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Are plays based on history, like 'Hamilton' accurate for the most part?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/22/2018 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 554 times Debate No: 114193
Debate Rounds (3)
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Plays like Hamilton are accurate to history for the most part.


For plays like "Hamilton", they usually get the time period right, simply. However, the characters are inaccurate, some dates are wrong, and all in all, get the understanding of something like that completely wrong. Therefore, plays based on history are wrong for the most part.

Take "Hamilton" for example. In "Hamilton", one of the few things they got accurate was the time period. Of course, that's not hard to get wrong. However, that's not "for the most part". Characters like Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton were wrong, and not just by skin color (which isn't a huge part, of course), but also by attitude. Thomas Jefferson was a quiet man, who barely spoke up, and when he did, no one could hear him. Alexander Hamilton was a respectful debater, yet he was portrayed as someone who couldn't handle someone else's opinion.

Another example would be the "1776" musical. This musical would be a bit closer to more accurate, but still, for the most part, it's not accurate. Richard Henry Lee, for one, was also not loud mouthed. Granted, he was still passionate for the state of Virginia, as most Virginians were, but he also wasn't boisterous.
Debate Round No. 1


I can agree with you when you say that the character personalities are a bit exaggerated if not, completely wrong. However, I don't think you are giving 'Hamilton' enough credit because, they got more right than you would think at first.
To start off, they got the part about him being born a bastard correct. He was born out of wedlock and his father did leave him. They also got the part about him being an immigrant correct. He was born in the west indies and moved to the US.

Along with these, Alexander Hamilton was abolitionist and was against slavery. Historians do however say that his opinions were heightened in the play to make him seem more like a hero.
He was Washington's aide in real life just like he was in the play.

They got Washington's year of presidency correct since he did in fact become president in 1789. Along with that, another correct thing was Hamilton becoming the first secretary of treasury -which did in fact happen.

The last things I noticed that are correct and accurate with history, are the Hamilton-Reynolds affair. He did write the Reynolds pamphlet, he was cornered into publicly admitting his sex scandal, and he did ruin his own reputation.

The play also got his death current, since he was in fact in a duel. The only thing I know that they got wrong was his timing of death. Burr did not challenge Hamilton to a duel right after the election of 1800, he challenged him four years later in 1804.


Granted, "Hamilton" has gotten things like dates correct, but it"s not very hard to get those wrong.

First off, Alexander Hamilton wasn"t as big of an abolitionist as many say. You"ve stated that it was "heightened", but that"s an understatement. According to accounts, he owned a slave himself. Of course, he did marry into a rich, slave owning family, but this wasn"t just a heightened account, this was completely wrong. John Laurens, is another example. Now, John Laurens was a good man, and he was progressive in a way. Being an abolitionist, especially coming from South Carolina, was uncommon. However, he also wasn"t the holy savior either, and in fact, still thought of black people as lesser than him, and not as smart as him. As I said, he was VERY progressive, and what he did during the war was amazing, but he wasn"t perfect when it came to equality.

Second, in the musical, a couple of the songs that concern the scandal were "Say No To This", "We Know", "The Reynolds Pamphlet", and "Burn". However, my main focus is "Burn". Eliza didn"t keep quiet, she openly called Maria Reynolds a whore (even though as we know, Maria Reynolds was forced to do what she did by her abusive husband). In a way, she was quiet when it came to her husband, but she let the public know her opinion on "the other woman".

Finally, Philip Hamilton. Yes, George Eacker and Philip Hamilton got into a duel over what Eacker said over Philip"s father. However, it didn"t take place before the Election Of 1800, it took place in 1801. Second, Eacker didn"t shoot on "7". In fact, they both froze and stared at each other on the count of 10, and Eacker only shot because Philip moved and it scared him.

So, for the most part, plays/musicals like "Hamilton" are inaccurate.
Debate Round No. 2


I see what you are saying. However, no offense to you but it seems like your main argument here is going back to the thing about them getting dates wrong.
I agree with that, for the most part, but you have to remember that it is still a play. Lin-Manuel Miranda took information he learned from one book and turned it into a musical with amazing songs. Since the musical is supposed to be about Alexander Hamilton, he needed to mess up some dates so that the musical would make sense.
If he went from "The election of 1800" and then skipped all the way to 1804 then the audience would be left wondering what happened in between that time.And I know what your thinking, "there were other year skips in Hamilton" We first learn about Philip Hamilton in the song "that would be enough" then we learn that he is born in "Dear Theodosia" and then 9 years later we see him on stage for the first time during "Take a Break" finally he dies at 19 during the "Stat Alive (Reprise)". This is the best example of multiple time skips happening in the play. The reason it is ok here is because, the play is not about Philip, it"s about Alexander. But, those were still important parts in Philips life as well. If you don"t understand what I"m saying, I"m trying to point out that all the important events in Hamilton"s life were pushed together, messing up the years, but keeping the fluency of the plays timeline.
Another one of your main points is the character personalities. Yes, they were exaggerated but that"s because it is a play. It"s not going to be perfect. Hamilton is in fact mostly correct with the exception of things that contribute to making the play together. Anyone who uses the characters as actual models for a history project is foolish.
Complaining about the exaggerated personalities is like saying that Okieriete Onaodowan should not have played James Madison because he is tall and James Madison was really short and petite. For the most part, the events are accurate in "Hamilton."
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Debate Round No. 3
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