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Philip Schuyler

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Philip Schuyler
Portrait by Jacob H. Lazarus after a miniature by John Trumbull
United States Senator
from New York
In office
March 4, 1797 – January 3, 1798
Preceded byAaron Burr
Succeeded byJohn Sloss Hobart
In office
July 16, 1789 – March 3, 1791
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byAaron Burr
1st Surveyor General of New York
In office
March 30, 1781 – May 13, 1784
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded bySimeon De Witt
Personal details
Philip Schuyler

(1733-11-20)November 20, 1733
Albany, Province of New York, British America
DiedNovember 18, 1804(1804-11-18) (aged 70)
Albany, New York, U.S.
Resting placeAlbany Rural Cemetery[1]
Political partyPro-Administration,
(m. 1755; died 1803)
Parent(s)Johannes Schuyler, Jr.
Cornelia van Cortlandt
RelativesSee Schuyler family
ProfessionSoldier, Statesman
Military service
Allegiance Province of New York (1755-1767)
United States (1767-1779)
Branch/serviceNew York Provincial Troops
New York Colonial Militia
Continental Army
RankCaptain (NY)
Colonel (NY)
Major general (USA)
Battles/warsFrench and Indian War
Revolutionary War

Philip John Schuyler (/ˈsklər/; November 20, 1733 - November 18, 1804) was an American general in the Revolutionary War and a United States Senator from New York.[2] He is usually known as Philip Schuyler, while his son is usually known as Philip J. Schuyler.

Born in Albany, Province of New York, into the prosperous Schuyler family, Schuyler fought in the French and Indian War. He won election to the New York General Assembly in 1768 and to the Continental Congress in 1775. He planned the Continental Army's 1775 Invasion of Quebec, but poor health forced him to delegate command of the invasion to Richard Montgomery. He prepared the Continental Army's defense of the 1777 Saratoga campaign, but was replaced by Major General Horatio Gates as the commander of Continental forces in the theater. Schuyler resigned from the Continental Army in 1779.

Schuyler served in the New York State Senate for most of the 1780s and supported the ratification of the United States Constitution. He represented New York in the 1st United States Congress but lost his state's 1791 Senate election to Aaron Burr. After a period in the state senate, he won election to the United States Senate again in 1797, affiliating with the Federalist Party. He resigned due to poor health the following year. He was the father of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton and the father-in-law of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.

Early life


Philip John Schuyler was born on November 20 [O.S. November 9] 1733[3] in Albany, New York, to Cornelia Van Cortlandt (1698–1762) and Johannes ("John") Schuyler Jr. (1697–1741), the third generation of the Dutch Schuyler family in America. His maternal grandfather was Stephanus Van Cortlandt, the 17th Mayor of New York City.[4]

Before his father died on the eve of his eighth birthday, Schuyler attended the public school in Albany.[5] Afterward, he was educated by tutors at the Van Cortlandt family estate at New Rochelle. Fluent in both Dutch and English from childhood,[6] in 1748 he began to study with Reverend Peter Strouppe at the New Rochelle French Protestant Church, where he learned French and mathematics.[5] While he was at New Rochelle he also joined numerous trade expeditions where he met Iroquois leaders and learned to speak Mohawk.[6]

Schuyler joined the British forces in 1755 during the French and Indian War, raised a provincial company, and was commissioned as its captain by his cousin, Lieutenant Governor James Delancey.[5] In 1756, he accompanied British officer Colonel John Bradstreet to Oswego, where he gained experience as a quartermaster, which ended when the outpost fell to the French.[5] Schuyler took part in the battles of Lake George, Oswego River, Carillon and Fort Frontenac.[5]

After the war, Bradstreet sent Schuyler to England to settle Bradstreet's reimbursement claims for expenses he incurred during the war effort, and he remained in England from 1760 to 1763.[7] After returning to British America he took over management of several farms and business enterprises in upstate New York, including a lumber venture in Saratoga.[8] In addition, Schuyler was responsible for constructing the first flax mill in the American colonies.[9] Schuyler became colonel and commander of a militia district regiment in 1767.[10] In 1768, he served as a member of the New York Assembly.[11]

American Revolution


Schuyler was elected to the Continental Congress in 1775 and served until he was appointed a major general of the Continental Army in June. General Schuyler took command of the Northern Department and planned the Invasion of Quebec. His poor health required him to place Richard Montgomery in command of the invasion.[12] In 1777, he again served in the Continental Congress.

