‘Hamilton’ is the story of America’s founding father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and the new nation’s first Treasury secretary.

What ‘Hamilton’ can teach us about education and inspiration

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — made possible by you.

In the same way that Alexander Hamilton’s sponsors recognized his talent and paid the way for him to pursue an education, donors who support Arizona State University students, research and programs play a major role in shaping our nation’s future.

We invite you to learn about and engage with university programs related to topics explored in performances of “Hamilton: An American Musical” —scheduled to return to ASU Gammage in October 2020 — and supported by donations large and small. These examples represent a few of the 5,000 designated areas that benefit from philanthropic contributions to Campaign ASU 2020.

Delivering democracy

Photo by Joan Marcus

At first glance, a hip-hop musical and interdisciplinary research venture may not hold much in common. Yet, in this case, they share values of egalitarianism and inclusion while both working to promote that the American dream belongs to all.

“Race” and “democracy” are two words that have been used to describe “Hamilton” — and they are also the focus of ASU’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy.

“How does a … orphan … impoverished, in squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?” the play asks.

ASU Charter: ‘Learning is for everyone.’

In that same vein, ASU’s mission of accessibility invites all qualified students to earn a college degree, regardless of background. CRSD, supported by annual gifts from its friends, embodies that mission by playing host to a film and arts series, workshops for the community, a mobile writing program and an annual distinguished lecture to build understanding of participatory democracy and draw the public into conversation about evolving meanings of freedom and equality.

200 years of speaking out for free speech

Photo by Joan Marcus

In 1804, Alexander Hamilton said Americans must have “the liberty of publishing truth, with good motives and for justifiable ends.”

More than 200 years later, another prominent lawyer, ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Professor and Dan Cracchiolo Chair in Constitutional Law James Weinstein, continues to defend those values.

Weinstein, who is also a faculty fellow at the Center for Law, Science and Innovation and an associate fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Public Law, has written extensively on the First Amendment and free speech in a free and democratic society. He has frequently been involved in cases defending free speech rights.

As a named chair, he joins other notable contributors to the scholarly world who are attracted to ASU in part because of the prestige bestowed by gifts of endowed professorships.

Revolution at ASU Libraries

‘Hamilton’ has come to ASU in multiple ways. The smash-hit musical has sparked the creation of new classes, and a visit from Leslie Odom Jr., Broadway’s original Aaron Burr. Odom Jr. visited as part of the annual Summer Community Read, which brings together ASU students, faculty and staff with members of the local community to read and reflect on a novel, culminating with an on-campus discussion with the author or related individuals.

In 1787, Alexander Hamilton asked James Madison and John Jay to join him in authoring essays under the name “Publius” to support ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The arguments initially ran in newspapers and were published in book form in 1788.

The first edition of “The Federalist Papers,” or “The Federalist,” was limited to 500 copies, one of which was acquired in 2017 by ASU’s privately supported new School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. It is housed in the special collections of the ASU Library. That rare copy was displayed at ASU Gammage and at other locations on the Tempe campus in the run up to “Hamilton” as part of the new department’s civic education mission.

Paul Carrese, founding director of the school, told the Arizona Republic that this special copy will be used for “education and inspiration” both for “the university community and the broader community.”

When “The Federalist” is not being displayed at ASU Gammage events and other ASU venues, its home is ASU Library — an emerging showplace, showcase and showroom for the university. The redesign of Hayden Library is informed by University Librarian Jim O’Donnell’s vision of what a library in the 21st century should be: a place that is accessible, welcoming and inspiring.

“We can do all kinds of events with these special books,” said Carrese, who already has introduced “The Federalist” to local schools and community members. “The university is very supportive of the idea of not just hiding them away in the archive.”

Whether through a book, a debate or on the stage of ASU Gammage, the university and its supporters are ensuring that everyone has access to learning about the fundamental principles and ideas that led to the formation of our country.

To support the growing list of research, learning and engagement opportunities through Campaign ASU 2020, please visit giveto.asu.edu.

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