10 Ways The Hamilton Musical Is Different From The Biography It’s Based On

by Derek V. DeShane

As we approach September 25th, the first anniversary of the release of the Hamilton soundtrack, let’s relive some of the best songs and discover more about the historical events they are based on. First off, let me just say that Hamilton (the musical) is an incredibly entertaining work and Lin-Manuel Miranda (LMM) is a genius. I don’t believe it was ever intended to be a precise retelling of history, but instead an extremely fun and dramatic story about one of the lesser-known founding fathers of the United States. This list is not meant to criticize the historically inaccurate parts of the musical, but rather to paint a more complete picture about some of the interesting aspects of the story based on the biography ‘Alexander Hamilton’, written by Ron Chernow.

  1. “Angelica, Eliza…and Peggy, the Schuyler sisters”

Everyone loves the Schuyler sisters; Angelica, the intelligent and captivating oldest sister, Eliza the loving and fiercely loyal younger sibling, and Peggy with her very brief appearance in the musical spawned the “and Peggy” punchline as seen on T-shirts. If the song included all of the Schuyler sisters it would have been “Angelica, Eliza…and Peggy…and Cornelia”. Ultimately there ended up being five Schuyler sisters if you count Catherine, who was born later. Beyond the sisters, there were also three Schuyler brothers: John, Phillip and Rensselaer.


(And Peggy!)

  1. Angelica is “never satisfied”.

In the musical, Angelica meets Hamilton first and is instantly smitten, but then introduces him to Eliza since, as the eldest, she sees it as her duty to marry for status and money, of which Hamilton had neither at that point in his life. The song “Satisfied” retells the story of their meeting from Angelica’s perspective. In the song’s version of events, Angelica and Eliza are both unmarried and eligible. In reality, Angelica was already married by the time she met Hamilton and her name was Angelica Church. She had married the very wealthy John Church, who is later referenced in the song “Non-Stop”; “I have found a wealthy husband who will keep me in comfort for all my days”. The facts however do not refute that Angelica may have been, in actuality, “never satisfied”. There was a very strong affection, perhaps even lust between Angelica and Alexander for the rest of his life. Their letters confirm that they had strong feelings for one another, but despite rumors to the contrary, there is no clear evidence that they ever had an affair.


(Angelica Church, her son and her servant)

  1. “Farmer Refuted”

The song “Farmer Refuted” recounts part of Hamilton’s development as an intellectual force to fight against the loyalist voices of those opposed to the revolution. In the song, we hear from Samuel Seabury who makes an impassioned plea for loyalty to Britain. The scene plays out like a debate in a public square with Hamilton offering withering criticism of Seabury’s arguments and topping it off with some creative personal insults like, “My dog speaks more eloquently…but strangely your mange is the same!” In reality, this debate did occur, but all in printed form as pamphlets or in newspapers with Seabury and Hamilton both writing anonymously. Each man completed several volumes, responding to one another over a period of months. Seabury, a known loyalist and widely suspected of being the author known as “A Westchester Farmer” was later seized by a patriot militia, paraded through the streets and imprisoned.


(Samuel Seabury)

  1. Washington’s “Right Hand”.

In the song “Right Hand Man”, we learn how Hamilton came to become George Washington’s most trusted advisor. The song also features Aaron Burr as his proposal to join Washington’s staff is summarily rebuffed. In reality, Burr did serve for a short time on Washington’s staff but was disappointed when it became clear he would not serve as a close advisor to the General, and he subsequently quit.  After the disappointing and lopsided military defeats in Brooklyn and lower Manhattan, the Continental Army was forced to retreat to Harlem Heights and Hamilton’s company came under the direct command of Washington. The song seems to suggest that Hamilton was quickly elevated to Washington’s side at this point, but the historical record suggests it happened much later. After observing Hamilton for several months through multiple battles in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Washington finally offered Hamilton a position as an aide-de-camp in January 1777.


(Alexander Hamilton)

  1. “Go home Alexander”

In the musical, George Washington and Hamilton have an explosive argument which sprouted from controversy over the duel between Charles Lee and John Laurens. The song “Meet Me Inside” ends with Washington ordering Hamilton to go home. In the following song “That Would Be Enough”, Eliza explains to Hamilton that she had written to Washington asking him to send Hamilton home to be with her during her pregnancy. In reality, Hamilton and Washington did have a major falling out which led to Hamilton’s return to New York, but their quarrel had nothing to do with the Charles Lee incident and it was Hamilton who voluntarily resigned his position and not Washington who sent him away.


