9 Things You Should Know About Alexander Hamilton's Hudson Valley History
We're honoring one of our most notable neighbor's 262nd birthday with factoids and fun
Ezra Ames, Portrait of Alexander Hamilton, ca. 1810, Union College Permanent Collection
Among the many famous faces that have graced the Valley (Uma Thurman, Liam Neelson, Jimmy Fallon to name a few) there’s one former resident who’s permanently remembered in our history. During his later years, founding father and man on the $10 bill Alexander Hamilton lived, worked, and traveled through our lands. So, in honor of his 262nd birthday today, we’ve gathered a list of local facts to prove that’s he’s forever sewn to our soil.
1. Hamilton first visited Albany in 1777
He was sent to speak to General Horatio Gates on behalf of George Washington in an attempt to borrow troops under his command for an attack on British forces. Hamilton was unsuccessful, writing to Washington about his disappointment.
“I used every argument in my power to convince him of the propriety of the measure, but he was inflexible in the opinion… I found myself infinitely embarrassed and was at a loss how to act. I felt the importance of strengthening you as much as possible,” he wrote.
Click here to read more of Hamilton’s documented correspondences with Washington along the journey, mentioning stops in Fishkill, New Windsor, Poughkeepsie, and Peekskill.
2. He fell in love with a Valley gal
In 1780, Hamilton married Elizabeth “Eliza” Schuyler, daughter of New York Senator and Revolutionary War general Philip Schuyler. They wed in the parlor of the bride’s Albany family home, “The Pastures” – now known as Schyuler Mansion. Today, you can tour the mansion, and view the site of their nuptials.
3. He lived with his in-laws
Not even the man on the $10 bill could be spared from the watchful eye of his in-laws. Hamilton moved into Schuyler Mansion following the wedding, living there with his new bride and her family for two (imaginably long) years.
4. Hamilton was a frequent Valley visitor
Though the couple established a home in New York City, (designed by an Albany architectural firm), Hamilton returned upstate frequently over the course of two decades. He traveled to Albany largely to tend to his political duties, maintaining a law office there, but also came back to visit his in-laws and other immediate family.
5. He drafted The Federalist Papers during a journey down the Hudson
While traveling down from Albany to Manhattan in October 1787, Hamilton drafted his most renowned work, criticizing the Articles of Confederation in a series of candid essays that ultimately shaped the U.S. Constitution. By the time he disembarked at Denning’s Point -- now Beacon -- he had finished writing his first essay, Federalist No. 1, and completed an outline for the rest of the collection.
6. He recovered from Yellow Fever in Albany
Hamilton and his wife both contracted the virus during the 1793 Philadelphia Yellow Fever epidemic. They were miraculously cured along the route to Albany, quarantined in Greenbush – what is now Rensselaer. After returning to the mansion, the two, along with the rest of the Schuyler family, were placed under house arrest.
7. His remarks fueled “the Duel”
Hamilton’s long-time rivalry with Vice President Aaron Burr was intensified when he was quoted in the Albany Register, naming Burr as “a dangerous man… who ought not be trusted with the reins of government." It lead to the infamous Burr-Hamilton duel, and ultimately, Hamilton’s death.
8. Hamilton’s memorial service took place at First Church in Albany
Mourners at the North Pearl Street church listened to a monumental eulogy delivered by reverend and friend of Hamilton, Eliphalet Nott. He denounced the practice of dueling, which helped change public opinion and eventually encourage the enactment of a law that required all New York State public officers to take an anti-dueling oath.
9. You can learn more about Hamilton locally for a limited time
Now through March 5 (date extended), the Albany Institute of History & Art will feature many historical highlights, as part of its Spotlight: Alexander Hamilton exhibition. It includes a portrait of Hamilton (shown above) by Albany’s Ezra Ames, letters written to Washington along his journeys, a silver tankard from the Fort Ticonderoga Museum, and much more.