Welcome to the special Valentine’s Day edition of Hamiltrash Tuesday!!! Today we are going to talk about *my* personal favorite shipping in the Hamilton Fandom: LAMS!!! For those of you unfamiliar with the term, the moniker “Lams” refers to the shipping of Laurens and Hamilton. It’s a non-canonical shipping (since Ham marries Eliza and all), but it’s definitely incredibly popular among the Fandom.
“Wait, what?” you may ask if you’re fairly new to Hamilton or you have just never considered the possibility of Lams before. But hear me out, it’s totally feasible.
Before we get into some stuff, I’m going to explain the dual roles really quick for those of you unfamiliar with the show. So in Hamilton, there are 8 roles that are done by 4 actors, two roles per actor. They do one role in Act 1, and then a different role in Act 2. John Laurens is one of those roles. Laurens doesn’t come back for Act 2 and his actor (Anthony Ramos in the original Broadway cast) plays Philip Hamilton, Ham’s oldest son, in Act 2 instead.
*Super spoilers ahead*
During the show’s opening song, “Alexander Hamilton,” the characters are in storytelling mode, which means the 4 actors who play dual roles are both characters simultaneously. And at the end of the song, Laurens/Philip says the line, “Me? I died for him.” So first of all, here we have clear evidence that both Laurens and Philip would take a bullet for Ham, because they both did. Three characters are murdered during the course of the show, and Laurens and Philip are two of them (Ham is the third). Laurens didn’t literally die for Ham, but if you’re paying attention for the rest of the show, it’s clear that the two of them influenced each other’s ideals heavily. Laurens died for the ideas that he shared with Ham, and thus “died” for him. (Philip literally took a bullet for Ham, but that’s a story for another day…) Plus, not to mention the fact that Ham’s best friend and son are played by the same guy. The father/son bond is definitely a deep bond, and I think it says a lot that they chose Laurens’s actor to also play the son. Some might think that’s a coincidence, but Lin-Manuel Miranda frequently sneaks Easter eggs like this into his work on purpose so I definitely do not believe that this is just a coincidence. And this is just the opening song. Just you wait.
Now, this is kind of hard to convey unless you’ve actually seen the play, but there is *A LOT* of touching between Laurens and Ham. And let me remind you that there are 4
(sometimes 5, if you count Burr) guys in their gang. There is some friendly shoving and
stuff among the four of them, but Ham and Laurens have a lot of other shoulder and forearm touching and such things that sort of make you wonder if there isn’t something more going on. I dragged my boyfriend to the Chicago show who was convinced that I was just crazy about the whole Lams thing, but during intermission he leaned over and said, “Oh yeah, there’s definitely something going on there.” So we are gonna take this step by step here.
During “My Shot,” Ham has the line, “Laurens, I like you a lot!” Seemingly harmless, but scroll down to the very bottom of this post. Lin-Manuel Miranda never does anything by accident.
During “The Story of Tonight,” the guys have been drinking all night and just finished running their mouths off about how they’re going to start the revolution and now they’re kind of settling down. Laurens gets one of his longer solos in the show, and then when they walk off stage, Ham and Laurens have their arms around each other and are walking veeeery closely.
During “The Story of Tonight (Reprise),” the guys are all drunk again and everyone is roasting Ham about getting married. But Laurens is doing most of the roasting and again, there is a lot of shoulder touching between Laurens and Ham.
So then the guys all go back to the war after the wedding sequence during “Stay Alive,” Mulligan goes back to NYC, Lafayette writes the French for aide, but surprise surprise, Laurens has the line, “I stay at work with Hamilton, we write essays against slavery. And every day’s a test of our camaraderie and bravery.” Followed by more close touching. Washington gives Charles Lee command of the army, who completely botches it, and is replaced by Lafayette. Charles Lee starts running his mouth off about Washington, angering Ham and Laurens. And we get this little exchange:
LAURENS: Strong words from Lee, someone oughta hold him to it!
HAMILTON: I can’t disobey direct orders.
LAURENS: Then I’ll do it. Alexander, you’re the closest friend I’ve got.
HAMILTON: Laurens, do not throw away your shot.
And do you see how closely they are talking during that scene? Yes, so very platonic of them. And then we get to the “Ten Duel Commandments” scene where the duel actually takes place. I strongly recommend listening to the song, because they explain the rules of dueling in the song. Laurens chooses Ham to be his second during the duel, which was true in real life too. You don’t choose any random guy to be your second when you go to duel, you pick someone super super close. So again, I think it speaks volumes that Laurens chose Ham.
