What happened to Hercules Mulligan after the events depicted in Hamilton on Disney+? Here’s what you need to know about the tailor/spy’s legacy.
The Hamilton character Hercules Mulligan doesn’t appear in Act II, so what happened to him after the events of the play? The tailor has some big moments in the first half of the Disney+ movie, but then disappears from the story for structural purposes, as actor Okieriete Onaodowan takes on the role of James Madison. Here’s what happened to the real-life tailor who became a spy after befriending Alexander Hamilton.
Hercules first appears in Hamilton during “Aaron Burr, Sir,” the second song of the play. As Marquis de Lafayette and John Laurents provide a lyrical breakdown about the latest happenings, Hercules pounds on a table and raps with a unique flow and cadence that sets him apart from the other characters. In the follow-up song, “My Shot,” Hercules announces his intentions to “socially advance” instead of “makin’ some pants.” Later, during George Washington’s introduction in “Right Hand Man,” Hercules poses bravely alongside Hamilton.
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During “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down),” Hercules shows up near the end to explain his recent activities: “A tailor spyin’ on the British government / I take their measurements, information and then I smuggle it.” Overall, the song details the 1781 Battle of Yorktown in Virginia, and how George Washington — with the assistance of Lafayette — defeated British troops. In one of Hercules’s last moments in Hamilton, one particular line captures the overall spirit of the production: “When you knock me down, I get the f**k back up again!” In real life, Hercules (an Irish-American white man) was 41 years old during the Battle of Yorktown, and would go on to live on another four-plus decades into his eighties.
In 2016, after Hamilton’s Broadway debut, the CIA published an article about Hercules’ accomplishments during the Revolutionary War, most notably how the tailor acquired key intel from British customers and became the official “Clothier to Genl. Washington.” According to Ron Chernow’s book Alexander Hamilton (the play’s main source material), Hercules and Washington had breakfast together shortly after “Evacuation Day” in 1783 when British forces left New York. By 1785, Hercules co-founded an anti-slavery organization called the New York Manumission Society.
After the war, Hercules was a successful tailor for several years before retiring in 1820. The father of eight children, he died in 1825 at age 84, and was buried near Manhattan’s Trinity Church; the final resting place of not only Alexander Hamilton, but also Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, Angelica Schuyler Church, and Philip Hamilton. In both Hamilton and pop culture in general, Hercules Mulligan doesn’t quite have the clout of his revolutionary colleagues, yet he’s still one of the most important spies in American history; a revolutionary with friends in high places, a tailor with a particular set of social skills.
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