This is a blog about Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, the wife of Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary War hero and first United States’ first Secretary of the Treasury. My interest in Elizabeth Hamilton began when I attended the Broadway production of Hamilton a little over a year ago. Thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brilliant writing and Phillipa Soo’s sensitive portrayal of this remarkable woman, as soon as I met Eliza, I became obsessed with knowing more about her. Thus began my assemblage of an all-Hamilton library, my exhaustive Internet search, interviews with historians, and numerous visits to historical sites that might lend insight into Eliza’s life.
What I found was that despite the almost incomparable advantages into which Elizabeth Schuyler was born, she survived the trials and threats of war raging at home, Illness and pestilence, financial strain, public humiliation and disappointment, and the violent and untimely deaths of family members. She expected no place in the legacy left by her husband, Alexander Hamilton, nor should she have: the era in which she lived was not one that celebrated the accomplishments of women. Thus, it is all the more remarkable that a study of her life reveals her as a model of endurance and hope—and accomplishment. Alexander Hamilton certainly has left an impressive legacy, largely due to Eliza’s efforts to preserve it. But Eliza’s—hers is a living legacy. And her life examined will encourage and inspire in an era where humility, generosity and kindness in public service are in short supply.
Rather than writing Eliza’s story as straight biography, which is difficult to accomplish due to gaps in a life story that must be patched together with secondary sources, I will present this blog as a journey of discovery, one that uses traditional print and online sources as well as my personal observations of her surroundings: where she grew up, made a home, cared for children, worshipped, mourned, and created. The blog will be part biography, part travelogue, part commentary, as I hope to express the of value of her experiences that, though they occurred centuries ago, have relevance on so many levels today.
I hope you will come on my journey with me, one from which I believe we will emerge moved and enriched.