The song “The Room Where it Happens” plays a huge role in the plot of the musical “Hamilton” and in the storyline of the American Revolution. The song is the 28th song in the musical, before “Schuyler Defeated” and after “Say No To This.”
The song starts with an upbeat soundtrack and some friendly dialogue between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. They are talking about the legacy of General Mercer. Legacy is one of the few things that both Burr and Hamilton share a need for. Eventually Burr gets to his point and asks Hamilton about his debt plan. Hamilton responds by agreeing with Burr and quotes him on his most prominent statement, “Talk Less, Smile More.” It is important to note that the song switches from it’s upbeat tone and becomes darker and slower at this point. Burr and Hamilton start talking about their opponents. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson oppose the debt plan and seem to be very difficult to defeat. The conversation ends abruptly when James Madison calls Hamilton to dinner. This is when Burr starts talking about the “Dinner Table Bargain.”
The Dinner Table Bargain was when the Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison discussed the issues that were in congress at the time and came to a mutual decision that Hamilton would control the National Bank and Jefferson and Madison would get to decide where the capital would be. There were only 3 people in the room that made those 2 massive decisions that changed the fate of the United States of America. Aaron Burr’s problem with this is that he wants to be in the room where it happens. Burr has worked so hard and Hamilton has worked a lot less, yet Hamilton gets to be in the room here it happens.
Looking back at the start of the song, there are a lot of hidden meanings in the lyrics. Hamilton and Burr talk about legacy at the start. Legacy is something that they are fighting each other for. Burr says, “All [Mercer] had too to was die.”
Hamilton responds with “That’s a lot less work.”
This is a nod to when George Washington said “Dying is easy, living is harder.”
The storyline is advanced a lot in this song. This is where Hamilton makes it clear that he wants to build something to outlive him. This is also when Burr decides to go after the seat that he gets in Schuyler Defeated. This song fills in many gaps in the storyline and develops the characters of Hamilton and Burr.