Local News

Letters from Alexander Hamilton held in Duke University Library

Posted November 14, 2018 5:49 p.m. EST
Updated November 14, 2018 10:12 p.m. EST

— The musical "Hamilton" has created excitement in the Triangle since its opening at Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), but long before the show set up shop in the Bull City letters from the prolific writer ended up at Duke.

Five handwritten letters connected with Hamilton are held in Duke University's Rubenstein Library.

Dr. Trudi Abel is the librarian charged with keeping the letters at Duke.

"We have two Hamilton, two of Burr and one by Hamilton's father-in-law, General Schuyler,” she said.

According to Abel, Duke students are excited to discover the handwritten documents which include Hamilton's signature.

They are signed:

"Your obedient servant, Alexander Hamilton"

One of the letters is from November 1791 and was most likely written by a clerk. The handwriting changes with the unmistakable signature.

"Hamilton is writing from the department of the treasury...trying to get some information from some 'agents,'" Abel said.

The letters may be as close as readers ever come to being in "the room where it happened" as described in the musical.

"It's a government document, probably not everybody's choice for fun reading," Abel said.

She describes the letters as a chance to look back at history.

Another letter from Hamilton was dated 1803.

The librarian has not seen seen the musical but she said, "It’s a wish, a hope for a wish.”

"Hamilton" is playing at the DPAC through early December.