After a swift courtship during the Continental Army's winter encampment in Morristown, NJ, Eliza Schuyler became engaged to Lt. Col. Alexander Hamilton in the spring of 1780. Soon afterwards, the army broke camp, and Eliza returned to her parents' home, The Pastures, near Albany, NY. Eliza and Alexander had hoped for a short engagement and a quick wedding, but Alexander's duties as one of the most trusted aides-de-camp made him too important to Gen. Washington to be spared. Eliza and Alexander spent the summer and autumn apart, reluctantly contenting themselves with letters. At last the general gave Alexander leave, and in December the lovesick colonel raced to his bride in Albany.
They were married on December 14, 1780, in this room, the family parlor in the Schuylers' house. Even without the yellow woodwork, it's a sunny space with large windows, and on that day was likely made brighter still by the sun reflecting on the snow outside. The view from the windows would have swept down over the pastures that gave the house its name to the North River (known today as the Hudson River) and to the hills beyond.
Of course, the parlor was used for far more than this wedding. For the Schuylers, this parlor would have been the equivalent of a modern family room, adapting to various purposes from formal events (like the wedding) to daily gatherings with friends. Eighteenth century American rooms were meant to be adaptable rather than static, with chairs and tables that could be easily moved and rearranged to accommodate a card game or music lesson, or drawn closer to the fireplace or an open window depending on the season. The deep recesses of the windows offered extra seating as well.
The best part about the family parlor: it still exists in the Schuyler Mansion, and welcomes visitors much as it did when the Schuylers lived there and when Eliza and Alexander exchanged their vows. In a way, the bride and groom are still there, too: that's a replica of Eliza's portrait by Ralph Earle on the wall to the right, and a replica of one of Alexander by John Trumbull on the left. For more information on touring the Schuyler Mansion, see their Facebook page. Photo above by the Schuyler Mansion.
I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott will be published September 26, 2017, by Kensington Books. Pre-order now.