Philip Schuyler Hamilton

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Philip Schuyler Hamilton

Birthplace: Albany, Albany County, New York, United States
Death: November 24, 1801 (18)
Weehawken, Hudson County, New Jersey, United States (Killed in a duel close to where his father died)
Place of Burial: New York, New York County, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Alexander Hamilton, 1st Secretary of the United States Treasury and Elizabeth Hamilton
Brother of Angelica Knott; Col. Alexander Hamilton, Jr.; James Alexander Hamilton, acting U.S. Secretary of State; John Church Hamilton; Col. William Stephen Hamilton and 2 others

Managed by: Private User
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About Philip Schuyler Hamilton

Philip Hamilton was the eldest child of Alexander Hamilton, who was the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and of Elizabeth Schuyler.

PhiIip Hamilton was born in AIbany, New York, on January 22, 1782, to EIizabeth Schuyler Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton. He was named for his maternal grandfather, PhiIip Schuyler. His father wrote that his birth was "attended with all the omens of future greatness," and continued to express high expectations and hopes for the future of his firstborn:

“You reproach me with not having said enough about our little stranger. When I wrote last I was not sufficiently acquainted with him to give you his character. I may now assure you... [h]e is truly a very fine young gentleman, the most agreeable in his conversation and manners of any I ever knew—nor less remarkable for his intelligence and sweetness of temper. You are not to imagine by my beginning with his mental qualifications that he is defective in personal. It is agreed on all hands, that he is handsome, his features are good, his eye is not only sprightly and expressive but it is full of benignity. His attitude in sitting is by connoisseurs esteemed graceful and he has a method of waving his hand that announces the future orator. He stands however rather awkwardly and his legs have not all the delicate slimness of his fathers. It is feared He may never excel as much in dancing which is probably the only accomplishment in which he will not be a model. If he has any fault in manners, he laughs too much. He has now passed his Seventh Month.” — Alexander Hamilton, Letter to Richard Kidder Meade, August 27, 1782, describing a 7-month old Philip Hamilton

In 1791, at the age of nine, Hamilton was sent to attend a boarding school in Trenton, New Jersey, studying with William Frazer, an Episcopal clergyman and rector of St. Michael's Church. By 1794, his younger brother Alexander, then eight years old, joined him there.

During his stay at boarding school, he frequently wrote letters to his family. His father, Alexander Hamilton, would often write him letters of encouragement. His father wrote, "Your teacher also informs me that you recited a lesson the first day you began, very much to his satisfaction, I expect every letter from him will give me a fresh proof of your progress, for I know you can do a great deal if you please."

Philip enrolled in Columbia College, where his knowledge and enthusiasm were compared to that of his father, already a renowned alumnus. Robert Troup, a family friend who had been Alexander Hamilton's college roommate, wrote that Philip "was very promising in genius and acquirements, and Hamilton formed high expectations of his future greatness!" Troup wrote privately, however, that despite Hamilton's certainty that Philip was destined for greatness, "alas Philip is a sad rake and I have serious doubts whether he would ever be an honour to his family or his country."

He graduated with honors from Columbia College in 1800, and went on to study law. His father prescribed rigorous study routines, including waking for study at 6 o'clock every day from April through September, and at 7 o'clock for the rest of the year, after which "From the time he is dressed in the morning til nine o'clock (the time for breakfast excluded) he is to read law." The standards Alexander set aided Philip in his studies, as well as strengthened the bond between the father and son.

On July 4, 1801, George Eacker gave a speech at Columbia University, criticizing Alexander Hamilton. Eacker was a supporter of Aaron Burr and therefore praised him in his speech. Eacker also made denigrating comments, such as accusing Hamilton of wanting to return to monarchy. This speech was published in the newspaper, which led to it being read by Philip Hamilton. Philip, having a strong sense of pride and honor towards his family, was deeply insulted by this speech.

