Starting in 1764, Boston’s Faneuil Hall was the site where colonial Americans gathered to voice their discontent against British rule, be it the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, or the Sugar Act. In October of 1772, a young Alexander Hamilton arrived in the nearby Boston Harbor from St. Croix thanks to a scholarship he earned to study North America’s British Colonies. After a punishing voyage that involved a devastating fire on the ship, Hamilton was disinclined to head back out on the sea. He headed straight to New York and never left the continent again. Today Faneuil Hall, a stop on Boston's famed Freedom Trail, is a bustling marketplace with tons of familiar chain stores and restaurants, souvenir carts, and street performers, but various landmark buildings still stand and tours are available.
The Morris-Jumel Mansion is the oldest house in Manhattan and, you might argue, the most historic. First the private home of a British military officer, then later a tavern, this building in the Washington Heights neighborhood was where George Washington resided between September and October of 1776. When GW was president, he hosted cabinet meetings there that Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton attended alongside Vice President John Adams and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. Now, a bit of plot twist: years later, Hamilton's frenemy Aaron Burr, who was VP when Jefferson became the second president, took up residence here and later married Eliza Jumel, the widow of Stephen Jumel, who owned the mansion from 1810 to his death in 1832. Admission to the home is $10 ($8 for students and seniors; free for members and children under 12.) Broadway trivia: NYC's Washington Heights also happens to be the setting for Lin-Manuel Miranda's first Broadway musical, the Tony-winning In the Heights.
It’s easy to think of Vermont as one of the most chill, peaceful states of the Lower 48, but it actually had a pretty rocky, violent start. It declared its independent statehood in 1777, but New York considered the area part of its own territory, thanks to a decree from across the pond. It gets a little complicated from there: many people in Vermont were actually New Hampshirites who owned Vermont land as a consequence of prior border dispute. The New Hampshire folks spoke up and New York wasn’t having it. Vermonters took up arms and pushed out the settlers from New York. But that state was a powerful force in the Continental Congress, so when Vermont petitioned for sovereignty as a state, they were refused. They existed as an independent republic for 14 years and at one point even lobbied to be absorbed by Canada. Enter: New York state legislator Hamilton, who saw independent Vermont as a threat to America’s security. In 1787 he created a bill that ordered NY’s representatives to recognize Vermont’s statehood. The bill died, but Hamilton’s persistence prevailed in the end, as he organized a settlement between the two states. The empire state finally acquiesced and, in 1791, once Vermont paid New York $30,000, it entered the Union. So the next time you think about that tranquil New England state, thank Hamilton.
On the morning of July 11, 1804, General Hamilton and Colonel Aaron Burr, the then-sitting vice president, crossed the Hudson River in separate boats and arrived in Weehawken, New Jersey. We all know the fateful outcome of that legendary shootout. The site is where the ten full paces were measured and Hamilton met his end. A monument to commemorate the duel was first built in 1806, but vandals, allegedly in pursuit of souvenirs, destroyed it. A road was built through the site in 1858 and in 1879, the nearby railroad tracks were rearranged and completely destroyed the place. Nevertheless, several more attempts at memorials were made, all to no permanent avail. But in 1935, Italian sculptor John Rapetti, who was later involved in making the Statue of Liberty, created a bronze statue that stands today next to the tranquil Hamilton Park, offers a breathtaking view of Manhattan. It's just a short stroll uphill from the Port Imperial ferry station.
Hamilton’s legacy is so strong and pervasive in Philadelphia that the city formally commemorated it in April 2017 with the opening of the Museum of the American Revolution. Elsewhere throughout the city are sites where Hamilton solidified his place as a legend in the then-emerging nation’s political and financial worlds. There are free self-guided tours through the U.S. Mint, Hamilton’s invention during his term as Secretary of Treasury. The First Bank, which was built between 1795 and 1797 and boasts dazzling classical architecture, was Hamilton’s stab at solving the young nation’s debilitating war debt, also during his term as Secretary of Treasury. While that was under construction, the newly created federal bank, the first not owned by a monarch, was located in nearby Carpenter’s Hall. The city of Philadelphia is so proud of its Hamiltonian history that they recruited Philadelphia writer Catherine Price to create an app that guides you on a walking tour and links the Broadway show's songs to the actual places.
The winter of 1777/1778 was a brutal one at Valley Forge, an encampment in Pennsylvania where about 9,000 soldiers faced freezing weather and a shortage of food and weapons. As congress avoided General Washington’s requests for assistance, Hamilton developed some of his strongest moral philosophies which informed his later political actions. Most notably at the time, he deemed Congress too obsessed with state interests to do anything to help the bigger country. As he sings in the show: "Sixty tents full of dysentery, death; Dying breaths and dilettantes and deserters in the distance; Congress, I beg of you, justify your existence; Are you men or just of bunch of indigenous infants?" A durable, confident, and proactive central government, he figured, was the only way to ensure that the country grows stronger, and that evolved into a core principal of his various notable creations.
Williamsburg, Virginia, is arguably the most well-known Revolutionary War locale (what with its veritable theme park and all!), and you better believe Hamilton had some skin in the game there. In 1781, he had just been granted command of a small regiment and his was among the forces stationed in Dobbs Ferry, New York. With the plan to attack British defenses in Yorktown, Virginia, Hamilton’s troops joined the rest to trek 300 miles south for that battle. After they encamped close to the water for four days, Hamilton headed to the heart of Williamsburg on September 24 for final battle prep, including a thorough inventory of the swords, muskets, bayonets and plenty of other artillery. On September 28, his battalion was one of the combined American and French forces to march to Yorktown. He successfully led the storming of a major British brigade, which we look back on now as the Battle of Yorktown’s critical turning point, a victory that ultimately resulted in French and American peace talks with Britain.
You might say that Yorktown Battlefield is the birthplace of our nation. It was here on October 19, 1781, that British General Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington and the new nation officially secured its independence. But the battle was actually commanded by Hamilton, General Washington's right-hand man. It was in the streets of this quaint town where, as they sing in the show, "the world turned upside down." Today the site is part of the National Park Service’s Colonial National Historical Park and draws heaps of tourists who come to see the Yorktown Victory Monument, a Civil War-era National Cemetery, and the nearby American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, which features everything from films to a re-created Continental Army encampment.
Schuyler Mansion, in Albany, the New York State capital was the residence of Philip J. Schuyler, a Revolutionary War general, US senator, and entrepreneur. From 1763 to 1804, Schuyler and his wife, Catharine Van Rensselaer, raised eight children in this stunning Georgian-style home and one of their daughters, Elizabeth, became Hamilton’s wife in 1780. Although the landmark building is known for being the location of Hamilton’s nuptials, it also goes down in history as being an ad hoc headquarters for military strategizing and political schmoozing. The posh, refined setting makes quite a backdrop for Revolutionary War era mingling. Tours are available. Temporary and public events and displays are on offer year-round.
Alexander Hamilton's legacy endures far beyond Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking Broadway musical. From the Revolutionary War battles he helped win to the site of his deadly duel with Aaron Burr, here are the travel destinations every Hamilton fan must see.