'And Peggy': 7 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Peggy Schuyler

A miniature portrait of Peggy Schuyler on ivory by James Peale, circa 1796.
A miniature portrait of Peggy Schuyler on ivory by James Peale, circa 1796.
Courtesy of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation // Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, Albany, New York.

There were a lot of details that Lin-Manuel Miranda couldn’t fit into the Broadway musical Hamilton—that time Hamilton claimed to have communicated with a dead Revolutionary War commander as a joke, for example, or his epic rivalry with New York Governor George Clinton, or a mic-dropping diss rap directed at John Adams.

He also couldn’t fit in much about Peggy, the Schuyler sister who, in the show, is worried about being out too late downtown and disappears after the first act. (The actress who plays her becomes Maria Reynolds in the second act.) But in real life, this Schuyler sister was much beloved by Hamilton—and much more than “and Peggy.” Here are a few things you should know about her.

1. Peggy Schuyler’s name wasn’t actually Peggy.

Peggy was a nickname; depending on the source, she was either Margaret or Margarita Schuyler. She was born in Albany in September 1758.

2. Peggy Schuyler had “a kind of wicked wit.”

The Schuyler family was one of the wealthiest in New York, and each daughter was, according to Hamilton biographer Ron Chernow, “smart, beautiful, gregarious, and rich … they collectively charmed and delighted all the visitors to the Schuyler mansion in Albany.”

Philip and Catherine Schuyler had eight children who survived to adulthood, including three sons; Peggy, the third of Schuyler’s daughters, was “very pretty,” according to the Scottish poet Anne Grant, and possessed “a kind of wicked wit.” The elder Catherine Schuyler’s biographer, Mary Gay Humphreys, described Peggy as having “animated and striking” features; as a young woman, she was “lively” and “the favorite of dinner-tables and balls” and, in later in life, was “bright, high-spirited [and] generous.”

But not all descriptions were so rosy. In a 1782 letter to Hamilton, statesman James McHenry compared Peggy to her sister Angelica (who he calls “Mrs. Carter” because her husband, John Barker Church, was forced to take the alias John Carter during the revolution), noting that “Peggy, though, perhaps a finer woman, is not generally thought so. Her own sex are apprehensive that she considers them, poor things, as [Jonathan] Swifts [sic] Vanessa did; and they in return do not scruple to be displeased. In short, Peggy, to be admired as she ought, has only to please the men less and the ladies more.” According to Hamilton biographer Ron Chernow, Peggy was “sarcastic” and “very beautiful but vain and supercilious.”

3. Peggy Schuyler first became acquainted with Alexander Hamilton via letter.

In 1780, shortly after Hamilton began courting Eliza (or, as Hamilton also called her, Betsey), Washington’s aide-de-camp wrote to Peggy at length of his love for her sister; he included a bit of flattery for good measure:

“I venture to tell you in confidence, that by some odd contrivance or other, your sister has found out the secret of interesting me in every thing that concerns her; and though I have not the happiness of a personal acquaintance with you, I have had the good fortune to see several very pretty pictures of your person and mind which have inspired me with a more than common partiality for both. Among others your sister carries a beautiful copy constantly about her elegantly drawn by herself, of which she has two or three times favoured me with a sight. You will no doubt admit it as a full proof of my frankness and good opinion of you, that I with so little ceremony introduce myself to your acquaintance and at the first step make you my confident.”

Between when their courtship began and when he married Eliza in December 1780, Hamilton became close to all the Schuylers.

4. Alexander Hamilton wrote a piece in which he hoped Peggy Schuyler would serve as the main character.

In October 1780, Hamilton wrote to Eliza, asking her to tell Peggy that he’d soon open a letter he had from her. “I am composing a piece, of which, from the opinion I have of her qualifications, I shall endeavour to prevail upon her to act the principal character,” he wrote. “The title is ‘The way to get him, for the benefit of all single ladies who desire to be married.’ You will ask her if she has any objections to taking part in the piece and tell her that if I am not much mistaken in her, I am sure she will have none.” (He added to his soon-to-be wife, “For your own part, your business is now to study the way to keep him, which is said to be much the most difficult task of the two, though in your case I thoroughly believe it will be an easy one and that to succeed effectually you will only have to wish it sincerely.”)

