Hamilton Blog Post: One Last Time
This song places the musical’s story straight into 1797, where George Washington resigned from being president. Within the song, Washington explains his reasoning to leave his position, relating directly to the historical event that occurred, being Washington’s resignation. Its also advances the plot by explaining the leaving of a character who played a large role in the story so far. The song starts out with Washington asking Hamilton to see him, and explains that he wants to step down from his position. Washington then tells Hamilton to start to write his final address, even though Hamilton strongly disagrees with the decision to leave, because Hamilton firmly believed that a president should serve for as long as possible. Throughout the song, we hear Washington singing out the title of the song, “One last time.” The title, along with the line “we’re gonna teach ’em how to say goodbye”, shows that Washington has made up his mind, and wanted to show the citizens of America that they needed to have a peaceful pass of power from president to president, as well as the importance and benefit of saying ‘goodbye’. It also reveals that Washington wants to retire because of his farmland back in Virginia. We also see that he is in a much more relaxed mood, as evident with the lines “Relax, have a drink with me” and “Lets take a break tonight”, which also shows that Washington acknowledges Hamilton’s hard work, and wants him to take a break. This is also corroborated by the line “I know you’re busy”, said at the beginning of the song, which additionally matches with a line from Angelica in the song “Take a Break”, which shows Hamilton’s dedication to his work over other things.
Connections to Historical Evidence:
A large piece of George Washington’s final address is featured within the song, linking the song with the event immensely. In the song, Washington is also seen telling Hamilton what he wanted on the address, which in history, actually happened, with Hamilton helping Washington write the address. In the song, Washington asks Hamilton to include the topics of neutrality and the knowledge and wisdom that he had gained during his time as president, showing that they valued their leaders, and the knowledge they possessed, to lead them in the right direction with a war waging between America, their ally, France, and a vindictive Britain trying to take back their colonies. It also shows that they valued the common person, as well as rights and independence, being the reason they chose a farmer from Virginia to lead the country to independence. This also directly connects with the Big Idea that Emerging ideas and ideologies profoundly influence societies and events. A new idea, being independence, and valuing the common person, is directly changing the way that the people choose their leader. It also connects with Washington’s reason for resignation. The idea that we should change leaders every two turns and that the citizens need to understand how to “say goodbye” still sticks with America today, with a rule that a president can only serve two terms. it also traces back the tradition of a final address to the nation, not regarding actions or politics, but talking about what they have gained, “the hard-won wisdom” that they have earned from being leader.
Thematic and Personal Connections:
I found the level of depth in “One Last Time” to be very interesting. On the surface, a level of understanding is given from listening to the song for the first time. With a basic understanding of the events and the song, it is about Washington resigning and having Hamilton write a final address. However, with a deeper analysis, certain nods towards events in real history and other things in the play can be found. Some of these, including the line “I know you’re busy” from this song and “I know you’re very busy” from “Take A Break” show a reference Hamilton’s priorities. In “Take A Break”, Angelica tells Hamilton that he should spend more time with family, but decides to ignore the words. However, when Washington says a very similar line, Hamilton takes it, and decides to work, showing his devotion to working. The entire song follows a theme of letting go and hope, as Washington resigns, and finally feels free from his position, and can relax back on his property in mount Virginia. It also features Hamilton representing the citizens of America, not wanting Washington to resign from president, believing in the old ways with a monarchy. Since the ‘country’ was new, they did not know how their ruling system would work out. The theme that I came up with for this was “To move forwards, a norm needs to be altered to make way for new opportunity.” The line that proves this is “I’m stepping down, I’m not running for president”, shaping the concept of leaving presidency into what we now know it as. The line also serves and a turning point and the leaving of a major character in the musical. Hamilton also asks “Why do you have to say goodbye”, which is representative of the nation not knowing if a president should serve all they can, or be able to resign from their work. This progresses the musical in two ways, by removing a key character, and making room for a new character to take power, being John Adams in “The Adams Administration.” It also relates to the line “If I say goodbye, the nation learns to move on”, explaining not only Washington’s reasoning for leaving, but also moving the plot forwards, and towards a climax. It also relates back to the theme of hope, and hoping for a better future after something is gone.