The song serves to introduce the characters, primarily Hamilton. It also explains Hamilton's backstory and early life. Finally, it brings us into the present as they tell the story of Alexander.
Difference between versions
- The version performed at the White House is from the perspective of Burr, rather than from multiple characters.
- The version on the Soundboard Recording is missing the characters introducing themselves towards the end of the song.
- This song was performed at the 2016 Grammys live from the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York City. The performance was broadcast via satellite to the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where the main ceremony was being held. Hamilton won a Grammy later the same night for Best Musical Theater Album.
- This is the first song that Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote for the show.
- Lin-Manuel Miranda performed this song at The White House Poetry Jam on May 12, 2009.
- The cast of Hamilton performed "Alexander Hamilton" and "My Shot" at the White House on March 14, 2016.
- The first line of the musical:
- Hamilton is called a "son of a whore" because his mother, Rachel Faucette Buck, had him illegitimately with his father, James A. Hamilton. Despite this, she was not a prostitute, and was thus wronged falsely by her legitimate husband when in suing her for divorce he accused her of "whoring with everyone".
- He is called the "son of a Scotsman" as his father was the fourth son a Scottish laird.
- The lyric "The ten-dollar founding father without a father"refers to Alexander Hamilton's picture on the ten united states dollar bill. In 2015, President Barack Obama had decided to redesign the ten dollar bill, and put the face of an American woman on it. However, the global popularity of the musical Hamilton, made the US Treasury reconsider their decision. Mrs. Hillary Clinton, who was the 67th United States secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 as well as a fan of the Hamilton musical, told a New York Daily News editorial board meeting she'd "keep Hamilton where he is." Ultimately, thanks to social media, political pressure and legendary hip-hop/rap music, Hamilton stayed on the ten dollar bill. Andrew Jackson, the 7th controversial President who supported slavery and the genocide of millions of Native Americans was removed from the twenty dollar bill. Harriet Tubman, a former slaver and the first women as well as first African-American person to be in charge of a military operation which freed thousands of slaves, now has her picture on the redesigned twenty dollar bill.