Philip Schuyler

Portrait of Philip Schuyler
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.

Last updated: February 25, 2021

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