Angelica Schuyler Church was an American socialite who became a a prominent member of the social elite wherever he lived, including in Albany, New York City, as well as in Paris and London. The surrounding town of Angelica, New York, was named after her.
ANGELICA SCHUYLER CHURCH DATE OF BIRTH
Angelica was born on February 20, 1756 in Albany, in the province of New York
ANGELICA SCHUYLER CHURCH PARENTS
She was the eldest daughter of Philip Schuyler, who was the general of the continental army and Catherine Van Rensselaer, a housewife. He had seven siblings, including Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, Margarita and Philip an. His sister-in-law was Alexander Hamilton.
ANGELICA SCHUYLER CHURCH HUSBAND
She was married to the British-born merchant John Barker Church. The couple met in 1776 and fled in 1777. Together they had eight children.
DEATH OF THE CHURCH OF ANGELICA SCHUYLER
Although the cause of his death is not yet known, he died at the age of 58 on March 13, 1814 in New York. She was buried in the Trinity Church Cemetery.
ANGELICA SCHUYLER CHURCH GRAVE
She was buried in Trinity Church Cemetery in New York City next to her sister-in-law of Alexander Hamilton, sister of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton
ANGELICA SCHUYLER CHURCH LETTERS
His letters and other forms of correspondence with eminent personalities are kept in the Library of Congress. Some of them were bought by the University of Virginia in 1996.
ANGELICA SCHUYLER CHURCH QUOTES
A letter from the Angelica Schuyler church on the morning of the Hamilton-Burr duel, 11 July 1804
Updated: July 11, 2018
You didn’t really think I was going to let the 214th anniversary of the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr go unnoticed, did you? Especially since 11 July 2018 also falls on a Wednesday, just like 1804. I’ve already written a post here about the duel itself. This speaks to how, within hours of the duel, the first waves of shock and pain are already starting to spread into a close-knit family that would never be the same again.
There is nothing like an original letter from the past. Most of the surviving letters relating to Alexander Hamilton, his wife Eliza Schuyler Hamilton and his family have been transcribed and are available online at various sites. There is no doubt that this is convenient. It is much easier to read a modern transcript than to decipher the often faded handwriting of long ago, with its dips and swirls and often idiosyncratic spelling and punctuation. It also helps protect originals from wear and tear caused by removal from storage for repeat studies.
There is much more to learn from a handwritten letter than from words alone. Handwriting can reveal the writer’s emotions, fears and desires, the urgency with which they wrote or the care with which they chose the right word or phrase. I can’t think of a better example than the letter above. (Click to enlarge and my apologies for the inevitable reflections.)
The author of this letter was Angelica Schuyler Church, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton’s elder sister, John Barker Church’s wife and Alexander Hamilton’s sister-in-law. Angelica was a cultured, traveled, and educated 18th-century woman, and many of her surviving letters are filled with ideas and thoughts, descriptions of where she visited and who she met, and, depending on her correspondent, often a hint of flirtation as well. But not here.
Angelica wrote this letter on the morning of July 11, 1804, shortly after Alexander was transported back across the Hudson River from New Jersey, where the duel took place, to New York City. The duel with Aaron Burr had gone disastrously wrong and left Alexander badly injured. But when Angelica wrote this letter to her younger brother Philip Schuyler in Albany, she had clearly just arrived at the home of Alexander’s friend William Bayard, where the wounded Alexander had been taken. Given the severity of her injury and the amount of blood she had already lost, it’s hard to understand her optimism for her recovery, but perhaps the attending physician was putting the best face on the situation for Angelica and her sister Eliza, who is also her. already at the bedside of her dying husband.
Or maybe Angelica knew. The letter was clearly written hastily and anxiously, the words dotted across the page. The two passages he underlined – the wretched Burr and the expression of pain – are probably the most revealing of the entire letter. And because we know what happened after the letter was written, they are also among the saddest.
Here is a transcript:
to Mr. Bayards Greenwich Wednesday morning, 11 July 1804
My dear brother, I have the painful task of informing you that General Hamilton was wounded by that wretched Burr this morning, and we have every reason to hope he will recover. I can advise you to take shelter from my father immediately as he may wish to go downstairs. My dear sister bears this affliction with holy fortitude. The city is dismayed and there is only the expression of pain and indignation. Farewell, my dear brother. Remind me to Sally. Always yours, A church
This letter belongs to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and is currently on loan and is on exhibit Hamilton: The Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nation at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA. The exhibition will last until 31 December 2018; see here for more information. Many thanks to Jessie Serfilippi of Schuyler Mansion for her assistance with this post.