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Philip John Schuyler family letters

 Collection — Drawer: 52, Frame: 1
Identifier: SCA-1168

Scope and Contents

Letters between Phillip Schuyler (1733-1804) and family. Also contains a legal manuscript granting 500 acres of land in Schenectady to Schulyer from Queen Anne. Other side of document appears to be created as a deed in which Schuyler conveys parcel to new recipients.


  • 1708 - 1800


Philip John Schuyler, 1733-1804, was an American soldier, political leader, member of the Continental Congress and slave owner. Born into a prominent New York family of Dutch descent, Schuyler served in the provincial army during the last French and Indian War (1755–60), rising to the rank of major. After the war he went to England (1761–63) to help negotiate the settlement of colonial war claims. He served in the New York Assembly (1768–75) and was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia (1775–77). When the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775 he was commissioned one of the four major generals in the Continental Army.

Placed in command of the northern department, he made preparations for an invasion of Canada, but shortly after the expedition started, he fell ill, and the actual command devolved upon Gen. Richard Montgomery. Nonetheless, when the invasion proved a failure Schuyler’s reputation suffered, and two years later, with the fall of Ft. Ticonderoga, N.Y., he was accused of incompetence and neglect of duty and was replaced by Gen. Horatio Gates. Court-martialled at his own insistence in 1778, Schuyler was acquitted of all charges, and resigned from the army the following year.

Schuyler was again a member of the Continental Congress (1778–80), and then served in the New York state senate (1780–84, 1786–90). He campaigned actively in New York for ratification of the new U.S. Constitution, and was one of his state’s first two U.S. senators (1789–91). In 1791 he was defeated for reelection by Aaron Burr, and returned to the state senate (1792–97). He recaptured his seat from Burr in 1797, but was forced by ill health to retire less than a year later.

In addition to being a political ally of Schuyler’s, Alexander Hamilton married Schuyler’s daughter, Elizabeth, in 1780. Once Hamilton regained control of New York State politics, Schuyler won back his seat in the United States Senate from Aaron Burr in 1797. Schuyler served only a few years of his term before resigning due to poor health. Philip Schuyler died on November 18, 1804.

Schuyler owned upwards of 30 enslaved people between his mansion in Albany and his farm in Saratoga County. The enslaved population included men, several women and their children. The farm land was largely worked by white tenant farmers while enslaved men moved materials between Schuyler’s properties, worked with the animals, operated mills and performed other labor. Several enslaved people made escape attempts.


1 Box

1 Drawer

Language of Materials



Letters related to Philip John Schuyler and his family, 1777-1800.


The collection is arranged chronologically.
Philip John Schuyler family letters
Matthew S. Golebiewski, Andrea Belair
Summer 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

Union College
807 Union Street
Schenectady NY 12308 United States