I actually posted this a long time ago but I submitted it to the wrong place so I’m reposting
I chose this song mainly because I thought the relationship between Hamilton and Washington was really cute so I wanted to find out if their relationship was accurately displayed in the musical as it was in real life.
Plot/Historical Background/Character Development
One thing to notice before anything is that Hamilton never sings until his last line at the very end while Washington is literally singing the entire way through.
This song is right after all of the conflict with Thomas Jefferson arose. Washington invites Hamilton into his office to talk so Hamilton is pretty nervous about it because he suspects it’s something about the conflict. Meanwhile, Washington is really calm and reserved—pretty much the complete opposite of Hamilton, but he does seem really stiff and sounds pretty serious. Washington basically tells Hamilton that Thomas Jefferson is resigning so Hamilton is pretty happy about this.
Then, he tells Hamilton that Jefferson is running for president. So Hamilton is also happy about this because he knows for a fact that Washington would easily win the election against Hamilton (because Washington won 100% popularity vote in the first election and also Washington is still president therefore he had the ability to have a lifelong presidency). Then, he tells Hamilton that he is stepping down from office. So Hamilton is really flustered and confused now because they were doing so well and it overall just didn’t make any sense to him that he was deciding to step down in this chaos. Historically, this isn’t entirely as dramatic because Thomas Jefferson resigned around the end of Washington’s first term which was four years before W
ashington stepped down from being president. Washington asks Hamilton to draft him an address.
Here, Hamilton is still really panicked and confused but Washington starts to sing really relaxed and more “informally” asking Hamilton to have a drink with him and to relax. He sounds pretty happy as he’s singing but Hamilton is still terrified and he’s still not singing.
Washington’s main point was that he had to teach America how to say goodbye. And what he means by that is that since he was the “first” president, there was no law restricting how long you could be president. He had the choice to hold power until the day of his death but he decided to leave after two terms so that he could set the first example for future presidents. Also, he makes a good point that in the far future (for example the present time), looking back at all those presidents starting from Washington that have served two term or less seem a lot better than a lifelong term and holding power for that long.
Hamilton is still flustered as always and Washington is going on about how he’s going to teach Hamilton the hard wisdom he has earned over the years (things like neutrality because he was a non-partisan and he was all about that life).
Through all of this, (watching the video of the musical), both of them look very sad and it seemed like they were both very sad about leaving each other as well.
Then after Hamilton shuts down literally everything Washington says, he finally asks why he needs to say goodbye other than “for the nation.” Turned out, Washington needed a break too. The song starts to slow down and there is a sad tone to everything. He makes a point that they’ve pretty much set the foundation for the nation to start building up already, so they can now just sit back, relax, and watch over the nation they’ve made. At this point, Hamilton is finally convinced and starts writing the farewell address.
Historically speaking, the timeframes for all of this was quite scrambled up. Washington was originally going to resign after completing his first term so James Madison was the one to draft his very first farewell address. However, he decided not to resign after his first term because the conflict between Jefferson and Hamilton rose right about then. That is also around the time Jefferson resigned. When Hamilton wrote his address during his second term, he drafted two—one that just his very one, and one that was just an edited and lengthened version of James Madison’s. They eventually ended up using the one that Hamilton wrote himself.
Also, the song is all about saying goodbye and ironically, Washington dies only two years after his resignation.
After the farewell address is written, the song speeds up and everything is super happy. Hamilton is no longer flustered, Washington is happier and less sad about leaving.
Towards the end, Washington repeats the line, “History has its eyes on you,”
which is repeated in several songs throughout the musical. So legacy was a huge theme for the entire musical as well. It’s basically saying how in the far future looking back, we will remember them strictly through what they’ve done. In this song, Washington talks about teaching America how to say goodbye. This is all for people of the future because he wants to set an example and history always has an eye on him. Even as us now looking back, it seemed like the right thing for him to do instead of serving a lifelong presidency (if he were to live a lot longer, that is).
I found that almost throughout this entire musical, Washington was like a fatherly figure to Hamilton. However, it seemed like Hamilton didn’t really think of him as much of a fatherly or superior figure but rather a co-worker or friend of the same age—although Washington was almost double his age when they were working together. This really reminded me of the case with older teenagers who are old enough to think for themselves and be independent in some sense, but still need guidance from the older ones who have had actual experience in the real world.
So in-terms of co-workers, Washington and Hamilton really suited each other because they were both able to fill up blank spaces in one another—Hamilton was (maybe unconsciously) dependant on Washington’s wisdom and experience, and Washington was dependant on Hamilton’s intelligence. Everything aside, it was clear that their relationship was a lot more than mere co-workers. I had a hard time trying to figure out what their relationship was like because a lot of sources told me different things, but no one would really know but them. What I do know for sure because this was repeated in almost all sources I’ve looked, at was that Washington called Hamilton, “my boy,” and that they both clashed very often because their personalities were very different and they had many contrasting political viewpoints. Honestly though, the articles, videos, sources and whatnot all lost me after the fourth source that said Washington called Hamilton, “my boy.”
Conclusion, I still think their relationship was really cute.
Some themes above/content from past socials classes:
Experiences versus natural intelligence (gifted?) – This was one of the things they’ve really clashed on. Washington worked from his years of experience so he was really logical and took things rather slow compared to Hamilton. Hamilton on the other hand worked from his strategical mind and always rushed things as if he were “running out of time” (Non-Stop reference).
I also made connections to when we had that small segment about being gifted—Washington being made from practice and Hamilton being “born” with the talent/intelligence.
I was always reminded of Obama and the election of 2016 while doing this. Not necessarily Hillary and Trump, but of Obama stepping down. Especially because compared to Trump and Hillary (even though one person out of these two are far worse anyway—who happened to win), Obama is much better and that’s what a large number of people thought as well (at least what I saw on the online bases). Although it wasn’t Obama’s choice to step down and he had to because he had completed the maximum two terms, people had similar to when Washington had stepped down. Also, Washington said he wanted a break after his two terms and in several interviews with Obama, he also said he wanted a break and wouldn’t serve another term even if he could.