Saratoga campaign


After returning to the command of the Northern Department in 1777, Schuyler was active in preparing a defense against the Saratoga Campaign, part of the "Three Pronged Attack" strategy of the British to cut the American Colonies in two by invading and occupying New York State. In the summer of 1777, John Burgoyne marched his British force south from Quebec and through the valleys of Lakes Champlain and George. On the way he invested the small Colonial garrison occupying Fort Ticonderoga at the nexus of the two lakes. When General St. Clair abandoned Fort Ticonderoga in July, the Congress replaced Schuyler with General Horatio Gates, who had accused Schuyler of dereliction of duty. In 1778, Schuyler and Arthur St. Clair faced a court of inquiry over the loss of Ticonderoga, and both were acquitted.[13][14]

The British offensive was eventually stopped by Continental Army then under the command of Gates and Benedict Arnold in the Battles of Saratoga. That victory, the first wholesale defeat of a large British force, marked a turning point in the revolution, for it convinced France to enter the war on the American side. When Schuyler demanded a court martial to answer Gates' charges, he was vindicated but resigned from the Army on April 19, 1779. He then served in two more sessions of the Continental Congress in 1779 and 1780.

Later career


As a prominent politician and Patriot leader in New York, Schuyler was the subject of an unsuccessful kidnapping attempt, which was plotted and led by John Walden Meyers on August 7, 1781. Schuyler was able to vacate his Albany mansion before the kidnappers arrived.[15] Schuyler was an original member of the New York Society of the Cincinnati.

After the war, he expanded his Saratoga estate to tens of thousands of acres, adding slaves, tenant farmers, a store, and mills for flour, flax, and lumber. He built several schooners on the Hudson River, and named the first Saratoga. According to the Schuyler Mansion Historic Society, there were around 40 slaves between the Albany and Saratoga estates.[16]

He was a member of the New York State Senate from 1780 to 1784, and at the same time New York State Surveyor General from 1781 to 1784.[17] Afterwards he returned to the State Senate from 1786 to 1790, where he actively supported the adoption of the United States Constitution.[18]

In 1789, he was elected a U.S. Senator from New York to the First United States Congress, serving from July 27, 1789, to March 3, 1791. After losing his bid for re-election in 1791 to Aaron Burr, he returned to the State Senate from 1792 to 1797. In 1797, he was selected again to the U.S. Senate and served in the 5th United States Congress from March 4, 1797, until his resignation because of ill health on January 3, 1798.[19]

Personal life

Schuyler's wife, Catherine Van Rensselaer, depicted in a portrait by Walter Robinson, c. 1795

According to the Schuyler Family's Bible, on September 7, 1755, he married Catherine Van Rensselaer (1734–1803) at Albany. In the Bible entry, he was called "Philip Johannes Schuyler" and she was called "Catherina Van Rensselaer". She was the daughter of Johannes Van Rensselaer (1707/08–1783) and his first wife, Engeltje Livingston (1698–1746/47). Johannes was the grandson of Hendrick van Rensselaer (1667–1740). Engeltje was the daughter of Robert Livingston the Younger. Philip and Catherine had 15 children together, eight of whom survived to adulthood, including:

Schuyler's country home had been destroyed by General John Burgoyne's forces in October 1777. Later that year, he began rebuilding on the same site, now located in southern Schuylerville, New York. This later home is maintained by the National Park Service as part of the Saratoga National Historical Park, and is open to the public.

Schuyler died at the Schuyler Mansion in Albany on November 18, 1804, four months after his son-in-law, Alexander Hamilton, was killed in a duel and 2 days before his 71st birthday. He is buried at Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, New York.


Statue in its former location outside Albany City Hall

Place names


Geographic locations and buildings named in Schuyler's honor include:

Works of art


Schuyler was depicted by John Trumbull in his 1821 painting Surrender of General Burgoyne, which hangs in the United States Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C.

Major General Philip Schuyler, a bronze statue by sculptor J. Massey Rhind, was erected outside Albany City Hall in 1925. In June 2020, Albany mayor Kathy Sheehan signed an executive order for the statue to be removed and given to a "museum or other institution for future display with appropriate historical context", due to Schuyler's ownership of slaves.[29] The statue was requested the next day by the mayor of Schuylerville, New York, who suggested that it be relocated to Schuyler House.[30] In the early morning of June 10, 2023, the statue was removed from its pedestal to a trailer and transported to an undisclosed storage location.[31] After the statue was removed on June 10, 2023, a time capsule was discovered underneath in a sealed metal box.


