The next time you pick up a piece of chocolate, consider that you are partaking in an expedition into American history. Alexander Hamilton’s rival, Thomas Jefferson, was a chocolate fan. John and Abigail Adams also loved their chocolate. Hamilton’s boss, President George Washington, along with his wife, Martha, was well acquainted with chocolate. But what about Hamilton’s role in the chocolate economy or, more locally, the role of Newporter’s?
On Thursday, May 4th at 5:30 pm, the Newport Historical Society will host author Deborah Prinz for What Did Alexander Hamilton Drink? Chocolate in the American Colonial Period. This lecture explores the chocolate culture of North America during the time of Alexander Hamilton. Eighteenth-century Newport merchant Aaron Lopez dipped deeply into the chocolate concerns of the Colonial Period. He benefited from cocoa, enjoying the personal consumption of the beverage, and profiting from it as a commodity. Chocolate blazed a new world of commerce, appetite, and opportunity.
Rabbi Prinz lectures about chocolate and religion around the world. Prinz’s book, On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao, was published in 2013 by Jewish Lights and is in its third printing. Prinz blogs at onthechocolatetrail.org, the Huffington Post, the Forward and ReformJudaism.org. She was awarded a Starkoff Fellowship and a Director’s Fellowship from the American Jewish Archives as well as a Gilder Lehrman Fellowship from the Rockefeller Library to pursue this research. This project spans cultures and centuries, exploring how faith traditions share consumption, ritual, and business interests in chocolate.
What Did Alexander Hamilton Drink? is offered on Thursday, May 4 at 5:30 pm at the NHS Resource Center, 82 Touro Street, Newport, RI. General admission costs $5 per person or $1 for Newport Historical Society members along with active duty and retired military. Reservations suggested as space is limited; please RSVP online at NewportHistory.org or call 401-841-8770. This program is generously sponsored by the Harborside Inn.