Role of Angelica Schuyler Church in Political and Patronage Matters With Hamilton and Jefferson

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Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson were the two leading antagonists during the first decade of the United States’ nationhood.  Yet, it appears that both had romantic relations of differing degrees with one woman, Angelica Schuyler Church, who was the sister of Hamilton’s wife, Elizabeth Schuyler.  Although a married woman, living for much of her life in England, she had liaisons with both Hamiltonand Jeffersonand continued extensive correspondence with each of them for many years.  Jan Lewis contends that both Jefferson and Hamilton used their relationships with Angelica Schuyler Church to sustain the bonds of affection that made their lives meaningful, but they were not willing to permit her or other women to intervene in issues related to government and patronage. [1]   In my opinion, this conclusion is mostly true of Jefferson, but not true ofHamilton.

Background of Angelica Schuyler Church

Angelica Schuyler Church was born in 1756, one of eight children of Philip Schuyler and Catherine Van Rensselear.[2]  Both the Schuylers and the Renssalears were wealthy Dutch landowners in the region of New York near Albany.  The wealth and prominence of her family was unusual.  Philip Schuyler’s grandfather owned 24,000 acres of land, and was Mayor of Albany, Indian commissioner, an Indian trader and a merchant.[3]  His mother was the daughter of the aristocratic Van Cortlandt family and bequeathed 13,000 acres of land to him and his brother.[4]  He also inherited his estate at Saratoga from his uncle.[5]  Mrs. Schuyler’s family, the Renssalaers, owned a manor with property 24 miles square.  Like feudal lords, they had the right of appointing officers and magistrates to decide disputes involving their tenants, who took an oath of allegiance to the proprietors and gave them a percentage of their produce.[6]

With her husband being away so much, it fell to Mrs. Schuyler to educate Angelica and the other children.[7] In general, Dutch girls in the Schuyler’s circle were only taught to read and write, cast up simple accounts and sew and embroider.[8] They lived with the many slaves who performed household work and also worked on the family’s estates.[9]  Angelica grew up in a privileged atmosphere which was closer to that of southern plantation owners than to that of many northerners.

While the Dutch community was very straight-laced and frowned on amusements such as theatre, the Schuyler family was not so prejudiced and limited as the others.[10]  They were friendly with members of the British garrison at Albany.[11] The British governor of New York, Sir Henry Moore, visited the Schuyler’s estate at Saratoga and went with Philip Schuyler to purchase land from the Indians. [12] Mrs. Schuyler was a good friend of the Governor’s wife and was visited with other British officials.[13]

Angelica as a ten-year old girl accompanied her parents to New York City, where they stayed at the British headquarters, Government House, with Governor Moore.[14]  New York City at that time was a center for theatre, dancing, dining, races on the river, and fox hunting.[15]  Although it is not known whether Angelica was exposed to these activities, the busy and sophisticated atmosphere of the time may well have influenced her.  Upon her parents’ return to Saratoga, Angelica stayed for several weeks with the Moores in New York City.[16]  Three years later, when Philip Schuyler was preparing to enter the New York Assembly, he inquired of a relative. Elizabeth Livingston, to find a place for his children in New York City.  She replied that the Widow Grant was willing to board two of Schuyler’s children for fifty pounds a year.[17]  Apparently, this effort was part of a plan to have his children educated in New York City.[18]

When the American Revolution broke out, Angelica was 19, and was described as “[a] very Pretty Young Lady.  A Brunette with dark eyes, and a countenance animated and sparkling…”[19]  She was staying at the family estate at Saratoga, but was often escorted to Albany by officers in the Albany garrison.[20] In 1777, she met John Church, an Englishman who had run away to America, either because he had killed someone in a duel or because he was a debtor who was bankrupt because of gambling debts.[21]  General Schuyler opposed the marriage of Angelica to John Church, so they eloped and were married without their parents’ knowledge at the house of their grandfather.  After the wedding, the Churches moved to Boston, and visited the French at Newport, where she was described as going to her husband’s office “in rather elegant undress” which led a farmer to say “a wife and a mother has no need to be so well-dressed.”[22]  During the Revolution, John Church became rich by procuring supplies for the American and French forces, speculating, and investing in banks and shipping companies, and he continued to gamble.[23]

After the war, the Churches went to England and France.  They settled in a house on Sackville Street, London, and John Church became a member of Parliament. His wife was a member of the royal circle, having a private box at the DruryLaneTheatre, giving balls for the Prince of Wales, and entertaining both diplomats and artists in her salons, including Prime Minister William Pitt, Edmund Burke, and the painters John  Trumbull, ,  Richard Cosway and Maria Cosway.[24]  Mrs. Church loved music and literature, was widely read in the classics and knowledgeable about politics.   People charmed by the beautiful, witty, and gay Angelica included John Jay, James McHenry, and Chancellor Kent.[25]  For example, James McHenry,Hamilton’s cohort on General Washington’s Staff wrote toHamilton in 1782 that Mrs. Church

