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Catharine Van Rensselaer Schuyler 1734 ~ 1803


Catharine Van Rensselaer Schuyler

Catharine Schuyler was the only daughter of John Van Rensselaer, called the Patroon of Greenbush, a patriot in the Revolutionary struggle, and noted for his hospitality and for his kindness and forbearance towards the tenants of his vast estates during the war. Many families in poverty remember with gratitude the aid received from the daughter of this house-hold. After her marriage to Philip Schuyler, General Schuyler of Revolutionary War renown, she came to preside over the Schuyler mansion in Albany as well as his beautiful country seat near Saratoga, and by her graceful courtesy did much to soften the miseries of the war. Nor was she wanting in resolution and courage; she proved equal to every great emergency. When the Continental army was retreating from Fort Edward before Burgoyne, Mrs. Schuyler herself went in her chariot from Albany to Saratoga to see to the removal of her household goods and gods. While there she received directions from the General to set fire with her own hands to his extensive fields of wheat rather than suffer them to be reaped by the enemy. The injunction shows the soldier's confidence in her spirit, firmness and patriotism, and, as she literally obeyed his commands, proved that "the heart of her husband doth safely trust in her."

This elegant country-seat was immediately after destroyed by General Burgoyne, and it is related how, after the surrender of Burgoyne, General Schuyler being detained at Saratoga, where he had seen the ruins of his beautiful villa, wrote thence to his wife to make every preparation for giving the best reception to the conquered General. It was certainly one of the most picturesque incidents of the war, that the captive British general, with his suite, should be received and entertained by those whose property he had wantonly laid waste. A writer has said in this connection, "All her actions proved that at sight of the misfortune of others, she quickly forgot her own." This delicacy and generosity drew from Burgoyne the observation to General Schuyler, "You are too kind to me, who have done so much to injure you." The reply was characteristic of the noble-hearted host: "Such is the fate of war; let us not dwell on the subject."

Many of the women of this illustrious family appear to have been remarkable for strong intellect and clear judgment, but none lived more brightly in the memories of all those who knew her than the wife of General Philip Schuyler.

Catherine Schuyler died in 1803.

Such instances were exemplified after the Civil War in innumerable instances; conquered vied with the conquerors in magnanimity toward each other.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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