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Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton

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For other people named Elizabeth Hamilton, see Elizabeth Hamilton (disambiguation).
Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton
Mrs. Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton.jpg
Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton by Ralph Earl, 1787
Born Elizabeth Schuyler
(1757-08-09)August 9, 1757
Albany, Province of New York
Died November 9, 1854(1854-11-09) (aged 97)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Spouse(s) Alexander Hamilton
Children 8
Parent(s) Philip Schuyler
Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler
Relatives Angelica Schuyler Church (sister)
Margarita "Peggy" Schuyler Van Rensselaer (sister)
Philip Jeremiah Schuyler (brother)

Elizabeth Hamilton (née Schuyler; August 9, 1757 – November 9, 1854), sometimes called "Eliza" or "Betsey", was the wife of Alexander Hamilton, and co-founder and deputy director of the first orphanage in New York City.[1]

Childhood and family

Elizabeth was born in Albany, New York, the second daughter of Philip Schuyler, an American Revolutionary War general, and Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler. The Rensselaers of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck were one of the richest and most politically influential families in the state of New York. She was a sister of Angelica Schuyler Church and Margarita Schuyler Van Rensselaer (also called Peggy).

Marriage to Hamilton

On December 14, 1780, Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler were married at Schuyler Mansion in Albany, New York.[2] Despite a well-publicized affair in 1791, the marriage lasted until his death in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804. Before the duel, he wrote her a letter, describing her as the "best of wives and best of women".[3][4]

Widowhood and death

Elizabeth Hamilton petitions Congress to publish her husband Alexander Hamilton's writings (1846)

After her husband's death, Hamilton defended him against his critics in a variety of ways, supporting his claim of authorship of George Washington's "Farewell Address", and requested an apology from James Monroe over his accusations of financial improprieties.[5] She also co-founded and served as deputy director New York's first private orphanage, the New York Orphan Asylum Society.[6] The orphanage continues to exist as a social service agency for children.[7]

After moving to Washington, DC in 1848 with one of her daughters, she helped Dolley Madison fundraise for the Washington Monument.[6]

Tomb at Trinity Church.

She passed away in Washington on November 9, 1854, but was buried in Trinity Church near him in New York City. She had lived another 50 years after his death.


Elizabeth and Alexander Hamilton had eight children, though there is often confusion because two sons were named Philip:

  • Philip (January 22, 1782 – November 23, 1801), died in a duel, just as his father would three years later.[8]
  • Angelica (September 25, 1784 – February 6, 1857)
  • Alexander, Jr. (May 16, 1786 – August 2, 1875)
  • James Alexander (April 14, 1788 – September 24, 1878)
  • John Church (August 22, 1792 – July 25, 1882)
  • William Stephen (August 4, 1797 – August 7, 1850)
  • Elizabeth Holly (November 20, 1799 – October 17, 1859)
  • Philip, also called Little Phil, (June 1, 1802 – July 9, 1884)

In popular culture

Doris Kenyon portrayed Eliza in the 1931 film Alexander Hamilton.

Eliza is portrayed by Phillipa Soo in Hamilton, a 2015 Broadway musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton. Eliza's depiction in the musical has attracted praise from critics and commentators for emphasizing her importance both in Alexander's life and her work in propagating his legacy, an approach it shares with its source material, Ron Chernow's 2004 biography of Alexander.[9]


  1. ^ "Republican Court: Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton (1757-1854)". Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  2. ^ "Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton". New York State Museum. 2004-01-01. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  3. ^ Brodie, Fawn McKay (1974-01-01). Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 9780393317527. 
  4. ^ "From Alexander Hamilton to Elizabeth Hamilton, 4 July 1804". Founders Online. Retrieved 2016-01-11. 
  5. ^ "Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton". New York State Museum. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  6. ^ a b Chernow, Ron (2005-03-29). "Epilogue". Alexander Hamilton. Penguin. ISBN 9781101200858. 
  7. ^ "History". Graham-Windham. Retrieved 2015-09-25. 
  8. ^ "Republican Court: Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton (1757-1854)". Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  9. ^ Kathy Henderson, Meet the Magnetic Schuyler Sisters, the Heart of Hamilton, Broadway Direct, May 19, 2015.

External links