Archive for the ‘Reynolds, Maria’ Category

I, Eliza Hamilton

Two Nerdy History Girls is a blog I subscribe to. The bloggers are two women, Loretta Chase and Susan Holloway Scott; the former writes historical romances and the latter historical novels and, under the pen name Isabella Bradford, historical romances. They both pride themselves on doing extensive background research for their books. Their blog posts often feature information they have come by as a result and are always fun to read. A bonus: every Sunday they present a roundup of other blog posts they find interesting.

Susan has a new book coming out in September, a historical novel called I, Eliza Hamilton. I suspect she got her inspiration from the highly successful Broadway play Hamilton. Eliza Schuyler was the wife of Alexander Hamilton. I look forward to seeing what Susan does with her story.

For my posts on Eliza, her sister-in-law-Angelica Schuyler Church, and Hamilton’s mistress Maria Reynolds see here, here, here, and here.

posted February 23rd, 2017 by Janet, comments (2), CATEGORIES: Book Beat,Church, Angelica Schuyler,Hamilton, Alexander,Hamilton, Elizabeth Schuyler,Reynolds, Maria

“The Many Faces of a Wily Founder”

Excuse the absence of a post on the Fourth of July and the promised post on ANGELICA SCHUYLER CHURCH.
I want to bring to your attention an article in The New York Times titled “The Many Faces of a Wily Founder” by Jennifer Schuessler. Of course, “the wily founder” is Hamilton. Illustrations by Peter and Maria Hoey accompany the piece, depicting Hamilton as Composter, Master, Love, Insulter, Prankster, Conniver, Student, Prognosticator, Victim, and Victor.

Four exhibitions in New York City provide examples for each of the above. I mean to see all of them and hope you will manage to do so too. At the New-York Historical Society is “Summer of Hamilton;” the New York Public Library has mounted “Alexander Hamilton: Striver, Statesman, Scoundrel;” Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library has on view items from its collection; and finally the Museum of the City of New York is featuring “New York at Its Core Sneak Peak: Alexander Hamilton.”

In the Times article, an example of Hamilton as Lover is the tale of Maria Reynolds featured in previous posts here and here. I thought Hamilton’s ruminations in 1804, recollected by James Kent in the depiction of Hamilton as Prognosticator, have particular resonance for our times: “The pending election exceedingly disturbed him & he viewed the temper, disposition & passions of the times as portentous of evil, & favorable to the sway of artful & ambitious demagogues.”

Don’t miss these exhibits.

posted July 7th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Hamilton, Alexander,Readings and Exhibitions,Reynolds, Maria

“I shal be miserable till I se you”

Having begun an affair with blonde twenty-three-year old MARIA REYNOLDS (1768-1832) in the summer of 1791, when his wife Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton (pictured) and their children were vacationing in Albany with her family, Alexander Hamilton received this note from Maria in December. Her husband had returned and quickly saw an opportunity to blackmail Hamilton.

I have not tim to tell you the cause of my present troubles only that Mr. has rote you this morning and I know not wether you have got the letter or not and he has swore that If you do not answer It or If he dose not se or hear from you to day he will write Mrs. Hamilton he has just Gone oute and I am a Lone I think you had better come here one moment that you May know the Cause then you will the better know how to act Oh my God I feel more for you than myself and wish I had never been born to give you so mutch unhappiness do not rite to him no not a Line but come here soon do not send or leave any thing in his power.

Although, at that time, Hamilton’s actions were grounds for a duel, James Reynolds chose to ask for money instead. For $1,000 Reynolds proposed to leave his wife to Hamilton and depart the city taking his daughter with him. Hamilton would not or could not come up with such a sum but gave Reynolds money in small amounts while the affair continued. Apparently Reynolds was satisfied with this arrangement. Maria wrote to Hamilton again.

I have kept my bed those tow days past but find my self mutch better at presant though yet full distreesed and shall till I se you fretting was the Cause of my Illness I thought you had been told to stay away from our house and yesterday with tears I my Eyes I beged Mr. once more to permit your visits and he told upon his honnour that he had not said anything to you and that It was your own fault believe me I scarce knew how to beleeve my senses and if my seturation was insupportable before I heard this It was now more so fear prevents my saing more only that I shal be miserable till I se you and if my dear freend has the Least Esteeme for the unhappy Maria whos greateest fault Is Loveing him he will come as soon as he shall get this and till that time My breast will be the seate of pain and woe

P. S. If you cannot come this Evening to stay just come only for one moment as I shal be Lone Mr. is going to sup with a friend from New York.