Four months later, on November 20, 1801, Philip and a friend, Stephen Price went to see a play at Park Theater. Upon arrival, Philip saw Eacker and confronted him about the speech in a hostile verbal encounter that led to a disturbance in the theater. Eacker eventually muttered that Philip and Price were "rascals", a term which then had a strongly dishonorable connotation, causing the two to challenge Eacker to a duel. Acquaintances wrote that Alexander Hamilton counseled his son, telling him to engage in a delope, throwing away his first shot.

The duel took place in Weehawken, New Jersey, the same place where the elder Hamilton would later be mortally wounded in a duel with Aaron Burr. Eacker faced Stephen Price and Philip Hamilton separately, dueling Price the day after the challenge, and Philip Hamilton the following day. In the duel with Price, neither party was injured, but three shots were fired. The next day, November 23, 1801, Philip took his father's advice, and refused to raise his pistol to fire after he and Eacker had counted ten paces and faced each other. Eacker, following suit, did not shoot either. For the first minute, both men stood, doing nothing, both refusing to shoot. After a minute, Eacker finally raised his pistol, and Philip did the same. Eacker shot and struck young Hamilton above his right hip. The bullet went through his body and lodged in his left arm. In what may have been an involuntary spasm, Philip also fired his pistol before he hit the ground, but this bullet did nothing.

As the young Hamilton lay on the ground bleeding, he displayed, as described by both sides, exemplary poise and dignity. "His manner on the ground was calm and composed beyond expression," the New York Post reported. "The idea of his own danger seemed to be lost in anticipation of the satisfaction which he might receive from the final triumph of his generous moderation." Philip was then rushed across the river to the home of his aunt, Angelica Schuyler Church, in Manhattan. She wrote, "His conduct was extraordinary during this trial."

Upon hearing of the events, the elder Hamilton rushed to the home of Dr. David Hosack, the same physician who would later attend him after his own fatal duel in 1804. Alexander wished to inform Hosack that they may need his medical services. Hosack's family told Hamilton that he, having already heard about the duel, had already left for the home of John and Angelica Church, Philip's aunt and uncle, where the young Hamilton had been taken. Hosack wrote that when Alexander had arrived at the Hosacks' home, he "was so much overcome by his anxiety that he fainted and remained some time in my family before he was sufficiently recovered to proceed" to the Church home to see his son. When Hamilton arrived, he observed the pale and ashen appearance of Philip's face and tested his pulse. According to Hosack, "he instantly turned from the bed and, taking me by the hand, which he grasped with all the agony of grief, he exclaimed in a tone and manner that can never be effaced from my memory, 'Doctor, I despair.'" Philip's mother, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, was three months pregnant at this time, and upon her arrival, she and Alexander stayed beside Philip through the night. After making a profession of faith, Philip died at 5:00 am, 14 hours after the initial wound.

Philip Hamilton was buried on a stormy day, with many mourners in attendance. Some report that as the elder Hamilton approached his son's grave, he had to be held up by friends and family, due to grief. The unmarked grave is near the graves of his parents, in the churchyard of Trinity Church in New York City.

Following the death of Philip Hamilton, his family fell into disarray. His 17-year-old sister, Angelica Hamilton, suffered a mental breakdown following his death, from which she never recovered. Her mental state continued to deteriorate until she became only intermittently lucid, and sometimes could not even recognize family members. She spent the rest of her life in a state described as "eternal childhood," often talking to her brother as if he were still alive.

In addition to Angelica, Philip's parents were permanently affected; friends of the family wrote that neither of them ever went back to their old selves after the death of their son. On June 2, 1802, Elizabeth gave birth to their youngest child, with whom she was pregnant at the time of Philip's death. They named the baby Philip Hamilton, in memory of his older brother.

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Philip Schuyler Hamilton's Timeline

January 22, 1783
Albany, Albany County, New York, United States
November 24, 1801
Age 18
Weehawken, Hudson County, New Jersey, United States
New York, New York County, New York, United States