5. Peggy Schuyler once faced off against some Tories.

In 1781, Albany was not much safer than the warfront: Local Native American tribes and British loyalists had been running raids all over the area. Philip Schuyler, who was the mastermind of a spy ring, was even the subject of a British kidnapping plot; on August 7, according to Chernow, a group of Tories and Native Americans surrounded the Schuyler mansion and forced their way into the home searching for the patriarch. The family—including Angelica and Eliza, both pregnant—fled upstairs during the assault, realizing too late that they’d left behind Catherine Schuyler’s baby daughter (also named Catherine). When Peggy snuck downstairs to retrieve the infant, who was in a cradle near the door, one of the raiders stepped in front of her with a musket and demanded to know where General Schuyler was. According to Chernow, Peggy replied, coolly, that he had “Gone to alarm the town.” The raiders, afraid that troops were coming, fled—and Peggy grabbed baby Catherine and ran back up the stairs. According to legend, one raider threw a tomahawk at her but missed, hitting the bannister, which still has a mark.

6. Peggy Schuyler married well.

In June 1783, when she was almost 25, Peggy married a distant cousin, Stephen Van Rensselaer III, 19; it was likely an elopement. (In fact, Eliza was the only Schuyler sister who didn’t elope.) Stephen was a descendent of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, an Amsterdam merchant who was the first patroon—a person granted land and privileges by the Dutch government of New York—of a huge tract of land that included Albany county. This made Stephen a patroon as well, and he had plenty of money and servants. After her marriage, Peggy earned another nickname, this one bestowed upon her by Hamilton: “Mrs. Patroon.” By 1789, the couple had three children, only one of whom would survive to adulthood.

7. Peggy Schuyler died young.

By 1801, Peggy had been ill for two years. Hamilton, who had resigned as Treasury Secretary six years before, was in Albany on business that March when Peggy took a turn for the worse. He frequently wrote to Eliza, at home in New York City, about her sister’s health. “Your Sister Peggy has gradually grown worse & is now in a situation that her dissolution in the opinion of the Doctor is not likely to be long delayed,” he wrote on February 25. The situation was dire enough, he said, that Peggy’s husband had requested that their only surviving son, then 11, be brought home.

But by March 9, things were slightly better. “Your Sister Peggy had a better night last night than for three weeks past and is much easier this morning,” Hamilton told Eliza. “Yet her situation is such as only to authorise a glimmering of hope.” On March 10 he wrote again, telling her that he would return home but for “the situation of your Sister Peggy, her request that I would stay a few days longer and the like request of your father and mother … There has been little alteration either way in Peggys [sic] situation for these past four days.”

It wouldn’t be long before things got much worse. On March 16, Hamilton wrote to Eliza with the sad news that her sister, not yet 43, had passed away: “On Saturday, My Dear Eliza, your sister took leave of her sufferings and friends, I trust, to find repose and happiness in a better country. … Viewing all that she had endured for so long a time, I could not but feel a relief in the termination of the scene. She was sensible to the last and resigned to the important change.” He planned to stay for the funeral and leave for New York City the day after. “I long to come to console and comfort you my darling Betsey,” he wrote. “Adieu my sweet angel. Remember the duty of Christian Resignation. Ever Yrs, A H.”

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

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Jimi Hendrix’s Connection to Hogan's Alley—Vancouver's Lost Black Neighborhood

Marjut Valakivi, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons
Marjut Valakivi, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

From the early 1900s through the 1960s, Hogan’s Alley—the unofficial name of Park Lane, an alley that ran between Union and Prior Streets in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighborhood—was a multicultural area that hosted an enclave of Black Canadians, largely immigrants and their descendants, who had resettled from American states to find work, generally on the Great Northern Railway system.

As a result of rampant racism and housing discrimination within the city, many of Vancouver's Black residents also migrated there, establishing numerous businesses including Pullman Porters’ Club, famed eatery Vie’s Chicken and Steak House, and the African Methodist Episcopal Fountain Chapel, the city’s only Black church at the time, which was partly spearheaded by Zenora Rose Hendrix—a pillar of the community and grandmother to legendary rocker Jimi Hendrix. Yet, despite the neighborhood's thriving business and cultural scene, city officials didn't hesitate to level Hogan's Alley and displace its many residents when it got in the way of an ill-conceived government construction project that was eventually abandoned altogether.

As national uprisings in support of the Black Lives Matter movement continue, racism has been declared a public health crisis throughout the U.S. following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other Black citizens at the hands of law enforcement. Standing in solidarity with Americans calling for an end to police militarization, cultural advocates in Vancouver have been outraged by the harsh treatment of protesters in the United States. Growing frustration in the area has prompted a demand for the once-bustling, historic Black community of Hogan’s Alley to be recultivated as a cultural, commercial, and residential center for Black Vancouverites.

