December 14th 1780: Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler marry
On this day in 1780, Founding Father Alexander Hamilton married Elizabeth Schuyler. Hamilton was born to a troubled family in the British West Indies, and moved to America as a teenager for an education. However, as the American colonies teetered on the brink of revolution, Hamilton found himself drawn to the Patriot cause. Soon into the war, Hamtilon became the assistant and adviser to General George Washington. It was during this time that he met and married Elizabeth Schuyler, who came from a prominent New York family. Elizabeth, or Eliza, was known for her sharp wit, and Hamilton was immediately smitten with her. The couple married in 1780, and went on to have eight children. As Hamilton’s career progressed, Eliza was his chief companion and helped him with his political writings. Hamilton was a fierce advocate of a strong central government, penning the majority of the Federalist Papers which supported the ratification of the Constitution, and became the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton and Schuyler’s marriage was not without its trials; in 1797 the so-called Reynolds Pamphlet was published, revealing Hamilton’s affair with a woman named Maria Reynlds. In 1801, their nineteen-year-old son Philip was killed in a duel defending his father’s honour. Just three years after losing her son, Elizabeth was widowed when Alexander was killed by Aaron Burr in a duel. Elizabeth then devoted her life to philanthropy and preserving Hamiton’s legacy; in 1806, she founded New York’s first private orphanage. By the mid-nineteenth century, Elizabeth was one of the last living links to the revolutionary era, making her a very famous figure. In 1848, during the cornerstone-laying ceremony for the Washington Monument, Elizabeth
rode in the procession with President James K. Polk and future presidents James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton died in 1854, aged 97, fifty years after her husband’s death.
“With my last idea; I shall cherish the sweet hope of meeting you in a better world. Adieu best of wives and best of Women. Embrace all my darling Children for me.”
- Alexander Hamilton to Elizabeth Schuyler, just days before his death