Philip John Schuyler (1733-1804), a Revolutionary War general and statesman, was a prominent member of the landed aristocracy of upstate New York. He was elected to New York's colonial assembly in 1768, was a delegate to the second Continental Congress, served in the New York State Senate from 1780 to 1784 and 1786 to 1790, and became one of New York's first U.S. senators, 1797-1798. During the Revolutionary War he commanded the Continental Army forces of the Northern Dept. Schuyler was involved in the commercial development of New York and his navigation companies constructed the canals that formed the basis of the Erie Canal system. Collection consists of correspondence, accounts, military records, land records, and other papers documenting the military, political and business activities and family affairs of Schuyler. Correspondence, 1761-1804, is with military officers, members of the Continental Congress, committees of safety, and family, and concerns the conduct of the Revolutionary War in the Northern Dept., 1775-1777, and political and personal matters. Indian papers, 1710-1797, contain Schuyler's papers as Commissioner of Indian Affairs in the Northern Dept. during the war and as agent of New York State. Canal papers, 1792-1803, include correspondence, diaries, reports, surveys, accounts, and other papers relating to the construction of canals in New York. His papers as Surveyor General of New York State, 1773-1788, and public papers, ca. 1775-1796, consist of correspondence, receipts, drafts of legislation and proposals, building plans, and other papers. Financial and legal papers, 1711-1805, estate papers, 1755-1809, and land papers, 1684-1840, pertain to business activities and land holdings. Family papers, 1772-1851, contain correspondence and other papers of Schuyler family members. Military papers, 1775-1777, comprise Revolutionary War materials that were neither generated nor received directly by Schuyler.
Ownership: Schuyler, Georgina; Ford Collection; Walter Benjamin Gift, transfer, purchase 1906
Biographical/historical: Philip John Schuyler (1733-1804) was a prominent member of the landed aristocracy of upstate New York. Born in Albany, Schuyler inherited extensive lands in the Saratoga Patent, through the Mohawk Valley, in Dutchess County, and along the Hudson River. He served in the British Army during the French and Indian War, rising to the rank of Major. His thirty year career in public office began in 1768 when he was elected to New York's colonial assembly. There he sided with those favoring increased independence from Great Britain. He was a delegate to the second Continental Congress and was made one of the four Major-Generals in the Continental Army under Washington. During the Revolutionary War he commanded the forces of the Northern Department, 1775-1777, until replaced by Horatio Gates. However, he remained in his post as Commissioner of Indian Affairs and was re-elected to the Continental Congress, 1778-1781. He served in the New York State Senate, 1780-1784 and 1786-1790, and became one of New York's first United States Senators, 1797-1798. Schuyler was also deeply involved in the commercial development of New York. He oversaw the construction of saw mills, gristmills, and New York's first flax mill, exported timber and other products of his estates via his Hudson River fleet, and took a leading role in the development of better transportation. As president and leading force in the creation and incorporation of the Northern Inland Lock Navigation Company and the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company, he constructed the canals that would form the basis of the great Erie Canal system.