless and did what they want. Soldiers back then who worshipped successful war leaders all wanted to go out to war, die young, and earn glory. Unlike many others, Washington learned that there is no glory in just dying young, there more glory in staying alive and doing what you actually want to do and achieving something greater. This line was a really good life lesson for the soldiers back in the 1760s because every one of them thought that dying on the battlefield was glorious. Of course, dying on the battlefield is definitely more glorious than dying of old age, but with the life that you have, you can do many more meaningful and helpful things than war.