In “Hamilton and the American Dream,” using the Hamilton soundtrack as evidence, I argue that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton portrays the ideals of the American Dream but ultimately rebrands it as the American Promise. This Promise is an inclusive idea that does what the American Dream historically has not: it includes immigrants and people of color in the utopian ideal of equal opportunity in a meritocracy. The American Promise argues for equality by utilizing American history, rap and hip hop, and multiracial casting to include minorities in the founding of America. In the musical, the combination of these elements renders Hamilton a multicultural figure who stands as an example of what that Promise can achieve. However, Miranda’s vision of the Promise necessitates forgetting that his message is carried by white historical figures who were either complicit or directly participated in slavery, xenophobic laws, and genocide. The musical also blurs history in order to build its storyline and message. In response, I point to the second album based around Hamilton: The Hamilton Mixtape, which makes it clear that America has a long way to go in terms of racial injustice. In terms of the historical accuracy of the play, the major discussion revolves around the accuracy of the story versus the reasoning behind the inaccuracies of the retelling. Overall, I found that Hamilton, race, and history are used as tools to highlight and critique the American Dream and introduce its concept of the American Promise.
"Hamilton and the American Promise,"
Oglethorpe Journal of Undergraduate Research: Vol. 8:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/ojur/vol8/iss1/4