When Reynolds subsequently tangled with the law—having committed forgery—and was imprisoned, he called upon Hamilton for assistance. When Hamilton refused, Reynolds released information about the affair and also suggested Hamilton had been involved in financial improprieties when he was Secretary of the Treasury. Rather than have his professional conduct impugned, Hamilton opted to admit to the affair with Maria and deal with the personal repercussions of a sexual scandal. Of course, he broke off his relationship with Maria.
Over time, Hamilton paid more than $1000 in blackmail to James Reynolds to keep the affair secret. Maria eventually divorced her husband; Aaron Burr was her attorney.

See this ARTICLE for more information. The portrait of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton is by Ralph Earl (1787) and is at The New-York Historical Society.

posted June 27th, 2016 by Janet, comments (1), CATEGORIES: Hamilton, Alexander,Hamilton, Elizabeth Schuyler,Reynolds, Maria

“other than pecuniary consolation”

With all of the publicity surrounding the Broadway musical Hamilton, I thought I would devote some space to two women with whom Alexander Hamilton is said to have had affairs. His liaison with MARIA REYNOLDS is known for certain because he himself admitted to their affair (1791-1792) in order to clear himself of charges of financial impropriety during his tenure as Secretary of the Treasury. In 1797 he published “Observations on Certain Documents” from a draft of which the following excerpt is taken. In it Hamilton describes how the affair began. Subsequently James Reynolds, Maria’s husband, blackmailed Hamilton demanding money to keep the affair secret. Publishing the details must have been difficult for Hamilton but maintaining a spotless reputation during his public service was more important to him than the scandal resulting from a sexual escapade. In the end Hamilton is likely to have suspected that husband and wife had colluded to set him up.

Some time in the Summer of the year 1791 a woman called at my house in the City of Philadelphia and asked to speak with me, apart in private. She was shewn into the parlour and I where I quickly after went where I went to her. She introduced herself by telling With an seeming apparent air of distress she informed me that she was a daughter of a Mr. Lewis of the State of New York and a sister to a Mrs. G—— Livingston of the State of New York and wife to a Mr. Reynolds whose father was in the Commissary or Quarter Master department during the war with Great Britain—that he had lately lef that her husband had for a long time treated her very cruelly w had lately left her to live with another woman and so destitute that though desirous of returning to her friends she had not the means—that knowing I was a citizen of the same State of New York she had take the liberty to address herself to my humanity for relief. There was something odd in the application and the story yet there was a genuineness simplicity and modesty in the manner of relating it which gave an impression of its truth. I replied that her situation was an interesting one & that I was disposed to afford her as much aid as might be necessary sufficient to convey her to her friends—but, that at the instant it was not convenient to me, (which was truly the case) that if she would inform me where she was to be found I would send or bring it to her in the course of the day. She gave me the Street and the number of the house where she would be found lodged. In the Evening I put a thirty dollar bill in my Pocket and went to the house where I inquired for Mrs. Reynolds and was shewn up Stairs into at the head of which she met me and conducted me into a bed room. I took the bill out of my pocket and delivered it to him her. Some conversation ensued which made it quickly apparent that other than pecuniary consolation would not be unacceptable. It required a harder heart than mine to refuse it to a pretty woman Beauty in distress.

After this, I had frequent meetings with her—most of them at my own house. Mrs. Hamilton being absent on a visit to her father with her Children. . . .

Next time some excerpts from letters Maria wrote to Hamilton.

“Draft of the “Reynolds Pamphlet”, [25 August 1797],” Founders Online, National Archives ( [last update: 2016-03-28]). Source: The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 21, April 1797 – July 1798, ed. Harold C. Syrett. New York: Columbia University Press, 1974, pp. 215–238.
The illustration of Hamilton is a photograph of a painting by John Trumbull; 1 negative: glass [between 1900 and 1912]. Prints & Photographs Division, Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-det-4a26168.

posted June 23rd, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Hamilton, Alexander,Reynolds, Maria

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