To this day, I cannot look at the Preamble to the Constitution without singing it to the tune of the Schoolhouse Rock song. I still know the Preamble by heart.
For Social Studies extra credit, my son, Daniel, has been trying to memorize the lyrics to the Billy Joel song, “We didn’t Start The Fire”. If he succeeds, I am confident he will always remember the words, historical figures and events that make up this song as well.
Schoolhouse Rock, Billy Joel and now Hamilton are onto something. What better way to teach kids about history than through music and lyrics? Not to mention, rap music, and not just kids. Other than history buffs, who knew that there was a “spy on the inside, Hercules Mulligan”? Not me.
Like many households today, my kids are obsessed with Hamilton….the story, the music, and the history. I am trying to capitalize on this obsession while I can.
This past spring, I went with some mom friends and our Hamilton obsessed daughters to the 1776 revival at the New York City Center. The show is about how the founding fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence. It features John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. The show does not even have an Alexander Hamilton character. However, our girls still enjoyed it because of all of the references to the people and events that they already knew from the lyrics of the Hamilton songs.
Coming up this October, we have a 5 day weekend. We are going to Philly and I can’t wait for us to go to Independence Hall to see where the Declaration of Independence was debated, adopted and signed by founding fathers, like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who have now become so familiar to us. Ironically, Hamilton, who is considered a founding father, did not sign it. To see the actual document, we need to take another trip (um, ok). The Declaration of Independence is housed in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.
To keep the momentum going, I began thinking about trying to visit other places with my kids that are relevant to Alexander Hamilton. I started researching and found a lot of sites and attractions that we could hit. I have compiled a list, but mainly of ones that are referred to in the Hamilton lyrics. Also, as no PointsMom post could be complete without some information relating to points, miles, rewards, etc, I will suggest places you can stay FOR FREE at these Hamilton destinations.
How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a
Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a
Forgotten spot in the Caribbean
The Caribbean- Some islands in the Caribbean associated with Alexander Hamilton are Nevis and St. Croix.
Nevis-Alexander Hamilton was born in 1757 on the island of Nevis in the Caribbean. Today on Nevis, you can check out the Museum of Nevis History. This building is also known as the Hamilton House because it is Hamilton’s birthplace. Hamilton lived on Nevis until he was eight.
As for staying on Nevis on rewards, it’s tough. I have heard the Four Seasons Nevis is phenomenal. Unfortunately, Four Seasons does not have a rewards program. For a free stay on Nevis, I suggest your goal be to accumulate flexible rewards that you can redeem for travel purchases. For example, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard enables you to choose any travel purchase within the last 120 days and redeem your miles for a travel statement credit. With the Capital One Venture Rewards Card, you redeem your miles online or by phone to get reimbursed for your travel purchase.
St. Croix-At age eight, Hamilton moved with his family to Christiansted on the island of St. Croix. Alexander Hamilton House Museum is a museum in the house where Hamilton lived until he was a teenager.
Staying on St. Croix on rewards is possible. The Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort & Spa is a Category 7 Marriott property and can be booked for 35,000 Marriott Rewards points per night.
The bow of a ship headed for a new land
In New York you can be a new man
New York City– There are many things Hamilton to visit in New York City and many hotels to stay at on rewards.
I’m ‘a get a scholarship to King’s College
Hamilton Hall at Columbia University-Hamilton came to NYC in 1772 to study at Kings College (now Columbia). Here you can visit Hamilton Hall that has a statue of Hamilton standing outside the front entrance.
No stress, my love for you is never in doubt/We’ll get a little place in Harlem and we’ll figure it out
Hamilton Grange-The home that Hamilton built in Harlem. It has actually been moved two times and now sits in St. Nicholas Park. The Grange is now owned by the National Parks Service. It features re-creations of the interior rooms and an interactive exhibit.
Or did you know, even then, it doesn’t matter
Where you put the U.S. Capital?
Cuz we’ll have the banks
Museum of American Finance-The museum has the Alexander Hamilton Room with an exhibition that traces Hamilton’s life. Hamilton was appointed the first Secretary of the Treasury, by Washington, and he created a national bank.
We tell your story
She is buried in Trinity Church
Trinity Church Cemetery-Hamilton died on July 12, 1804. Both he and Eli….za are buried at Trinity Church Cemetery. Hamilton’s tombstone has an inscription honoring him as “the PATRIOT of incorruptible INTEGRITY.”
My name is Alexander Hamilton
And there’s a million things I haven’t done
But just you wait, just you wait…
Let’s not forget, that the main Hamilton attraction in NYC is the actual show. If you know you will be purchasing tickets (SOMEHOW) to the show, take a look at my recent post, I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot, about which card you should use to purchase your Hamilton tickets.
Now, where will you stay while you are visiting all of the Hamilton NYC sites? Well, staying in New York on points is pretty easy to accomplish. There are a number of Starwood, Marriott, Hilton, IHG and Hyatt properties throughout the city, all bookable on points. Over the years, we have stayed on points in NYC many times, almost always at an SPG resort. You can read about all of our stays here.
Where is this happening?
Across the river, in Jersey
Everything is legal in New Jersey…
New Jersey-One of the most famous events associated with Alexander Hamilton occurred “across the river” in New Jersey.
The Weehawken Dueling Grounds in Weehawken, NJ, is where both Hamilton and his son, Philip, were mortally wounded in their respective duels. Philip was just 19 when he lost his duel to George Eacker, a critic of Hamilton and supporter of Burr. Three years later, on July 11, 1804, the infamous duel between Hamilton and Burr took place, leading to Hamilton’s death a day later.
