Hamilton Act 2
Summary / Synopsis / Plot / Storyline
Act 2 begins in 1789. Thomas Jefferson is returning to Virginia from France, where he spent most of the revolution as an ambassador. Washington asks him to be Secretary of State. Jefferson accepts and heads to New York, where he is met by James Madison who asks him to help stop Hamilton’s financial plan, which Madison believes gives the government too much control (“What’d I Miss?”). Jefferson and Hamilton then engage in debate over the merits of Hamilton’s financial plan during a cabinet meeting. Washington orders a break as the debate gets heated, pulls Hamilton aside, and tells him to figure out a compromise to win over Congress or else he’ll lose his position as the Secretary of Treasury (“Cabinet Battle #1″).
Hamilton begins working at home, and Eliza reminds him that it’s Phillip’s ninth birthday. She tells him that Phillip has something to show him. He performs a short rap, which amazes Hamilton. Eliza then asks Hamilton if he wants to accompany her on vacation upstate at her father’s home. Hamilton refuses, saying that he has to work on his plan for Congress. In England, Angelica fawns over the last letter Hamilton sent her, in which he wrote “My Dearest, Angelica…”; she is excited by the fact that by placing the comma where he did, Hamilton has referred to her as his “dearest.” She also advises him to convince Jefferson of his plan in order for Congress to accept it. When she arrives, though she is excited to see Eliza, she is saddened that Hamilton won’t be joining them and tries to convince him otherwise. In the end, the Schuyler sisters end up leaving without him (“Take a Break”).
While Eliza is on vacation, Hamilton is visited by Maria Reynolds, who claims her husband is mistreating her. Hamilton offers her some money and walks her home. When they arrive at her house, she invites him inside and seduces him. They begin to have an affair. Maria’s husband James Reynolds blackmails Hamilton into paying him money. Hamilton is furious with Maria. However, he pays Reynolds the money he requested (“Say No To This”).
Hamilton talks with Burr, tells him that he’ll be yielding Burr’s old advice to “talk less, smile more” to get his plan approved. Hamilton then has to leave to discuss his plan with Jefferson and Madison over a private dinner, and resulting in the Compromise of 1790 giving support to Hamilton’s financial plan in exchange for moving the United States capital from New York to Virginia (eventually becoming Washington, DC). Burr comments on how no one besides the men who were in the meeting know how decisions were made. Burr is envious of Hamilton’s sway in the government and wishes he had similar power (“The Room Where It Happens”).
At the Hamilton home, Phillip shows his mother a paper that says that her father, Phillip Schuyler, has lost his seat in the Senate to Burr. Eliza and Phillip express concern over how Hamilton will react to the news. Elsewhere, Hamilton accuses Burr of switching parties solely to run against his father-in-law. Burr says he was simply seizing the opportunity, but Hamilton doesn’t believe him, driving a wedge between the two friends (“Schuyler Defeated”).
In another cabinet meeting, Jefferson and Hamilton argue over whether or not the United States should assist France in their revolution. Jefferson urges people to remember what France has done for the American Revolution, but Hamilton argues that Jefferson doesn’t understand what a revolution is really like, since he spent the American Revolution in France, and that they should remain neutral. Washington agrees with Hamilton, and the Congress decides to remain neutral on the situation (“Cabinet Battle #2″). After the meeting, Burr, Jefferson, and Madison bemoan how nice it must be for Hamilton to always have Washington’s support, and they seek a way to damage Hamilton’s image (“Washington on Your Side”). Soon after, Washington tells Hamilton that Jefferson has resigned from his position in government. Hamilton promises to ruin Jefferson, but then Washington clarifies that Jefferson is running for President, and that Washington himself is stepping down. Hamilton is shocked, but Washington convinces him that it is the right thing to do, and they write a farewell address (“One Last Time”).
In England, King George III receives news about George Washington’s step down from leadership, and was unaware that someone could resign from power. He is then told about the new president, John Adams, and refers to him as “that little guy that spoke to me.” George then exits merrily, ready for the United States to fall under Adams’ leadership (“I Know Him”).
Adams and Hamilton (no longer Secretary of the Treasury) have a huge altercation and effectively destroy each other’s reputation and the Federalist Party. Madison points out to Jefferson, who is now Vice President, and Burr that without Washington and without his position, Hamilton now has no authority to oppose them (“The Adams Administration”). Jefferson says that this isn’t enough, because Hamilton with a pen is still a threat. He suggests they tell Hamilton about the scandal they think they’ve found out about. The three approach Hamilton, and accuse him of embezzling government money and committing treason. In reality, however, they found the transactions from his affair with Maria Reynolds. Hamilton, knowing that the truth is the only way out, tells them about his affair and begs them not to tell anyone (“We Know”). Hamilton, still worried that they will tell, thinks about how writing openly and honestly has saved him in the past (“Hurricane”).