So yeah, Laurens wins the duel when he shoots Lee in the side (doesn’t kill him, but still random shooting is sort of frowned upon.) And then there is more close touching and hugging between Laurens and Ham before Ham is completely chewed out and sent home from the war by Washington. (Laurens sort of gets away with the whole thing.)
And since Ham gets sent home, this is sort of the last time we really see the duo together. The next time Laurens is mentioned is during “Yorktown,” where he is in “South Carolina, redefining bravery.” (Laurens is a staunch abolitionist and usually has a line or two about fighting slavery in most of his songs.)
Aaaaand then the next time we hear about Laurens, it’s Eliza telling Ham that he has been killed by British soldiers that didn’t know that the war was already over. And it is arguably one of the most heartbreaking parts in the entire show. Lin-Manuel Miranda made the decision to leave it off the cast album, so you’re not going to hear it unless you go see the show. The closest thing we have right now is the “Laurens Interlude” which is pretty darn close, but some of Eliza’s lines are a little different. It comes right after “Dear Theodosia” and just before “Non-Stop” in the show.
In The Revolution, this song is referred to as “Tomorrow There’ll Be More Of Us.” Regarding Laurens’s death, Lin make the note,
“Here’s the thing about Hamilton’s response: It’s more telling when he’s quiet than when he has something to say. This was true of the historical Hamilton as well. We have very little written record of his grieving for Laurens. For a man who had an opinion on everything, for him to hold back betrays genuine, life-changing grief. It is possible that Hamilton and Laurens were lovers at some point– Hamilton’s letters to Laurens are every bit as flirtatious as his letters to the opposite sex, if not more so. If this is the case, the silence betrays an even more profound loss” (131).
Which in my opinion, more or less settles the case on the Lams matter. And if you go to see the show, when Laurens says “Tomorrow there’ll be more of us!” (which is his final line) he and Ham lock eyes and have this incredibly emotionally charged moment, which Eliza breaks when she says, “Alexander? Are you all right?” Ham responds with, “I have so much work to do,” and immediately grabs his jacket and then he and Burr immediately go into “Non-Stop.” It’s so fast, and Laurens and Eliza are actually even still on stage– it’s that fast.
Here’s the thing though, Ham never shuts up about ANYTHING. We really see this in “Non-Stop,” which is about all the stuff Ham does after the war ends. And all he could think of to say about his BEST FRIEND’S (*coughboyfriendcough*) death is “I Have so much work to do”????? Which isn’t about Laurens at all????? So actually he says NOTHING about Laurens’s death????? Here is my theory: Hamilton never shuts up and stops writing in “Non-Stop” because he is so overcome with grief over Laurens that he never stops writing so he won’t have to think about it.
WHICH EXPLAINS THE LINE, “How do you write like you need it to survive?” BECAUSE HE REALLY DOES NEED IT TO SURVIVE OR ELSE THE GRIEF WILL OVERTAKE HIM COMPLETELY.
Even in Act 2, Laurens is never mentioned except for the very end of the show when Ham is dying and he sees a glimpse of “the other side” and Laurens is one of the people there waiting for him. For as close as they were in Act 1, it seems a little odd that Ham never even mentions Laurens until the very very end. That is, unless it is as Lin said and that the loss was just too great. BOOM!
After taking all of that into consideration, I find Lin’s notes to be true as hell. Hamilton never shuts up about anything during the play, but he has nothing to say about his best friend’s death.
This blog post is just my opinion on the matter, but this video is does a pretty good job of analyzing the real Hamilton/Laurens letters in a historical context and you should definitely take a look at it.
“But so what?” you might be asking. “Who the hell cares if they were a thing or not?”
“Well,” I chime in. “I CARE.” And I actually know quite a few people that also care. Because just like we talked about last week, we are always taught that the founding fathers were these stuffy, straight, white guys and it’s kind of refreshing to have a different look at them. As a bisexual woman, I think it’s cool as hell to reimagine Alexander Hamilton as a bisexual character. REPRESENTATION MATTERS, PEOPLE. Well, I will probably be wrapping this up now because this is already way longer than any of my other Hamiltrash posts, I just have a lot of strong feelings about Lams. Stay tuned for my Lams fanfiction, hahaha.
*And also Lin-Manuel Miranda also ships Lams and purposefully wrote them that way*