The Founding Fathers of America are often spoken about in history books. They are credited with many of the occurrences in said books. However, there are people that are commonly passed over, but have made a huge impact on history. One of these women was Elizabeth ‘Eliza’ Schuyler Hamilton, the widow of the first Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, and the 2nd daughter of Philip Schuyler, a New York senator.
History of Elizabeth ‘Eliza’ Schuyler Hamilton: Alexander Hamilton’s Wife
Elizabeth Schuyler was born on August 9, 1757, in Albany, New York. Her family was indeed very wealthy and well known. One of the more famous images of this underrated woman in history is one of her in a wig that is similar to the one of Marie-Antoinette, and a silver gown with a matching veil. In the 1760’s, only the wealthiest of the wealthy could afford such luxurious clothing.
About Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton
Eliza, as she was more commonly known, and her 14 siblings grew up meeting many of their father’s colleagues, who were all in the military. This is how Eliza met General George Washington and his right hand man who would become her husband that next winter. That man was Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton, future Secretary of Treasury. It is said that Alexander was smitten with Eliza almost immediately because of her witty personality.
Alexander Hamilton’s Death: Eliza as a widow
Alexander and Eliza were married for over 30 years and had 8 children, until Alexander’s former colleague, Aaron Burr, shot him in the side with a pistol, thus ending his life. Eliza was then left with 7 children (her oldest son was killed similarly to his father three years earlier) and her grief. However, Eliza did not let her grief hold her back. She threw herself into her charity work, the story of which is not well known.
Elizabeth Hamilton’s Charity Impact
Eliza spoke up about her opinions on slavery: she was highly against it. Eliza also raised money for the building of the Washington monument, and, though she was well into her 90’s, attended the laying of the cornerstone of the monument on July 4th, 1848. With the help of her friends, Isabella Graham and Joanna Bethune, Eliza co-founded the Orphan Asylum Society in the City of New York, or OAS, in 1806. While the orphanage started with merely sixteen children, it grew quite a bit larger and eventually, Eliza, Isabella, and Joanna had helped to raise hundreds of children, most of which did very well in life. In the duration of all of Eliza’s charity work, she was also caring for her mentally ill daughter, Angelica, until she was in her 90’s.
Elizabeth Hamilton’s Legacy
Eliza died on November 9th, 1854. Despite being one of the most incredible and impactful women in history, her story is not well known, but it should be one of the most well known in history, as she impacted many lives. Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton’s story shall live on in 2020 and beyond.
Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/why-elizabeth-hamilton-deserving-musical-her-own-180958214/
Legacy of Elizabeth Hamilton. https://susanhollowayscott.com/blog/2017/8/15/the-lasting-legacy-of-elizabeth-schuyler-hamilton
NYP Eliza Hamilton. https://www.nypl.org/blog/2016/11/08/what-eliza-hamilton-left-behind
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Great info on Elizabeth Hamilton!
Eliza truly is a great figure in history. I wish more people knew of her and her accomplishments.
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Great and enlightening post! Amazing woman! So important to uncover the women that helped create our nation.
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