The Rise and Fall of Hogan's Alley

Ross and Nora Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix's paternal grandparents.Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Zenora “Nora” Rose Hendrix was born in the States, but became a much-admired member of the Hogan's Alley community. Nora (who, like her grandson, was a talented musician) was a cook at Vie's, a restaurant that was frequented by jazz icons including Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong during concert stops.

Jimi, who was raised in Seattle, forged a strong bond with the area during summer visits with his grandparents and via a short stint living with them, during which he attended first grade at Vancouver’s Dawson Annex School. He returned to the area in the early 1960s, where he regularly performed at local venues like Dante’s Inferno and Smilin’ Buddha.

At the same time Jimi was building his reputation as a world-renowned musician, the city of Vancouver began work on a development project to replace and expand the Georgia viaduct. To accommodate its redevelopment, which included the construction of a new interurban freeway, parts of the city would need to be destroyed. Hogan’s Alley was among the neighborhoods that city authorities had deemed disposable because, according to the Vancouver Heritage Fund, it had a reputation as “a center of squalor, immorality, and crime.”

Vancouver’s Chinatown was yet another neighborhood that was at the top of the list to be razed to make way for the Georgia viaduct and its new freeway, but Chinatown residents and the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association (SPOTA) were able to effectively protest and shield that area from demolition. Though many of Hogan’s Alley’s Black residents participated in protests against the urban renewal agenda that was aimed at wiping out their neighborhood, they were unsuccessful.

In 1967, work on the first phase of construction began, effectively erasing the western half of Hogan’s Alley and forcing many Black families to leave the area in search of new housing and better opportunities. Though the building of the freeway was eventually stopped, it was too late for the residents of Hogan’s Alley.

Gone But Not Forgotten

Hogan's Alley: Then and NowMike via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

In the near-half-century since the demise of Hogan’s Alley, no other cultural epicenter for Vancouver’s Black community has sprung up to take its place. Today, even within the city, the story of Hogan’s Alley and its dismantling is largely unknown—though there have been various efforts made to ensure that the neighborhood and its importance to the city’s history are not forgotten.

When the city revealed its plans to remove the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts in 2015, the announcement received a lot of attention in the area. In June 2020 activists—including members of the Hogan's Alley Society, a nonprofit organization that works to highlight the contributions of Black Vancouverites to the city’s history—held a peaceful protest wherein they occupied the viaducts in order to bring attention to the role the structures played in the decimation of Hogan's Alley. While they're happy to see the viaducts go, the protestors want to make sure that the city fulfills its promise to erect a Black Cultural Center in the structures' place and restore a vital part of Vancouver's lost Black history.

Dr. June Francis, chair of the Hogan’s Alley Society, told Global News the viaducts were “a monument to the displacement and the oppression of the Black community ... [Hogan’s Alley] was erased by the actions of the city.”

While the city promised to build a cultural center where Hogan's Alley once stood, Francis said two years have passed with no actions taken to fulfill that commitment. "I expect the city, actually, to come out with a definitive statement to these young people to say 'We believe in your future and here is our response to you,'" she said.

A Shrine to Jimi

Vancouver's Jimi Hendrix ShrineRunran via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

In 2019, Nora Hendrix Place—a three-story, 52-unit, modular housing facility—was opened in the former Hogan’s Alley area to provide temporary shelter to the city’s homeless population. According to The Star, “The building will be run by the Portland Hotel Society and have a focus on supporting marginalized groups experiencing homelessness, while also including design elements shaped by Black culture.” But Nora’s famous grandson hasn't been forgotten either.

In the 1990s, a Jimi Hendrix Shrine—a small, fire engine red temple—was created where Vie’s once stood. It was an homage to Jimi’s career and the time he spent in Hogan’s Alley, complete with vinyl records, concert flyers, and letters from Jimi to his grandmother. Though the space is currently closed, its creator, Vincent Fodera, hopes to not only upgrade the shrine but to eventually have a 32-foot statue of Jimi towering over it.

While few physical reminders of Hogan’s Alley remain today, thanks to the lasting contributions of the area’s residents—including the Hendrix family—and the tireless efforts of its preservation advocates, the legacy of Hogan’s Alley’s will hopefully once again become an indelible part of the cultural fabric of Vancouver and its history.