- "Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now."
- — Eliza, The Schuyler Sisters
Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton was born in Albany, New York in 1757. Her first appearance in the musical is in the song Alexander Hamilton, at the very beginning of the musical. She sings about Alexander and his mother's sickness.
She is first introduced as Eliza alongside her sisters, Angelica and Peggy (together known as the Schuyler sisters). They sing in the spirit of revolution in downtown Manhattan ("The Schuyler Sisters").
Later, Elizabeth's father, Philip Schuyler hosts a large ball ("A Winter's Ball"). Many revolutionary allies are invited, including a young Alexander Hamilton who is seeking opportunities to rise above his station. She sings of her fancy for him upon their meeting as her sister Angelica introduces him to her. They write each other letters, and eventually are happily married with her father's permission. ("Helpless").
As time passes, Alexander becomes more involved with the revolution and joins the Continental Army. He requests a command and a group of men to lead in the war from General George Washington, who in turn replies that people were counting on Alexander to stay alive, and sends him home to a waiting Eliza. She admits that she was the one who requested for Alexander to be sent home and reveals that she is pregnant with their first son. Alexander is overcome with joy but is unsure of himself. Eliza assures him that he doesn't need a legacy to be a great father; that staying alive during the revolution for her and their son would be enough ("That Would Be Enough").
When Alexander finally comes home from his work, Eliza tells him to come down for dinner and meet his son, Philip, who has composed a short poem that immediately amazes his father. Angelica travels overseas to meet her sister's family, and the two ask Hamilton to accompany them upstate for a short break for the summer. Hamilton declines, saying he must work on his debt plan for Congress. Eliza is disappointed but leaves with her sister and Philip ("Take A Break").
While they are away, Hamilton has an ongoing affair with Maria Reynolds ("Say No To This"), and is blackmailed by her husband in order to keep it a secret from Eliza. However, his political rivals Thomas Jefferson and James Madison find out and tell him they will tell the public he has stolen the government's money ("We Know"). In a desperate situation, Hamilton chooses his reputation over Eliza's happiness and pride ("Hurricane") and publishes the affair publicly ("The Reynolds Pamphlet"). Furious and heartbroken, Eliza vows to permanently "erase herself from the narrative" and burns the letters Hamilton sent her from when they first met. She sings of how paranoid, and deceptive Alexander has become.("Burn").
After several years, their son Philip turns nineteen and graduates King's College. He meets George Eacker, who is degrading Hamilton's reputation, and challenges him to a duel ("Blow Us All Away"). Philip is mortally wounded and Eliza and Alexander are at his bedside when he dies ("Stay Alive (Reprise)"). Heartbroken, the couple moves uptown, where Alexander begs for Eliza's forgiveness, which she eventually forgives him ("It's Quiet Uptown").
In a heavy disagreement over Hamilton's endorsement of Jefferson, Aaron Burr challenges him to a duel. The morning before leaving for the duel, Hamilton affectionately compliments her before setting off ("Best of Wives and Best of Women"). Hamilton is shot in the side and dies three days later, Eliza and Angelica at his deathbed. The musical closes as Eliza sings about putting herself back in Alexander's narrative. She helps recognize people who fought in the war and tells their stories, and becomes the founder of the first private orphanage in New York City, where she helps raise children, doing everything she can to make use of the time she has left ("Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story").
Biography (In Real Life)
Born August 9, 1757, to Catherine Van Rensselaer and Philip Schuyler, Elizabeth (frequently called Eliza or Betsey) Schuyler was the second daughter of the two rich and politically-influential New Yorkers. Elizabeth had seven siblings that lived to adulthood, and fourteen in total, many dying during infant-hood.
The Schuyler family was among the wealthy families settling in the Dutch-influenced Albany in the mid-1600's. Like very many Albany landowners during the time, the family owned slaves. In spite of the discomfort of the French and Indian war, which her father was a part of and took place for the most part near her childhood household, Elizabeth and her siblings grew up in comfort, the females learning to sew and read from their mother.
Like many of the families in the area, the Schuyler family belonged to the Reformed Dutch Church of Albany, and many of the children were baptized there. The church still exists. However, the original building where the family attended services for most of their collective lives was demolished in 1806. For all of her life, Eliza had an unwavering and strong belief that would remain, even on her deathbed.
At the young age of six, Eliza accompanied her father to a meeting of the Six Nations, in which she met Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin also stayed with the family briefly while traveling.
Eliza was said to be a sort of tomboy during her younger years, and she retained a strong will and even impulsiveness that stayed with her and caused many of her acquaintances fall in love with her. In her later years, the son of Joanna Bethune, a woman Eliza worked with to found the orphanage later in her life, noted that "Both [Eliza and Joanna] were of determined disposition... Mrs. Bethune the more cautious, Mrs. Hamilton the more impulsive."
During the early months of 1780, Eliza went to stay with her aunt Gertrude Schuyler Cochran in Morristown, New Jersey. Contrary to popular belief, which states she met her future husband during a ball, it was during this stay that she once again met "my Alexander", as she so frequently called him. (They had met previously, during Alexander's stay at the Schuyler household as he returned from a negotiation ordered by Washington himself.) While in Morristown, Eliza also met Martha Washington. The two became friends, and the friendship would last for a long time.
Alexander and Eliza's relationship quickly advanced. Even when Alexander left Morristown a month after Eliza arrived, the two continued to converse through frequent letters. When Alexander returned to Morristown, Phillip Schuyler had also arrived, albeit to be a representative for the Continental Congress. By early April, Alexander had received consent from Eliza's mother and father to wed. This was somewhat of an anomaly among the Schuyler girls, as Eliza was the only one to not elope.
After a short honeymoon at Eliza’s childhood home, the Pastures, Alexander quickly returned to military service in early January. Soon following him, Eliza was able to rekindle her friendship with Martha Washington as they entertained the various soldiers that crossed their path.
- Eliza plays the quiet, smart, and optimistic role in the Schuyler sister trio.
- The role of Elizabeth Schuyler, originally played by Phillipa Soo, was assumed by Lexi Lawson on July 11, 2016.
- In reality, Alexander and Eliza had eight children altogether and one miscarriage. Their children that were not portrayed in the musical were Angelica, Alexander, James, John, William, Eliza, and Philip the second. However, Angelica is briefly mentioned during Philip's verse in "Take A Break". Philip was mentioned because he was crucial to the plot, though.
- Eliza helped with the writing of one of the numerous Federalist Papers.
- She was the only Schuyler sister who didn't elope.
- Eliza was very close friends with Martha Washington, wife of the first American President George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette, a close friend of her husband Alexander Hamilton.
- The orphanage mentioned at the end of the musical (Who lives, who dies, who tells your story) still exists in New York City. Founded in 1806, it is now called the Graham Windham Orphanage.
- Her theme color or signature color is teal