Alexander Hamilton is the protagonist of the musical. The entire show follows his rise and fall during the American Revolution and the beginning of the American nation. Born on an island in the Caribbean to a poor family and eventually orphaned, Hamilton had a rough childhood that he is ambitious to overcome. At nineteen he goes to America to get an education. Smart and extremely motivated, Hamilton does everything necessary to “rise” and earn the respect and authority he feels he deserves. He is a scrappy, ingenious, and opinionated man. His writing brings him a lot of attention, as does his tendency to argue with just about everyone. Passionate and opinionated, Hamilton frequently criticizes Aaron Burr for not being committed to any beliefs, and the pair share a respectful but contentious friendship.
Hamilton becomes George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War, and therefore is integral to the American colonists' victory over the British. After the war, Hamilton serves as the first Secretary of the Treasury. He is immediately removed from the president’s cabinet after John Adams is elected, but his influence on the nation was long-lasting. Hamilton was responsible for the structure of the American financial system, as well as creating the coast guard and the newspaper The New York Post. At the end of the play, he dies in a duel with Aaron Burr.
The main antagonist of the musical, Aaron Burr is described as one of Hamilton’s first friends in America. Though the two of them argue during the first act of the musical, they still consider each other friends, until Hamilton’s career continuously moved forward and Burr’s stagnates. When Hamilton endorses Thomas Jefferson for President instead of Burr, Burr becomes so enraged that he challenges Hamilton to a duel, during which he shoots and kills his adversary. Shortly afterward, Burr expresses regret at killing Hamilton.
Though he is the antagonist of the musical, Burr is a sympathetic and complex character. He is similar to Hamilton in that he is intelligent and motivated and wants to be an influential figure in the new nation. He is different because instead of tackling everything head-on with passion, Burr waits and sees how things will turn out before taking action. Throughout the musical, Hamilton accuses him of being wishy-washy and not having strong values. Before his duel with Hamilton, Burr switches parties just to run for a seat in the Senate, which would advance his position. This action is emblematic of Burr's disingenuousness and political strategizing.
George Washington is a general during the American Revolution and the first President of the United States. During the war he is often frustrated with the colonial troops for being so weak and afraid. Instead of stepping forward to meet the enemy, they step backward to shoot from afar. Washington acts as a sort of mentor for Hamilton, and comes to depend on Hamilton as his right-hand man. He dies sometime after his second term as president, predeceasing Hamilton.
Elizabeth "Eliza" Schuyler
Eliza is one of the three wealthy Schuyler sisters from New York. She falls in love with Alexander the moment she sees him, and they soon marry. Eliza, the “best of wives and best of women,” is described as being reserved, trusting, and kind. When Hamilton reveals that he has had an affair, Eliza is very disappointed and angry with him, and sings a passionate ballad about destroying her and Hamilton's love letters. When Hamilton dies she honors his memory by doing everything she thinks he would have done if he had had more time. She interviews every soldier who fought with him, tries to make sense of thousands of pages of his writing, raises funds for the Washington Monument, speaks out against slavery, and opens the first private orphanage in New York City. Eliza is a loving and loyal woman to Alexander Hamilton, but she is also passionate and fierce in her convictions in her own right.
Portrayed as an intelligent and witty social butterfly, Angelica falls in love with Alexander Hamilton, but is obliged by her family to marry a wealthier man. She introduces Hamilton to her sister, Eliza, at a ball, and holds out an affection for him even after marrying a different man. It is suggested that Hamilton also loves Angelica, but this is not confirmed. He writes a letter to Angelica in which he opens, “My Dearest, Angelica.” Angelica is deeply disappointed in Hamilton when he has an affair, but she forgives him after he reconciles with Eliza, and she is by his side when he dies.
John Laurens becomes good friends with Hamilton. He works to end slavery and creates the first black battalion, which fought in the American Revolution in exchange for freedom. When Washington forbids Hamilton from dueling Charles Lee, Laurens does it instead. He dies sometime during the Revolution.
Marquis de Lafayette
A French aristocrat and military officer, Lafayette becomes friends with Hamilton and helps fight in the American Revolution. He obtains supplies and assistance from France, which gives the Americans an advantage against the British, allowing them to win the war at Yorktown. Lafayette returns to France with the intention to bring freedom to his own people, but ultimately fails.
A tailor turned soldier and a friend of Hamilton’s, Hercules Mulligan acts as a spy for the colonists and passes on essential information that helps secure a victory for the colonists at the Battle of Yorktown.
In 1789, Thomas Jefferson returns to America from France and immediately becomes the first Secretary of State. He disagrees with Hamilton on every possible political issue and fights for state rights, protecting the interests of the South. Threatened by Hamilton’s power, Jefferson tries to find something illegal that Hamilton has done to get him in trouble, but only uncovers the sex scandal with Maria Reynolds, which Hamilton publicly admits to before Jefferson can use it against him. Jefferson runs for president when Washington steps down. He loses to John Adams, but runs again the following election and wins, due to Hamilton’s endorsement.
In the musical, Jefferson is portrayed as a charming and flamboyant, but somewhat careless individual. He returns just after the war has ended, having played no part in the revolution, and brags about his foppish womanizing ways. While he is not an antagonist explicitly, he is the antithesis of Hamilton in many ways.
Though he initially helps Hamilton write the Federalist Papers, Madison aligns with Jefferson to try to bring Hamilton down later in the play.
Alexander and Eliza’s oldest son, Philip, is a self-proclaimed poet. He learns French and piano from his mother, and inherits his father's intelligence and charm. He dies in a duel, defending his father’s honor.
Mistreated by her husband, Maria Reynolds appeals to Hamilton and has a month-long affair with him. This scandal is one of the key events that contribute to Hamilton’s career decline. Maria is a seductress and femme fatale of sorts.
Charles Lee is a general who fights for the colonists and who George Washington choses over Hamilton for a command post. His command is taken away at the Battle of Monmouth because of his incompetent leadership. He blames Washington for the losses, leading Laurens to challenge him to a duel, in which Lee is injured.
Samuel Seabury is a bishop and loyalist who takes to the streets and vocally urges people to support the king and Great Britain. He is met with substantial backlash, and challenged by Hamilton to support his beliefs.
King George III
The King of England, George is the monarch against whom the colonists are rebelling. George occasionally makes an appearance in the play to delivers a message, for example, threatening the colonists with death unless they remain loyal to the crown. His charming and upbeat manner contrasts with his often nefarious and chilling messages.
The youngest and least vocal of the Schuyler sisters, Peggy mostly follows her two elder sisters. Unlike her sisters, her relations with Hamilton are entirely platonic.
George Eacker is a New York lawyer who makes a speech disparaging Alexander Hamilton. He agrees to a duel with Philip Hamilton over these remarks. In the duel, which takes place at Weehawken, New Jersey, Eacker dishonorably shoots and kills Philip, who was aiming his pistol at the sky, a sign meant to show the shooter's intent to throw away their shot.
Hamilton Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Hamilton is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.