Wife, Widow, and Warrior in Alexander Hamilton’s Quest for a More Perfect Union
From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Haunting, moving, and beautifully written, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.
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A general’s daughter…
Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.
A Founding Father’s wife…
But the union they create—in their marriage and the new nation—is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all—including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.
The last surviving light of the Revolution…
When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle—to understand the flawed man she married and imperfect union he could never have created without her…
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I fell in love with my son that spring. In truth, I fell in love with the entire world. Because with the war nearly over, everything seemed new. And in my baby’s eyes, everything seemed possible.
Philip was as sunny a child as ever lived. One who so commanded my heart that I could refuse him nothing. And I knew my indulgence was not to be remedied by the influence of a stern father. Because in those delightfully domestic months, one might be excused for thinking that—like Ben Franklin and the lightning rod—my husband had invented fatherhood.
Fractured by our son’s every cry and transported to heaven by every gurgle and smile, Alexander doted, day and night. Staring into the cradle, he boasted, “Philip is truly a very fine young gentleman. The most agreeable baby I ever knew—intelligent and sweet of temper. Don’t you agree?”
“Yes,” I agreed, with a laugh. “Of course.”
Sensing condescension, Alexander turned in mock outrage. “It’s true! He’s handsome and his eyes are sprightly and expressive. And he has a method of waving his hand that announces a future orator.”
A future orator. Such grand plans he had for our boy, before he was even out of swaddling.
But having been abandoned by his own father, it made sense for my husband to draw so close to his infant son. For him to feel not only the natural bonds that draw a parent to a child, but also the desire to make up for what he’d lacked. It was as if Alexander thought to somehow tip the scales of cosmic justice by giving his son all the love he hadn’t received.
“How entirely domestic I’m growing,” Alexander later said, bouncing our little Philip on his knee at Papa’s dinner table. “I sigh for nothing but the company of my wife and my baby, and have lost all taste for the pursuits of ambition.”
Kissing our father atop his head as she slipped into her seat, Angelica gave a delicate snort. “You without ambition? Betsy, call for a doctor. Hamilton must be sicker than we knew.”
The whole family laughed, because she wasn’t wrong to doubt him. Especially when his desk in the upstairs hall was piled with leather-bound, gilt-edged law books. Tory lawyers would no longer be permitted to practice in state courts, which left an opportunity for men like my husband to step into the vacancy, and Alexander had designed an ambitious plan to condense his study of the law and start his own practice.
Though he seemed content to live in my father’s house—and Papa was very happy to have us—I knew Hamilton yearned to make his own fortune. Late one night, he returned from his duties as a tax collector, and settling into a chair next to our sleeping baby, he opened a law book and whispered, “Go on to bed, love. I will now employ myself rocking the cradle and studying the art of fleecing my neighbors.”
Tax collecting by day, studying law by night, and somehow managing, in the midst of it all, to conspire with my father to build this brave new American world.
The Articles of Confederation had made less a new nation than a loose alliance of states. Hamilton and my father dreamed of something grander. And oh, how it filled my heart to see them together each night, talking through ideas, my father’s wisdom tempering my husband’s more passionate arguments—I took great pride in realizing that I’d given my father more than a son and my husband more than a father; I’d given both a trustworthy friend.
We were happy. I was never happier, I think.
Stephanie Dray is a New York Times bestselling author of historical women’s fiction. Her award-winning work has been translated into multiple languages, illuminating women of the past so as to inspire the women of today. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation’s capital.
Laura Kamoie is a New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction, and the author of two nonfiction books on early American history. Until recently, she held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction under the name Laura Kaye, also a New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels.