After almost 30 years of marriage, Eliza Jumel found herself, at age 58, a widow woman with some money. Her dead husband, like Eliza herself, had been born in humble conditions, but he had managed his money well and had left her a good fortune. Eliza discovered that money, however, could not keep her company. She wanted a social life and wealthy friends. So, Eliza went looking for a husband who would bring a notable name to go along with her wealth.
She found such a man in New York City only 14 months after her husband‘s death. This older man was a veteran of the American Revolution and had but a modest pension from that and some other government work he had done. He was well known in the town. So, a merger of sorts was arranged; she seems to have married the older man to increase her standing in the society of New York, and he seems to have married her to secure his financial position in old age.
The marriage did not work from the start. These types of things seldom do. The older man got his hands on Eliza’s liquid assets immediately. He surreptitiously acquired the money and spent it rapidly to cover debts he had incurred before the couple got together, debts that he hadn’t disclosed to Eliza. When she discovered the betrayal by her new spouse, Eliza, understandably became livid. After only four months of marriage, Eliza left the older man, managing to keep her non-liquid assets separate.
In order to facilitate a quick divorce, Eliza enlisted the services of a well-known New York attorney, a man named Alexander Hamilton, Junior. Yes, indeed, Eliza’s divorce attorney was the son and namesake of the famous former US Secretary of the Treasury, General Alexander Hamilton, the man who had been famously killed in the duel with then vice president Aaron Burr way back in 1804.
Hamilton Junior protected as much of Eliza’s estate as he could from the clutches of her new husband, and a divorce was finalized in September of 1836. When she passed away in 1865 at the age of 90, Eliza was known as one of the wealthiest women and most astute businesswomen ever to live in New York City.
Ironically, the date that her divorce was finalized in 1836 was also the date that the older man, the husband she was divorcing, passed away.