In a January 21, 1781 letter to his sister-in-law Margarita (Peggy) Schuyler, Hamilton lay out his philosophy on marriage and selecting the right partner. Hamilton noted that his wife, Eliza:
“….fancies herself the happiest woman in the world, and would need persuade all her friends to embark with her in the matrimonial voyage. But I pray you do not let her advice have so much influence as to make you matrimony-mad.”
He noted that despite Eliza’s happiness with their early married life, it was important for Peggy to be cautious before making such a commitment.
However, when marriages were made between two incompatible people, Hamilton expressed the skeptical view that:
“…its a dog of life when two dissonant tempers meet, and ’tis ten to one but this is the case.”
Therefore, Hamilton urged Peggy to be “cautious in the choice” and recommended that she:
“Get a man of sense, not ugly enough to be pointed at—with some good-nature—a few grains of feeling—a little taste—a little imagination—and above all a good deal of decision to keep you in order; for that I foresee will be no easy task. If you can find one with all these qualities, willing to marry you, marry him as soon as you please.”
Two years later, Peggy eloped with young Stephen van Rensselaer III. The marriage raised some eyebrows because Peggy was 25 and van Rensselar was only 19. The couple had three children, but only one, Stephen van Rensselaer IV, survived to adulthood. Peggy died at age 42 in 1801.
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