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8 Songs From “Hamilton” That Will Help You Ace APUSH

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Let’s face it: early American history is boring. The clothes are stuffy, everything is called the Treaty of Paris, and there are like six Johns. It’s easy to mix up our Federalist Papers with our Kentucky Resolutions, and did Jefferson come before or after Adams? Luckily, there is a wildly-popular Broadway musical running right now that features songs with built-in history lessons. Junior Megan Neuman, an avid fan of the Hamilton soundtrack, even went so far as to assert that if it wasn’t for Lin Manuel Miranda, she would be “lost in APUSH.” Here are eight songs from “Hamilton” that will help you succeed on your next APUSH test:

 

1) Alexander Hamilton:

 

The first song on the soundtrack can really help you rack up the Outside Knowledge points. The song explores the history of the “ten-dollar” president, from the orphan’s upbringing in the British West Indies to his subsequent immigration to New York (that’s right — Hamilton was an immigrant). After just a few replays of this track, you can impress your reader with your expansive knowledge of America’s first Secretary of the Treasury.

 

2) Guns and Ships:

 

Having trouble remembering what France contributed to the American cause during the Revolutionary War? Well, it’s right in the name: guns and ships. This fast-paced song showcases the Marquis de Lafayette’s instrumental role in helping the “ragtag” Americans defeat a world superpower. As an added bonus, you’ll learn who designed the first American flag and gain insight into the relationship between Hamilton and “America’s favorite fighting Frenchman” Lafayette.

 

3) Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down):

 

This song explores perhaps the most important battle of American history: the Battle of Yorktown, where we finally won our independence. The song explores how Hamilton and Lafayette orchestrated the battle that sent the British home and won American freedom. It also alludes to the empty promises of American aid in the looming French Revolution and the abolition of slavery with the abolition of British rule. Additionally, you’ll also learn about someone you probably don’t remember from the textbook: Hercules Mulligan, a tailor who spied on the British.

 

4) Non-Stop

 

The final song of the First Act covers a lot of territory. It starts off after the war with the United States’ first murder trial, where the defense attorneys are Hamilton and Burr (I know! They actually worked together!). It then shifts to the upcoming Constitutional Convention concerning the amending or scrapping of the Articles of Confederation. Hamilton is pleading with Burr to support his plan to give the government a face-lift and draft the Constitution. The two most important parts of this song are probably when it specifically breaks down how many of the 85 Federalist Papers each author wrote (Jay wrote 5, Madison wrote 29, and Hamilton wrote “the other 51”) and details the moment when Hamilton was put in charge of the Treasury.

 

5) Cabinet Battle #1

 

This rap battle over votes proves that politics has always been a messy and dirty profession. In one corner, we have Jefferson of the Democratic-Republicans; in the other, we have Hamilton of the Federalists. The issue on the table is Hamilton’s proposed Assumption Act, which would allow the federal government to assume states’ debts. The issue delves into issues like the Tea Act, Whiskey Tax, and early examples of vote whipping. “Cabinet Battle #1” also shows the beginning of sectional issues; the south (especially Virginia) opposed the Assumption Act because it had already paid off its debts and therefore believed that this plan only helped the North.

 

6) The Room Where It Happens:

 

This song reminds us that backhanded, behind-closed doors deals are nothing new. The cast gossips and exclaims as the newest rumor spreads across the country: Hamilton and Jefferson struck a deal. Hamilton allegedly sold the capital down the river to appease the Southerners Jefferson and Madison in return for their support of his financial deal. Jefferson and Madison laugh at Hamilton for what they see as a bad deal for him, but Hamilton suggests that he “wanted what he got” because the location of the capital doesn’t matter when he has the banks.

 

7) Cabinet Battle #2

 

This one is rap battle round two, this time over the issue of the French Revolution. Jefferson and his Democratic-Republicans want to help the French in their efforts just like they promised during the American Revolution. Hamilton and the Federalists, on the other hand, do not want to help “radicals” that chop-off heads while America is still weak. The song is a good refresher course on Washington’s Statement of Neutrality. Senior Joanne Nguyen reflects that this song “rang louder than the Liberty Bell” in the back of her head during last year’s AP examination.

 

8) The Election of 1800

 

This song proves that 2016 wasn’t the only election in American history where both of the candidates were unpopular. As most people thought that current President Adams had no chance of winning reelection, they turned their attention to the Democratic-Republican primary between Jefferson and Burr. Federalists turned to Hamilton to see who to vote for: “Jefferson or Burr.” After much wooing from Jefferson, Hamilton chose who he perceived as the lesser of two evils: Jefferson. The song also highlights the moral power women had over families in the nineteenth century and reminds us of the weird fact that the runner-up used to become the Vice President. Senior Kaitlyn Riha claims that this song “got [her] through many an APUSH test.”

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8 Songs From “Hamilton” That Will Help You Ace APUSH