Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton: A Complete Biography Of Alexander Hamilton’s Wife
Born in 1757 in New York, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton (born; Elizabeth Schuyler) was the second daughter of General Philip Schuyler and Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler. Her family was one of the wealthiest and most well-known powerful political families of the time.
Elizabeth Schuyler was home-schooled and lived a young life full of luxuries and privileges. She would grow up into a beautiful and intelligent young lady who married Alexander Hamilton, who needs no introduction in American History.
She was a big name and one of the most influential women, who not only was well-known for being the wife of Senator Alexander Hamilton but was also very popular on her own accord.
Early Life of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton
Whenever an author decides to pen down the Alexander Hamilton Biography, there are two names that can never be missed out. Without these two people, the life story of Alexander Hamilton can never be complete; one is Aaron Burr and the second is Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton.
While Aaron Burr was the archenemy of Hamilton and resulted in Alexander Hamilton death; Elizabeth (lovingly named Eliz by Alexander Hamilton) was the greatest support he had throughout his life.
Elizabeth Schuyler was born on August 9 in the year 1757. She was born into one of the most powerful political families of the time, who were famously known as the Schuyler’s.
Elizabeth was the second child of General Schuyler out of his seven children. Her ancestors were from the Dutch origin, and her entire family was settled in the states of Albany for many years.
From a young age, Elizabeth was taught reading, sewing and basic culinary and home skills by her mother who was a rather talented woman. Dearly known as Liz or Eliza, she has formally homeschooled her entire life along with her siblings with her parents hiring the best tutors to come home and give private tuition lessons to them all. Her father was not only deeply involved in Politics but was a big entrepreneur as well with his family business running successfully for years.
All in all, Elizabeth Hamilton had always had a blessed childhood with all the luxurious of life that she shared with her siblings.
Happy with life, Elizabeth Hamilton grew up to be a graceful, beautiful and a rather intelligent young woman. People who met her described her to be witty, charming and extremely gracious with long hair and big warm eyes.
This was, however, contradictory to what she appeared to be while growing up.
In her initial childhood years, Elizabeth was famous as the daughter of General Schuyler, who is headstrong and as compulsive as any boy her age. Having a blessed life, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton was lucky enough to have stayed with Benjamin Franklin when he came to visit America. He chose to stay at the Schuyler Mansion.
With upbringing of the finest qualities, Elizabeth Schuyler grew up into a bright, intelligent and beautiful young lady who was soon going to catch the eye of Alexander Hamilton. This would then lead to an eventful life for the power couple together.
How Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton met?
Alexander Hamilton though was not privileged in his growing years but had excelled ever since he was a young boy. This is why he was the one man out of the millions that Elizabeth Schuyler, the daughter of the General and one of the wealthiest men of US would fall for.
Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler met in the town of Morristown. Elizabeth was there on a short trip visiting a relative. Alexander Schuyler at the time was serving in the military forces and was positioned in the town as a serving officer.
This was where both met, very briefly. This short and brief meeting was enough to spark a fire between the two and even though Elizabeth left soon after meeting him, both remained in constant touch through an exchange of letters.
This was the most common mean of communication at the time.
Alexander Hamilton was always close to George Washington, serving him for many years as Washington saw a lot of potential in Hamilton. Elizabeth had become friends with Washington’s wife, and this also made the two to be in contact with each other one way or another.
After a few months of courtship and exchange of love letters, Elizabeth and Alexander decided to get engaged and make things official between them. Though Elizabeth belonged to one of the richest family in the country and Alexander was just a name who had a dark past and struggling present, the entire Schuyler family saw a great spark, charm and potential in Hamilton.
The family happily agreed to this relationship and offered their blessings. Both then soon got engaged and were set to marry within a few months.
Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler Wedding
After a few months of courtship, both Elizabethan and Alexander Hamilton got engaged with the blessings of the family of Elizabeth, since Alexander had no family to seek blessings and approval.
Both were soon wed in a lavish ceremony in December 1780. The onlookers all dubbed Alexander as a very lucky man to have a bride who is charming, intelligent and strikingly beautiful.
Alexander, who was a child that had been born out of wedlock with his father turning on him and his mother passing away at a young age, he did not feel overly sure about this wedding and commitment that he was offering to the daughter of one of the wealthiest man in town. He had even had his share of doubts after proposing to Elizabeth that her family would never approve or accept him as their son-in-law, but the reality was completely opposite.
Since Hamilton was a very talented young man who was rapidly progressing and making the name for himself in the field of politics, law and military and was in the good books of all reputed men, General Schuyler and family were more than happy with Elizabeth’s pick. Both were thus married on a beautiful winter evening in 1780.
