Philip Schuyler
United States Senator
from New York
In office
March 4, 1797 – January 3, 1798
Preceded byAaron Burr
Succeeded byJohn Sloss Hobart
In office
July 16, 1789 – March 3, 1791
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byAaron Burr
1st Surveyor General of New York
In office
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded bySimeon De Witt
Personal details
Philip John Schuyler

(1733-11-20)November 20, 1733
Albany, Province of New York
DiedNovember 18, 1804(1804-11-18) (aged 70)
Albany, New York, U.S.
Resting placeAlbany Rural Cemetery[1]
Political partyPro-Administration,
(m. 1755; died 1803)
ParentsJohannes Schuyler, Jr.
Cornelia van Cortlandt
RelativesSee Schuyler family
ProfessionSoldier, Statesman
Military service
Allegiance Kingdom of Great Britain
 United States of America
Branch/service British America militia
New York (state) New York State Militia
RankCaptain (Britain)
Major General (USA)
Battles/warsFrench and Indian War
Revolutionary War

Philip John Schuyler (/ˈsklər/; November 20 [O.S. November 9] 1733 – November 18, 1804) was an American general in the Revolutionary War and a United States Senator from New York.[2] He is usually known as Philip Schuyler, while his son is usually known as Philip J. Schuyler.

Born in Albany, Province of New York, into the prosperous Schuyler family, Schuyler fought in the French and Indian War. He won election to the New York General Assembly in 1768 and to the Continental Congress in 1775. He planned the Continental Army's 1775 Invasion of Quebec, but poor health forced him to delegate command of the invasion to Richard Montgomery. He prepared the Continental Army's defense of the 1777 Saratoga campaign, but was replaced by General Horatio Gates as the commander of Continental forces in the theater. Schuyler resigned from the Continental Army in 1779.

Schuyler served in the New York State Senate for most of the 1780s and supported the ratification of the United States Constitution. He represented New York in the 1st United States Congress but lost his state's 1791 Senate election to Aaron Burr. After a period in the state senate, he won election to the United States Senate again in 1797, affiliating with the Federalist Party. He resigned due to poor health the following year. He was the father of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton and the father-in-law of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.

Early life

Philip John Schuyler was born on November 20 [O.S. November 9] 1733[3] in Albany, New York, to Cornelia Van Cortlandt (1698–1762) and Johannes ("John") Schuyler Jr. (1697–1741), the third generation of the Dutch Schuyler family in America. His maternal grandfather was Stephanus Van Cortlandt, the 17th Mayor of New York City.[4]

Before his father died on the eve of his eighth birthday, Schuyler attended the public school in Albany.[5] Afterward, he was educated by tutors at the Van Cortlandt family estate at New Rochelle. Fluent in both Dutch and English from childhood,[6] in 1748 he began to study with Reverend Peter Strouppe at the New Rochelle French Protestant Church, where he learned French and mathematics.[5] While he was at New Rochelle he also joined numerous trade expeditions where he met Iroquois leaders and learned to speak Mohawk.[6] He joined the British forces in 1755 during the French and Indian War, raised a company, and was commissioned as its captain by his cousin, Lieutenant Governor James Delancey.[5] In 1756, he accompanied British officer Colonel John Bradstreet to Oswego, where he gained experience as a quartermaster, which ended when the outpost fell to the French.[5] Schuyler took part in the battles of Lake George, Oswego River, Carillon and Fort Frontenac.[5]


See also: Schuyler family

Philip was related to many famous contemporaries, including: Peter Schuyler, a cousin who commanded the Jersey Blues; Hester Schuyler, a cousin who married William Colfax, a veteran of George Washington's Life Guards and later a general in the New Jersey militia who also commanded the Jersey Blues (William and Hester were the grandparents of Vice President and Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax); Arent Schuyler DePeyster (cousin), a noted Loyalist; Mary (Watts) Johnson, a second cousin who was a Loyalist and wife of Colonel Sir John Johnson; and Dr. John Cochran, a brother-in-law who was the Director General of the Military Hospitals of the Continental Army.[7]


Early career

In 1756, Schuyler was elected to Albany's common council as assistant alderman for the first ward.[5] He also continued his business career by obtaining the contract to operate a Hudson River ferry between Albany and Greenbush.[5]

From 1761 to 1762, Schuyler made a trip to England to settle accounts from his work as quartermaster. He began construction on his home in Albany, later called Schuyler Mansion, during this time. He also began construction of his country estate (now known as the General Schuyler House), at Saratoga.[8]