…is a fine woman.  She charms in all companies.  No one has seen her, of either sex, who has not been pleased with her, and she has pleased

every one, chiefly by means of those qualities which make you the husband of her sister.[26]

As was reflected in her correspondence with Jefferson and Hamilton, as well as her wealthy background, Mrs. Church’s views were consonant with the nationalistic and other policies favoring the rich that her brother-in-law, Alexander Hamilton, favored, and was shocked by the terrors of the French Revolution.

Angelica Schuyler Church and Thomas Jefferson


In 1784, Thomas Jefferson, the former Governor ofVirginia, and author of the Declaration of Independence, was sent toParisas ambassador.  In early August, 1786, his friend, the painter John Trumbull, introduced Jefferson to Maria Cosway, a sophisticated and beautiful British painter born inItaly, and a friend of Mrs. Church.

After the romance between Mrs. Cosway and Jefferson cooled, in December 1787,[27] she urged Jefferson to meet Mrs. Church.  Apparently, Jefferson met Mrs. Church soon after, for in February of 1788 he replied to a note she sent him after she had seen him, which  mentioned the “civilities” Jefferson paid her. Jefferson said these civilities were “the gratification of my heart.”   He said that he would count her faults, and one of her faults was not caring enough for herself and too much for others.  Mrs. Church had said she would visit him in Monticello;  Jefferson replied that if so, he would point out the flowers and trees God has made better in America than in Europe.   (This sentiment was analogous to a campaign he had embarked on to convince the French that American animals were bigger than anything in Europe.) He continued “ While you’re indulging with your friends on the Hudson, I will go to see if Monticello remains in the same place” or he would go to Niagara Falls with her if she would go with him to the Great Falls of the Potomac. [28] However, the plans for a joint trip toAmerica were never consummated.  Nevertheless, they kept up a correspondence throughout the 1790’s.

Mrs. Church did attempt to involve Jeffersonin her political views.  She did give Jeffersona copy of the Federalist Papers which she had been sent by her sister. [29]  Apparently, Jefferson also received copies of these essays from Edward Carrington and praised them in a letter to Madison. [30]   Mrs. Church also expressed to Jefferson views ofAmerica which could not have been welcome toJefferson:

The adoption of a new constitution excepted I can tell you nothing that may please you. A decided taste for Luxuries, and no inclination to acquit their debts, are not traits in their conduct likely to please those who are solicitous of the Honor and welfare of Americans. [31]

Jefferson accumulated mountains of debt on his plantation and continued to consume luxuries such as French wines, [32] while Hamilton’s career as Secretary of the Treasury was highlighted by his plan to fund the national debt and assume state debts. [33]

Mrs. Church seemed to be the center of efforts to help victims of the French Revolution.  On two occasions Mrs. Church solicited Jefferson’s help in aiding persons at risk because of the French Revolution.  According to Jan Lewis, letters of this type by Mrs. Church were intended to assist persons whom she called “friends” but were really persons for whom she had an obligation to use her influence and power to render assistance, and from whom assistance to her was expected in return. [34]  In February 1793, she wrote:

…when my friends require my assistance few are more willing than myself and there is no occasion in which I take more pleasure than in warmly recommending to your Attention the Count de Noailles, one great object of his visit to America is to render service to his Brother the Marquis de Lafayette, whose fate Americamust see with sorrow and indignation. [35]

In August 1793 she wrote that Lafayettewas in an Austrian prison, asked for President Washington’s help, and recited other horrors of the French Revolution. [36]     In May 1794, she received a letter from the Marquis de Lally-Tollendal, informing her of the execution of her acquaintances Madame de Gramont and Madame de Chatelet, as well as the failure of an allied invasion force and the flight of Louis XVI. [37]  In September 1795, she received a letter from Francois Barthelemy answering her fearful inquiry about the fate of her friends, and stating that Monsieur St. Andre had been killed by Robespierre. [38] At this time, Jefferson was still an enthusiast for the French Revolution, and he criticized his protégé, William Short, “on account of the extreme warmth with which [Short] censured the proceedings of the Jacobins of France.” [39] Letters from Mrs. Church describing the horrors of the Revolution could hardly have been welcome.

