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Posted: April 10th, 2008
Alexander Hamilton and the National Triumph of New York City

New York City is the source for the quintessentially American traits of capitalism, ethnic tolerance, free speech, and reliance on lawyers and lawsuits. Yet the New York legacy generally goes unrecognized. How did New York come to have such a formative influence on the United States? And how did it manage to do so without getting any of the credit? Warren Shaw, historian, lets us know that — more than anyone else —: Alexander Hamilton is the answer to both of these questions. This event was held at the Morris Jumel Mansion, by the Historic House Trust.


  • comments (20)
  • Beth

    Wonderful talk on such an unappreciated aspect of our history. I would love to see Warren Shaw host a show on Thirteen detailing more of our city’s little known history!

  • Lynn

    Great lecture! Mr. Shaw’s exploration of Hamilton is unique and fascinating. Shaw is a very entertaining speaker.

  • Jennifer

    GREAT lecture! Thoughtful, original, and entertaining as heck!

  • Jonathan Kolleeny, Brooklyn, New York

    I have attended a number of Warren Shaw’s lectures, all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed. The impressive depth and breadth of his knowledge, combined with his wry sense of humor, render his talks both highly informative and pleasantly entertaining. Mr. Shaw’s lectures about the role of New York City and New Yorkers in the early development of our nation have been particularly fascinating. I was unable to attend this lecture on Alexander Hamilton and New York City, so I’m grateful that Thirteen has made it available for viewing on-line, and I’d like to second Beth’s suggestion (above) that Mr. Shaw host a show on Thirteen about New York City’s history.

  • Moya

    Fascinating talk. I’d love to see more of Warren’s lectures posted here as I’ve been unable to attend many of them. I would also love to see him host a show–or, better still, a series–on Thirteen about New York City history.

  • James C.

    I, too, have attended several of Warren Shaw’s lectures and have always had a good time. I agree with the other posters to this site that it would be great to see him host a series on Thirteen. I would definately watch. He is very entertaining, charasmatic for a historian, and draws the audience in by giving us a good long look at the brutal, unglamourous, often funny and usually shocking and lacivious truth about our nation’s history… all the the good stuff our grade school teachers wouldn’t tell us. Warren Shaw always ties in the past with present day issues, so the audience can see clearly where we’ve come from and why things are the way they are today. Have any of you had a chance to visist Warren Shaw’s website http://www.WarrenShawHistorian.com? I have and I downloaded the audio of a couple of his lectures and found them to be really interesting. I liked the speech about First Houses and the one about the New York City disability rights movement, something I knew nothing about.

  • Benjamin Jieve, PhD

    Warren Shaw is both an accomplished and entertaining lecturer with an endless reserve of facts and anecdotes. He clearly knows and loves his material. Looking forward to future lectures. Someone give that man a PBS show!

  • Jenina Lepard

    Warren Shaw is obviously an accomplished historian and presenter. His preparation was meticulous and his delivery was engaging. It was a pleasure to watch and listen to him. Well done!

  • Joel W. Grossman, Ph.D.

    Warren Shaw has again presented an insightful, informative and enjoyable view of New York history in general and of Alexander Hamilton in particular. He is an accomplished scholar, and his treatments of key aspects of New York’s past are distinguished by his use of legal and economic history to provide fresh perspectives on what have emerged as otherwise unique treatments of key events and players in the colonial history of Manhattan. His use of often previously little-referenced legal and archival sources has provided new lines of evidence for understanding of key periods and events that have seldom been addressed by traditional academic treatments..

    As a teacher who is clearly at ease with his material, and one who is at clearly comfortable in both popular and academic settings, he has once again demonstrated his well-honed skills in the “friendly” transliteration of the past to the public.

    He is a resource for New York legal, political and economic history that deserves to be tapped to provide his unique insights to a broader audience base. I too, support the idea that he is a prime candidate for a formal lecture series for Public Television.

