07 Aug Happy Birthday Blog: Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton
Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton
Born: August 9, 1757
Albany, New York
Known For: Co-Founded First Orphanage in NYC, wife of Alexander Hamilton
For our dear readers who know that we’re both obsessed with “Hamilton” the musical – it should come as no surprise that we are celebrating the life and legacy of the remarkable woman he married.
Though she doesn’t technically count as a First Lady – Hamilton was only Treasury Secretary – she is the wife of a Founding Father of this country, and her accomplishments are well worth noting.
Eliza and Hamilton were introduced during the Revolutionary War and married in 1780. They had seven children, one of whom died in a duel. They survived a marriage full of scandal and sacrifice – most notably when Hamilton published a public admission of an extramarital affair.
We all know Hamilton died in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804, but Eliza lived for another 50 years – establishing quite a legacy for herself. Hamilton left her in debt, so she had to sell some of their property. However, the death of her father shortly after allowed her to re-establish her household.
Throughout her life she worked to help orphans and the homeless. In 1806, she co-founded the New York Orphan Asylum Society – the first private orphanage in NYC. She served as the Deputy Director and later Director.
After her husband’s death she fought to retain his legacy and impact on the founding of the United States. She collected his papers and letters, and helped her son to organize a biographical account. She also worked with other founding wives to ensure Washington’s legacy – helping Dolley Madison and Louisa Adams fundraise for the Washington Monument.
Eliza died in Washington DC, where she lived with her daughter, in 1854 at the age of 97. Though her attempts to secure her husband’s place in history worked, as often happens, we have forgotten her lasting impact until most recently.
Thanks to her celebrated role in the musical “Hamilton” future generations will have one more phenomenal female role model to look up to. If you want to learn more about Eliza, you can do so here.