Jefferson reported in a letter to Mrs. Church that he had passed her request regarding Lafayette to President Washington, who said he would do all he can but “he could not be sanguine in their obtaining the desired effect.” [40]  Because Lafayette was well known to both Washington and Jefferson, this effort by them was not done as a favor to Mrs. Church, but for its own sake.  In 1799, Lafayette wrote to Mrs. Church, thanking her for her friendship and efforts on his behalf during his time of need.[41]

Jeffersonseveral times expressed to Mrs. Church his views that women should stay out of politics.  While they were both in Paris, he wrote, noting that New Yorkhad been agitated by the question on the new Constitution, but opined that ladies should not be concerned with politics. [42]  Jefferson wrote that “French ladies miscalculate their happiness when they wander from the true field of their influence into politics.”[43]  Nearly ten years later, in welcoming her back toAmerica, he wrote:

…we have not yet learnt to give everything to its proper place, discord to our senates, love and friendship to society.  Your affections, I am persuaded, will spread themselves over the whole family of the good, without enquiring by what hard names they are politically called.  You will preserve, from temper and inclination, the happy privilege of the ladies to leave to the rougher sex and to the newspapers their party squabbles and reproaches. [44]

Upon hearing that Mr. Church was moving toNew York,Jeffersonwrote to Mrs. Church:

I hope he will find the state of society different in New Yorkfrom what it is in this place [Philadelphia].  Party animosities have raised a wall of separation between those who differ in political sentiments,  They must love misery indeed, who would, at the sight of an honest man, feel the torment of hatred & aversion rather than the benign spasms of benevolence & esteem. [45]

While this last letter discusses the political atmosphere, it discusses no substantive issues but rather involves the state of society, which, inJefferson’s mind, was a proper subject for ladies.

Angelica Schuyler Church and Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton first met Angelica Schuyler Church in 1780 at the same time as he met her sister, his future wife. [46]  Over the course of the next 25 years, they engaged in a very flirtatious correspondence.  For example,Hamilton wrote:

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 feeling that propensity….Wherever I am believe always that there is no one can pay a more affectionate tribute to your deserts than I do. Adieu ma chere, soeur. [47]

Mrs. Church came to New Yorkin spring of 1789, initially stayed with the Hamiltons, and later lived in rented quarters paid for by Hamilton.  Because Hamiltonpaid for her quarters as well as her other expenses, and they were seen riding together in New York, Willard Sterne Randall contends that during this period, Hamilton and Mrs. Church had a love nest.  He writes that in August, Mrs. Hamilton was away with her parents in Albanywhile Hamilton and Mrs. Church were alone in New York City, and Mrs. Church returned to Englandonly after her father said she should break off the relationship with Hamiltonand return to her husband.[48]  On her departure,Hamilton wrote to Mrs. Church how much she was missed:

with aching hearts and anxious eyes [we]saw your vessel, in full sail, bearing our loved friend from our embraces…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 refraining our tears and our regrets….We talk of you, we praise you, we pray for you…. Precious and never to be forgotten. [49]

In a letter to her sister, Mrs. Church expressed her strong feelings forHamilton:

…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.” [50]

There has been a stormy debate among historians about the nature of Hamilton’s relations with his sister-in-law.  On the one hand, some historians claim that Hamilton and Mrs. Church were in love and consummated that love. [51]   In his analysis, Willard Sterne Randall focuses on the period in 1789 when Hamilton and Mrs. Church were both living in New York City when their spouses were elsewhere and emphasizes that Hamilton paid for many of Mrs. Church’s expenses. [52]  Arnold Rogow claims that the circumstantial evidence is persuasive and notes that the fact that no smoking gun was found is due to the fact that Hamilton’s relatives edited his letters and that there are gaps in the correspondence that is available. [53] Thomas Fleming says that the circumstantial evidence for an affair is strong, but absolute confirmation is elusive. [54]

Other historians claim that, though Hamilton’s and Mrs. Church’s correspondence is full of affection, there is no evidence that they were lovers. [55]  Ron Chernow argues that Mrs. Church was mostly abroad from 1783 to 1797, and the fact that Hamilton’s wife and her family continued to love Hamilton, as well as the failure of the Republicans to attack Hamilton on the grounds of an affair with his sister-in-law lends credence to the view that there was no support for the rumors of such an affair. [56]  John Miller contends that Hamilton “felt no overwhelming passion for Angelica Church.  Although he enjoyed playing Sir Lancelot to her Lady Shalott, it is improbable that he ever overstepped the bounds of propriety.” [57]

Nevertheless there were rumors among contemporaries such as John Adams and Robert Troup that there was an affair, [58] and as we shall see, the tone of the correspondence between Hamilton and Mrs. Church, supports a belief that there were strong feelings between them.

Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the relationship was sexual, primarily because Mrs. Hamilton seems to be in on most of the feelings that Hamilton and Mrs. Church had for each other.  For instance, it was in a letter to Mrs. Hamilton that Mrs. Church asserts most clearly her love forHamilton, andHamilton’s letter to Mrs. Church upon her departure fromNew YorkforEngland, in which he expressed his extreme sorrow at her leaving, involved a description of how he consoled his wife about her sister’s departure.  The time Mrs. Church spent inNew YorkatHamilton’s expense and the gossip it caused is not conclusive that they had a romantic liaison.  Mrs. Hamilton also paid for the expenses for most of this period, and it was not unusual for two relatives who clearly liked each other to spend time together when they have been separated for many years and would be separated again.  The involvement of Mrs. Hamilton in the relationship between her husband and her sister indicates that there was no romantic liaison.

Unlike Jefferson, Hamilton and his wife constantly discussed politics with Mrs. Church.  As stated above, in January 1784, Mrs. Church told her sister that Franklinwas leaving Parisand there was talk of Hamiltonsucceeding him as ambassador there. [59]  In January 1790, Hamilton wrote to Mrs. Church that he was about to present his budget to Congress and was “very busy and not a little anxious.” [60]  He had good reason to be anxious, because when he presented his Report on Public Credit, he included proposals to fund the debt and assume the debts of the states, which Congress, led by Madison opposed on the grounds that it enriched merchants and short-changed the poor who were the original holders of the debt. [61]  In February 1790, Mrs. Church promised from London to send Hamilton “every well-written book I can procure on the subject of finance” and also said that she could not “give you any agreeable information.” [62] Clearly, Hamilton had asked her to send him publications which he could use in his work.  In fact, she did send him a copy of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, which he used in drafting his Report on the Bank. [63]  This Report, which advocated the creation of a National Bank, cited Smith’s account of the process whereby specie deposited in a bank serves as the basis for paper circulation and is thereby turned into productive capital. [64]

On New Years’ Day, 1793, Mrs. Church wrote to Mrs. Hamilton that “[t]he French are mad, but I have a great curiosity to be well informed in which light they are regarded by the majority of Americans.” [65]  By then, the French had arrested King Louis XVI and were shortly going to execute him, and already set up a guillotine and executed 1400 political prisoners. [66]  Nevertheless, until the execution of Louis XVI, most Americans still admired France, and even after that Jefferson and his party continued to support the French Revolution. [67] In December, Hamilton wrote to Mrs. Church that the political campaign was beginning and there would be some violent eruptions, and that a war with some European power is certain. [68]  His fears were based on several issues.  First, the Republicans had taken over Congress and had commenced an investigation of Hamilton’s operations at the Treasury Department, such as how the payments on loans were made, and how the transactions between the government and the National Bank were handled. [69] Second, they moved to question the commercial relations with England and proposed to restrict trade by means of duties and tariffs. [70]  Third, the increasing war between England and France was likely to involve the United States, since England was likely to resort to blockades which would involve U.S. interests.  In fact, such a blockade did occur in 1794. [71]

Hamiltononce again described the political situation when he wrote to Mrs. Church in October 1795.  Specifically, he said he was on his way to defeat the “wicked insurgents.”  He said that a large army has “cooled the courage of madmen.” [72] This refers to the Whiskey Rebellion.  Rural farmers in Western Pennsylvania, whose main means of livelihood was their homemade liquor, protested the excise tax Hamilton had imposed on liquor to support his funding plan, as well as other aspects of the plan which they claimed would help the rich merchants and hurt the poor farmers.  They attacked local tax collectors, burned and destroyed their houses, and attacked a house defended by local soldiers.  Hamilton urged Washington to lead a large army to suppress the revolt.  While Hamilton took over for Washington as head of the expedition, the rebellion gradually melted away by the time the army left. [73]

In June 1796, Hamiltonwrote that “Your countrymen are zealous but not mad….Our own Jacobins have made a violent effort against me, but a complete victory has been gained to their confusion.”[74] This was an apparent reference to the fact that the appropriations for implementation of the commercial treaty with England negotiated by John Jay had finally been approved by the House of Representatives by only three votes after a lengthy struggle that increased the animosities of the Republicans and Federalists towards each other. [75]

Mrs. Church often tried to use her influence withHamiltonto help her relatives and friends.  In January 1791, in the middle of Congress’ consideration of the bill establishing a National bank,Hamiltonresponded to a request from Mrs. Church that he give her father a post in the government.  He refused, writing:

How far it will be practicable to accomplish your wish reflecting your father is however very uncertain.– Our republican ideas stand much in the way of accumulating offices in one family–Indeed, I doubt very much whether your father could be prevailed upon to accept. [76]

It seems probable thatHamiltonwas reluctant to risk his reputation to help his father-in-law at a time when his programs were under attack.  However, he was more willing to accede to Mrs. Church’s requests on other occasions.