In 1768, Schuyler continued his political career as a member of the New York Assembly, serving in that body until 1775. During that time, his views came to be more opposed to the colonial government, particularly in matters of trade and currency. He was made a colonel in the militia for his support of Governor Henry Moore.[9]

Revolutionary War

Letter from Philip Schuyler to Israel Shreve, 1776
Letter from Philip Schuyler to Israel Shreve, 1776

Schuyler was elected to the Continental Congress in 1775, and served until he was appointed a major general of the Continental Army in June. General Schuyler took command of the Northern Department, and planned the Invasion of Canada (1775). His poor health required him to place Richard Montgomery in command of the invasion.[10]

As department commanding general, he was active in preparing a defense against the Saratoga Campaign, part of the "Three Pronged Attack" strategy of the British to cut the American Colonies in two by invading and occupying New York State in 1777. In the summer of that year General John Burgoyne marched his British army south from Quebec over the valleys of Lakes Champlain and George. On the way he invested the small Colonial garrison occupying Fort Ticonderoga at the nexus of the two lakes. When General St. Clair abandoned Fort Ticonderoga in July, the Congress replaced Schuyler with General Horatio Gates, who had accused Schuyler of dereliction of duty. In 1778, Schuyler and Arthur St. Clair were court-martialed for the loss of Ticonderoga, but were both acquitted.[11][12]

Battle of Saratoga

The British offensive was eventually stopped by Continental Army then under the command of Gates and Benedict Arnold in the Battle of Saratoga. That victory, the first wholesale defeat of a large British force, marked a turning point in the revolution, for it convinced France to enter the war on the American side. When Schuyler demanded a court martial to answer Gates' charges, he was vindicated but resigned from the Army on April 19, 1779. He then served in two more sessions of the Continental Congress in 1779 and 1780.

As a prominent politician and Patriot leader in New York, he was the subject of an unsuccessful kidnapping attempt, which was ploted and led by John Walden Meyers on August 7, 1781, at his Albany mansion. Schuyler was able to vacate the area before the kidnappers arrived.[13]

Schuyler was an original member of the New York Society of the Cincinnati.

Later career

After the war, he expanded his Saratoga estate to tens of thousands of acres, adding slaves, tenant farmers, a store, mills for flour, flax, and lumber. His flax mill for the making of linen was the first one in America. He built several schooners on the Hudson River, and named the first Saratoga. According to the Schuyler Mansion Historic Society, there were around 40 slaves between the Albany and Saratoga estates.[14]

He was a member of the New York State Senate from 1780 to 1784, and at the same time New York State Surveyor General from 1781 to 1784.[15] Afterwards he returned to the State Senate from 1786 to 1790, where he actively supported the adoption of the United States Constitution.[16]

In 1789, he was elected a U.S. Senator from New York to the First United States Congress, serving from July 27, 1789, to March 3, 1791. After losing his bid for re-election in 1791 to Aaron Burr, he returned to the State Senate from 1792 to 1797. In 1797, he was selected again to the U.S. Senate and served in the 5th United States Congress from March 4, 1797, until his resignation because of ill health on January 3, 1798.[17]

Personal life

Schuyler's wife, Catherine Van Rensselaer,  by Walter Robinson, c. 1795.
Schuyler's wife, Catherine Van Rensselaer, by Walter Robinson, c. 1795.

According to the Schuyler Family's Bible, on September 7, 1755, he married Catherine Van Rensselaer[18] (1734–1803) at Albany. In the Bible entry, he was called “Philip Johannes Schuyler” and she was called “Catherina Van Rensselaer”. She was the daughter of Johannes Van Rensselaer (1707/08–1783) and his first wife, Engeltje Livingston (1698–1746/47). Johannes was the grandson of Hendrick van Rensselaer (1667–1740). Engeltje was the daughter of Robert Livingston the Younger. Philip and Catherine had 15 children together, eight of whom survived to adulthood, including:

Schuyler's country home had been destroyed by General John Burgoyne's forces in September 1777. Later that year, he began rebuilding on the same site, now located in southern Schuylerville, New York. This later home is maintained by the National Park Service as part of the Saratoga National Historical Park, and is open to the public.

Schuyler died at the Schuyler Mansion in Albany on November 18, 1804, four months after his son-in-law, Alexander Hamilton, was killed in a duel. He is buried at Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, New York.


Statue outside Albany City Hall
Statue outside Albany City Hall

Place names

Geographic locations and buildings named in Schuyler's honor include:

Works of art

Schuyler was depicted by John Trumbull in his 1821 painting Surrender of General Burgoyne, which hangs in the United States Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C.

