What Hogwarts House Would The Founding Fathers Be In?

Everyone loves Harry Potter and the only thing that people love more than Harry Potter is trying to determine what house they’d be placed in. Remember when Pottermore was released and the site crashed over and over as people clamored to get sorted and the promptly abandoned their accounts? Exactly.

So let’s clamp the sorting hat onto the Founders’ heads and see where they place.

George Washington
Gryffindor

Ah, Mr. Washignton. The big kahuna. Of course he’d be Gryffindor. He led the thousands of his soldiers to defeat the British, the strongest army in the world. He was known for keeping his cool under pressure (or just keeping his cool at any time–the man wasn’t known for his emotions). He was chivalrous, a completely perfect example of a Virginia gentleman. Washington was not nearly as avid a reader as Jefferson but he was far more skilled in horseback riding and dancing. He was a leader, not only to the people of his time, but to the millions of Americans today.

Other Gryffindors: James Monroe, John Adams

Thomas Jefferson
Ravenclaw

Bookish and silent, but with a pompous air, Jefferson is the dictionary example of a Ravenclaw. If drafting the Declarations of the Rights of Man and the Declaration of Independence wasn’t enough of example of his brains, perhaps his innovative inventions of a letter duplicator and the world’s first example of the office “spinny chair” will convince you. Instead of people who complain of the lack of things to make their lives either, Jefferson not only drafted them, but made them himself. His habit of reading and buying books literally helped put him in millions of dollars in debt (by today’s standards) by the end of his life. He was incredibly knowledgeable about other cultures, and is the person who introduced such food as creme brulee, champagne, macaroni and cheese, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and peanuts to the States.

Other Ravenclaws: Benjamin Franklin, James Madison

Alexander Hamilton
Slytherin

Some may argue that Hamilton belongs in Gryffindor, but the two houses are different sides of the same coin. Hamilton’s drive and cunning nature (hello–slandering Aaron Burr) makes him lean more towards the snake. He was also more self-centered than his Gryffindor counterparts.  But Slytherin isn’t all Malfoys and Voldemorts. It’s thanks to Hamilton’s determination that he left Nevis on a scholarship and went onto become a part of history. And of course, along the way were a variety of scandals (like Maria Reynolds) which makes him lean more on the Slytherin side. He was brave, of course, but the combination of his desire for power,  brains, and ambition keep him in the green and silver.

Other Slytherins: Sam Adams, Aaron Burr, Edward Rutledge

Marquis de Lafayette
Hufflepuff

Sweet, sweet Lafayette. Never seen a day of battle, and yet ships himself to help fight a war in a country he’s never visited before. Such good intentions and so, so friendly and helpful, the Marquis belongs in Hufflepuff. He was Washington’s personal cheerleader and the picture perfect sidekick. Imagine his little French accent screaming support for freedom. Adorable. But he’s also a perfect example that Hufflepuffs aren’t useless. Mr. French Enthusiasm’s dedication rallied thousands of French troops which helped us actually win the war.

Other Hufflepuffs: Richard Henry Lee, Rev. John Witherspoon

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Duel!

HEY. YOU.

DO YOU LIKE GUNS? DO YOU LIKE COOL STORIES ABOUT COOL DUDES WHO DUEL?

WELL HANG TIGHT BECAUSE I’VE GOT A COOL STORY FOR YOU.

July 11, 1804. Weehawken, New Jersey. Two men arrive, only one walks away. One is Aaron Burr, the Vice President. The other, Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury and a signer of the Constitution. You would think that two forty-somethings that helped form our nation would handle personal disputes in a calm rational matter. Well you’d be wrong because these two fought like toddlers.

"Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself."

“Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself.”

Both men were orphaned in adolescence and faced extraordinary strife in childhood. Hamilton was born in Nevis, an island in the West Indies. His father abandoned their family when Alexander was 10 and his mother died two years later.  After her death, Hamilton worked as a clerk in a counting house, impressing his bosses so much that they raised money to send him off to school in America. In New York, he attended King’s College–known today as Columbia University.

"I'm better than you."

“I’m better than you.”-Hamilton, age 14

Meanwhile, Burr was an orphan at age two. He was sent to live with an uncle who whipped him. Aaron ran away time after time, but his uncle found him. At age 16, Burr graduated from the College of New Jersey (today, Princeton) as a student of theology, but later turned to a career in law.

Tensions rose between these two men during the American Revolution. Both men were war heroes, either being one of two men of their regiment to survive a battle (Burr) or having their horse shot down from under them and walking away unscathed (Hamilton).

General George Washington heard about Hamilton’s victories and invited him to be one of his aide-de-camps. Though Hamilton was moving up the ranks, he was extremely temperamental. Because he was born in the West Indies, he felt many people judged him for it, causing him to lash out with his peers and even Washington himself.  Burr was invited to become an aide as well, but was almost immediately fired and sent to work for General Israel Putnam.

“George likes ME more!”

After the war, the two were friendly to each other in public, but were rivals in New York City courtrooms, where they both worked as lawyers. In 1791, Burr beat out Hamilton’s father-in-law, Philip Schuyler for a U.S. Senate seat. Hamilton lashed out, thinking Burr ran just to spite him. He wrote letters to lawmakers, hurling insults at Burr.