  • Paul

    Fabulous! Where else can you learn about grave robbing doctors and New York City’s quintessential role in the rise of modern capitalism and American culture. Recommended by a friend, I have been lucky enough to attend a few of Mr. Shaw’s lectures. He is absolutely one of New York’s best kept secrets. I would love to see a show on Thirteen with him. That such a thing is possible, is one of the many reasons to continue supporting channel Thirteen. My only regret is that once the secret is out, there will be more competition to get into his lectures.

  • Tina

    Warren Shaw is an excellent lecturer. He is an amazing resource for NY history, and makes it accessible to all. I’d love to hear more of his lectures on 13′s site.

  • David Greene

    Even though I’m a native New Yorker, I really didn’t know much about Hamilton (other than the fact that Burr shot him in a duel…) This program was excellent: good presentation, interesting content and – most importantly – it tied Hamilton into the larger picture of American History. I should have saved this on TiVO!!!

  • Shannon Wagner

    Unfortunately, I’ve missed the last few of Warren’s live lectures, so I am glad that I’ve been able to view this one via the online archive.

    Thanks, all..

  • Eleanore

    A very enjoyable and informative lecture! Please let me know if there are any more Warren Shaw lectures available – I’d love to see more.

  • Kyleann Burtt

    This was GREAT!! I’m not normally one to seek out lectures on NYC history but Warren Shaw is informative and entertaining and I look forward to seeing more of him in the future!

  • Tom Dowling

    Warren’s skill in delivery is equalled only by his obvious love for and expertise with respect to his subject matter. Warren has a singular and consistent ability to put his finger on both the major themes and the insightful and telling anecdotes that make his subject come alive. I very much look forward to his next presentation, which I hope to get to in person. That having been said, it is most appropriate that this presentaion on Hamilton is available on line. It deserves a wider audience than the fortunate folks who had the good sense to attend in person.

  • Tina Manning

    I was taking a walk in my friend’s neighborhood last week and accidently came across Warren Shaw giving a lecture called “Bums, Slummers, and Swells–Social Class and the Birth of American Popular Culture on the Lower East Side, 1825-1855″. It was wonderful. I heard that Thirteen Forum (the greatest invention since air conditioning) is going to post that lecture on this site, which means I can see the first few minutes that I missed. So I came to 13 Forum in search of it, and found, instead, this other Warren Shaw lecture on Hamilton. My friend and I watched it and loved it. Great work. Anyone know when “Bums Slummers and Swells” is goignt o be aired?

  • Paul

    And how did it manage to do so without getting any of the credit? Because only an excess of civic pride would believe, much less repeat, so extravagant a claim.

    Most cities have had capitalism, ethnic tolerance, free speech, and relied on lawyers and lawsuits; Philadelphia did long before Hamilton was born.

    Hamilton generally opposed free speech, and engaged in French-baiting all his life; in 1776, he urged the Americans to rebel before the Catholicism of Quebec was imposed on us. Surely there was another choice for apostle? If we need a New Yorker, Jay or Livingston or Clinton would be better; if not, Madison or Franklin or Marshall.

  • John Hogrogian

    The story of Hamilton is a wonderful tale, intimately bound up with NYC. I look forward to Professor Shaw’s next lecture on NYC and pop culture. I am fascinated with the image of someone clobbering John Jay with a brick. That’s rough treatment for a future Chief Judge of the NY Supreme Court, Chief Justice of the United States, and Governor of New York.

  • Mike

    Had the pleasure of seeing this lecture live, in the lovely (and somewhat ironic) location of Aaron Burr’s house. Mr. Shaw is a gifted presenter, with a keen eye for details typically overlooked elsewhere, which he presents in an accessible, easy-going manner. Look forward to seeing more of Mr. Shaw’s work posted here; please consider adding “How Nieuw Amsterdam Became New York” to this site–it’s a perfect look at the origins of this city, and how some things never change!

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