A Hamilton Walk Through History
New Jersey in Conflict
Hear ye, hear ye, Hamilton fans! Explore Alexander Hamilton’s personal life, his active role in the Revolutionary War, and his pursuit of innovation in New Jersey. Turn on the soundtrack and let’s get started as we explore Hamilton’s life in New Jersey by following this four-day travel itinerary.
Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, Sir
Born on the island of Nevis in the West Indies, Hamilton moved to the United States at the age of 15 in 1772. Before enrolling at King’s College, now Columbia University, Hamilton attended Old Academy, known today as the Snyder Academy of Elizabethtown. During this time period, Hamilton went under the personal guidance of William Livingston, NJ’s first elected governor, and lived nearby at Liberty Hall. Boxwood Hall is considered Hamilton’s second home where he built a strong relationship with Elias Boudinot, President of the Continental Congress that ratified the Treaty of Paris.
The Schuyler Sisters, Helpless, and Wait for It
While wintering at the Ford Mansion with General George Washington as his aide-de-camp, Hamilton began courting Elizabeth (Eliza) Schuyler who was residing with her aunt and uncle, Dr. John Cochran, at their home known today as the Schuyler-Hamilton House. While headquartered at the Day Mansion, Hamilton wrote letters to his fiancée, Eliza, describing the mansion as a “house of great hospitality.” Hamilton is not the only one who found love in New Jersey! While Washington and his entourage including Aaron Burr, the Marquis de Lafayette, and John Laurens occupied The Hermitage, owned by Theodosia Prevost and her husband, a British officer, Theodosia and Burr developed an intimate friendship. After the death of her husband and the end of the war, Theodosia married Burr at the Hermitage in July 1782.
Stay Alive and the Ten Duel Commandments
Hamiton joined Washington during his clandestine journey across the Delaware in 1776 where his victory in Trenton changes the tide of the war and was followed by two more wins at the Second Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Princeton in 1777. In 1778 at the Battle of Monmouth, Hamilton and Lafayette were close behind Washington on the battle line as he rallied the Continental Army to victory. It was the largest single-day battle of the war with nearly 25,000 men (and women!) involved and the last major battle of the Revolution in the north. Following the battle, Washington, Hamilton, and Lafayette stopped at the Paterson Great Falls, formerly known as the Totowa Falls, for a picnic. The picnic proved pivotal in the history and the nation as Hamilton would later lay out a plan for Paterson to become America’s first planned industrial city.
Your Obedient Servant and The World Was Wide Enough
Hamiton and Burr’s tumultuous relationship came to a head in 1804 with the most famous duel in American history. On the morning of July 11, Hamilton and Burr met on the dueling grounds in Weehawken which ultimately resulted in Hamilton’s death. Several years earlier, Hamilton's son, Philip, died on the same grounds, under the same circumstances. Today, Hamilton is buried at Trinitty Church in New York City, however; Burr is buried in Princeton Cemetery along with several other historic figures including Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, and David Hunter.
There’s more to see and do: Extend your stay and add these stops
Stop by Princeton University, formerly the College of New Jersey, where Hamilton fired cannons at British troops blockaded in Nassau Hall, the main building on the college campus. Visit the Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage where Hamilton was instrumental in forming new American allies, the French. While retreating across the Hackensack River, Washington’s encampment, including Hamilton, stayed at the Steuben House, the only extant building remaining from the 1776 retreat at Historic New Bridge Landing. Here Hamilton wrote a letter to John Laurens expressing his dissatisfaction with the situation.
New Jersey history is everywhere, hidden away on quiet back roads, right out in plain sight, in urban areas, country towns and villages, and along the Jersey shore. Historic sites across the state tell intriguing stories of New Jersey’s diverse, inventive, creative, and revolutionary people. History is alive and waiting for you. View Additional Resources