Hamilton publishes the letters that James and Maria Reynolds wrote him, and writes about them. Jefferson, Madison, and Burr rejoice. Angelica, upon hearing the news, travels from England to comfort Eliza (“The Reynolds Pamphlets”). At night when she is alone, Eliza rereads all of the letters Hamilton had written her, trying to find any sort of signs to why he would ever do this. Eliza then takes herself out of the narrative by burning all of the letters, destroying Hamilton’s chance at redemption and keeping the world from knowing how she reacted (“Burn”).
Years pass, and Phillip has just graduated from King’s College at the age of nineteen. He is praised for having the same intelligence and good looks as his father. Phillip is upset to find out that a man named George Eacker has been saying bad things about his father and challenges him to a duel. Hamilton orders Phillip to aim his gun to the sky instead of at Eacker, and if Eacker is a man of honor he will follow suit. Phillip promises to do so. The duel countdown begins, and Phillip is aiming for the sky from the beginning (“Blow Us All Away”). However, by the time they reach seven, Eacker shoots Phillip. He is taken to a doctor, and Hamilton rushes to his side, but it is too late. Hamilton comforts Phillip, who promises his father that he did everything he told him to. A horrified Eliza arrives, and stays with him until he dies (“Stay Alive (Reprise)”).
In the aftermath of Phillip’s death, the Hamilton family moves uptown. Hamilton and Eliza have become recluse, and Angelica, serving as a narrator, tells everyone to have pity for him, as they are coping with the “unimaginable.” During this time, Hamilton tries and succeeds in gaining Eliza’s forgiveness (“It’s Quiet Uptown”).
The Presidential Election of 1800 ends up in a tie between Jefferson and Burr. Burr comes across Hamilton and tells him that he’s doing everything he can to be President, and that he learned that from him. Hamilton is upset that Burr has once again changed his own ideals to try to win, instead of sticking to his own convictions. When Hamilton is bombarded by people asking for his opinion on who to vote for, he shocks everyone by choosing Jefferson. He says that even though he has never agreed with him, Jefferson has beliefs, unlike Burr. Jefferson ends up winning by a landslide (“The Election of 1800”).
Over the next few months, Burr and Hamilton exchange a series of passive aggressive letters to each other. Burr implies that Hamilton backed Jefferson solely to spite him, and Hamilton says he was just telling the truth. Burr, enraged, challenges Hamilton to a duel, which Hamilton accepts (“Your Obedient Servant”). Hamilton awakes early on the morning of the duel. Eliza asks him to come back to bed, but Hamilton says he has to leave (“Best of Wives and Best of Women”).
The next morning, Burr and Hamilton travel to New Jersey with their seconds and a doctor. Burr points out that Hamilton is wearing his glasses. He says there’s no reason for that unless Hamilton means to take deadly aim. The men raise their guns to shoot, and just before a shot sounds, everything freezes – people and music alike. Only Hamilton remains, and he comments on how much he has thought about death, his relationships, and wonders about his legacy. He then aims his pistol at the sky, just like Phillip did. Then time resumes, Burr shoots Hamilton, and he falls. Hamilton dies soon later, with both Eliza and Angelica by his side. Burr laments on how even though he survived, he’s cursed to be the villain in history, remembered only as the man who killed Alexander Hamilton. He realizes that no one needed to die that day because the world was wide enough for both Hamilton and him in it (“The World Was Wide Enough”).
Everyone congregates for the epilogue. Washington enters and poses the same advice about history he once gave to Hamilton, “you have no control over who lives, who dies, who tells your story.” Jefferson and Madison laud Hamilton’s genius despite their disagreements, while Angelica and Burr wonder how Hamilton will be remembered. Eliza then enters. She explains how she tells her husband’s story over the next fifty years she lives. She tries to organize and make sense of Hamilton’s thousands of writings, interviews every soldier who fought with him, raises funds for the Washington monument, speaks out against slavery, and founds the first private orphanage in New York City. She still frets that she has not done enough, and then says she can’t wait to see Hamilton again. Hamilton then joins her and beckons her forward. She gazes with awe out into some blissful beyond as everyone asks who will tell her story, and the show ends as they ask the audience the same question (“Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”).