(George Washington)

  1. “John should have shot him in the mouth”

In the course of the argument during “Meet Me Inside”, Washington scolds Hamilton “You solve nothing, you aggravate our allies to the South”. To this Hamilton responds, “You’re absolutely right, John should have shot him in the mouth-that would have shut him up”. While people watching the musical may see this as a clever and biting retort, it actually references what happened when another of Washington’s harshest critics, Thomas Conway (whose name is referenced later in the same song) was forced into a duel by General John Cadwalader. After firing a ball which went through Conway’s mouth and exited the back of his head, Cadwalader reportedly exclaimed, “I have stopped the damned rascal’s lying tongue at any rate”. Amazingly, Conway survived his injuries and went on to serve in the French military.


(Thomas Conway)

  1. “Get your right hand man back”

The song “Guns and Ships” features Marquis de Lafayette spitting the fastest and some of the most creative rhymes in the entire musical, “I’m takin’ this horse by the reins, makin’ redcoats redder with bloodstains”. The real Lafayette was just as brave and influential as the character in the musical. While the song suggests that Lafayette convinced Washington to write to Hamilton and invite him back into the fight, the biography tells a different version. Hamilton’s thirst for military combat was unquenchable and he had pestered Washington for years to give him command of a battalion. Washington knew Hamilton was a talented fighter and leader, but saw him as too valuable an advisor to let him go. This created friction between the two men and was certainly a contributing factor to Hamilton’s resignation as Washington’s aide-de-camp. Hamilton relentlessly hounded Washington in letters to grant him command even after he left for New York. Washington eventually acceded in July 1781 giving Hamilton command of a light-infantry battalion.


(Marquis de Lafayette)

  1. “The Battle of Yorktown”

In “Guns and Ships”, Lafayette tells Washington “We can end this war in Yorktown”. The biography confirms that Lafayette did play a role in convincing Washington to stage a pivotal attack in Yorktown, informing him that British General Cornwallis had dug in and was surrounded on three sides by water; but this was not the only factor in the decision. Washington initially planned a siege of New York City to be the decisive blow against the British forces, but the French fleet led by Admiral de Grasse had reservations about this due to the shallow waters in New York harbor and instead sailed for Chesapeake Bay. Getting Washington’s troops to Yorktown without alerting British forces to the movement of such a large army was not easy, but he employed some creative measures that got the job done.


(Colonel Alexander Hamilton at the battle of Yorktown)

  1. “Get the bullets out your guns”

In an attempt to complete a new trench near British fortifications at Yorktown, Washington knew that continental forces would have to overrun two British redoubts and decided these would be taken simultaneously by bayonet attacks. The men needed to get inside quickly to take control of the redoubt. In the song “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)”, Hamilton tells his men to remove the bullets from their weapons as they quietly approach British fortifications, “We cannot let a stray gunshot give us away”. While stealth was certainly one aim of this approach, the biography suggests it was also about “soldierly pride”. According to the biography, the men let out “war whoops” and “loud cheering” as they rushed forward, this would seem to contradict the idea that removing bullets from their weapons was all about a stealthy advance.


(British Redoubt #9, Yorktown)

  1. “The man is non-stop”

The song “Non-Stop” gives us a sense for how prolific a writer Hamilton was. Perhaps his most celebrated work is the Federalist Papers. This series of 85 essays is often credited with making the case for the ratification of the US Constitution. In the song, Hamilton approaches Aaron Burr to collaborate on the Federalist Papers, but Burr refuses. In truth Burr was never invited to work on the series. Hamilton did respect Burr’s capability as a lawyer but was often distrustful of him for an apparent lack of values or forthrightness. The song accurately credits James Madison and John Jay as Hamilton’s co-authors, with Hamilton writing the lion’s share of the essays. Hamilton actually recruited two others to help write, William Duer and Gouverneur Morris. Duer completed two essays, though they were never included in the printed collections while Morris declined participation as he was too preoccupied with business concerns.


(Hamilton, Madison and Jay)

Those familiar with the musical might note that this list of 10 items encompasses only the first half of the musical. If you enjoyed this article, let me know in comments below or via Twitter @Tech_Derek – I might be convinced to write the next 10 as well. 🙂


Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording) – Atlantic Records, 2015

Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow, Penguin Books, 2004



Where Do TFCA BOD Nominees Stand On the Crumb-Rubber Turf Issue?


The list of Triangle Futbol Club Alliance (TFCA) Board of Directors (BOD) nominees was announced yesterday and by my estimation they all seem to be impressive candidates. There are four spots up for election on the board this year and so teams can vote for four of the six nominees. The one issue in this election which my wife and I are concerned about is the question of what type of surfaces the kids will play on. Given the current controversy around crumb-rubber and its possible link to cancer in soccer players, this an important issue.

