hamilton 2

I think we can all agree with President Barack Obama and half of New York that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” is the sensation of the season. As I watched the curtain come down at the Richard Rodgers Theater last month, one of my thoughts was: “Noooo, I don’t want it to be over.” And then I thought…isn’t hip-hop all about the appropriation and remixing? I would like to dedicate this rhyme to everything I learned from Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest. Without further ado, in hipambic pentameter, here’s my suggested “outtake,” to be sung/rapped as a duet of Thomas Jefferson (in red) and Sally Hemings (in blue) —

“They’re Not Ready/They’re Ready, or The Election of 1804”

So Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton

And I was worried how I’d handle them

Rest his soul, A Ham’s gone, A Burr’s a disgrace

Why even bother with this presidential race?

The scandal’s yours, Burr’s your vice-president

I hate him, a truth that’s held self-evident

What happened to departing for Monticello?

The capital just started, I just said hello

Folks must learn the virtues of less government

From you? Thomas, you’ve hardly under-spent

On Barbary wars and the land you bought from France

(In) my second term belts will tighten on our pants

It’s time to prove the ethics of Republicans

Right now it looks like ethics are “because you can”

Those midnight judges you blocked? Oh that again?

Well not again, thanks Marbury versus Madison

Our dollar’s weak while England and France collect their forces

Americans are scared, this is no time to change horses

It’s a young country, Sally, you know that times are heady

They’re ready/They’re not ready/They’re ready/They’re not ready

They don’t understand the tariffs we levee

They’re ready/They’re not ready/They’re ready/They’re not ready

Look at the papers, their grievances are petty

They’re ready/They’re not ready/They’re ready/They’re not ready


If you must run again you could outlaw the trade (Sally…)

Of humans; never import another slave

They’re not ready. WHAT? I mean the Senate

And the House love slavery and won’t end it

But you’re ready? Yes. Tom, you got some strange notions

You send Yankee soldiers across the oceans

And then Lewis and Clark across the nation

To civilize what was already civilization

The only reason Napoleon sold half the continent

Was after Haiti’s slave revolt, his troops were dead and spent

Toussaint Louverture, inspired by you, became a hero

How many black Haitians got your invitations? Zero

You should know brown people know more of life, not less

You have four yourself. (beat) Sally, I’m impressed.

So were our merchants, so I sent troops to Tripoli

And Lewis west after his long year studying with me

Education for our nation, you forgot my best point

I established military scholarship at West Point

Haiti’s a mess, where’s a library or university?

Brown-skins like our kids study up, then converse with me

It wasn’t my skin, but my school books that bred me

They’re ready/They’re not ready/They’re ready/They’re not ready

Hard to read when your back’s all sweaty

They’re ready/They’re not ready/They’re ready/They’re not ready

Indians and Arabs need lessons that are heavy

They’re ready/They’re not ready/They’re ready/They’re not ready

sally hemings

Okay, Mister French Enlightenment Erudition

Just remember not everyone can afford the tuition

And if the Congress and your Cabinet are so smart

Why, behind my back, do they still call me your tart?

Or a concubine? Tom with your power you could summon

Them to read the Vindication of the Rights of Woman

(She pulls out a book with Mary Wollstonecraft’s name on the cover.)

Give us the vote and we’ll give you a different oversight

Sally! I can’t change Congress overnight

If you insist on running one more time – look at me Thomas –

I insist that you make me a quite makeable promise

Ban the slave trade. Sally! Tom, twas only four years past

That Congress passed a law against trade investment, at last

And against our citizens serving on slaver ships

That’s a lot! And now all we need is leadership

(She hands him a sheaf of papers, the top clearly labeled “The Abolition of the Slave Trade.”)

Ban the slave trade. Sally, listen, if we end the trade

Plantation owners will whip their slaves until they’ve made

More children, then before you know what for

North and South resentment could lead to civil war

Ban the slave trade. Our democracy’s so fragile

Give us more years, I know by then we’ll be more agile

Ban the slave trade. For our children. I know they’re ready

But Congress and our people only just learned to rock steady

Ban the slave trade. Sally I see where you’ve led me!

They’re ready/They’re not ready/They’re ready/They’re not ready

And if I don’t, will history regret me?

They’re ready/They’re not ready/They’re ready/They’re not ready

Oh heaven I don’t believe in will you help me?

They’re ready/They’re not ready/They’re ready/They’re not ready

(together) THEY’RE READY!!!