"Aaron Burr is a stupid, silly, poopy head."

“Aaron Burr is a stupid, silly, poopy head.”

In 1800, Burr ran for President. He tied with Thomas Jefferson and the House of Representatives had to choose the next POTUS. As the House chose, Hamilton once again wrote notes slandering Burr’s name and intentions. Burr was defeated, and he believed it was because of Hamilton’s words. The feud between the two had been given more fuel.

Always the VP, never the P.

Always the VP, never the P.

When Burr’s Vice Presidency was coming to a close, he decided to run for governor of New York. Burr caught wind that Hamilton was once again planning to run a smear campaign against him. Burr lost the election for governor and was infuriated, once again blaming Hamilton for the loss. He wrote his falsifier and requested that Hamilton apologize or Burr would challenge him to a duel. Hamilton chose the duel.

The location would be the Weehawken dueling grounds, across the Hudson River from New York City. The location was the same where, just three years before, Hamilton’s son Philip died from, you guessed it, a duel.

He inherited his father's good looks, too.

He inherited his father’s good looks, too.

Hamilton shot first, but missed. To this day, the jury is out on whether he purposefully missed or misfired. Burr returned fire and hit Hamilton in the lower right abdomen above his right hip. The bullet fractured his third false rib and ricocheted through his liver and diaphragm before lodging into his spine. He collapsed immediately and Burr started to approach his fallen comrade, seemingly out of regret, but he was rushed away to his rowboat.

4-hamilton-burr-duel-1804-granger

Hamilton drifted in and out of consciousness and died the following day. Burr was tried for treason in 1807 but was pardoned. He lived in Europe from 1808 to 1812 and never regained political power. He remarried in 1833 at the age of 77 and frequently remarked about the duel, referring to Hamilton as, “my friend, whom I shot.”

Dueling grounds monument

Dueling grounds monument

Today, a road runs through the original dueling grounds site, but along the bank of the river is a monument with a statue of Hamilton’s bust and a boulder where he is believed to have rested after being wounded. Hamilton’s face is plastered on the ten dollar bill and statues of him are in almost every major city on the East Coast. Burr remains a forgotten figure from history for an act that both men shared equal blame.

Currently, Broadway actor, composer, and lyricist is composing “The Hamilton Mixtape,” a concept album based on the life of the former Secretary of the Treasury. The first song, performed by the character of Aaron Burr, can be watched here:

In addition, Nick Cardiff- who portrays Alexander Hamilton in the YouTube series “I Made America”, performed a response to Miranda’s rap, where he mentions more of the details of the duel (It’s also hilarious–if you have the time, watch the entire series, it’s great. Just great.):

Further Reading:

Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Future of America by Thomas Fleming
Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr by Nancy Isenberg
Alexander Hamilton, American by Richard Brookhiser

4 Songs Historical Figures Would Have On Their iPod

Thomas Jefferson
“Come On Get Higher” by Matt Nathanson

I miss the sound of your voice
Loudest thing in my head
And I ache to remember
All the violent, sweet
Perfect words that you said

After Jefferson’s wife, Martha, died, he became extremely introverted and he was already a man who preferred communicating with paper rather than with his voice. He never remarried and destroyed all likenesses of his wife in a rage after her death. The only person he confided in was his daughter, Patsy.

Marquis de Lafayette
Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus

Got my hands up, they’re playin’ my song
And now I’m gonna be okay
Yeah! It’s a party in the USA!
Yeah! It’s a party in the USA!

The lyrics might be simple and juvenile, but the message is strong and clear. Parties? In America???? America’s Number One Fanboy would be all over this, keeping it on a constant loop as he prepped for battle.

And imagine his adorable little French accent singing along. Perfection.

Alexander Hamilton
Go The Distance from Hercules

I have often dreamed
Of a far off place
Where hero’s welcome
Would be waiting for me
Where the crowds will cheer
When they see my face
And a voice keeps saying
This is where I’m meant to be

Born a poor bastard in the West Indies, Alexander Hamilton came from nothing. Orphaned in adolescence, Hamilton worked as a clerk where he impressed his bosses so much, they started a fund to send him to America for school. He arrived in America at the ripe old age of 16.

Growing up, he found he had a talent for words and yearned for a place where he would fit in. Even as Hamilton got older, this would be the song he’d go back to to remind him of how far he’d come.

(I was tempted to give him Mumford and Sons, “Little Lion Man” but that would be too easy.)

John Wilkes Booth
“Some Nights” by fun.

This is it, boys, this is war – what are we waiting for?
Why don’t we break the rules already?
I was never one to believe the hype
Save that for the black and white
I try twice as hard and I’m half as liked

I’m sure if JWB gave this song a listen, he’d be drawn in by the catchy hooks. But upon second listen, he’d probably realize this song is unintentionally his bio-song. The music video is even Civil War themed.

The mention of an upcoming war? Check.
Using women as a means of repressing your sense of self? Check.
The doubting of yourself? Check.
Even the mention of a sister’s children. Check.

Someone might want to check to see that Nate Ruess wasn’t using the infamous assassin as his ghostwriter.