Liberty Hall Museum at Kean University Reveals new Hamilton Discoveries

Part of CelebrateHamilton 2016 program

06.29.16

Never before seen documents related to Alexander Hamilton, the founding father of the United States who is the subject of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, were unveiled at Liberty Hall Museum at Kean University on July 7. During Hamilton’s time in New Jersey, he stayed at the home of William Livingston, who would become the first elected governor of New Jersey.

The original will of Hamilton’s half-brother Peter Lavien, dated 1780, was found in the collection at Liberty Hall. John Kean, a business partner of Peter Lavien and nephew of William Livingston, was the executor of Lavien’s estate. The will shows that Lavien left an inheritance to Hamilton and his brother James. 

Personal letters from John Kean to his wife Susan, written during the Yellow Fever outbreak of 1793 in Philadelphia, were also on display. Kean writes about the death toll from the outbreak and gives updates on Hamilton and his wife Elizabeth, who both became sick with the disease, but recovered. 

“These letters bring these historic figures to life,” said Bill Schroh Jr., director of museum operations at Liberty Hall. “They are more than paintings on a wall. They are real people living in a difficult time.”

Also at the Liberty Hall event, Hamilton scholar Michael E. Newton debunked the myth that Hamilton’s promiscuity prompted Martha Washington to name her tomcat after him. Newton traced the story to its roots and proved that the widely believed anecdote is not true. Newton’s findings were reported in the media, including The Washington Post.

Liberty Hall Museum at Kean University was the second stop on the Young Immigrant Hamilton Tour, which was part of the CelebrateHAMILTON 2016 program. The annual event, held by the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society, explores Alexander Hamilton's life and legacy. The Young Immigrant Hamilton Tour visits historic sites associated with Alexander Hamilton's time in the Elizabethtown, New Jersey area as a young preparatory school student.