In February 1793, Mrs. Church she wrote to Hamilton, introducing the Count de Noailles, as she did with Jefferson. [77]  Noailles was Lafayette’s brother-in-law, had participated in the siege of Yorktown, and knew Hamilton well. [78] In February 1794, she wrote to Mrs. Hamilton, asking her and Hamilton to take care of Talleyrand and Beaumetz who were fleeing from the French Revolution and coming toAmerica:

Make our country agreeable to them as far as it is in your power (and your influence is very extensive) console them by your Hospitality and the Image of your Domestic happiness and virtues for all that they have suffered in the cause of moderate Liberty, and you will be justified, my dear Eliza by rendering services when by so doing you are also promoting the requests of your own Angelica…. Speak of these gentlemen as Members of the Constituent Assembly, as friends of Lafayette, and of good government and who left the country when anarchy and cruelty prevailed.  If I have any influence with Americans who have been in England ask them to show the services they entertain of it by receiving well my friends. [79]

Talleyrand, the former Bishop of Autun, was a persona non grata for the French government, and Hamilton’s attempts to have him meet Washington were squelched by a protest from France.  Nevertheless, Hamilton welcomed him, despite Talleyrand’s acquisition of a Negro mistress, and Talleyrand regarded Hamilton as the greatest man of the era. [80]  On the other hand, when Talleyrand returned to France as Foreign Minister of a new French government, he demanded bribes before he would even see the American ambassadors, leading to a crisis and the possibility of war between the United States and France.  Under those circumstances, Hamilton opposed any negotiations with France.[81]  Lafayette’s 1799 letter to Mrs. Church urged reconciliation with France, but apparently she was not able in this instance to convince Hamilton to stop his opposition to reconciliation.[82]

Mrs. Church again wrote to Mrs. Hamilton, reporting that she received a letter of thanks from Talleyrand for the introduction to Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton.  In the same letter, Mrs. Church reported that John Jay was well-received by the English court, that the English people want peace with America, and the allied armies were in Flanders and on the Rhine. [83]  John Jay had arrived in England and was beginning to negotiate the commercial treaty which was to end the immediate threat of war between the United States, while British troops and their Austrian and Prussian allies were fighting the French in Europe. [84]

Continuing her support for French refugees, in September 1794, she wrote to Hamilton, introducing the Duke de Liancourt, saying that “[v]irtue, has not found its reward, for in the many scenes of distress that has afflicted his unfortunate country, he like many more good men, has been obliged to leave his possessions and seek Asylum in this country.” Mrs. Church further said that the Duke goes to Americawithout a friend unless Hamiltonwill extend his care, and that the Duke was a friend of Lafayette. [85]  In December,Hamilton wrote to Mrs. Church, saying that he was resigning the following month, that he had gone with the army to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion inPennsylvania.  Further, he wrote:

Liancourt has arrived, and has delivered your letter.  I pay him the attention due to his misfortune and his merits.  I wish I was a Croesus; I might then afford solid consolation to these children of adversity, and how delightful it would be to do so. But now, sympathy, kind words, and occasionally a dinner, are all I can contribute

Our insurrection is most happily terminated.  Government has gained by its reputation and strength, and our finances are in a most flourishing condition.” [86]

Certainly the Whiskey Rebellion’s immediate results were a triumph for the Administration, since the callout of the militia was supported by most of the citizens, including Republicans, and the Rebellion faded away. Moreover, Washingtonwas now looked upon as a patriot leader who had led an army to reaffirm Republican Government and uphold the laws voted by the people’s representatives. [87]

In 1795, in another letter to Mrs. Hamilton, Mrs. Church continued her efforts in support of French refugees:

You will receive the letter by Dr. Bollman, a young gentleman of good sense and polite manners, his exertions for the Marquis de La Fayette have been so zealous and active that every good American must honor him for his generous conduct.  His friend, Mr. Huger is also greatly entitled to praise for what he has done.  I hope that my brother will afford them his best assistance in an introduction to General Washington and our distinguished men.

