All Our Lives: Alice Duer Miller

All Our Lives: Alice Duer Miller

All Our Lives: Alice Duer Miller

All Our Lives: Alice Duer Miller


Beauty itself doth of itself persuade
The eyes of men without an orator

"BIRTHS. At Staten Island, July 28, 1874, Alice Maude, daughter of James Gore King Duer and Elizabeth Duer."

The sixteen years which followed that twenty-eighth of July were important and uneventful. Quiet and comfort, exercise in plenty, the mild gaiety of the end of the nineteenth century, were the girl's daily lot. On the estate at Weehawken, saved from the wreck of the Duer fortune, old servants, old silver and furniture, and old ways made a pleasant background.

The Duers and their cousins, the Kings, owned two large properties adjoining each other on the bluffs overlooking the Hudson. A tall tower, which you can see any day from New York, walking west on Forty-seventh Street, marks the northern boundary of Hauxhurst, the Duer estate.

Both families had been identified with the history and development of New York since colonial times. Colonel William Duer had married the daughter of William Alexander, Lord Sterling, the defender of New York and one of Washington's most trusted officers. Lady Kitty Duer's son was president of Columbia College, and his cousin, Charles King, later held the same office. James Gore King, known as "the Almighty of Wall Street," became a private banker and made a large fortune. At his death Alice's grandfather, who had married King's daughter, became head of the firm and her father succeeded him.

The dueling ground to which New Yorkers and the neighboring countryside repaired lay on the narrow strip by the river, where the railroad tracks now run. Alice and her sisters played about the stone, marking the spot where on that hot July morning Hamilton fell as his son Philip had fallen before him on that same field of honor. Just above, a great rock jutted . . .

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