November 9, 1733 – Birth of Philip Schuyler, American General in the Revolutionary War

Philip John Schuyler, born on this day in history (according to the old style calendar) into a prosperous family was an American general in the Revolutionary War and a US Senator from New York.

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.

Philip John Schuyler

After the war, Schuyler expanded his Saratoga estate (he also had a mansion in Albany) to tens of thousands of acres, adding slaves, tenant farmers, a store, mills for flour, flax, and lumber. According to the Schuyler Mansion Historic Society, there were around 40 slaves between the Albany and Saratoga estates. The Historic Society also notes:

A life-long slaveholder who had just left the NY senate to resume his seat in the US senate, Philip Schuyler had little interest in abolition outside of the political capital to be gained as more and more politicians embraced the idea (in theory if not in their daily lives). Schuyler’s concern was to ensure that the slaveholding families of the state be as little discomfited as possible by the process. Even at the time of his death in November of 1804, at least seven people, including three children, still labored in slavery at his estate in Albany. 

While these individuals were freed shortly after his death, this was entirely at the discretion of the executors of the estate, as no provision was made for their manumission in Philip’s will. As of December 18th, 1804, the last people to be enslaved at the Schuylers mansion in Albany were free or had been transferred to the estates of other family members, possibly including that of the youngest son of the Schuyler family, Rensselaer.”

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.

In recent times, he has gained renown as the father of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton and the father-in-law of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.

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