A Master Passion: The Story of Elizabeth and Alexander Hamilton

Written by Juliet Waldron
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

In the New World of the mid-18th century, young Alexander Hamilton’s childhood could not have been more different from the cosseted upbringing of Betsy Schuyler. From an early memory of a Mohawk peace meeting on her New York estate to meeting General Washington’s aide Hamilton at a dance, Betsy’s life is surrounded by love, care and family. But the immigrant from the West Indies who John Adams called “the bastard brat of a Scots peddler” had a childhood scarred by violence, poverty, and shame. He found a way out through his intellect, work ethic, and a patronage to attend college in the American colonies. Once there, he made his way through the army of the revolution until he was chosen by Washington as a trusted aide.

Attraction is immediate on both sides. Betsy’s father assures her that he approves of her choice. Their wedding night seems to frighten them both in its intensity. But separations are common. Hamilton, although a proud and doting father to their young children, is engaged in forming a new country, and making sure its financial obligations don’t doom it as it’s being born. Elizabeth takes the reins of the household in New York City, and relies on her birth family for support and company.

With its focus on family relationships, this first part of novelist Waldron’s fictional biography of the marriage of a Founding Father shines new light on Hamilton’s rise and his connection with a powerful New York dynasty. Elizabeth, although schooled at home, proves a loving, intelligent and devoted partner. Juliet Waldron brings to vibrant life the passion, conflict, and devotion shared by the Hamiltons.