Hamiltonsent the letter on to George Washington. [88]

Upon the appointment of a new ambassador toGreat Britain,Hamiltonwrote Mrs. Church:

I wrote to you last by Mr. King who sailed a few days since for Londonas our Minister Plenipotentiary.  You must not think the less well of him for not being a Jacobin– for he is very clever fellow and will do credit to your Country.  He will not give me the trouble of defending any Treaty of his making– for to be sure of everybody’s approbation he is instructed to do nothing but after a previous consultation with you.  What do you say to this Madam? Will it have no charm for you? [89]

It seems unlikely that Hamiltonseriously intended that Mrs. Church should have veto power over America’s ambassadors, but even the teasing suggestion shows that she was involved in political discussions with Hamilton.  The reference to “defending any treaty” relates to Hamilton’s successful efforts to defend the commercial treaty with Englandnegotiated by John Jay.  The Jay Treaty was opposed by Madisonin the House of Representatives, and was attacked violently in public meetings, including one in which Hamiltonwas hit by a rock.  The appropriation to implement it was narrowly passed by the House of Representatives.[90]

The influence of Mrs. Church on patronage is also shown in a series of letters concerned with Hamilton’s raising an army in 1798 to fight the French.  In March, 1798, the American envoys to Francereturned with the information that the French government led by Talleyrand had demanded a bribe before they would negotiate with the Americans.  This led to a war fever, in which Hamilton and his friends pushed through legislation authorizing the creation of a large army, and Washingtonindicated that Hamiltonwould be second in command.  Because Washingtonwas not expected to take an active role, Hamiltonwas in effect the commander of this army. [91]  In a letter to his friend and Secretary of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott, Jr., denying his request that a certain officer be selected asHamilton’s aide,Hamilton wrote:

In reference to my Aides, my situation is this– I have already yielded to the strong wishes of Mr. & Mrs. Church to appoint their eldest son as one– for the other I must endeavor to find an experienced officer. [92]

James McHenry, Secretary of War, protested toHamilton:

Why is it necessary you should repeat to me your request, or require any new evidence, that I will not take the same care of Philip Church as I would of my own son.  Let Mrs. Church be assured I will. [93]

A further letter from George Washington to Mrs. Church reveals that she appealed directly to him in support of her son’s position in the army, and that Hamiltonhad also informed Washington of Philip’s merit.[94]


In conclusion, it is clear from this correspondence that Mrs. Church and the Hamiltons constantly corresponded about political issues and thatHamiltonasked her for information she could gather from her residence inLondon.  Further, she sent a series of letters introducing various refugees from the French Revolution and Hamilton always attempted to do what he could for these refugees.  Although Jan Lewis makes much of the fact thatHamiltonrejected Mrs. Church’s request for a post for his father, he later acceded to her request that he appoint her son to a much desired military post and requested his officers to make things easy for him.  Thus, contrary to Jefferson’s attitude with regard to the role of women,Hamilton’s affection for Mrs. Church did not prevent him from involving her in political and patronage matters.

Mrs. Church certainly wanted to exercise her influence over her two political friends, as she did with respect to other friends.  She certainly commented on political affairs toJefferson, criticizing Americans who did not pay their debts and later seeking his help for refugees of the French Revolution.  However,Jefferson, for the most part, rejected those overtures.  He expressed his views that women should not be involved in politics, but should rather exercise their gentler virtues in society.  Moreover, he seems to have done little to help her efforts in helping French refugees.

On the other hand, Hamiltonwas willing to discuss and give his opinions to Mrs. Church on a range of issues including the Report on Public Credit, the Report on the Bank, the Whiskey Rebellion, and the Jay Treaty.  Mrs. Hamilton also sent her the Federalist Papers, and Mrs. Church asked her for American opinion on the French Revolution.  As stated above, Mrs. Church sent Hamilton information on the reception of John Jay in England as well as documents such as The Wealth of Nations, which he used in his Report on the Bank.   Mrs. Church introduced a number of French refugees to Hamilton and Mrs. Hamilton, expecting that they would be welcomed because of her influence. Hamilton did welcome the refugees and took actions to help them inAmerica as much as he could.  Of course, the difference with Jefferson is that Jefferson supported the French revolution, even in its more violent stages, whileHamilton was appalled by the terrors of the French Revolution.  WhileHamilton felt at an early stage unable to accede to Mrs. Church’s request to give her father a position in the Government, he did accede to her request to give her son an important and valued position in the army he was creating in 1798, and to her urging that the Secretary of War and General Washington treat her son well.  There is no indication that she urgedHamilton to take any particular position on political issues, but it seems clear from the letters that her beliefs were similar to his in any event.

[1] Lewis, Jan, “Those Scenes for Which Alone My Heart Was Made: Affection and Politics in the Age of Jefferson and Hamilton” in Stearns, Peter N. and Lewis, Jan, eds., An Emotional History of the United States (New York: NYU Press, 1998), 56, 60-62; Chernow, Ron, Alexander Hamilton (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), 214-215.

