Explore Alexander Hamilton’s Tense Political Relationships In New In-Depth Exhibit

The National Constitution Center examines the Founding Father's rivalries with Madison, Jefferson, Adams and Burr...

“His enemies destroyed his rep, America forgot him.”

Aaron Burr raps this not-so-fun fact about Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton, the hit Broadway production inspired by the Constitution signer and Father of American Banking. But how did Hamilton’s enemies destroy his reputation? The National Constitution Center explains exactly how in the special exhibit Hamilton: The Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nation.

The exhibit, which runs from March 23 to December 31, 2018, examines Hamilton’s prickly relationships with some of his most bitter adversaries: James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Aaron Burr.

HAMILTON EXHIBIT FAST FACTS

  • Hamilton: The Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nation runs now through December 31, 2018 at the National Constitution Center.
  • Tickets to the exhibit are included with general admission.
  • The exhibit examines how Hamilton’s unpleasant relationships with his biggest political rivals led to his downfall.
  • Additional Hamilton programming includes story spots throughout the museum, a lobby show about his early life and trivia games.

As the history books — and the musical — make abundantly clear, Hamilton had a lot of enemies. The National Constitution Center unpacks the bickering between political powerhouses in Hamilton: The Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nation.

(Photo by Michael Zorn for National Constitution Center)
In the Hamilton vs. Hamilton section of the exhibit, artifacts like the Reynolds Pamphlet illustrate how Hamilton sabotaged his own reputation at times.

The Exhibit

Thanks to the Broadway smash’s enduring hype, Hamilton artifacts are in high demand for museum exhibits these days, but the National Constitution Center was lucky enough to secure rare letters, documents and other artifacts for this enlightening exhibit that illustrate Hamilton’s tense relationship with some of his rivals and how their constitutional debates shaped America.

Each section of the exhibit is devoted to Hamilton’s relationship with one of his foes. Scathing letters (like one penned by Thomas Jefferson to James Madison that convinced him to attack Hamilton in the press), essays and other artifacts on display reveal just how polarizing of a figure Hamilton was.

The gossip and drama reaches its peak in the section devoted to Hamilton and Burr’s relationship.

Highlights include Burr’s letter to Hamilton that initiates the fateful duel, a letter from Hamilton’s sister-in-law Angelica Schuyler Church to her brother that announces Hamilton was shot by “that wretch Burr” and authentic reproductions of the pistols used by the men during the duel.

Footprints on the ground of this section represent the paces taken for the duel and illustrate the distance between the men when the shots were fired. Spoiler alert: They were frightfully close!

Hamilton exhibit at National Constitution Center
(Photo by Michael Zorn for National Constitution Center)
The Hamilton vs. Burr section of the exhibit examines their explosive relationship and the fatal duel.

Museum Experience

The focus on Hamilton doesn’t stop when the exhibit ends.

Story Spots throughout the museum’s core exhibits — Signers’ Hall and The Story of We the People — encourage visitors to learn more about Hamilton’s role in the constitutional and political debates that shaped America.

An interactive lobby show — located in the Grand Hall Lobby on the first floor — dives into Hamilton’s early life in the Caribbean, his struggles to get an education once in the United States and his time as a soldier and George Washington’s right-hand man. (Showtimes: Monday through Saturday at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 2 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.)

For die-hard history (and Broadway!) fans, Hamilton trivia is available daily inside The Story of We the People exhibit. Visitors eager to test their knowledge can expect questions about Hamilton’s life, friends, enemies and — of course — the hit musical. (Times vary daily; check the museum’s Visitor Guide.)

Tickets to the exhibit are included with general admission: $14.50, adults; $13, seniors and students with ID; $11, youth (ages 6-18); free for members, active military personnel, and children 5 and under.

Hamilton: The Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nation

When:March 23-December 31, 2018
Where:National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street
Cost:Included with general admission: $14.50, adults; $13, seniors and students with ID; $11, youth (ages 6-18); free for members, active military personnel, and children 5 and under.

constitutioncenter.org

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