The Story of Tonight

The Story of Tonight is a simplistic but meaningful song. The song takes place at Fraunces Tavern, a place Hamilton possibly could have gone while living with Hercules Mulligan. Hamilton and his ‘Heart of Oak’ student militia are why the British Royal Navy sent a cannonball through the roof of Fraunces Tavern…

The Tavern itself is famous. However, its fame has to do with end-of-war sentiments. It is where George Washington spoke to his officers for the last time as their General. “With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.”[1]

“I may not live to see our glory! But I will gladly join the fight!”

“I may not live to see our glory! But I will gladly join the fight!”

In 1775, the first engagement between British and American troops happened at the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Not long after, Hamilton and other King’s College. Students joined the New York volunteer militia company called the Corsicans, also known as the ‘Hearts of Oak.[2]’ He drilled with the company in between classes at the graveyard of St. Paul’s chapel. On his own, he studied military history and tactics, which soon helped him be recommended for promotion.[3]

At this point in time, what Hamilton is most known for doing is stealing British cannons from the Battery. Under fire from the HMS Asia, Hamilton led the ‘Hearts of Oak’ through the streets of New York and successfully raided the British. Hercules Mulligan and the Sons of Liberty also supported the company.[4]

Hamilton raised the New York Provincial Company of Artillery through his connections to other New York Patriots, such as John Jay. The company consisted of sixty men, with Alexander Hamilton serving as their captain.[5] The company participated in the Battle of Harlem Heights, the Battle of White Plains, and the Battle of Trenton. They served as rearguards for the Continental Army’s retreat up Manhattan.[6]

On January 3, 1777, Alexander Hamilton participated in the Battle of Princeton. Although there was an initial setback, Washington was able to rally the American troops and lead them in a successful charge against the British forces. The British fell back. Some left Princeton altogether, while others took refuge in Nassau Hall. Hamilton brought three cannons to the hall and fired upon the building while other American soldiers rushed and broke down the front door. The British soon put a white flag outside one of the windows and surrendered. One-hundred-and-ninety-four British soldiers walked out of the building and laid down their arms.[7]

At this point in time, what Hamilton is most known for doing is stealing British cannons from the Battery. Under fire from the HMS Asia, Hamilton led the ‘Hearts of Oak’ through the streets of New York and successfully raided the British. Hercules Mulligan and the Sons of Liberty also supported the company.[4]

Hamilton raised the New York Provincial Company of Artillery through his connections to other New York Patriots, such as John Jay. The company consisted of sixty men, with Alexander Hamilton serving as their captain.[5] The company participated in the Battle of Harlem Heights, the Battle of White Plains, and the Battle of Trenton. They served as rearguards for the Continental Army’s retreat up Manhattan.[6]

On January 3, 1777, Alexander Hamilton participated in the Battle of Princeton. Although there was an initial setback, Washington was able to rally the American troops and lead them in a successful charge against the British forces. The British fell back. Some left Princeton altogether, while others took refuge in Nassau Hall. Hamilton brought three cannons to the hall and fired upon the building while other American soldiers rushed and broke down the front door. The British soon put a white flag outside one of the windows and surrendered. One-hundred-and-ninety-four British soldiers walked out of the building and laid down their arms.[7]

At this point in time, what Hamilton is most known for doing is stealing British cannons from the Battery. Under fire from the HMS Asia, Hamilton led the ‘Hearts of Oak’ through the streets of New York and successfully raided the British. Hercules Mulligan and the Sons of Liberty also supported the company.[4]

Hamilton raised the New York Provincial Company of Artillery through his connections to other New York Patriots, such as John Jay. The company consisted of sixty men, with Alexander Hamilton serving as their captain.[5] The company participated in the Battle of Harlem Heights, the Battle of White Plains, and the Battle of Trenton. They served as rearguards for the Continental Army’s retreat up Manhattan.[6]

On January 3, 1777, Alexander Hamilton participated in the Battle of Princeton. Although there was an initial setback, Washington was able to rally the American troops and lead them in a successful charge against the British forces. The British fell back. Some left Princeton altogether, while others took refuge in Nassau Hall. Hamilton brought three cannons to the hall and fired upon the building while other American soldiers rushed and broke down the front door. The British soon put a white flag outside one of the windows and surrendered. One-hundred-and-ninety-four British soldiers walked out of the building and laid down their arms.[7]

“And when our children tell our story… They’ll tell the story of tonight.”

“And when our children tell our story… They’ll tell the story of tonight.”

Almost every founding father had an idea of how they wanted the world to remember them. Some were okay with getting lost in the pages of history; others were not. Alexander Hamilton wanted to be remembered. In his old age, Thomas Jefferson wanted to be left alone. John Adams went back and forth between the various possibilities. The children of these founding fathers would ensure that their parents’ legacy lived on. No one likely took on a more prominent role in remembering the founding fathers than John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams.

What the founding fathers did was truly brave. They broke away from the only government they had ever known, and many had signed documents that could have solidified their deaths if they were to lose. The founding fathers knew this, as did their children. However, what was the story of tonight, and why do we remember it?

