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Dan about town

From Yorktown to York Avenue

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In 1788, Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper no. 68 that the Electoral College was meant to stop people with “talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” from becoming president. Oh well. On 12 January, Sotheby’s held a press preview for its auction of the Founding Father’s letters and invited members of the cast and crew from the hit Broadway musical that bears the statesman’s name (the show’s star, Javier Muñoz, stopped by a couple of days earlier). Among the documents are love letters to Hamilton’s future wife Eliza Schuyler, and his being named aide-de-camp to George Washington—key plot points in the show.

"This is the great intellectual craftsmanship of the period, said Selby Kiffer, the auction house’s international senior books and manuscripts specialist, says that ideally the works would go to great collectors and institutions. “But I would be disingenuous if I said we didn’t hope some fans of Hamilton might want to have an original letter that is mentioned in the show.” The show's set designer David Korins mentioned that he was reading some of Hamilton's letters to his sister-in-law Angelica and that "they're really dirty, for the time, only he ends every proposition with a question mark? It's weird."

Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays vice-president Aaron Burr and rose to national attention when he read a letter of dissent onstage to the then-vice president-elect Mike Pence, stayed in character. “Hamilton was an asshole,” he scoffed. Dixon also said he didn’t feel at all left behind by the contemporary fervour surrounding his character’s nemesis. “I sign a lot of ‘A. Burr’ hats, my friend.”