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The ‘romantic friendship’ between Alexander Hamilton and another man that didn’t quite make it into the iconic hit musical

Emma Powys Maurice July 3, 2020
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton

Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton. (Disney)

Hamilton arriving on Disney Plus has delighted fans worldwide, but there’s a lot more to the historical figure than many people realise.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s award-winning musical arrived on the Disney Plus streaming service on Friday (July 3), introducing many first-time viewers to the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton.

He is remembered as a revolutionary war hero and statesman who helped form the United States as we know it today. And according to some historians, he could also be one of the most influential queer men in American history.

Was Hamilton gay? Letters reveal he had a passionate relationship with John Laurens.

Hamilton is known to have shared an extremely close relationship with his fellow statesman John Laurens, a lieutenant colonel and member of George Washington’s staff.

They met as soldiers during the revolutionary war and remained friends in the years that followed, sharing letters filled with professions of love and passion.

In one letter to Laurens, dated April 1779, Hamilton wrote: “Cold in my professions, warm in my friendships, I wish, my Dear Laurens, it might be in my power, by action rather than words to convince you that I love you…

“You should not have taken advantage of my sensibility to steal into my affections without my consent.”

In another letter to Laurens dated September 1779 – after Hamilton became engaged to his wife Elizabeth Schuyler – he wrote: “Like a jealous lover, when I thought you slighted my caresses, my affection was alarmed and my vanity piqued.

“I had almost resolved to lavish no more of them upon you and to reject you as an inconstant and an ungrateful.

“I give up my liberty to Miss Schuyler. She is a good hearted girl who I am sure will never play the termagant; though not a genius she has good sense enough to be agreeable, and though not a beauty, she has fine black eyes.”

And writing a year later, Hamilton seemed to imply that his marriage to Schuyler was just a fabrication.

Alexander Hamilton (Creative Commons/Marion Doss)

“In spite of Schuyler’s black eyes, I have still a part for the public and another for you,” he wrote. “So your impatience to have me married is misplaced; a strange cure by the way, as if after matrimony I was to be less devoted that I am now.”

Their letters reveal many such examples of their affection for each other, and the exact nature of Hamilton and Laurens’ relationship is a question historians have sought to answer for decades.

It’s even possible that Hamilton and Laurens could have had a sexual relationship with a third man, the Marquis de Lafayette. Hamilton’s grandson actually referred to the men as “the gay trio.”

Does this mean Hamilton was gay? While their writings certainly suggest to modern eyes that they were in a romantic relationship, such effusive declarations of love were common between men of the time, and they may not have had a sexual intent.

But others have pointed out in Hamilton’s time sodomy was still a crime in all the colonies; they certainly wouldn’t be the first to conceal their love, or to restrict their passion for each other to the pages of their letters.

Sadly we’ll never know the truth, as some of Hamilton’s progeny reportedly attempted to conceal certain portions of the letters, and the rest is lost to time.

 

More: American history, Disney, Founding Fathers, Hamilton, John Laurens, Lin-Manuel Miranda

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