Philip Schuyler and the American Revolution in New York, 1733-1777

Philip Schuyler and the American Revolution in New York, 1733-1777

Philip Schuyler and the American Revolution in New York, 1733-1777

Philip Schuyler and the American Revolution in New York, 1733-1777

Excerpt

Contemporaries noted well the prominent position of General Philip Schuyler in early American society. Without having met him, the Duke de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt indirectly learned in 1795 that Schuyler was a man of "much acuteness, and uncommon abilities." The general ranked among the "most considerable men in the United States." It was then common knowledge that because of their wealth and interests, the Schuylers and Rensselaers were families who merited high respect. Through intermarriage, the influence of the two houses was "altogether irresistible in the county." This royalist émigré, known for his philanthropy, model farming, and government service, wrote that the Schuylers were endowed with "more talents and knowledge," but that the Rensselaers possessed more riches, and money was "a powerful spring in the management of a state." Talent and riches were an almost unbeatable combination-certainly the components of a powerful "interest."

Rochefoucauld-Liancourt had touched on significant points about Philip Schuyler -- his personal talents, and the larger milieu -- family influence and interest. How had he reached such a position? It could not be explained by birth and inheritance alone.

Another French nobleman and man of letters, the Marquis de Chastellux, who arrived in America as part of the French reinforcements under Rochambeau in 1780, perhaps offered an insight after a visit with the general in the winter of 1780-1781. "His fortune is very considerable," said the marquis; he predicted "it will become still more so, for he possesses an immense extent of territory, but deserves more credit from his talents and information than from his wealth." As for talent and information, Schuyler was something of a son of the Enlightenment in the eyes of these French aristocrats. In 1782 the . . .

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