The non-speaking role of Philip Schuyler was originated by ensemble member Sydney James Harcourt in the 2015 Broadway musical Hamilton, in which Schuyler's son-in-law Alexander Hamilton is the title character.[32]


  1. ^ Column atop a large base. Sec. 29, lot 2, Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, Albany, NY., Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Location 42147). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  2. ^ "NYSM: Philip Schuyler". Archived from the original on 2015-10-23. Retrieved 2012-02-02.
  3. ^ Gerlach, Don R. (1964). Philip Schuyler and the American Revolution in New York, 1733–1777. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. p. 17. ISBN 9780598239891.
  4. ^ Tuckerman 1969, p. 9.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Biography, Philip John Schuyler (1733–1804)". ARCE: Albany Rural Cemetery Explorer. Albany, NY: University at Albany SUNY and Albany Rural Cemetery. 2019. Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  6. ^ a b Howard, Hugh (2012). Houses of the Founding Fathers. New York, NY: Artisan. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-5796-5510-5 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Tuckerman 1969, pp. 65–66.
  8. ^ Tuckerman 1969, pp. 70–71.
  9. ^ Lossing, Benson John (February 2009). The Life and Times of Philip Schuyler. Applewood Books. p. 219. ISBN 9781429016827. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
  10. ^ Lossing 2009, p. 218.
  11. ^ Tuckerman 1969, pp. 79–80.
  12. ^ Tuckerman 1969, pp. 112–114.
  13. ^ Lossing, p. 320.
  14. ^ "Major General Arthur St. Clair". National Museum of the United States Army. January 27, 2015.
  15. ^ McBurney, Christian M. (January 16, 2015). "THE PLOT TO KIDNAP SCHUYLER". Journal of the American Revolution. Archived from the original on 2020-04-24. Retrieved 2020-05-16.
  16. ^ Mansion, Schuyler (2016-06-05). "Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site: An Overview of Slave Trade in New Netherland, New York and Schuyler Mansion". Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site. Retrieved 2020-12-14.
  17. ^ Tuckerman 1969, pp. 253–254.
  18. ^ Tuckerman 1969, pp. 254–258.
  19. ^ Tuckerman 1969, pp. 257–258.
  20. ^ "Republican Court: Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton (1757–1854)". www.librarycompany.org. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  21. ^ a b Schuyler Family Bible, Collections of Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, Albany, NY.
  22. ^ Eliza Hamilton The Extraordinary Life and Times of the Wife of Alexander Hamilton by Tilar J. Mazzeo
  23. ^ Schuyler, George W. (1885). Colonial New York: Philip Schuyler and His Family, Volume 2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 282.
  24. ^ Bielinski, Stefan. "Rensselaer Schuyler". New York State Museum. Retrieved 2017-04-22.
  25. ^ "This Day in History: Cornelia Schuyler and Washington Morton are married!". Facebook: Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site. October 7, 2015. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  26. ^ "Philip Schuyler". Ancestry.com. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  27. ^ Schuyler, George W. (1885). Colonial New York: Philip Schuyler and His Family, Volume 2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 283.
  28. ^ Williams, Michael (2020-06-19). "Slave-owner Gen. Philip Schuyler's name coming off Albany school". Times Union. Retrieved 2020-12-14.
  29. ^ Pitofsky, Marina (June 12, 2020). "Philip Schuyler statue to be removed from downtown Albany". The Hill. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  30. ^ Mulholland, Mark (June 12, 2020). "Schuylerville wants statue Albany's mayor wants removed". WNYT-TV. Albany, NY. Archived from the original on 2020-06-13.
  31. ^ Seiler, Casey; Franco, Jim (2023-06-10). "Albany's Schuyler statue removed". Times Union. Retrieved 2023-06-10.
  32. ^ "Sydney James Harcourt | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 2017-01-12.

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
new office
New York State Surveyor General
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
U.S. senator (Class 1) from New York
Served alongside: Rufus King
Succeeded by
Preceded by U.S. senator (Class 1) from New York
Served alongside: John Laurance
Succeeded by