Major General Philip Schuyler, a bronze statue by sculptor J. Massey Rhind, was erected outside Albany City Hall in 1925. In June 2020, Albany mayor Kathy Sheehan signed an executive order for the statue to be removed and given to a "museum or other institution for future display with appropriate historical context", due to Schuyler's ownership of slaves.[31] The statue was requested the next day by the mayor of Schuylerville, New York, who suggested that it be relocated to Schuyler House.[32]

In popular culture

The non-speaking role of Philip Schuyler was originated by ensemble member Sydney James Harcourt in the 2015 Broadway musical Hamilton, in which Schuyler's son-in-law Alexander Hamilton is the title character.[33]


  1. ^ Column atop a large base. Sec. 29, lot 2, Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, Albany, NY., Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Location 42147). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  2. ^ NYSM: Philip Schuyler
  3. ^ Gerlach, Don R. (1964). Philip Schuyler and the American Revolution in New York, 1733–1777. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. p. 17.
  4. ^ Tuckerman 1969, p. 9.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Biography, Philip John Schuyler (1733–1804)". ARCE: Albany Rural Cemetery Explorer. Albany, NY: University at Albany SUNY and Albany Rural Cemetery. 2019. Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  6. ^ a b Howard, Hugh (2012). Houses of the Founding Fathers. New York, NY: Artisan. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-5796-5510-5 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ John Cochran Archived August 22, 2006, at the Wayback Machine Office of Medical History
  8. ^ Tuckerman 1969, pp. 72, 265.
  9. ^ Tuckerman 1969, pp. 29, 75.
  10. ^ Tuckerman 1969, pp. 112–114.
  11. ^ Lossing, Benson John (February 2009). The Life and Times of Philip Schuyler. Applewood Books. p. 320. ISBN 9781429016827. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
  12. ^ "Major General Arthur St. Clair". National Museum of the United States Army. January 27, 2015.
  13. ^ McBurney, Christian M. (January 16, 2015). "THE PLOT TO KIDNAP SCHUYLER". Journal of the American Revolution. Archived from the original on 2020-04-24. Retrieved 2020-05-16.
  14. ^ Mansion, Schuyler (2016-06-05). "Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site: An Overview of Slave Trade in New Netherland, New York and Schuyler Mansion". Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site. Retrieved 2020-12-14.
  15. ^ Tuckerman 1969, pp. 253–254.
  16. ^ Tuckerman 1969, pp. 254–258.
  17. ^ Tuckerman 1969, pp. 257–258.
  18. ^ Catherine Van Rensselaer Find A Grave
  19. ^ "Republican Court: Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton (1757–1854)". Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  20. ^ "Cornelia Schuyler (1761–1762)". FindAGrave. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  21. ^ Schuyler Family Bible, Collections of Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, Albany, NY.
  22. ^ Eliza Hamilton The Extraordinary Life and Times of the Wife of Alexander Hamilton by Tilar J. Mazzeo
  23. ^ "John Bradstreet Schuyler". FindAGrave. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  24. ^ Schuyler, George W. (1885). Colonial New York: Philip Schuyler and His Family, Volume 2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 282.
  25. ^ Schuyler Family Bible, Collections of Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, Albany, NY.
  26. ^ Bielinski, Stefan. "Rensselaer Schuyler". New York State Museum. Retrieved 2017-04-22.
  27. ^ "This Day in History: Cornelia Schuyler and Washington Morton are married!". Facebook: Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site. October 7, 2015. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  28. ^ "Philip Schuyler". Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  29. ^ Schuyler, George W. (1885). Colonial New York: Philip Schuyler and His Family, Volume 2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 283.
  30. ^ Williams, Michael (2020-06-19). "Slave-owner Gen. Philip Schuyler's name coming off Albany school". Times Union. Retrieved 2020-12-14.
  31. ^ Pitofsky, Marina (June 12, 2020). "Philip Schuyler statue to be removed from downtown Albany". The Hill. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  32. ^ Mulholland, Mark (June 12, 2020). "Schuylerville wants statue Albany's mayor wants removed". WNYT-TV. Albany, NY. Archived from the original on 2020-06-13.
  33. ^ "Sydney James Harcourt | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 2017-01-12.
Political offices
Preceded by
new office
New York State Surveyor General
Succeeded by
Simeon De Witt
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
U.S. senator (Class 1) from New York
Served alongside: Rufus King
Succeeded by
Aaron Burr
Preceded by
Aaron Burr
U.S. senator (Class 1) from New York
Served alongside: John Laurance
Succeeded by
John Sloss Hobart