Post-Marriage life and Family
Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton lived a happy life and remained as faithful, loving wife to Alexander Hamilton till last breath.
She was a devoted and caring mother to the eight children she shared with Hamilton named; Phillip, Angelica, Alexander, Ames Alexander, John, William, Eliza, and Phillip. All her children were born over a period of twenty years. She lived with her husband in their home in New York.
Elizabeth Hamilton’s role during her husband’s professional years
Elizabeth Hamilton was always an intelligent woman, and she never allowed herself to beside shadowed or wasted. Ever since she returned from honeymoon, she was actively involved in all her husband’s political and other professional activities.
Alexander Hamilton also greatly valued and honored his wife always and valued the judgment and views she had. Besides assisting and supporting her husband through all thick and thin times of life, Elizabeth was a devoted mother to her eight children she shared with Alexander Hamilton.
Even after she was widowed at the age of forty-seven, she continued to look after her children and give them a good life.
Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton was a woman of great strength, courage, and conviction and never gave up in any situation of life.
She was also the one who paid all her husband’s debt after he was killed by Aaron Burr in 1804. She lived 50 years after the death of her husband, and though she struggled greatly, she never failed. She gave her children a good life and only added to the honor of her family, father and husband’s name.
The Alexander Hamilton’s Scandal
All big names in history have been splattered with rumors and scandals; some true and some of the curses completely made up.
The life of Alexander Hamilton was no different.
On the surface, both Alexander and Elizabeth Hamilton appeared to be very much in love and happily married. The reality was bittersweet. While Elizabeth Hamilton was always loyal to her husband, even after his death; sadly the same cannot be said for Alexander Hamilton, and that is what brings us to talk about the infamous Alexander Hamilton Scandal.
Elizabeth Hamilton used to take her children away to her maternal home in Albany in the summer break every year. This was at the same time when Maria Reynolds met Alexander Hamilton and looked for sympathy claiming that her husband James Reynolds has left her alone with their daughter, and she had no place to go and nobody to turn to.
She asked Hamilton for a little financial aid so that she could take her daughter to New York and start a new life.
While Elizabeth was away, Alexander agreed to help Maria and committed to providing her the financial aid the following night so that she could leave for New York the next day. When Hamilton went to hand over the money to Maria that night, this marked the beginning of a steamy affair the two. This affair lasted for almost three years and remained well hidden from Elizabeth.
The twist in the tale came when it was revealed that James Reynolds was all along aware that his wife was cheating on him with another man and he even knew who the other man was. He used this as a trick to threaten Hamilton that he would reveal all details of his extramarital affair with Maria to Elizabeth.
Alexander desperate to save his marriage, he ended up paying Reynolds thousand dollars for keeping his mouth shut.
All this time Elizabeth did not have the slightest clue for her husband’s unfaithfulness.
However years later, when Hamilton was a big name in the world of Politics Reynolds came around again threatening once again to spill dirt on Hamilton’s name. This resulted in one journalist named James finding out about the affair of Hamilton and Reynolds and publishing details about the affair in the local newspaper.
Hamilton had no choice but to accept his unfaithfulness and give away even more details about his affair with Maria.
Elizabeth was though publically embarrassed and humiliated; she ended up forgiving her husband. There were many reasons that made her do so; her loyalty and love for her husband, years of marriage and of course she felt the need to do so to save the political career of Hamilton. Although her actions succeeded with Hamilton’s career surviving the storm, his reputation has tampered for the rest of his life.
Life as a widow
After Alexander Hamilton was murdered in the very infamous duel between Hamilton and Burr, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton found herself in mountains of debt that her husband had taken. All of this was now in her name to pay, and she had eight children to look after.
This was around the time when she had to sell her home that she shared with her husband.
Tragedy struck again for Elizabeth when her father General Phillip Schuyler also died merely four months after Hamilton’s murder.
This however proved to be blessing in disguise as she inherited a lot of money from her father’s wealth as well as some land near her maternal home in Albany. She sold that land to rebuy the house she shared with her husband and was able to raise her children with the money she inherited from her father.
Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton was a young widow at the age of forty-seven, but she never remarried and remained loyal to the memory of her beloved husband.
For the rest of her life, she dedicated herself to the upbringing of her eight children and engaged in a lot of charity work. She was also active in politics and was always respected as the daughter of late General Schuyler and wife of the great political hero, Alexander Hamilton. She was a celebrated name till she died in November in 1854 at a very old age of 97.
Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton lived a fulfilling life and lived with dignity and grace throughout. She is buried in the same graveyard as her husband.