While the men in Hamilton are prime examples of the seven deadly sins (Hamilton’s pride, Burr’s envy, I could go on), Eliza in particular is a showcase of the heavenly virtues. She was charitable, forgiving, and kind. The self-destruction of her letters represents a kind of humility, which is why historians struggle to know her. Yet, her diligence is why we know so much about Alexander Hamilton in the first place. It took Eliza and her children more time to sort through Alexander Hamilton’s thousands of pages of writing than the 49 years it took him to write them. Eliza’s legacy is one of selflessness—of her dedication to the survival and legacy of others.
While listening to the Original Broadway Cast Recording on eternal repeat, I realized that Eliza Hamilton is like the women in my own family. Women who took their husbands back after infidelity. Women who suffered tremendous losses in a short amount of time, just like Eliza. (Eliza’s sister Peggy, her son Philip, Alexander, and her father Philip Schuyler all died between 1801 and 1804. Angelica died 10 years later in 1814.) Women who lived decades in widowhood, taking care of children and grandchildren and building better lives for the future of their families. I’ve lived with an Eliza in my life, which makes me see why telling her story is so important.
Hamilton is about the men who built our nation, but it acknowledges the ways in which women were neglected by history and empowers them, too. It brings their stories and good deeds to the forefront. There are many ways in which women are heroes throughout history, from saving hundreds of orphaned children to simply being there for a sister when her husband cheats on her. Eliza Hamilton makes it clear that without women, even some of history’s smartest, most powerful, most talented men would be resting in obscurity. Without her, this amazing piece of art, this life-changing phenomenon couldn’t exist. And for that, she is the true hero of Hamilton.