Here’s a link to one of the latest articles on this issue: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/artificial-turf-debate/senators-ask-white-house-spearhead-study-crumb-rubber-turf-n501536


Soccer purists tend to prefer natural grass, but of course turf often becomes necessary when the grass fields are soggy. With the announcement that TFCA is partnering with the town of Apex to install new soccer facilities, I am curious what type of turf will be installed, and if it will include crumb-rubber fill made from recycled, ground up tires.

Personally, I wanted to know where each of the candidates stood on this issue prior to voting next week. I wrote a letter to ask them, and I wanted to share with other families / teams what I’ve learned.

As of now (Monday), I’ve received responses from all six nominees, here is a summary of each:

  1. Joshua Higgin – The issue needs further study. One of the things TFCA can do now is mitigate the exposure of any one team to the artificial surface by using a field rotation system that will allow teams equal access to natural grass surfaces. The issue should also be raised with soccer governing bodies (NCYSA, USYS, and US Club Soccer) to see what guidance they can offer.*
  1. Carolyn Nye – Turf fields should be treated as bad weather back-ups for grass surfaces, and no team should treat a turf field as their “home” field. Precautions should be put into place so players know to wash off scrapes and crumb rubber after games. For new turf fields, “organic infill” alternatives such as coconut husks or cork should be evaluated.*
  1. Will Wilson – We should limit playing time on turf when we have options. We should provide input on the proposed plans for Pleasant Park. Future TFCA controlled facilities should evaluate non-toxic infill alternatives such as ground up sneaker soles (as Nike has shown to be effective). Turf should be treated as an inclement weather option when natural fields are soggy.*
  1. Mike Williams – Good judgement should be used and all data should be taken into account. We should learn all we can from soccer programs which have faced similar situations to understand all options. The BOD should listen to constituents and make decisions with health and safety as a top priority.*
  1. Shelley Blake – This is a major concern for me as my daughter plays goalkeeper. There is no point in exposing our children to a possibly harmful substance. We need the federal government to express clear guidance and sign off on this before we can consider it safe. Any new facility should seek alternatives to crumb-rubber, at least until we have better evidence; and until then, we should limit their exposure.*
  2. Dave Lehmkuhl – The safety of players is paramount over any other concerns. TFCA should advocate the use of alternatives to crumb-rubber to the town of Apex. TFCA can maximize the time players spend on natural grass surfaces in order to minimize exposure to crumb-rubber turf.*

Based on the above responses, it’s my opinion that these six nominees are showing a thoughtful approach. It’s also encouraging when nominees show attentiveness to an issue that is important to constituents, and have taken the time to read, and respond to such a letter. I found all of the responses to be reasonable, and choosing the top four was not easy. I’m confident that my concerns have been heard, and the BOD will take the crumb-rubber turf issue seriously going forward.

Personally, I am most impressed by the responses from Shelley Blake, Will Wilson, Carolyn Nye and Dave Lehmkuhl. These are the four nominees I will support my team voting for. If I receive a response from the sixth nominee, I will update this blog to reflect his input, and I will reevaluate my selections for the top four. (note: Response from Dave Lehmkuhl was received on Sunday 1/31, and this article was edited on 2/1 to reflect his response and revise the list of four supported nominees)

Below is a quick overview of the controversy surrounding crumb-rubber infill, a short blurb about my family’s involvement with TFCA, and the full text of my letter to the BOD nominees.


For years now, people in the soccer community have been raising questions about the safety of crumb-rubber coming from ground up tires. This is based on what seems to be an unusually high number of players (especially goalkeepers who have the most exposure) developing Leukemia and Lymphoma. Since there are carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals contained in the tires, some wondered if this could be the reason so many goalkeepers were developing cancer. Of course the artificial turf industry executives dispute the idea of any correlation and point to studies which have shown no proven connection between crumb rubber exposure and cancer. A bi-partisan group of congressional leaders has asked the EPA to take a stand on the issue, which is something that the artificial turf companies also want. Currently, there is ongoing collaboration between the Center for Disease Control, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency to examine the issue in greater detail and conclusively determine if playing on crumb-rubber surfaces creates an elevated health risk for players.

About me: My family has been involved in TFCA since last Spring and my son Nick has really enjoyed playing on the team. Nick tried out for both TFCA and CASL, but in the end we chose to join TFCA and have been very happy. In addition to having a great coach (Bobby Johnston), we’ve been glad to see that the boys mostly play on natural grass surfaces.

