Every year, the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society (AHA) retraces the life of Alexander Hamilton from the time he arrived in Elizabethtown, NJ as a young boy to his death in 1804. For the past 3 years, Liberty Hall has been fortunate enough to take part in their CelebrateHAMILTON events since the museum has a connection to Hamilton. Governor Livingston along with Elias Boudinot mentored Alexander while he was attending school in Elizabethtown. He lived with the Livingston family for about six months. He would later become the first Secretary of Treasury and was a business associate of the first John Kean, who was the first Cashier of the Bank of the United States. Talk about it being a small world!!
Yesterday kicked off the New Jersey leg of the CelebrateHAMILTON 2016 and Liberty Hall was the 2nd stop on the “Young Immigrant Hamilton Tour.” Liberty Hall held 2 lectures (the “New Hamilton Discoveries” Lecture) in which never before seen documents related to Alexander Hamilton were displayed to the public for the very first time. The lecture had three speakers, Bill Schroh, Director of Museum Operations, Rand Scholet, President of the AHA and Michael E. Newton, author of Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years.
- Bill Schroh discussed Governor William Livingston’s connection to Alexander Hamilton as well as his connection to the first John Kean. In the archives of Liberty Hall, we found 3 letters from September 1793 between John Kean and his wife, Susan discussing Alexander Hamilton who was battling yellow fever at that time.
- Rand Scholet talked about a will that was found in the archives of Liberty Hall and used by Michael E. Newton in his book. The will is from Peter Lavien, Alexander’s half brother from 1778 in which he leaves Alexander 150 pounds sterling. Also mentioned in the will is John Kean as he was a business associate of Peter Lavien as well as the executor of the will, which is why the will is at Liberty Hall. What is most interesting is that no one knew the will even existed until Rand, who was doing research on Peter Lavien found a connection between him and John Kean. Rand then reached out to Liberty Hall Museum asking if we have any of John Kean’s correspondence. While museum staff was going through the documents, we discovered Liberty Hall has the original will of Peter Lavien.
- Michael E. Newton debunked a historical myth that many authors have embraced as fact and is even reference in the musical Hamilton. According to the myth, Martha Washington named a male cat at Washington’s Morristown, N.J. headquarters after Hamilton, as “a way of teasing him, for his roving eye and romantic escapades, in other words, for acting the part of a tomcat.” When we think of a tomcat, we do think of someone with a “roaming eye” and indulging in romantic escapades. Turns out, tomcat means a male cat and the version we known of today, was not actually used until 1927!
There were documents on display such as the 3 letters from John Kean discussing yellow fever, Peter Lavien’s will and Gazette of the United States newspaper which is dated February 26, 1791. It has an article which is about the passing of the bill that created the Bank of the United States. These are all documents that have never been seen before by the public.
Liberty Hall Museum looks forward to being a part of the CelebHAMILTON events every year. Now, if we can only get tickets to the musical!
We’re off for 2 weeks for vacation, see you around!