5 Historical Figures Who Deserve 'Drunk History' Episodes
Lin-Manuel Miranda's episode got us thinking about all the people who are often skipped over in U.S. history.
The illustrious playwright behind the smash hit Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, rounded out the fourth season of Drunk History on November 29 with the subject he knows best: Alexander Hamilton. It was glorious and boozy, and featured FaceTime cameos from Questlove and Chris Jackson.
Drunk History is known best for its ridiculous — yet still pointed and accurate — portrayals of important figures in United States history. Often, the show will focus on a particular subject and some people important to that subject, or around the history of a certain U.S. city. But recorded history of the United States started long before the Founding Fathers — including Hamilton — gathered at the Constitutional Convention, and it’s still going on today.
Inspired by Miranda’s incredibly sloshed performance, we compiled a shortlist of often forgotten people in U.S. history who deserve to be featured in an episode of Drunk History in the near future. From a Hawaiian queen to a gay and transgender rights activist, here are five people who shaped America just as much as Alexander Hamilton.
Queen Liliʻuokalani: Last Queen of Hawaii, Forcibly Dethroned by the U.S. Government
Queen Lili’uokalani took the throne after her brother’s death in 1891 and ruled until the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii by United States troops on January 17, 1893. Wealthy, white sugar cane growers had become restless and, essentially, thought they deserved to have control over the islands of Hawaii. The U.S., which had a lot of stock in the sugar trade in Hawaii, agreed. A talented composer, Lili’uokalani wrote more than 165 songs in her lifetime, including “Aloha Oe,” which is probably the most widely recognized Hawaiian song.
Margaret Sanger: The Voice Behind the Birth Control Pill
In the early 20th century, Margaret Sanger, a women’s rights activist, rallied the brilliant, but discredited, biologist Gregory Pincus and the outrageously wealthy widow Katharine McCormick to her cause: the creation of an oral birth control for women. Joined by the devout Catholic gynecologist John Rock, this team fought against stigma to create the pill. An episode about Sanger would also have to discuss her and her team’s darker sides when they used populations in Puerto Rico as test subjects and ignored their complaints.
Squanto: Kidnapped, Sold into Slavery, a Peacekeeper
A member of the Patuxet tribe in what is today’s eastern Massachusetts, Squanto was kidnapped by an English explorer in 1614 and sold into slavery in Spain. He was eventually rescued by Monks who forced him into the Catholic faith. From there, he made his way to England and boarded a ship back to America only to find that his tribe had been wiped out by a plague. He wasn’t seen again until his famous encounter with the Separatists aboard the Mayflower when he tried to help broker peace between them and the people of the Wampanoag tribe.
Dred Scott: Born a Slave, Sued for His Freedom
The namesake of the famed “Dred Scott Case,” Scott sued for his freedom and the freedom of his wife and daughter in 1857. He claimed that the three of them were owed citizenship by the United States because they’d lived in Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory for four years, places where slavery was illegal. The Supreme Court ruled against him in “Dred Scott v. Sandford” 7-2, claiming that individuals of African descent couldn’t be citizens. Despite his family’s loss, the decision sparked outrage amongst the public, hastening along the beginning of the Civil War.
Sylvia Rivera: Gay and Transgender Liberation Activist, Drag Queen
Sylvia Rivera was a founding member of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance, and co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group meant to help homeless young drag queens and trans women of color. Born as Ray Rivera, Sylvia first began wearing makeup in the fourth grade and was abandoned by her grandmother due to her effeminate behavior. As a result, she started living on the streets and working as a prostitute at the age of 11. She found a home amongst a group of drag queens in New York City, who gave her the name “Sylvia,” and a place where she could belong.