Full text of my letter to the TFCA BOD Nominees:

Dear All,

I am the father of an 8 year old player on the TFCA FAST CAM Navy team coached by Bobby Johnston. Thank you all for volunteering your services for the organization. I was very impressed by the variety and depth of experience you offer, I’m sure you would all do a great job.

But since we may only vote for 4 of you, I wanted to ask one question about your stance on a particular issue.

By now most of us have heard about the controversy surrounding the use of turf fields with crumb rubber fill (made from ground up tires). If you are not familiar, you can read an article here:


While this surface has become popular, some have become concerned by the apparent association between exposure to crumb rubber and the incidence of Leukemia and Lymphoma, especially for those players with the most turf contact (Goalkeepers).

I realize that it would be virtually impossible to prevent TFCA players from ever playing on crumb rubber turf surfaces, but do think the organization should seek to minimize the time the players spend on them. This would seem to be a prudent precaution at least until more scientific studies can be completed, and more answers become available.

What is your position on TFCA player exposure to crumb rubber turf fields? With the new agreement with the town of Apex to install turf fields, will you advocate for these to not include the type of crumb rubber that has become controversial?

I will appreciate any thoughts/opinions you can offer here.

Thanks and Kind Regards,

Derek V. DeShane

*The summaries of nominee responses were created by Derek V. DeShane for brevity and the wording is paraphrased. Please let me know if you would like to see the full text of each response.

[This post was first published on 1/30/16 and edited on 2/1/16]

Nick and I

This was from our first 3v3 tournament in Summer 2014.

#2Minutes4Patti Video is Getting Tons of Views Thanks to CoyneSmiths

Patti Thumbnail

Above: Patti Coyne Powell with one of her kids

This is the video everyone is watching. Why are they watching it? Simple, Tim and Tina CoyneSmith have dedicated themselves to helping Tina’s sister Patti, who is going through a very difficult time.

Patti is living with incurable stage 4 lung cancer, she’s undergoing aggressive treatment, unable to work, and she is still there for her four kids, ages 2, 15, 18, and 19.

I created the video for a viral video contest at my company, Lenovo. Among other prizes, there was a cash grand prize of $50,000 advertised for the first entrant who could attain 500,000 views by the end of the contest, January 31st, 2015. I wanted my video to have broad appeal and so I got the cutest person I know, my son Nick, to star in it. He’s a big soccer fan and so we decided to feature him learning about his favorite player, Brazilian Neymar Jr. This allowed us to feature the convertible Yoga 2 Laptop PC, plus we used it when we shot the stop motion animated introduction as well.

ThumbnailNeymar Heart Thumbnail

Left to Right: Nick, Neymar Jr.

The video was doing well and was in 1st place in the competition, but it was becoming clear that we had little chance of reaching the 500,000 view goal. Then on Wednesday January 7th I was having lunch with Tim CoyneSmith who pitched a new idea to me. He proposed that we try to drive more views by promoting it as a way to help Patti, his sister-in-law. By this point I was familiar with her story because he had told me about the difficult situation the family was in. Tim suggested we shoot for the 500,000 view goal with the idea that a portion of the $50,000 grand prize go to Patti. After discussing it with my wife, we decided that really we should just commit to giving the entire cash prize to Patti, in the event we could win.

Tim CoyneSmith and Derek DeShane

Left to right: Tim CoyneSmith, Derek V. DeShane

From there we went to work on how to get the message out. My wife and I went to dinner at the CoyneSmith’s house, and over tacos, we aligned our messaging and marketing plans. Thankfully, Tim and Tina have impressively broad social networks they can tap. Friends, family, co-workers, cub-scouts, youth soccer, UNC Chapel Hill, the list goes on and on. The word has already spread so far that, much like some theories about the shape of the universe, the message is arching back toward us with people at our company hearing about it through some far-flung friend, and then talking to us about it. In addition to getting views, we are promoting Patti’s GiveForward page, and that’s brought in $1200 in direct donations since we kicked off the campaign for Patti, so that’s already a win right there as it’s enough to help her family pay rent and buy food for another month.

Tim and Tina have people all over the country watching the video and sharing it with their own networks. Now, there are some newspapers looking to pick up the story and the momentum just keeps building. We’ve been racking up views and especially in the last couple of days we’ve accelerated the pace even further.

So I just want to thank Tim and Tina for what they are doing, and giving me the chance to help Patti with my video. Tim has been a good friend to me as well as a professional colleague. His kids are close to Nick’s age, we talk all the time about youth soccer (he’s the reason we got into 3v3 tournaments), our families, our personal philosophies, comedy, you name it. It’s been cool to get to know the CoyneSmiths even better as a result of this experience.

