Exhibit on Alexander Hamilton to open at Naper Settlement

Alexander Hamilton may have died as the result of a duel more than 200 years ago, but with the Broadway smash-hit "Hamilton: An American Musical" opening in Chicago later this month, his star has never shone so brightly.

Those who have had their curiosity piqued by the Broadway show can learn more about the influential Founding Father when the traveling exhibit "Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America" opens Tuesday, Sept. 13, at Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville. Before Hamilton was reborn in hip-hop, he played a central role in creating the economic, constitutional, political and foreign policy underpinnings for America today, according to this exhibit from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Library of New-York Historical Society.

"It's put together very well," said Jennifer Bridge, Naper Settlement curator. "I think people might be interested in some of the details relative to his personal life and how he impacted the shaping of the nation."

Through Wednesday, Oct. 12, the exhibit takes viewers from Hamilton's childhood in the West Indies, where he was orphaned by his early teens, to his death at age 47 in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr. In between, Hamilton fought with the Americans in the Revolutionary War and became a trusted adviser of George Washington, who made him the nation's first treasury secretary. As treasury secretary, the self-taught economist got the new nation off on sound financial footing with a single currency.

A member of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the writer of the majority of the Federalist Papers, Hamilton advocated a strong central government and helped persuade a skeptical public that the residents of individual states should become "We the People of the United States."

Hamilton was a ghostwriter for Washington's Farewell Address of 1796 warning the new nation against getting involved in European entanglements.

Ahead of his time on many issues, Hamilton was a strong opponent of slavery and believed that the United States should develop a diverse economy that offered the opportunity for a wide variety of people to use their talents.

But for all his accomplishments, Hamilton was not without his share of scandal and controversy. He incurred the lasting anger of Aaron Burr after he threw his support to Thomas Jefferson when Jefferson and Burr tied in the presidential election of 1800.

"He was a complex man," Bridge said. "The exhibit tries to deal with all the facets (of his character and life)."

The traveling exhibit consists primarily of reproductions of photographs and documents, and is supplemented by items loaned from Naperville resident Todd Andrlik, a collector, authority and archivist of 18th century newspapers. Andrlik's book, "Reporting the Revolutionary War: Before It Was History, It Was News," was named one of the top books of 2012 by Barnes and Noble.

Andrlik contributed to the exhibit an April 27, 1775, edition of the New York Gazetteer and a July 4, 1776, edition of the New York Packet. The New York Gazetteer, one of only six copies in existence, was published shortly after the first battles of the Revolutionary War. The New York Packet, one of four copies in existence, contains the news of the newly adopted Declaration of Independence.

Andrlik said Hamilton likely would have read both newspapers.

"He was a voracious reader," Andrlik said. "What I like about newspapers is that they let you see the world as Alexander Hamilton saw it."

Andrlik also has in the exhibit a map of New York, printed in 1807, that shows the position of the British and American troops in August 1776 before, during and after the Battle of Long Island in which Hamilton participated.

Although Hamilton played an active role in the American Revolution, Andrlik said Hamilton did not become well-known to the public until his support for the Constitution with the Federalist Papers.

Andrlik said he is pleased the Broadway musical has sparked an interest in this Founding Father and the multiple roles he played in shaping the nation. Andrlik and his wife, Hillary, traveled to New York last year to see the Broadway production of "Hamilton" and have their tickets for when the show opens Tuesday, Sept. 27, at PrivateBank Theatre in Chicago.

"It's an amazing production," Andrlik said. "It's rare that you see such a great mix of history and entertainment."

The Hamilton exhibit is open at Naper Settlement 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 12. It is free with regular admission of $12 for ages 13 and older, $10 for seniors 62 and older, and $8 for ages 4 to 12. Younger children, Naperville residents and members are admitted free. For information, visit or call (630) 420-6010.

  Naperville residents Todd and Hillary Andrlik, left, show their Revolutionary War-era artifacts to Jennifer Bridge, center, curator of exhibits and interpretation at Naper Settlement. Daniel White/
  This July 4, 1776, edition of the New York Packet, owned by Naperville residents Todd and Hillary Andrlik and one of only four in existence, contains the news of the newly adopted Declaration of Independence. Daniel White/
The traveling exhibit "Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America" will be open at Naper Settlement from Tuesday, Sept. 13, through Wednesday, Oct. 12. Courtesy of Naper Settlement
  Naperville residents Todd and Hillary Andrlik are loaning two newspapers and a map from their own collection of Revolutionary War-era artifacts to the Naper Settlement, which is hosting the traveling exhibit "Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America," from Sept. 13 to Oct. 12. Daniel White/

If you go

What: "Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America" traveling exhibit

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 13 through Oct. 12

Where: Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville

Admission: $12 adults; $10 ages 62 and older; $8 ages 4 to 12; and free for younger children, members and Naperville residents

Info: (630) 420-6010 or

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