[2] Humphreys, Mary Gay,  Catherine Schuyler, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Son, 1897), 48; Muse and Confidante:the Angelica Schuyler Church Archive, An Exhibition in the Tracy W. McGregorRoom, University of Virginia Library, September through December 1996,, accessed August 28, 2007.

[3] Gerlach, Don R., Philip Schuyler in the American Revolution in New York,1733-1777 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1964), 5.

[4] Humphreys,  29.

[5] Cooper, Miss S.F. “Mrs. Philip Schuyler” in Wester, Mrs. O.J.and Irwin, Mrs. Agnes,  eds., Worthy Women of Our First Century (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1877), 80.

[6] Humphreys, 79.

[7] Ibid.,  41.

[8] Cooper, 82.

[9] Humphreys, 37-38.

[10] Ibid., 47.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.,93.

[13] Ibid.,, 95,

[14] Ibid., 100.

[15] Ibid., 106-107.

[16] Ibid.,112.

[17] Letter from Elizabeth Livingston to Philip Schuyler,6 April 1768, in Philip Schuyler Papers, Library of Congress,Washington,D.C..

[18] Gerlach,  149.

[19] Humphreys, 134.

[20] Ibid., 189-190.

[21] Rogow, Arnold A., A Fatal Friendship (New York: Hill and Wang, 1999), 67.

[22] Humphreys, 192-193.

[23] Rogow, 67.

[24] Muse and Confidante

[25] Ibid.

[26]Letter from James McHenry to Alexander Hamilton, 11August 1782, Alexander Hamilton Papers, ed. Syrett, Harold C. et al,(New York:Columbia University Press, 1961-1987), Vol. 3, 129-130.

[27] Letter from Maria Cosway to Thomas Jefferson,, 25 December 1787,  The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Boyd, Julian P., et al., , Princeton:PrincetonUniversity Press, 1950- ,Vol. 12, 459.

[28] Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Angelica Schuyler Church, 17 February 1788, in Church Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Letter from Angelica Schuyler Church to Thomas Jefferson, 9 March 1788, Papers of Thomas Jefferson,, Vol. 12, 656.

[29] Editorial Note in Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 13, 158.

[30] Ellis, Joseph, American Sphinx, The Character of Thomas Jefferson, ( New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997), 104.

[31] Letter from Angelica Schuyler Church to Thomas Jefferson, 19 November 1788, Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 14, 210.

[32] Ellis, 196.

[33] Elkins, Stanley and McKitrick, Eric, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800, (New York, Oxford University Press, 1993), 116-123.

[34] Lewis, 60-62.

[35] Letter from Angelica Schuyler Church to Thomas Jefferson, 17 February 1793, Papers of Thomas Jefferson,, Vol. 25, 215.

[36] Letter from Angelica Schuyler Church to Thomas Jefferson, 19 August 1793, Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 26, 722-723.

[37] Letter from Mon. Lally-Tollendal to Angelica Schuyler Church, 7 May 1794, Muse and ConfidanteKings, Rulers and Matters of State, accessed August 28, 2007.

[38] Letter from Francois Barthelemy to Angelica Schuyler Church, September 1795,Muse and Confidante, Kings, Rulers, and Matters of State.

[39] Letter from Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 3 January 1793, The Writings of Thomas  Jefferson, ed. Paul L. Ford, (New York, 1892-1899) Vol. 6, 153-156.

[40] Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Angelica Schuyler Church, 11 December 1793, Church Family Papers;  Chernow, 262-269.

[41] Letter from the Marquis de Lafayette to Angelica Schuyler Church, 19 April 1799, Muse and Confidante, Kings, Rulers, and Matters of State.

[42]Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Angelica Schuyler Church,21 September 1788, Church Family Papers.

[43] Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Angelica Schuyler Church, 21 September 1788, Church Family Papers.

[44] Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Angelica Schuyler Church,24 May 1797, Church Family Papers.

[45] Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Angelica Schuyler Church, 11 January 1798, Church Family Papers.

[46] Chernow, 128-129.

[47] Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Angelica Schuyler Church, 6 December 1787,  Papers of Alexander Hamilton,, Vol. 4, 374-376.

[48] Randall, Willard Sterne, Alexander Hamilton: A Life (New York: HarperCollins, 2004),


[49] Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Angelica Schuyler Church, 8 November 1789, Church Family Papers.

[50] Letter from Angelica Schuyler Church to Elizabeth Hamilton, 30 July 1794, Alexander Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

[51] Randall; Rogow; Fleming, Thomas, Duel, Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Future of America (New York, Basic Books, 2000).

[52] Randall, 382.

[53] Rogow,  65-66.