Today is my birthday, and I could ask for nothing more than to be a part of something that could truly make a difference for Patti. Please if you’ve read this, as a birthday favor to me, share the video with your own network, be a part of this, to give is it’s own reward.

Here’s that link again: Take 2 Minutes to Change a Life

FullSizeRender (4)

Original birthday art by my sister Linnéa Dickson

What else can I do to help?

  1. View the video
  2. Share the video
  3. Post this on your Facebook page: “Take two minutes to watch this video and change a life.  Patti Coyne Powell, mother of 4, has incurable stage 4 lung cancer and can no longer work. She cannot pay for food or rent.Lenovo is running a viral video contest that ends January 31st with a $50,000 prize.  To win, we need 500K views.  If we win, we will give the prize money to Patti.500K views will change her life. Please watch this video now and then share it.To donate directly to Patti or learn more about her story, go here: http://gfwd.at/1revWud
  4. Tweet this:”Patti has stage4 cancer & can’t work. If we get 500k views by 1/31 we win $50k & give the $ to her. #2minutes4patti http://ow.ly/H7fL9
  5. Do you know anyone or have access to someone who can help make this go viral? If we can get a highly-followed celebrity or blogger to tweet this, then we could potentially hit 500K views within a few days. Be creative, you could change Patti’s life. Please reach out to me here if you have an idea and want to collaborate.

Here’s that link again: Take 2 Minutes to Change a Life

Finally, You Can Accomplish Something Important By Watching A Viral Video

Patti and Daughter

Take two minutes to change a life by watching this video.

Question: Why should I watch this video?

Answer: Patti Coyne Powell, mother of 4, has incurable stage 4 lung cancer and can no longer work.  She cannot pay for food or rent. Watching and sharing this video could help win $50,000 for Patti.

Question: How can watching this video win $50,000 for Patti?

Answer: Lenovo is holding a viral video contest among employees and this video would win the $50,000 grand prize if we can get to 500,000 views on YouTube by January 31st, 2015.

Question: What does this video have to do with Patti?

Answer: I made this video for the viral video contest. It’s gotten over 28,000 views already. We decided to try to make this into something truly meaningful by attempting to make this go viral and win the grand prize for Patti and her family.

What else can I do to help?

  1. View the video
  2. Share the video
  3. Post this on your Facebook page: “Take two minutes to watch this video and change a life.  Patti Coyne Powell, mother of 4, has incurable stage 4 lung cancer and can no longer work. She cannot pay for food or rent.Lenovo is running a viral video contest that ends January 31st with a $50,000 prize.  To win, we need 500K views.  If we win, we will give the prize money to Patti.500K views will change her life. Please watch this video now and then share it.To donate directly to Patti or learn more about her story, go here: http://gfwd.at/1revWud
  4. Tweet this:”Patti has stage4 cancer & can’t work. If we get 500k views by 1/31 we win $50k & give the $ to her. #2minutes4patti http://ow.ly/H7fL9
  5. Do you know anyone or have access to someone who can help make this go viral? If we can get a highly-followed celebrity or blogger to tweet this, then we could potentially hit 500K views within a few days. Be creative, you could change Patti’s life. Please reach out to me here if you have an idea and want to collaborate.

Here’s that link again: Take 2 Minutes to Change a Life

Thank you.

Barracudas Win based on Great Goalkeeping, Great Striking

This is the team I coach, the FC Cary Barracudas, this is our third season as a team with many returning players. We are on the big field this year, with goalkeepers. In this game, Nick keeps goal in the first half and Ava in the second. They gave up only one goal between them. Conner started the scoring instantly, with later goals from Adarsh, and two from Nick. One of Nick’s goals was a free-kick and the other was an intercepted corner kick taken all the way up field for a goal. Click image to view video and see how this free-kick ends…



I used to be into skateboarding


This video was made with some friends of mine when I lived in San Francisco. I edited, probably finished sometime in 2001.

All of Dan’s tricks were shot in one day because he landed most things he tried (and he tried bigger tricks than most people). Roger’s and my tricks were shot over the course of 2 to 3 months. It was a lot of fun. 


My Son Nick Loves Soccer

This is the post where I brag about my son Nick, he makes me super proud. I’ve been coaching him for a few seasons now, but I cannot take any credit for his abilities, he is just a natural.

Check out these videos I’ve made of him in years past. We will try to make another one this season (Fall 2014) so stay tuned.