What’d I Miss

“What’d I Miss” from Hamilton

In 1784, Jefferson was sent by the Congress of the Confederation to join Benjamin Franklin and John Adams in Paris for negotiating treaties of amity and commerce with Great Britain and several other nations of the world at that time. Some believed that the recently widowed Jefferson was depressed, and that the assignment would distract him from his wife’s death.

With his young daughter Patsy and two servants, he departed in July 1784, arriving in Paris the next month.  Less than a year later he was assigned the additional duty of succeeding Franklin as Minister to France. During his five years in Paris, Jefferson played a leading role in shaping the foreign policy of the United States. 

While in France, Jefferson became a regular companion of the Marquis de Lafayette, a French hero of the American Revolutionary War. Jefferson used his influence to procure trade agreements with France. As the French Revolution began, Jefferson allowed his Paris residence, the Holtel de Langeac, to be used for meetings by Lafayette and other republicans. He was in Paris during the storming of the Bastille and consulted with Lafayette while the latter drafted the Declaration of the Rights of Man.

 Jefferson often found his mail opened by postmasters, so he invented his own enciphering device, the “Wheel Cipher” to write important communications in code for the rest of his career. Jefferson left Paris for America in September 1789, intending to return soon. However, President George Washington appointed him the country’s first Secretary of State, forcing him to remain in the nation’s capital. 

* * *

The arrival of Thomas Jefferson back in America from France in 1789 is one of the most powerful pieces from the brilliant broadway musical Hamilton. Jefferson asks “What’d I miss” during the years he was in France. In the music above performed by Daveed Diggs, Leslie Odom, Jr., Oklerlete Onaodowan and the original Broadway cast of Hamilton. The brilliant writing and wordsmithing of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Hamilton is the world’s great rap opera and envisions much of the early discussions of America’s founders in terms of rap battles.


Lyrics to What’d I Miss

Seventeen. Se- se- seventeen…
Se- se- seventeen…

How does the bastard orphan
Immigrant decorated war vet
Unite the colonies through more debt?
Fight the other founding fathers ’til he has to forfeit?
Have it all, lose it all
You ready for more yet?
Treasury Secretary. Washington’s the President
Ev’ry American experiment sets a precedent
Not so fast. Someone came along to resist him
Pissed him off until we had a two-party system

You haven’t met him yet, you haven’t had the chance
‘Cause he’s been kickin’ ass as the ambassador to France
But someone’s gotta keep the American promise
You simply must meet Thomas. Thomas!

Thomas Jefferson’s coming home!
Thomas Jefferson’s coming home!
Thomas Jefferson’s coming home!
Thomas Jefferson’s coming home!
Thomas Jefferson’s coming home
Lord, he’s been off in Paris for so long!


France is following us to revolution
There is no more status quo
But the sun comes up and the world still spins

I helped Lafayette draft a declaration
Then I said, ‘I gotta go
I gotta be in Monticello.’
Now the work at home begins

So what’d I miss?
What’d I miss?
Virginia, my home sweet home, I wanna give you a kiss
I’ve been in Paris meeting lots of different ladies
I guess I basic’lly missed the late eighties
I traveled the wide, wide world and came back to this

There’s a letter on my desk from the President
Haven’t even put my bags down yet
Sally be a lamb, darlin’, won’t cha open it?
It says the President’s assembling a cabinet
And that I am to be the Secretary of State, great!
And that I’m already Senate-approved
I just got home and now I’m headed up to New York

Lookin’ at the rolling fields
I can’t believe that we are free
Ready to face
Whatever’s awaiting
Me in N.Y.C.

But who’s waitin’ for me when I step in the place?
My friend James Madison, red in the face
He grabs my arm and I respond
“What’s goin’ on?” (Aaa-ooo!)

Thomas, we are engaged in a battle for our nation’s very soul
Can you get us out of the mess we’re in?

Hamilton’s new financial plan is nothing less
Than government control
I’ve been fighting for the South alone
Where have you been?

Uh… France

We have to win

What’d I miss? (What, what, what’d I miss?)

What’d I miss? (I’ve come home to this)

Headfirst into a political abyss!

I have my first cabinet meeting today (chicka-pow!)

I guess I better think of something to say
I’m already on my way
Let’s get to the bottom of this

Mr. Jefferson, welcome home

Mr. Jefferson? Alexander Hamilton

Mr. Jefferson, welcome home

Mr. Jefferson, welcome home
Sir, you’ve been off in Paris for so long!

So what did I miss?

Leave a Reply