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NE hundred years ago, Major-General Philip Schuyler was resting on his laurels as the most efficient and untiring soldier in the Northern
Department. Justice—in his case thrice leaden-footed—had at last asserted herself against the wiles of smaller souls whose patriotism was bounded by a geographical line, and who condemned the gallant officer because his sympathies were with his neighbors in the State of New York. Thoroughly vindicated against the charge of narrowness regarding the boundary with New England, General Schuyler, after long years of waiting, found himself also vindicated in respect to his conduct of the campaign when he was one of the four major-generals in the American army of the Revolution. A character less strong and generous than his would not have concealed its resentment when, after months of preparation in sowing, another commander was put forward to reap the victory—tulit alter honores. But time, the conservator of all that is true, showed that the victory at Saratoga—which gained the alliance of France-was due to the conscientious work of Schuyler, thus bearing out the comment of Chancellor Kent that “his military life was one of utility and not of brilliancy."
For several generations the Schuyler family had exerted a powerful influence over the Indians, and so completely had they won the confidence of the red-men that no invasions of Albany were ever attempted. The influence of the family was always thrown upon the side of law and order, even in those early days when the progenitor, Philip Pietersen, sustained the Patroon against the claim of Governor Stuyvesant that the jurisdiction of the fort on the hill extended over the area that could be swept by a cannon-ball. It was Johannes, a son of the progenitor-brother to Peter, the first Mayor of Albany—who led the Mohawks into Canada in retaliation for the massacre at Schenectady. A son of this Johannes,
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also named Johannes, was the father of General Schuyler, of the Revolution. In whatever generation the name was mentioned it stood for fair dealing with the Indian and for loyalty to the existing powers. Among the early mayors of Albany, the Schuyler family gave Peter, Johannes, and Johannes, Jr.; and among the soldiers of the last French and Indian war young Philip Schuyler gave his best service to Sir William Johnson, at Fort Edward, and to Abercrombie, at Ticonderoga. But when resistance to former friends seemed inevitable, young Schuyler shared with George Clinton and Philip Livingston the honor of carrying through the Assembly of New York a series of resolutions against the British Parliament. Henceforth his efforts with the Indians were often rendered of no avail by the craft of the Johnsons, and yet the fact is too often overlooked that the
Revolutionary war might have been much prolonged if General Schuyler had not, to some extent, pacified the Mohawks, and especially the Oneidas.
It was an intensely active life, that of General Schuyler during the Revolution. We may imagine his forebodings at the age of 41, when Washington ordered him to watch Governor Tryon at the South, Colonel Guy Johnson at the West, and to provision the posts on Lake Champlain at the North. Then we see him joining the New England troops in their advance upon Montreal and Quebec, but forced to give up the command to Montgomery on account of illness. Still later, and after pledging his own personal credit for the public wants, we see him preparing to meet the invading army of Burgoyne, sending help to Fort Schuyler when it could with difficulty be spared, and retiring from the command when the line of defense had been made secure. In civil life we also discover him in the legislative bodies of both the State and the nation, urging forward the re-formation of the army, planning an improvement of the State revenues, and laying the foundation of that system of inland navigation which developed into the Erie Canal.
The home life of a public man of such prominence as General Schuyler must always be interesting and instructive. The stormy days of war left him but little time for the duties of the fireside, but after the conflict was over, we can imagine how satisfactorily he rested from his toil, and how gratefully he worshiped in the old Dutch Church, lighted up with the fenestral arms of his own family and those of the Wendells, Jacobsens, and