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Everyone give it up for America’s favorite fightin’ Frenchman! Daveed Diggs digs deep and declaims diatribe with dizzying dispatch, as Gallic gallant garners guns and galleons for grateful General George.

If I were my wife, I could write this whole thing in alliteration, but I’m me and that’s my limit. Listen, if you haven’t tried to rap Lafayette’s part in “Guns and Ships,” stop reading and go try it now. It is so much fun, and if you can do it without a slip, you will earn serious coolness points from any child you may be trying to impress. I had to practice a couple of dozen times, but it was worth it. Extra points for a French accent, unless you’re French. But if you can’t manage that, hey, even Diggs reverts to his natural accent at “get your right hand man back.”

Vocabulary word of the day, in fact of the play: “ingenuitive.” I looked it up, sure it would be a neologism; it turns out it is pretty new, though Miranda didn’t coin it. WordPress is giving me the squiggly red line, but it’s a good and needed word. Haven’t you ever reached for an adjectival form of “ingenuity” and found yourself trying, and rejecting, “ingenuous”? Haven’t we all? So, you get even more points if you can work “ingenuitive” plausibly into conversation and help get it into the dictionary.

Lafayette advises Washington to bring Hamilton back to the front–I don’t know whether that part is true, but we did “win this war at Yorktown,” and Hamilton was a key leader in that battle–and he does, giving him his sword and his command in “History Has Its Eyes on You.”

He also gives him advice of the “here’s what I wish I’d known when I was young like you” variety, in almost those words, and Hamilton has cooled off enough since their shouting match to listen. (Washington is almost 50, which makes him twice Hamilton’s age, and far more experienced in battle, and at least he doesn’t call him “son” again.) Christopher Jackson, who plays Washington, gets to take the raps (heh) off that rich, husky voice. His singing here and in “One More Time,” in the second act, literally makes me weak in the knees. It’s humble and powerful, like Washington’s character; we hear the emotion that has always stayed with him in the line “I witnessed their deaths first hand,” the importance of what he’s telling Hamilton in the line “You have no control.”

The looming crisis brings up themes that were introduced in “Alexander Hamilton,” of our lives becoming stories that we eventually call history, of the future watching us critically and not always kindly (or even accurately). Eliza sang of them in “That Would Be Enough” when she asked to be “part of the narrative / In the story they will write some day”; now Washington, who has lived in the harsh spotlight of history for years, is telling Hamilton that it’s not all roses when the “history book mentions [you]” (“Alexander Hamilton”):

Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory:
You have no control
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story.

The company sings the “whoas” from “My Shot,” telling us: these colonies are rising up. The time has come; the decisive battle is before them. But Washington isn’t giving a pep talk. He doesn’t tell his protegé about glory, except to imply that it’s a pipe dream that one discards as age and wisdom advance. Instead, he wants him to know about mistakes, shame, and the torturous burden that rests on your shoulders when you realize that what you are doing really matters. If you have been fortunate enough to have that kind of mentor (as I have), you know how powerful such moments are. Washington is handing Hamilton a heavy weight, and telling him he knows he can carry it (“I know that greatness lies in you”), because he, too, was young and flawed and yet he is bearing the burden with courage. Now that’s leadership.

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