At the dueling grounds, the original site of the duel has been covered by train tracks. However, there is a monument you can visit that shows a plaque detailing the history of the grounds, a bust of Hamilton and a boulder upon which Hamilton supposedly collapsed.
If you are staying in New York (see above), you can get to Weehawken, NJ from New York by ferry, rail, bus, and car. If you want to stay in New Jersey, the Sheraton Lincoln Harbor Hotel is an SPG Category 5 hotel in Weehawken. It can be booked for 12,000 SPG points per night.
I have never seen the General so despondent
I have taken over writing all his correspondence
Congress writes, “George, attack the British forces.”
I shoot back, we have resorted to eating our horses
Pennsylvania-Ok, there is no location in the above lyrics, but they refer to the winter of 1777/1778 when the Continental Army (in which Hamilton served under Washington) was encamped at Valley Forge, which is now a National Historical Park in Pennsylvania.
Valley Forge-The Continental Army was in dire straits the 6 months during the Revolutionary War that they camped at Valley Forge. They were injured, diseased, tired, cold, hungry (I can’t find anything that confirms they ate their horses) and ready to give up. Many soldiers died those six months at Valley Forge. It was from here that Washington conceded, “If the army does not get help soon, in all likelihood it will disband.” Yes, Washington was very “despondent”.
On a more uplifting note, it is easy to stay by Valley Forge on points. There are a number of budget friendly properties in the area offered by hotel chains, such as Radisson (Club Carlson), Hilton, Starwood and Marriott. A quick search showed me that the
Radisson Hotel Valley Forge can be booked for 38,000 Club Carlson Gold points per night. To put that 38,000 point requirement into perspective, the bonus offer for the US Bank Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card is for 85,000 points.
The issue on the table: Secretary Hamilton’s plan to assume state debt and establish a national bank. Secretary Jefferson, you have the floor, sir
Ooh, if the shoe fits, wear it
If New York’s in debt—
Why should Virginia bear it? Uh! Our debts are paid, I’m afraid
Don’t tax the South cuz we got it made in the shade
If we assume the debts, the union gets
A new line of credit, a financial diuretic
How do you not get it? If we’re aggressive and competitive
The union gets a boost. You’d rather give it a sedative?
Philadelphia-Hamilton knew that the US needed a national bank because the government had debt from the Revolutionary War, and each state had a different form of currency. Congress commissioned the bank on Hamilton’s suggestion and drafted it’s charter in 1791.
The First Bank of United States Building is in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, it is not a tourist attraction, but we will definitely have a look at the exterior of the building when we are in Philly.
In contrast, the Second Bank of the United States, also in Philly, is open to the public. The bank houses the People of Independence exhibit that contains over 100 portraits of political and revolutionary figures. Many of the portraits were painted by Charles Willson Peale, a popular artist in the 18th century.
Like NYC, it is very easy to stay in Philly on points. Like I mentioned above, we are going to Philly in the fall and are staying at the Embassy Suites for free on Hilton HHonors points. For some of my fancier readers, (you know who you are), The Ritz Carlton Philadelphia, is a Ritz Tier 3 property and can be booked for 50,000 Ritz Carlton Rewards points per night.
We negotiate the terms of surrender
I see George Washington smile
We escort their men out of Yorktown
They stagger home single file
Yorktown Virginia-American independence was won in Yorktown, Virgina. Alexander Hamilton was in charge of a battalion of light infantry during the infamous Yorktown Siege and was quite instrumental in securing the victory for Washington and his troops.
Yorktown Battlefield is part of the National Park Service’s Colonial National Historical Park. Here there is a Visitor Center with an orientation film and museum exhibits. You can join a Park Ranger for a guided walking tour of the battlefield and 18th-century town. You can also drive through the battlefield to see barricades and canons, as well as check out where British General, Charles Cornwallis surrendered.
You can also visit the Yorktown Victory Center (soon to be known as the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown after a transformation of the facility, which is going on now). Here you can watch films about the Revolution and see exhibits that recreate a Revolution-era farm and a Continental Army encampment. There are costumed historical interpreters throughout the exhibits.
If you do visit Yorktown, VA, know that it is a very easy drive to Historic Williamsburg, Jamestown, Busch Gardens, and Water Country USA. You can easily spend about a week in this area of Virginia.
As for places to stay in the Yorktown/Williamsburg area, here too, there are a number of budget friendly properties offered by hotel chains. Securing a stay on points should be relatively simple. For some higher-end accommodations, I have often been intrigued by the Kingsmill Resort, yet have never booked it. It looks really nice. In Yorktown, it appears that the Duke of York Hotel is a suitable property. Just remember, as I indicated above in the Nevis section, if you want to try to stay at one of these fancier properties on rewards, you should consider using flexible travel rewards or even cash-back dollars.
What’s your name, man?
Chicago-I feel like I am cheating with this attraction, but it is too cute to pass up. A camel born on May 9th at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo was named Alexander Camelton. His name was inspired by the show. Lin-Manuel Miranda showed his appreciation on Twitter with a camel emoji.
Chicago is just one more city where there are many hotels that you can stay on points. It is on my family’s bucket list and I already know where we are going to stay when we do ultimately make it to Chicago. We are going to stay at the Intercontinental Chicago, for free, on IHG Rewards points combined with the free IHG night that you get when you have a Chase IHG Rewards Club Select is a Credit Card, like I do.
Although it may be hard with my family’s schedule to hit all of the Hamilton sites mentioned above, (especially Nevis and St. Croix), we will certainly give the more local ones a try. I hope that Mr. Miranda’s next venture will be one that offers us many more EDUCATIONAL travel destinations that my kids are happy to visit. Maybe it will lead to another obsession. With luck, it will be an obsession that we can learn as much as we already have from the Hamilton lyrics!