Hamilton actually does adress the “all these people were horrible and had slaves” issue, but it does so at times subtly. It’s not holding your hand about it, it’s not there to give you a lecture about the fact that most of the founding fathers owned slaves - because quite frankly you should know that already.
But that doesn’t mean it’s ignored. Jefferson singing “looking at the rolling fields, I can’t believe that we are free” while being surrounded by his slaves, hit me SO HARD the first time I actually saw the footage bc WOW what a colossal piece of shit.
Laurens interlude hit me equally hard, but not primarily bc of Lauren’s death - which is sad - but bc of the line “the surviving members of this regiment have been returned to their masters”.
But after that interlude? Alexander says “I have so much work to do” and throws himself into his work and Non-stop tells us about all the millions of things he did - and speaking out against slavery is exactly none of them. It’s what the Laurens we see in the musical was all about and yet Alexander only ever speaks out against slavery either, in Act 1 when Laurens is pushing him to do so, or in Act 2 when he can use it to get a sick burn on Jefferson.
That burn btw? “’We plant seeds in the south, we create’ yeah keep ranting, we know who’s really doing the planting” nice callout there but you know what happens like 10 seconds later?
“You wanna pull yourself together”
“I’m sorry these virginians are birds of a feather”
“Young man I’m from virginia so watch your mouth!”
This is subtle, but the fact that Washington tells Hamilton to stop down talking virginia after Hamilton just called the South out on slavery? It’s still telling.
Then there’s Eliza’s line in the end “I speak out against slavery, you could have done so much more if you only had time”. And that has me thinking, again, okay but he was constantly writing wasn’t he? We’re told and shown repeatedly that Hamilton did, as they say, The Most. He could have absolutely spoken out against slavery more and on that, note? So could Eliza. She names it as one of the things she does here, in the end, right alongside telling the stories of the soldiers Hamilton fought with and Washington.
Hamilton doesn’t hold your hand and walk you through history and tells you “hey these people founded the USA but they were also horrible people”. It instead tells you the story of Hamilton and it tells it to you through Hamilton’s and Burr’s eyes - deeply flawed people who don’t find all that much wrong with slavery or at least not enough to make it a priority.
So yes. Maybe if you go into it not already knowing that these were not good people, you might get the impression that Washington was really cool and maybe the musical should have done more to make it clear that he wasn’t, that’s not for me to say.
But idk, I’m not entirely sure how to formulate this, but the fact that you can enjoy this show and enjoy it a second time and then finally start catching the subtle and not so subtle ways (and really the having the video along with the audio makes a huge difference) the fact that SLAVERY IS A THING is woven tightly into the background, in the way many of the ensemble members clearly portray slaves, not only during What did I miss, but throughout the second act, the way it’s portrayed as “oh yeah it’s there but we’re only mad about it when Jefferson does it and even then, not like, a lot” it sickens you, it punches you in the gut, it drives the point home, that fuck, that entire time was fucked up, how was that not all of y’all’s first priority, wtf Alex why would you ever let those people be returned to their Masters, Laurens died for this?!?!
Not to mention of course, that Hamilton’s popularitiy inspired a lot of “this is what Hamilton left out” articles about the historical accuracy of it, that might actually have informed people more about history than they would have otherwise been. Though seriously. Everyone should really already have known that Jefferson and Washington owned slaves (I’d say everyone should have known Hamilton profited from the Schuyler family owning slaves, but let’s be honest here, I didn’t know much about Hamilton other than “he was a founding father of the usa” before this musical and neither did most people probably)