'Hamilton' Fans Rate 2016 Candidates at Historical Society Gala

  • Rubio, Bush, Kasich, Clinton are named during cocktail hour
  • No rapping but Chernow, Lin-Manuel Miranda tell of first meet

The New-York Historical Society’s honoring of Ron Chernow and Lin-Manuel Miranda -- leading lights of the "Hamilton: The Musical" team -- provided an occasion to consider which presidential candidate best embodies Alexander Hamilton.

"Jeb Bush, not that he has much chance," Richard Gilder said Monday night at Cipriani Wall Street.

David Nasaw, Roger Hertog and Byron Wien

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

"Rubio is the most like Hamilton," said Byron Wien. "He’s not an immigrant, but he’s the son of immigrants."

"There’s no one as smart" as Hamilton, Roger Hertog lamented before listing how a candidate could carry a Hamilton torch nonetheless: "Be pro-growth, pro-trade, pro-capitalism, pro-entrepreneurship, pro-immigrant."

"He was pro-adultery," Wien added, referring to Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds, which he confessed to in a 1797 pamphlet.

Peter May and Howard Berkowitz

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Howard Berkowitz made a case for John Kasich. The Ohio governor "is a very bright individual who knows finances. He worked for Lehman Brothers. Hamilton created our financial system."

Hamilton Investor

"I have to go with Hillary, because the others are all jokes," said Peter May. "On the Democratic or the Republican side?" Berkowitz asked. "In total," May said.

Then bringing two fingers close together May indicated he had "invested about this much, so it doesn’t really matter," in "Hamilton: The Musical." "For Peter, ‘this much’ is somewhere between 400 billion and 500 billion," Berkowitz quipped.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, happy Hamiltonian

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Probably assuming that guests had already enjoyed the show at least once, Miranda and the cast had a true night off from performing. Instead, Chernow recalled in a conversation on stage the first time he met Miranda. It was backstage at "In the Heights," where Miranda told him he’d been reading his Hamilton biography on a hammock in Mexico and hip-hop had started jumping off the page.

‘Surprise People’

As guests made their way home holding cookies iced to resemble a $10 bill, Miranda admitted that he hadn’t given the current crop of candidates "a lick of attention -- but some have come to see the show."

Louise Mirrer, the museum’s president, praised the rapping and multiracial cast of the Broadway hit as ways to make history fresh. At the museum, “Our main strategy is surprise people, not be a text book, not to tell them what they know," Mirrer said.

A few years ago, some of the museum’s teen interns even wrote a rap about the Marquis de Lafayette, the Frenchman who aided the American Revolution. "It was a rap song about Lafayette’s shoes,” Mirrer said of the teens’ contribution to an exhibition. “It was pretty cool.”

Harold Holzer, an Abraham Lincoln scholar, is awaiting a rap about the 16th president. "Darnit, they’re still doing the Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Richard Gilder and Lois Chiles Gilder

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Gilder was honored as a visionary philanthropist who had the idea to do an exhibition on Hamilton more than 10 years ago. "The Man Who Made Modern America" was a blockbuster for the New-York Historical Society, paving the way for revitalization and expansion at the museum. One nice vital sign of the evening was the amount raised, almost $2.9 million.

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