Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Names from Hamilton

Hello, readers!

Like many theatre geeks across the nation, I too have been swept into the Hamilton frenzy. If you aren't aware of this cultural phenomenon, it's a new musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda that retells the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton's life. But no, this isn't just another 1776, it's got rap, hip hop, R&B, and all sorts of rarely heard music (for the musical world). The actors are also all people of color - save for King George III - and the show will be touring the nation next year.

Today, I'll be looking at some of the character names from Hamilton, which are for the most part classic English names. But there may be a few you haven't thought of! And I highly recommend taking the time to listen to Hamilton on Spotify or YouTube. 

Let's begin!

Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
One of the few founding fathers that was never elected to the presidency, Alexander Hamilton was by no means less important to US history - see the musical for bio details. The first name Alexander is well-established in the US, currently at #8 on the boy's list, and it's never dipped below #250. But with surnames trending, could Hamilton be a contender? It's been recorded in use every year since 1880, but has never passed 100 children in any year. With the popularity of the musical only growing, I think this name is one to watch. 

Elizabeth "Eliza" Schuyler Hamilton (Phillipa Soo)
A humanitarian and political and social activist in her own right, Eliza Hamilton ties with Odysseus' wife Penelope on the long-suffering wife front. Like Alexander, Elizabeth has always been popular - but diminutive Eliza has been moving steadily up the popularity lists as well. It's livelier and more spirited than its original, and would be a lovely option as a first name or nickname. Schuyler, pronounced "SKY-ler", is the original Dutch spelling of the name, and adds an element of elegance to it (though it may take some explanation).

Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr.)
Politician and Hamilton antagonist Aaron Burr may be remembered somewhat negatively today, but he was also instrumental in the early US government (the character in the show gets some of the best songs, too). Aaron, of course, is a classic Hebrew name meaning "enlightened". Burr actually did get some use as a first name from the 1880's through the 1970's - let's see if the empathetic portrayal of Aaron Burr in the musical brings it back.

Angelica Schuyler Church (Renee Elise Goldsberry)
Socialite and prolific writer Angelica Schuyler Church was Eliza's older sister, and it has been suggested that her friendship with Alexander was more than just friendly. In any case, her correspondence with some of the founding fathers shows more than just a career as a love interest. Angelica has long been loved alongside sister names Angela and Angelina. In a bit of related trivia, the city of Angelica in New York was named after her.

George Washington (Christopher Jackson)
First president and all-around American symbol George Washington needs very little introduction, so let's get to the names. After a slow decline, George has been rising back up the list, with a little help from Prince George across the pond (there might be some irony here). Washington has been used as a name for awhile, but it has a few drawbacks - no easy nicknames, and it's a mouthful. Still, if you have nickname suggestions, tell me in the comments!

That's all for today. Rise up, friends!

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