What Did You Miss? An Overview of Hamilton Act II

Act two of Hamilton starts off with a hit song called “What Did I Miss?” that is one of my favorites. In this song Thomas Jefferson, who has just come home to America from serving as an ambassador in France is filled in on what is happening in the country. He is assigned to be the Secretary of State in the cabinet and almost immediately goes into his first cabinet meeting. The topic is Secretary Hamilton’s plan to assume state debts and establish a national bank. The cabinet meetings in the show are heated rap battles that occur between Hamilton and Jefferson, which simulate the heated arguments that happened between the two of them 230 years ago.

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Jefferson (left) and Hamilton (right) engaged in a cabinet battle

Next, the song that I previously wrote about (Take a Break) comes into the show. In this song, Hamilton isn’t spending enough time with his family and stays home from a family trip to New York to get his plan through congress. While he is home by himself, he meets Miss Maria Reynolds. She seduces Hamilton and they have an affair while her husband is away as well. When her husband finds out, he sends a letter to Hamilton that is used as blackmail so that Mr. Reynolds doesn’t tell Hamilton’s wife.

Meanwhile, Aaron Burr struggles with his morals and what he wants with his career in politics, and he takes an opportunity to become a senator, taking Phillip Schuyler’s seat in the senate.  The second cabinet battle is a win for Hamilton, and Jefferson claims that he only won his place because Washington , who was the president at the time, was on his side. Soon after, Washington tells Hamilton that he will be retiring and Thomas Jefferson is running for president.

kinggeorgeiii

The scene skips to England as King George laughs at America’s new president, as Jefferson lost to John Adams. Hamilton is fired by Adams shortly after his election. The few people out to get Hamilton (Jefferson, Burr, and Madison) find out that Hamilton has paid $1000 to a Mr. James Reynolds and think it was embezzling of the government. They confront him and learn why he had to pay Mr. Reynolds, and Hamilton decides that before the people hear his secret from someone else, he should be honest with the nation. He writes the Reynolds Pamphlet, a complete account of his cheating on his wife, and stuns the nation but simultaneously ruins his potential to become president.

My absolute favorite song of the show, Burn, is Eliza Schuyler saying how she fell in love with Hamilton, then questioning if any of it was real. She is angry with him, so she stops talking to him.

In the meantime, Phillip Hamilton, Alexander’s son, gets into an argument defending his father that results in a duel that costs him his life.  In the process of grieving, Eliza forgives Hamilton and they move uptown.

In the politics world, Jefferson is running against Aaron Burr in the presidential election, and Hamilton is asked who he would promote. His reply shocked many people, because he responded “Jefferson.” His reasoning was that although he had never agreed with Jefferson once, but he had beliefs and Burr had none. This puts Burr over the edge, and he sends letters to Hamilton expressing his frustration. They agree to duel, and Hamilton keeps his dignity until the very end by aiming towards the sky, but it is too late for Burr to do anything because he has already shot him between the ribs.

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The show is resolved with everything that Eliza did to get Hamilton his legacy, that he worked so hard to preserve through his life. Jefferson, Washington, Madison, and Burr come back to input on how Hamilton had such a big impact on the country.

I highly suggest listening to the soundtrack! (Or going to see the show but tickets are really hard to get and if you get tickets you have to get me one too!)

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4 thoughts on “What Did You Miss? An Overview of Hamilton Act II

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