Alexander Hamilton's letters to be auctioned in NYC Javier Munoz, who plays Alexander Hamilton in the Broadway musical, "Hamilton," reacts as he looks at a document, part of a trove of artifacts and letters written by or pertaining to one of America's founding fathers, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at Sotheby's in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Alexander Hamilton's letters to be auctioned in NYC
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The hottest Broadway show is shining its spotlight on a collection of historic American documents. They are Alexander Hamilton's letters. The letters are being auctioned at Sotheby's.
 
Hamilton is one of America's founding fathers. He died in 1804.
 
Javier Munoz, who plays him in the Broadway musical, got teary-eyed Jan. 10 as he held the only known letter from Hamilton's son Philip to the man addressed as "Papa." The son asks his father for advice on a written presentation. He notes that his mentor had deleted a sentence Hamilton liked best.
 
"I'm overwhelmed," said Munoz, who held the delicate old piece of paper unprotected, asking permission to flip it over. "It's sort of like walking into someone's apartment and looking at the desk where they work. And that's so revealing about how their mind works."
 
Dozens of the letters penned by one of the nation's founding fathers will go on the block Jan. 18. The letters' estimated worth is between $1.4 million and more than $2 million. But Sotheby's expects the feverish interest in the megahit "Hamilton" likely will drive prices up.
 
The most valuable item of the auction, estimated at $300,000 to $500,000, is one of Hamilton's "Pacificus" essays. It probes a contentious issue. That is George Washington's declaration of his nation's neutrality in the conflict between France and Great Britain.
 
"This is a unique conjunction of historical material with the popular zeitgeist," said Selby Kiffer, the auction house's expert on books and manuscripts. "I have not experienced anything like this before."
 
The designer of the show's sets is David Korins. He also created parts of Sotheby's Americana exhibit space. The area includes the kind of furniture and art that surrounded Hamilton in his daily life.
 
Above the displays, Korins strung bungee-like tension cords. They are in red, white and blue. They serve as links leading visitors around. The cords reflect the threads of an American flag.
 
Munoz said that reading Hamilton's private thoughts on everything from his love life and political career to war and even gardening will have a deep effect on his performance. And, especially on the details that don't appear on Broadway.
 
"Part of the awe for me is how casual so much of this is," said Munoz. He and Korins giggled as they pored over one letter. In it, Hamilton writes flirtatious words to his sister-in-law, Angelica Church.
 
People expect every word and letter of such manuscripts to be lifted to historical dimensions, Munoz said. "Meanwhile, it's like, 'hey, how are you?' - you know, like my tweet to somebody, or I just texted my mom."
 
The letters belong to Hamilton's descendants.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why are these letters so revealing?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (27)
  • jasmina-bur
    1/26/2017 - 01:06 p.m.

    The Great Alexander Hamilton's letters were revealing for a number of reasons. One being that he is an open book. He told john Adams a lot of personal information in letters written to him about Elizabeth Schuyler Church. And also published his responses to people who publicly talked about him. This is why i feel like Alexander Hamilton's letters were so revealing.

  • tashara-kul
    1/26/2017 - 01:48 p.m.

    This is so cool! My Virginia and U.S. History teacher back in Virginia would be so happy to hear about this! Alexander Hamilton did so much in his time that so few people even realize it! These letters reveal so much about Hamilton. They reveal the way he thinks and the way he thought about our country.

  • carson-kul
    1/26/2017 - 01:59 p.m.

    This is really interesting. Those letters are so old and the fact that they have stayed in a pretty good condition for so many years and now they are auctioning them off. I disagree with that, i think they should be in a museum somewhere because those are written by one of our founding fathers. We shouldn't auction them off to the highest bidder who will probably take care of them but we need to show them off because they are an important piece of history.

  • hayleel-ste
    1/26/2017 - 02:12 p.m.

    Why don't they keep the letters safe where they know they wont get destroyed? The letters are not something that can be replaced they are one of our founding fathers thoughts and feelings wrote on a piece of paper. That to me is a valuable item of history they should be cherished not auctioned away.

  • eduardov-kul
    1/27/2017 - 11:02 a.m.

    Those letter are really old but they are in good conditions. I think they should be in a place with security because it was written by one of the founding fathers. This letters are really important pieces for the U.S history. The letters cost more than 1.4 million.

  • aidenw1-kur
    1/31/2017 - 01:24 p.m.

    Dozens of the letters penned by one of the nation's founding fathers will go on the block Jan. 18. The letters' estimated worth is between $1.4 million and more than $2 million. But Southey's expects the feverish interest in the megabit "Hamilton" likely will drive prices up.

  • giavannac-orv
    2/01/2017 - 02:56 p.m.

    Maybe because they are his thoughts. they aren't written by someone else they are directly from him so they aren't edited or revised

  • sierrab-ste
    2/02/2017 - 09:07 a.m.

    Why don't they just put the letters in a museum instead of selling them? That part makes no sense to me. These letters show people what was going through his head. I can only imagine how expensive it would be to buy one of these.

  • quintinj-orv
    2/03/2017 - 11:12 a.m.

    these letters are so revealing because,Dozens of the letters penned by one of the nation's founding fathers will go on the block Jan. 18.

  • jordanb1-bur
    2/06/2017 - 12:47 p.m.

    The letters are so revealing because they are his thoughts. It helps what people think and how they look at him. They show his perspective of our founding fathers.

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