[54] Fleming, 13.

[55] Chernow,   Miller, John C., Alexander Hamilton and the Growth of the New Nation (New Brunswick: Transition Publishers, 2003) ;  McDonald, Forrest, Alexander Hamilton (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1982).  

[56] Chernow,  536.

[57] Ibid..

[58] Chernow,  522; Fleming, 13.

[59] Letter from Angelica Schuyler Church to Elizabeth Hamilton,27 January 1784, Alexander Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

[60] Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Angelica Schuyler Church,7 January 1790, Church Family Papers.

[61] Elkins and McKitrick, 115-123, 143-145.

[62] Letter from Angelica Schuyler Church to Alexander Hamilton, 4 February 1790, Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Vol. 6, 245.

[63] Editor’s Note, Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Vol. 7, 239.

[64] Elkins and McKitrick, 227.

[65] Letter fromAngelicaChurch to Elizabeth Hamilton,1 January 1793, Alexander Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

[66] Chernow, 432.

[67] Elkins and McKitrick,  310-317.

[68] Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Angelica Schuyler Church,27 December 1793, Church Family Papers.

[69] Elkins and McKitrick, 295-297.

[70] Ibid., 380-381.

[71] Ibid., 389.

[72] Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Angelica Schuyler Church,23 October 1795, Church Family Papers.

[73] Elkins and McKitrick, 462-467.

[74] Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Angelica Schuyler Church, 19-20 June 1796, Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Vol. 20, 233.

[75] Elkins and McKitrick,  431-449.

[76] Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Angelica Schuyler Church,31 January 1791, Church Family Papers

[77] Letter from Angelica Schuyler Church to Alexander Hamilton, 17 February 1793, Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Vol. 14, 89.

[78] Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, 464.

[79] Letter from Angelica Schuyler Church to Elizabeth Hamilton,4 February 1794,  Alexander Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

[80] Chernow, 465-466..

[81] Elkins and McKitrick,  571, 640.

[82] Letter from the Marquis de Lafayette to Angelica Schuyler Church, 19 April 1799, in Muse and Confidante, Kings, Rulers, and Matters of State.

[83] Letter from Angelica Schuyler Church to Elizabeth Hamilton,30 July 1794, Alexander Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

[84] Elkins and McKitrick, 407.

[85] Letter from Angelica Schuyler Church to Alexander Hamilton, 19 September 1794, Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Vol. 17, 251-252.

[86] Alexander Hamilton to Angelica Schuyler Church, 8 December 1794, Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Vol. 17, 428-429.

[87] Elkins and McKitrick, 482-483.

[88] Editor’s Note, Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Vol.20, 43.Elkins and McKitrick, 571-575, 599-606.

[89] Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Angelica Schuyler Church, 25 June 1796, Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Vol. 20, 235.

[90] Chernow,  489-490, 496-497; Elkins and McKitrick,  449.

[91] Elkins and McKitrick, 571-575, 599-606..

[92] Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Oliver Wolcott Jr., 21 August 1798,  Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Vol. 23 at 153.

[93] Letter from James McHenry to Alexander Hamilton, 13 September 1798, Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Vol. 23 at 180-181.

[94] Letter from George Washington to Angelica Schuyler Church, 4 September 1798, Muse and Confidante, Kings, Rulers, and Matters of State.


Comments RSS
  1. Juliet Waldron

    Thank-you! I used to read through biographers of AH in order to glean some info about Mrs. C. Now here it all is — on the ‘net, for anyone who is curious. Just read a few of those letters and the effect of seeing them in her own handwriting was an almost visceral thrill.

    • Peter Wolfe

      Thank you so much for your encouraging comment. i’m glad somebody has read my article. I notice from your website that you are an historical novelist and have written a book about Hamilton and his wife. i wonder if you have read the historical novels of Natalie wexler, one of which concerns the romantic relations of James Wilson and James Ireldell, two of the Supreme Court Justices of the 1790’s, as well as persons active in the revolution and the making of the Constitution.

      • Juliet Waldron

        No–haven’t encountered N. Wexler, though will look her up. Angelica was quite the lady–interesting to me, as I’ve also written about Mozart’s Wife, and she too was the younger of an infinitely more glamorous older sister. In both cases, the big sisters remained fascinating to the husbands, which must have been irritating, to say the least.

  2. Peter Wolfe

    Thank you so much for your encouraging comment. i’m glad somebody has read my article. I notice from your website that you are an historical novelist and have written a book about Hamilton and his wife. i wonder if you have read the historical novels of Natalie wexler, one of which concerns the romantic relations of James Wilson and James Ireldell, two of the Supreme Court Justices of the 1790’s, as well as persons active in the revolution and the making of the Constitution.

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