Hamilton & Dutchess

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If quarrels were the sustenance of Alexander Hamilton, there is no shortage provided by Dutchess County!

Red Hook

1. Retained by Red Hook’s Hoffman family, Hamilton’s successful legal effort in 1786 established a boundary line further north than then-Chancellor Livingston of Columbia County desired. Consequently, Dutchess gained a narrow triangle of acreage.

2. Almost simultaneously, in that part of Columbia County that was originally Dutchess County, Chancellor Livingston retained Aaron Burr while Hamilton quietly advised the Manor Livingstons on a family boundary dispute that would allow or disallow the Chancellor to have a mill. Did he own “to” the river that separated the two proprerties, or through to the middle? It was never resolved.     

3. Despised by the public after killing Hamilton, Burr went into hiding. Stories circulated that he hid at Maizeland in Red Hook, the home of Gen. David Van Ness, the uncle of Burr’s second William P. Van Ness who was married in Red Hook.

Rhinebeck

4. The letter that Aaron Burr read in the April 24, 1804 Albany Register, quoting Hamilton’s offending remarks which incited him to challenge Hamilton to the fatal duel, was authored by Charles Cooper. Born in Rhinebeck, Charles’ father, Dr. Ananias Cooper was a lifelong practicing medical doctor there, living in a brick house on the Post Road a mile north of Rhinebeck village.

Hyde Park. 5.

The election of NY Governor in 1804 started with Thomas Jefferson beginning to not trust Aaron Burr who had been his Vice President, to the degree that Burr decided to run for NY Governor. His rival was Morgan Lewis of Hyde Park. Hamilton’s opposition to Burr’s race, and the words he uttered against it, started Burr down the path to the fatal duel.

6. Nominated by George Washington to be a US District Court Judge in Georgia, Nathaniel Pendleton later moved to Hyde Park. He served as the second to Hamilton in the fatal duel. He was killed in an accident in 1821 and is buried in Hyde Park’s St. James’ Cemetery.

Image at left: Read Pendleton's letter to William Bard referring to the duel and death of Hamilton shortly after the event, from Bard College Archives.

Town of Poughkeepsie

7. The headstone of Maria Lewis Reynolds’ great-grandfather, Leonard Lewis can be seen at Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery.


8. The 18th century home of Maria’s half-brothers’ Dubois in Poughkeepsie at the location of Greenvale Park along the Wappinger Creek is a listed national historic landmark.

Beacon

9. One of the most stunning arguments took place in February of 1781, with the war far from over, when General Washington encountered his aide-de-camp, Alexander Hamilton, at his headquarters in New Windsor. Washington told Hamilton he needed to speak to him right away  … Hamilton replied, “One minute,  sir...” as he brought an urgent letter to someone else in the house. The minute turned into ten, he had bumped into the Marquis de Lafayette and they got talking!

Upon his return, in Hamilton’s words, Washington as fuming, and said, “Col. Hamilton , you have kept me waiting at the head of the stairs these ten minutes. I must tell you, sir, you treat me with disrespect." And maybe out of resentment of not getting the kind of military appointment he had wanted, far from apologizing, Hamilton announced, "I am not conscious of it, sir, but since you have thought it necessary to tell me, so we part."

And so it was. Hamilton had to start a search for a house, ending up at the Abraham DePeyster House in what is today Beacon, shown in this 1929 photograph by Margeret DeM. Brown for the book, “Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley Before 1776.” Here he began work on the Federalist Papers and continued to pepper Washington with letters from “DePeyster’s Point” for the coveted military assignment he would receive in July of that year, which would prompt his departure from the house.

Of course the relationship would mend to the degree Washington would invite Hamilton to be the first Secretary of the Treasury, all was not forever lost.

Thank you to  Diane Murphy and Bob Murphy of Beacon Historical Society  for advice and references. See Christopher Cring's book, at bottom, sources. Photos of the Abraham DePeyster House below by Margaret DeM. Brown for "Dutchess County Doorways," and "Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley Before 1776."

Click on image below to see Hamilton & the Street Where it Happened: Market between Main and Church

Suggested reading and sources (in development)