John Adams once wrote to Thomas Jefferson, “As to the history of the Revolution, my Ideas may be peculiar, perhaps Singular. What do We mean by the Revolution? The War? That was no part of the Revolution. It was only an Effect and Consequence of it. The Revolution was in the Minds of the People, and this was effected, from 1760 to 1775, in the course of fifteen Years before a drop of blood was drawn at Lexington.”[8] Most founding fathers believed that the Revolution occurred before the War broke out. Adams also believed that some people only remembered who he was in an effort to make money off of him. “That our correspondence has been observed is no Wonder; for your hand is more universally known than your face. No Printer has asked me for copies: but it is no Surprize that you have been requested. These Gentry will print whatever will Sell: and our Correspondence is thought Such an Oddity by both Parties, that the Printers imagine an Edition would Soon go off and yeild them a Profit.”[9]

No matter which founder we talk about, we can be confident that they believed they should be left in the foreground. They knew that their moments in the sun were ending. The government was now in the hands of the younger generation, and that would be how it stayed. Even Thomas Jefferson believed that the documents he helped create should be left in the dust. “Every constitution then, & every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force, & not of right.”[10]

So why are the founding fathers solidified in such a way that we, the present, can not let go of them?

The answer begins after the conclusion of the War of 1812. John Quincy Adams became Secretary of State under President James Monroe in 1817. One of his contributions to how we remember our founding fathers came not long after his ascension to this role. In 1820, John Q. Adams commissioned engraver William J. Stone to create two hundred facsimiles of the Declaration of Independence. The facsimiles of the Declaration of Independence were so close to being perfect replicas that what we have as copies today is that facsimile, not the original declaration. These facsimiles were distributed throughout the federal government. This redistribution helped the Declaration be introduced to a new generation of Americans. Before, it had been a document greatly left in the past.

THE STORY OF TONIGHT

THE STORY OF TONIGHT

[HAMILTON]
I may not live to see our glory!

[LAFAYETTE/MULLIGAN/LAURENS]
I may not live to see our glory!

[HAMILTON]
But I will gladly join the fight!

[LAFAYETTE/MULLIGAN/LAURENS]
But I will gladly join the fight!

[HAMILTON]
And when our children tell our story…

[LAFAYETTE/MULLIGAN/LAURENS]
And when our children tell our story…

[HAMILTON]
They’ll tell the story of tonight

[MULLIGAN]
Let’s have another round tonight

[LAFAYETTE]
Let’s have another round tonight

[HAMILTON]
Let’s have another round tonight

[LAURENS]
Raise a glass to freedom

Something they can never take away
No matter what they tell you

Raise a glass to the four of us

[LAURENS/MULLIGAN]
Tomorrow there’ll be more of us

[MULLIGAN/LAFAYETTE/LAURENS]
Telling the story of tonight

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[HAMILTON]
They’ll tell the story of tonight

[LAURENS/MULLIGAN/LAFAYETTE]
Raise a glass to freedom

Something they can never take away

[HAMILTON]
No matter what they tell you

[MULLIGAN/LAFAYETTE]
Let’s have another round tonight

[LAURENS]
Raise a glass to the four of us

[HAMILTON/LAURENS/MULLIGAN/LAFAYETTE]
Tomorrow there’ll be more of us

[HAMILTON/LAURENS]
Telling the story of tonight

[MULLIGAN/LAFAYETTE]
Let’s have another round tonight
[HAMILTON/LAURENS/ENSEMBLE & MULLIGAN/LAFAYETTE/ENSEMBLE]
They’ll tell the story of tonight
Raise a glass to freedom
They’ll tell the story of tonight
Raise a glass to freedom
They’ll tell the story of tonight
They’ll tell the story of—

[FULL ENSEMBLE]
Tonight


[1] Benjamin Tallmadge, Memoir of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge, ed. Henry Phelps Johnston, Publications of the Society of the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York,v. 1 (New York: Gilliss Press, 1904), 97.
[2] Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton (New York, New York: Penguin Books, 2004), 63.
[3] Michael E. Newton, Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years (Phoenix, AZ: Eleftheria Publishing, 2015), pp. 127–128.
[4] Forrest McDonald, Alexander Hamilton: A Biography (New York, NY: W. W. Norton Company, 1982).
[5] Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton (New York, New York: Penguin Books, 2004), 72.
[6] William S. Stryker, The Battles of Trenton and Princeton (Boston, MA: Houghton, Mifflin & Co, 1898), 158–9.
[7] Richard Ketchum, The Winter Soldiers: The Battles for Trenton and Princeton, 1st Owl Books ed. (New York, New York: Holt Paperbacks, 1999), 310.
[8] “John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 24 August 1815,” Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/03-08-02-0560. [Original source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Retirement Series, vol. 8, 1 October 1814 to 31 August 1815, ed. J. Jefferson Looney. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011, pp. 682–684.]
[9] Ibid.
[10] “To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, September 6 1789,” Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-12-02-0248. [Original source: The Papers of James Madison, vol. 12, March 2 1789 – January 20 1790 and supplement October 24 1775 – January 24 1789, ed. Charles F. Hobson and Robert A. Rutland. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1979, pp. 382–388.]

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