Last updated: May 9, 2023
Accessible Sites, Benches/Seating, Cellular Signal, First Aid Kit Available, Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Information Kiosk/Bulletin Board, Parking - Auto, Parking - Bus/RV, Picnic Table, Restroom - Seasonal, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Water - Drinking/Potable
The Schuyler House is opening for 2023 on Friday, May 26th! It will be open Friday-Sunday each week through Sunday, October 15. Guided tours will be offered in the mornings at 10:00 am, 10:30 am, 11:00 am, and 11:30 am. After a short break for lunch, there will be an Open House from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
This estate was the northern plantation and country home of General Philip Schuyler both before and after the Battles of Saratoga. The British burned the original house and its outbuildings during their retreat. The present house, erected in 1777 shortly after Burgoyne’s surrender, was the center of Schuyler’s extensive farming and milling operations.
"My hobby horse has long been a country life; I dismounted once with reluctance, and now saddle him again...and hope to canter him on to the end of the journey of life."
- Major General Philip Schuyler, 6 November 1777
Philip Schuyler (1733-1804) wrote those words about his love of country life when he took up residence in what he called his “commodious box.” He built it hurriedly in the frosty autumn of November 1777 to replace its predecessor, which was burned by the British only a few weeks before.
Restored by the National Park Service, Philip Schuyler’s house is a tangible reminder of the village of Saratoga’s founding family—now known as Schuylerville, having been renamed for the Schuyler family in 1831.
As a member of the Continental Congress, an influential New Yorker, and an experienced officer, Schuyler was given the rank of major general on June 19, 1775—making him third in command under George Washington and commander of the Northern Department of the Continental Army. In the summer of 1777, as British forces overwhelmingly swept down the Champlain and Hudson Valleys, Schuyler was blamed for the loss of Fort Ticonderoga and the American Army’s retreat. Despite his shrewd tactics to impede the British advance, Congress replaced Schuyler with General Horatio Gates on August 19, 1777, one month before the Battles of Saratoga. Notwithstanding this personal setback, Schuyler helped the army from his mansion in Albany by forwarding supplies and encouraging reinforcements northward.
Wearied by many personal attacks and sacrifices, plagued with recurring illness and having no active command since being relieved by Gates, Schuyler resigned from the army in 1779. However, he continued to provide vital support by organizing and financing military campaigns, advising Washington, and continuing to serve in the Continental Congress.
After the Revolutionary War, Schuyler remained active in business as well as state and national politics, but his real interests took an important turn: with visionary acumen he became one of the staunchest supporters for canal construction. Although he died before his dreams of successful canals came to be, Philip Schuyler is known as a father of United States canals.
The EnslaverPhilip Schuyler and his family, like many New Yorkers in the Colonial and Early Republic years relied upon the enslavement of men, women, and children of African descent as a basis of their wealth. From the earliest presence of Schuylers in Saratoga, enslaved people were present. They were involved in all aspects of building a settlement in the wilderness. They cleared land, harvested trees, planted and harvested crops, fished, tended livestock, cooked, cleaned, served food and drink, and a myriad of other tasks.
As Philip Schuyler developed his inheritance starting in the 1760s, he also used enslaved people in his industrial developments including sawmills, a grist mill, and a linen mill. Between the Saratoga Estate and the Schuyler Mansion in Albany, there were typically 2-3 dozen enslaved people at any one time. Schuyler reported 14 enslaved people at the Saratoga Estate to the first federal census in 1790.
In that 1790 census, about 14% of New York families reported ownership of over 20,000 (about 6% of the state's population) of their fellow humans, the largest population of any northern state. This averages out to 2.6 per enslaving household, so one can see the much greater degree to which the Schuylers relied upon unfree labor than even their fellow New York slaveholders.
There is much we do not know about the individuals who were exploited on the Schuyler Estate. Saratoga NHP currently has a major study ongoing to learn more about slavery and the enslaved at the Sculyer Estate. We will be further incorporating the stories that will be uncovered through this process. For now, we can share, remember, and honor the following names that have been found in the family's letters or records: Jacob, Harry, Peter, Lewis, Cuff, Dick, Jim, Patrick, Tom, Anthony, Claas, Cato, Britt, Phoebe, Bett, Pol, Jane, Dian, and Libey.
The end of slavery in New York came slowly. The first abolition law in the state was passed in 1799. However, it only freed people born after July 4 of that year. Seeing that the law was not having the intended effect, the legislature passed a second law in March of 1817 that would free any remaining enslaved people on July 4, 1827. When Emancipation Day finally arrived, around 4600 people finally became free nearly three decades after passage of the initial law.
The estate was originally part of the 1684 Saratoga Patent of 168,000 acres granted to seven New Yorkers (Schuylers owned 24,000 acres). Through inheritence and purchase the “farm at Saratoga” eventually came to Philip’s grandfather, Johannes Schuyler. This bustling farm, left in the care of Johannes’s oldest son, was obliterated by a raiding party of Native Americans and French Canadians in 1745. Almost all of the community’s enslaved and free people (over 100) were captured; Johannes’s oldest son and heir to the Schuyler fortune was killed on the spot. Philip Schuyler became the family’s new heir.
From a second house built in the 1760s, Philip turned the remnants of the ruined farm into a busy farming, milling, and merchandising center, worked by tenants, enslaved people, and artisans (notably Scottish immigrants). With his wheat, flax, and hemp crops, award-winning linen mill, sawmills, herring fishery (transporting fish to sell as far away as Jamaica and Antigua), and general store selling goods and services, Philip’s Saratoga community and personal wealth grew substantially. Just like in 1745 though, the house, mills, and most of the buildings were destroyed on October 10, 1777, but this time by retreating British forces following the Battles of Saratoga.
Following the surrender of British forces in Saratoga on October 17, 1777 and departure of tens of thousands of troops from the area, Philip immediately began to plan the rebuilding of his Saratoga house and farm out of its charred remains. Since December’s winter was approaching fast, his new “cheaply and speedily erected” house was completed within the weeks of November. It was built upon the existing foundation of a burned building and used fresh-cut lumber from his upper sawmill. Paying high wages for labor from all over Albany County, and even by using some captive British soldiers (who knew masonry), the plain, unrefined house was finished, but it was much smaller and simpler than the one to which Philip was accustomed. As time went on the house grew in size and comfort, with structural additions and finishing coats added to cover the naked interior and exterior.
The Continuing Tradition
Throughout Philip’s life and since, this house has been the destination of many visitors, some of whom were famous citizens. George Washington (godfather of daughter Catherine Schuyler), son-in-law Alexander Hamilton (who married daughter Elizabeth Schuyler), Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the Marquis de Lafeyette visited this house, to name a few. Now, following in their footsteps, tens of thousands of people from all over the world continue to learn about the general, the visionary, and the man who was Philip Schuyler.
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