Laura's Blog

Happy 260th BIRTHDAY, PEGGY!

- by Laura Malone Elliott

September 19, 2018



Peggy Schuyler was such a total delight, I really hope her family made a BIG deal about her birthday. I fear the fact she was born just 13 months after Eliza, who had arrived just 18 months after Angelica, might have relegated her to the littlest sibling fate of fewer photos and hoopla! Just as due to the time constraints of a musical, she is relegated to only 36 solo words in Hamilton!

Yet Peggy Schuyler was such a FORCE within her family! Within days of meeting Eliza, Hamilton wrote Peggy, seeking help. Saying he had already formed “a more than common partiality” for her “person and mind”—because of stories and a miniature portrait Eliza had painted and shared—Hamilton begs Peggy, as a “nymph of equal sway,” to come distract the other aides-de-camp. So he can monopolize Eliza!

Upon receiving Hamilton’s playful and rather full-of-himself letter, Peggy seems to have ridden 150 miles to Morristown, NJ, through territory patrolled by Loyalist scouting parties who would have reveled in capturing one of General Schuyler’s daughters. She braves the worst winter ever recorded in American history, with snowdrifts 6 feet high and temperatures so low that NYC’s harbor froze enough for cannon to safely cross. Peggy was daring and independent, but I think she also went to check out this flirtatious aide-de-camp to ensure he wasn’t just dallying with her sweet-natured middle sister.

Peers called her "a wicked wit," "spritely," "endowed with a rare accuracy of judgment in men and things," and “a favorite at dinner tables and balls.” Peggy was fluent in French and taught herself German by reading her father’s engineering manuals. She was the only one of the famed three sisters to actually be in the right place at the right time to potentially aid her father Philip Schuyler's work—as war strategist during the Northern campaign’s battles, GW's most trusted spy-master, and negotiator with the Iroquois nations. Peggy even dashed into the fray of an attempted kidnapping of her father by Loyalists to save her baby sister.

One of Hamilton's closest friends criticized Peggy as being a "Swift's Vanessa"—18th century code for being too keen on talking politics with men to be truly likable. Nevertheless, Peggy clearly persisted!

Peggy’s life story speaks particularly to any talented, engaging young woman overshadowed by better-known siblings; any smart-girl who has intimidated male classmates too much to be invited to prom; and any woman who wants to join our nation’s political debate and/or speak her mind against women being labeled.

So, RISE UP for Peggy Schuyler on her birthday!!!

Below are links to past blog posts about Peggy, her saving baby Caty during that violent kidnapping, and her real-life romance with a dashing and brave French marquis (revealed by Hamilton gossiping about it in a letter to Eliza!). Of course, reading my biographical novel will give you ALL the inside scoop!!


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