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Episode 67: New York: The Schuyler Family Connection with Sharon McMahon

podcast Dec 17, 2021

In this solo episode, Sharon dives into the history of one of New York’s most prominent families during the birth of the nation: the Schuylers. Certainly, Hamilton has made famous the Schuyler sisters, but did you know that Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy were just three of the fifteen children born to Philip and Catherine Schuyler? Follow along as Sharon unfurls the Schuyler family tree and shares their surprising connection to a foiled kidnapping attempt, the Statue of Liberty, and one of our nation’s most recognized poems.

Links to Full Episode:

This Episode Will Teach You:

  • The brief genealogy of the large Schuyler family
  • The New York elite and their very specific lineage
  • Philip Jeremiah Schuyler’s attempted kidnapping
  • How he foiled the attempt
  • Georgina Schuyler’s friendship with Emma Lazarus
  • The recitation of “The New Colossus”
  • How Georgina honored her friend’s poem after her death

3 Biggest Takeaways:

  • When Phillip Schuyler, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton’s father, was born in the 1730s, he was already a 3rd generation American and one of the colony’s elite. He married Catherine Van Rensselaer and together they had fifteen children, including a set of twins and a set of triplets. Only eight of the fifteen children survived to adulthood.
  •  In the 1780s, one of Phillip and Catherine’s sons, also named Phillip (referred in the episode as Phillip J), foiled his own kidnapping attempt. When his household heard about the possibility of an attempt, they took measures to be ready, holding a fire fight against the kidnappers. Phillip ushered his family out of the house and then fired his gun out multiple second story windows, talking to himself as he went to make it seem like there were several armed men instead of just one. The plan worked, and the household was spared.
  • Fast forward to the 1840s, and Schuyler descendants George Lee and wife Eliza Hamilton (but not THAT Eliza Hamilton!) raised daughter Georgina Schuyler in New York’s high society. Georgina was friends with Jewish poet Emma Lazarus, who wrote the poem “The New Colossus” to help fundraise for the pedestal the city would use to raise up the Statue of Liberty. After Emma’s death, Georgina led the campaign to make a plaque of “The New Colossus” and place it on the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. 

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