Weird History

Details About Hamilton’s Affair With Maria Reynolds That ‘Hamilton’ Brought To Light

The affair between Alexander Hamilton and Maria Reynolds plays a major role in the second act of Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical Hamilton, but how historically accurate is this depiction of America's first big sex scandal? Quite accurate, it turns out - even if some key details are excluded from Miranda's dramatic retelling of the incident.

At the height of his political career in 1797, Hamilton published a wordy confession detailing the extramarital affair he carried on with the also-married Maria Reynolds between 1791 and 1792. Now known as the "Reynolds Pamphlet," the document impacted Hamilton's desire to hold higher positions within the United States government, and tainted his reputation among his peers.

The Hamilton/Reynolds affair is marked by blackmail, secret liaisons, arrests, and constant threats waved at political rivals. It also foreshadows Hamilton's premature demise in 1804, when he lost a good ol' fashioned duel to fellow Founding Father Aaron Burr.