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Alexander Hamilton Writes to His Beloved Wife, Eliza, About the Deteriorating Health of Her Younger Sister, Peggy
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“My Dear Eliza/Your sister Peggy has gradually grown worse & it is now in a situation that her dissolution in the opinion of the Doctor is not likely to be long delayed. The L. Governor sends the bearer to bring home his Child--I have not time to add more
Adieu my Eliza A.H.”

ALEXANDER HAMILTON. Autograph Letter Signed “A.H.”, Albany, Tuesday, Feb(ruary) 25, 1801 to Elizabeth (“Eliza”) Schuyler Hamilton, regarding the deteriorating health of her sister, Margarita “Peggy” Schuyler Van Rensselaer. One sheet folded to make four pages, 5 x 7-3/4 in. Addressed on integral leaf in Hamilton’s hand: “Mrs. Hamilton/No. 26 Broadway/New York”, wax seal partially intact on same; further docketed at bottom by Hamilton, “Mrs. H.”

Inventory #27110       Price: $20,000

Peggy would pass away on March 14, about two weeks after this letter was written, from an unknown illness, at the age of 42. The “L. Governor” was Peggy’s husband, Stephen Van Rensselaer (1764-1839), Lieutenant Governor of New York from 1795 to 1801. The child referred to, the 11 year-old Stephen, was Peggy and Stephen’s only surviving child; he was immediately brought home.

“Eliza’s younger sister Peggy was married to Stephen Van Rensselaer (Hamilton crowned her with the comic nickname ‘Mrs. Patroon’) and had been gravely ill for two years. For a time, doctors plied her with oxygen that helped revive her. Then, in early March 1801, while Hamilton was waylaid in Albany on legal business, Peggy’s health deteriorated. Hamilton visited her bedside often and kept Eliza posted on developments. When Hamilton finished his court work, Peggy asked him to stay for a few days, and he complied with her wishes. In mid-March, Hamilton had to send Eliza a somber note: ‘On Saturday, my dear Eliza, your sister took leave of her suffering and friends, I trust, to find repose and happiness in a better country...I long to come to console and comfort you, my darling Betsey. Adieu my sweet angel. Remember the duty of Christian resignation.’ Peggy’s funeral at the Patroon’s manor house was attended by all of his many tenants, marching in mourning.” (Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, 2004)

This letter is printed in The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 25, July 1800 – April 1802, ed. Harold C. Syrett. New York: Columbia University Press, 1977, pp. 342–343.

Creasing from original folds; scattered minor soiling; light residue at top and bottom edge of integral address leaf; some scattered light wear along edges.

According to Founders, Mr. Andrew Joyner (1894-1972), Greensboro, North Carolina. Private Collection. Freeman’s Auction, May 4, 2022.

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