Archive for the ‘Church, Angelica Schuyler’ 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

“. . . do not be jealous, my dear Eliza”

During the time ANGELICA SCHUYLER CHURCH was in England she and Hamilton, as well as Eliza, corresponded. Information was exchanged on British public opinion, the French Revolution, and the state of political affairs on both sides of the Atlantic. Angelica sent books to Hamilton about finances, in particular Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. He sent her a copy of The Federalist Papers. Angelica asked that Hamilton befriend French exiles fleeing to America, including Talleyrand. In this letter of July 30, 1794 to her sister Eliza she speaks of her “love” for Hamilton.

. . . by my amiable you know that I mean your Husband, for I love him very much and if you were as generous as the Old Romans you would lend him to me for a little while. But do not be jealous, my dear Eliza, since I am more solicitous to promote his laudable ambition than any person in the world and there is no summit of true glory which I do not desire he may attain: provided always that he pleases to give me a little [illegible] and sometimes to say our dear Angelica was here…. Oh Betsy, you were a lucky girl to get so clever and so good a companion.

There is disagreement among historians as to whether the Angelica Church and Alexander Hamilton had a sexual relationship. Ron Chernow, the author of Alexander Hamilton (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), on whose book the Broadway success Hamilton is based, believes they probably did not since Hamilton’s marriage remained intact and he continued to have close ties to his wife’s family, especially her father. Nor did Hamilton’s enemies attempt to use suggestions of a liaison to defame him which they certainly would have done if they had evidence of one.

It must be noted that many women and men corresponded with their friends of the opposite sex during this time—the letters often being not only informative, but also affectionate, even flirtatious. Witness the letters between Jefferson and Angelica in this post. Research for the book published by my colleagues and me, Selected Letters of John Jay and Sarah Livingston Jay, produced a good many letters between John Jay and his sister-in-law Kitty Livingston. Kitty, the sister of Sarah Livingston Jay, was popular with Washington and his staff in the social whirl that attended winter quarters at Morristown in 1780. (In fact Hamilton is said to have flirted with Kitty before he met Eliza Schuyler there.) Sarah accompanied John Jay during his diplomatic service abroad, their young son having been left with his Livingston grandparents in New Jersey. Some letters between Kitty and John Jay naturally concerned Peter Augustus, but Kitty sent letters directed to him in Madrid and later in Paris that included her observations and speculations about the progress of the war as well as on the social scene. Some of the letters included coded references to individuals and places. We were rather surprised at the tone of intimacy and affection in these missives.

Thus far, no conclusive evidence of a sexual relationship between Angelica Church and Alexander Hamilton has surfaced. This is not to say that none will. Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler had eight children, the eldest of whom died in a duel; another went insane. When Hamilton himself died in a duel in 1804 Eliza was emotionally crushed and in dire financial straits. Slowly recovering, she spent the rest of her long life—she died in 1854—involved in charitable activities and in defending her husband’s reputation and promoting his legacy.

Source for this post: this ARTICLE, the original Letter from Angelica Schuyler Church to Elizabeth Hamilton, 30 July 1794, Alexander Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The illustration is “From a charcoal sketch by Martin, 1851” – Cropped from Internet Archive scan of “Intimate Life of Alexander Hamilton”, published 1910. found HERE.

posted July 26th, 2016 by Janet, comments (2), CATEGORIES: Church, Angelica Schuyler,Hamilton, Alexander,Hamilton, Elizabeth Schuyler,Jay, John,Jay, Sarah Livingston,Livingston, Catharine "Kitty"

“I was as dear to you as a sister”

When ANGELICA SCHUYLER CHURCH returned to America from London in the spring of 1789 for a visit she stayed with Eliza and Alexander Hamilton in New York City until she moved into a her own quarters, the rent of which was paid by Hamilton. That summer when Eliza Hamilton and her children went to stay with her parents in Albany Hamilton was alone in New York City with Angelica. The two were seen about town together. (Did they have an affair? More on this anon.)
Returning to England in November, Angelica wrote this letter to Hamilton from the ship about to sail. (It was usual to refer to in-laws as “brother” or “sister” at that time.)

[November 5–7, 1789]
. . . . Do my dear Brother endeaver to sooth my poor Betsey [Eliza], comfort her with the assurances that I will certainly return to take care of her soon. Remember this also yourself my dearest Brother and let neither politics or ambition drive your Angelica from your affections.
The pilot leaves us this evening, he will call on you with my letter. Adieu my dear Brother, may god bless and protect you, prays your ever affectionate Angelica ever ever yours. . . .
Adieu my dear Hamilton, you said I was as dear to you as a sister keep your word, and let me have the consolation to beleive that you will never forget the promise of friendship you have vowed. A thousand embraces to my dear Betsy, she will not have so bad a night as the last, but poor angelica adieu mine plus cher
. . . . six oClock, all well on board

Hamilton wrote to Angelica on the day of her departure.

My Dear Sister
After taking leave of you on board of the Packet, I hastened home to sooth and console your sister. I found her in bitter distress; though much recovered from the agony, in which she had been. . . . After composing her by a flattering picture of your prospects for the voyage, and a strong infusion of hope, that she had not taken a last farewell of you . . . . [W]ith her consent, [we] walked down to the Battery; where with aching hearts and anxious eyes we saw your vessel, in full sail, swiftly bearing our loved friend from our embraces. Imagine what we felt. We gazed, we sighed, we wept; and casting “many a lingering longing look behind” returned home to give scope to our sorrows, and mingle without restraint our tears and our regrets. . . . Amiable Angelica! how much you are formed to endear yourself to every good heart! How deeply you have rooted yourself in the affections of your friends on this side the Atlantic! Some of us are and must continue inconsolable for your absence.
Betsey and myself make you the last theme of our conversation at night and the first in the morning. We talk of you; we praise you and we pray for you. We dwell with peculiar interest on the little incidents that preceded your departure. Precious and never to be forgotten scenes!
But let me check, My dear Sister, these effusions of regretful friendship. Why should I alloy the happiness that courts you in the bosom of your family by images that must wound your sensibility? It shall not be. However difficult, or little natural it is to me to suppress what the fulness of my heart would utter, the sacrifice shall be made to your ease and satisfaction.
I shall not fail to execute any commission you gave me nor neglect any of your charges. Those particularly contained in your letter by the Pilot, for which Betsey joins me in returning a thousand thanks, shall be observed in all their extent. Already have I addressed the consolation, I mentioned to you, to your Father. . . .
I shall commit this letter to Betsey to add whatever her little affectionate heart may dictate. Kiss your children for me. Teach them to consider me as your and their father’s friend. . . . Adieu Dear Angelica! Remember us always as you ought to do—Remember us as we shall you
Your ever Affect friend & brother
A Hamilton

More to come in the next post.

“To Alexander Hamilton from Angelica Church, [5–7 November 1789],” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified July 12, 2016, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Hamilton/01-05-02-0290. [Original source: The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 5, June 1788 – November 1789, ed. Harold C. Syrett. New York: Columbia University Press, 1962, p. 497.]
“From Alexander Hamilton to Angelica Church, [8 November 1789],” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified July 12, 2016, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Hamilton/01-05-02-0297-0001. [Original source: The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 5, June 1788 – November 1789, ed. Harold C. Syrett. New York: Columbia University Press, 1962, pp. 501–502.]

posted July 22nd, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Church, Angelica Schuyler,Hamilton, Alexander,Hamilton, Elizabeth Schuyler

“the relation of lover and mistress”

ANGELICA SCHUYLER CHURCH was the sister of Alexander Hamilton’s wife Elizabeth, usually called Eliza or Betsy. They were the two eldest of the eight children—Angelica one year older than Eliza— of soldier and statesman Philip Schuyler and Catherine Van Rensselaer both of whose families were wealthy Dutch landowners. The Schuylers lived in Albany where the girls were educated by their mother and private tutors.

Alexander Hamilton met Eliza in Morristown, New Jersey, the Continental Army’s winter quarters, in 1780 where she had come to stay with relatives. Hamilton was smitten; he wrote to his friend John Laurens in March 1780:

I give up my liberty to Miss Schuyler. She is a good-hearted girl who, I am sure, will never play the termagant. Though not a genius, she has good sense enough to be agreeable, and though not a beauty she has fine black eyes, is rather handsome, and has every other requisite of the exterior to make a lover happy.

Hamilton married Eliza but he was also drawn to her sister Angelica whom he also met in 1780. Angelica was gay, witty, vivacious and interested in politics. In 1777 Angelica had married John Church, an Englishman who left for America under suspicious circumstances. Since her father did not approve of the match the pair eloped. Church made a fortune in the Revolution; after the war he and Angelica settled in London where John became a member of Parliament and Angelica established herself as a noted hostess. Angelica and Hamilton corresponded frequently during her stay abroad.

Angelica also made a friend of Thomas Jefferson who was serving as minister to France. Although they were on opposite sides of the political scene in America—Federalists vs Republicans—the two also corresponded. They had discussions about the appropriate roles for women, Jefferson expressing the view that “French ladies miscalculate their happiness when they wander from the true field of their influence into politics.” (Recall the exchanges Jefferson had had with Ann Willing Bingham on this subject here, here, and here. Angelica and Jefferson also corresponded in language that is quite intimate and flirtatious. They worked together to assist victims of the French Revolution.

Hamilton’s letters to Angelica in London were also intimate and flirtatious. Just after the Churches left in 1785 he wrote:

You have I fear taken a final leave of America and of those that love you here. I saw you depart from Philadelphia with peculiar uneasiness, as if foreboding you were not to return. My apprehensions are confirmed and unless I see you in Europe I expect not to see you again.
This is the impression we all have; judge the bitterness it gives to those who love you with the love of nature and to me who feel an attachment for you not less lively.

He wrote on December 6, 1787, thanking her for some information she had sent him.

. . . I can not . . . resist the strong desire I feel of thankg you for your invaluable letter by the last packet. Imagine, if you are able, the pleasure it gave me. Notwithstanding the compliment you pay to my eloquence its resources could give you but a feeble image of what I should wish to convey.
This you will tell me is poetical enough. I seldom write to a lady without fancying the relation of lover and mistress. It has a very inspiring effect. And in your case the dullest materials could not help feeling that propensity.

More about Hamilton and Angelica Church in the next post.

Sources for LETTER to John Laurens and Hamilton’s letters to Angelica: “From Alexander Hamilton to Angelica Church, [3 August 1785] also Alexander Hamilton to Angelica Church, [6 December 1787 Founders Online, National Archives, last modified July 12, 2016, [Original source: The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 3, 1782–1786, ed. Harold C. Syrett. New York: Columbia University Press, 1962, pp. 619–620 and pp. 374–376.] The portrait of Angelica Schuyler Church, son Philip, and a servant is by John Trumbull (1785).

posted July 14th, 2016 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Bingham, Anne Willing,Church, Angelica Schuyler,French Revolution,Friendship,Hamilton, Alexander,Hamilton, Elizabeth Schuyler,Jefferson, Thomas,Letter-writing,New York

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