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The Schuyler Sisters

The Schuyler Sisters

Recently, a slight obsession with the hit Broadway musical 'Hamilton' has led me to consistently Google all the historical figures who are presented throughout the show. Though all leaders of the American Revolution certainly led rich and interesting lives, it is the Schuyler sisters Angelica and Eliza who both not only played parts in the founding of the new country, but went on to achieve even greater things. Born as sisters, and living as best friends even when an ocean was between, Angelica and Eliza's love and support for one another, as well as their striking intelligence and compassion, make them worthy of the term 'inspirational'.


Angelica Schuyler Church, was the eldest of the sisters. Born in 1756, she was the daughter of General Phillip Schuyler, and Catherine Van Rensselaer, who both came from wealthy Dutch families. Due to her father's high political and military rank, as Angelica came of age, the Schuyler house hold was filled with revolutionaries, bringing the girls new stories, and new ideas about the world. Angelica, in turn, amazed their visitors with both her wit, and intelligence. One visitor, in 1776, was merchant John Barker Church, who, as you can guess from her name, became Angelica's husband. Knowing her father would never bless their marriage, she convinced John to run away with her. The paid eloped in 1777, eventually making contact with the Schuyler family, when her parents had 'cooled down'. Angelica went on to live in Paris and London, making frequent trips back to New York to see her family.  She also kept in contact with the political revolutionaries who had inspired her; Thomas Jeffreson, Alexander Hamilton, Marquis de Lafayette, and George Washington himself. Her dialogue, and friendship with these powerful, intelligent historical figures is demonstrative of her intelligence and power, certainly providing her with the title 'inspirational'.



Eliza, whilst a little less worldly than her big sister, had a larger impact closer to home. Married to founding father Alexander Hamilton in 1780, Eliza fiercely defended her husband's claim of authorship to George Washington's address. There is no record of her reaction to the 'Reynolds Pamphlets', in which to defend himself against accusations of embezzlement, Hamilton proved that his movement of money was to prevent an affair being revealed. Despite no written record of a response from Eliza, historians generally assume her devastation, due to her devotion to her husband. Following the death of their son Phillip during a duel, however, the pair appear to reconnect, sharing their love once more. Eliza's main achievements, however, came after the death of her husband. She became the founder and director of the first orphanage in New York, which still exists as today, as a sanctuary for the children of the city. Eliza also helped raise funds for the Washington monument, and searched and made sense of as much of her husband's writings as possible. A symbol of the compassion of the young country, Eliza is just as deserving as her sister for the title of 'inspirational'. 


Women are, too often, pushed aside in history - but if we search, it is not too hard to find those who affected our world. The Schuyler sisters signify the beginning of a new generation of women; one which included Mary Wollestone Craft, Mary Shelley, Queen Victoria; Those who began to bring women onto the viewing platform of history, and those who are certainly worthy of the term 'inspirational'. 









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