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Who Was Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton?

Sophie W. (rising 6th grader)

Do you know who created the first private orphanage, or who helped fund the Washington Monument? If you don’t, the answer is Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton. Although Eliza Hamilton was forgotten in history, she still has a lasting effect on America with her work. 

Eliza Hamilton helped found the first private orphanage. In 1806, Eliza and three others from the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children created the New York Orphan Asylum. Nowadays, places all over America have private orphanages. Eliza’s husband, Alexander Hamilton, was an orphaned immigrant as well, so she created it to give people like him a better chance. She was appointed the second directress, and in 1821 was promoted to the first directress and served for 27 years in this role. When she left, she had worked in the orphanage for 42 continuous years. 

Elizabeth Hamilton preserved Alexander Hamilton’s letters to her. Although she burned some of them after the Reynolds Pamphlet, she still kept some that we still have today. Eliza reorganized Hamilton’s many letters, papers, and writings. Eliza (with the help of her son, John Church Hamilton) published the History of the Republic of the United States of America, as Traced in the Writings of Alexander Hamilton and his Contemporaries. Eliza went on to persuade Congress to buy her husband’s works, and Congress agreed and added them to the library of Congress. This helped historians because they could view his works today. Eliza continued to protect her husband’s legacy and created and donated to charities. She insisted that James Monroe apologize about his accusations over financial dishonesties. 

Eliza supported the fact that Alexander Hamilton wrote George Washington’s Farewell Address and went on to help Dolly Madison and Louisa Adams fund the Washington Monument. Eliza and several other distinguished women founded the Graham Windham, but Eliza shone above the others. 

From creating orphanages to protecting Alexander Hamilton’s legacy, Eliza Hamilton isn’t thanked enough for her hard work. Few people nowadays remember her, but she doesn’t get enough of the attention that she deserves. Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton was an important historical figure that should be remembered by everyone.

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