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The Duel | Article

Philip Schuyler


One of America's most influential early citizens and Alexander Hamilton's father-in-law, Schuyler was defeated in one of the earliest clashes between Hamilton and Aaron Burr — the 1791 battle for one of New York's seats in the U.S. Senate. 

Schuyler was born into a prominent New York family in 1733. Like many early leaders, he established himself on the field of battle, in his case, during the French and Indian War (1755-60). He served in the New York State Assembly and the Second Continental Congress. 

When war broke out in 1775, he was commissioned as a general in the Continental Army. His career as a revolutionary was a less than glorious one. In an effort to clear his name after the fall of Fort Ticonderoga, he requested trial in a military court. He knew he would be proven innocent, and he was. His acquittal, however, did not completely repair his reputation.

After serving two terms in the New York senate and a term as a U.S. Senator representing New York, Schuyler was opposed for his Senate seat by Aaron Burr. The powerful Livingston and Clinton families, who were Schuyler's enemies, helped deliver victory to Burr. This infuriated Alexander Hamilton, who had married Schuyler's daughter Elizabeth and had backed his father-in law's candidacy. Hamilton was counting on Schuyler to support his economic platforms in the Senate. It was the first major battle between Hamilton and Burr.

Following his defeat, Schuyler served another term as a state senator before retaking his U.S. Senate seat from Burr in 1797, thanks to Hamilton's renewed control of New York State's politics. Schuyler retired soon after and died in 1804, just few months after his son-in-law was killed by Aaron Burr. 

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