Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757 – July 12, 1804) was an American statesman and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was an influential interpreter and promoter of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the founder of the nation’s financial system, the Federalist Party, the United States Coast Guard, and The New York Post newspaper. As the first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton was the main author of the economic policies of the George Washington administration. He took the lead in the funding of the states’ debts by the Federal government, as well as the establishment of a national bank, a system of tariffs, and friendly trade relations with Britain. His vision included a strong central government led by a vigorous executive branch, a strong commercial economy, with a national bank and support for manufacturing, plus a strong military.
Is Founding Father still haunting a part of New York City?
Both Aaron Burr‘s attempt to become president of the United States in 1800 and his run for governor of New York four years later were foiled by his powerful archenemy, Alexander Hamilton. The two men’s hatred of one another came to a head on July, 1804, when they faced each other in a pistol duel. Hamilton was mortally wounder and taken to tje home of his physician, John Francis. His doctor’s house became the site of famous patriot’s funeral. Although the original quarters no longer stand, some residents at the apartment building on the site say it is haunted.
There stands art Number 27, Jane Street, in New York’s picturesque artists’ quarters, Greenwich Village, a mostly wooden house dating back to pre-Revolutionary days. In this house Alexander Hamilton was treated in his final moments. Actually, he died a few houses away, at 80 Jane Street, but No. 27 was the home of John Francis, his doctor, who attended him after the fatal duel with Aaron Burr.
However, the Hamilton house no longer exists, and the wreckers are now after the one of his doctor, now occupied a writer and artist, Jean Karsavina, who has lived there since 1939. The facts of Hamilton’s untimely passing are well known; D. S. Alexander (in his Political History of the State of New York) reports that, because of political enmity, “Burr seems to have deliberately determined to kill him.” A letter written by Hamilton calling Burr “despicable” and “not to be trusted with the reins of government” found its way into the press, and Burr demanded an explanation.
Hamilton declined, and on June 11, 1804, at Weehawken, New Jersey, Burr took careful aim, and his first shot mortally wounded Hamilton. In the boat back to the city, Hamilton regained consciousness, but knew his end was near. He was taken to Dr. Francis’ house and treated, but died within a few days at his own home, across the street.
Ever since moving into 27 Jane Street, Miss Karsavina has been aware of footsteps, creaking stairs, and the opening and closing of doors; and even the unexplained flushing of a toilet. On one occasion, she found the toilet chain still swinging, when there was no one around!
“I suppose a toilet that flushes would be a novelty to someone from the eighteenth century,” she is quoted in a brief newspaper account in June of 1957. She also has seen a blurred “shape,” without being able to give details of the apparition; her upstairs tenant, however, reports that one night not so long ago, “a man in * eighteenth-century clothes, with his hair in a queue” walked into her room, looked at her and walked out again. Miss Karsavina turned out to be a well-read and charming lady who had accepted the possibility of living with a ghost under the same roof.
Mrs. Meyers and I went to see her in March 1960. The medium had no idea where we were going. At first, Mrs. Meyers, still in waking condition, noticed a “shadow” of a man, old, with a broad face and bulbous nose; a woman with a black shawl whose name she thought was Deborah, and she thought “someone had a case”; she then described an altar of white lilies, a bridal couple, and a small coffin covered with flowers; then a very old woman in a coffin that was richly adorned, with relatives including a young boy and girl looking into the open coffin. She got the name of Mrs. Patterson, and the girl’s as Miss Lucy.
In another “impression” of the same premises, Mrs. Meyers described “an empty coffin, people weeping, talking, milling around, and the American Flag atop the coffin ; in the coffin a man’s hat, shoes with silver buckles, gold epaulettes. . . .” She then got close to the man and thought his lungs were filling with liquid and he died with a pain in his side. Lapsing into semitrance at this point, Mrs. Meyers described a party of men in a small boat on the water, then a man wearing white pants and a blue coat with blood spilled over the pants.
“Two boats were involved, and it is dusk,” she added. Switching apparently to another period, Mrs. Meyers felt that “something is going on in the cellar, they try to keep attention from what happens downstairs; there is a woman here, being stopped by two men in uniforms with short jackets and round hats with wide brims, and pistols. There is the sound of shrieking, the woman is pushed back violently, men are marching, someone who had been harbored here has to be given up, an old man in a nightshirt and red socks is being dragged out of the house into the snow.”
In still another impression, Mrs. Meyers felt herself drawn up toward the rear of the house where “someone died in childbirth”; in fact, this type of death occurred “several times” in this house. Police were involved, too, but this event or chain of events is of a later period than the initial impressions, she felt. The name Henry Oliver or Oliver Henry came to her mind. After her return to full consciousness, Mrs. Meyers remarked that there was a chilly area near the center of the downstairs room. There is; I feel it too.
Mrs. Meyers “sees” the figure of a slender man, well-formed, over average height, in white trousers, black boots, dark blue coat and tails, white lace in front; he is associated with George Washington and Lafayette, and their faces appear to her, too; she feels Washington may have been in this house. The man she “sees” is a general, she can see his epaulettes. The old woman and the children seen earlier are somehow connected with this, too. He died young, and there “was fighting in a boat.” Now Mrs. Meyers gets the name “W. Lawrence.”
She has a warm feeling about the owner of the house; he took in numbers of people, like refugees. A “General Mills” stored supplies here—shoes, coats, almost like a military post; food is being handed out. The name Bradley is given. Then Mrs. Meyers sees an old man playing a cornet; two men in white trousers “seen” seated at a long table, bent over papers, with a crystal chandelier above.
After the seance, Miss Karsavina confirmed that the house belonged to Hamilton’s physician, and as late as 1825 was owned by a doctor, who happened to be the doctor for the Metropolitan Opera House. The cornet player might have been one of his patients. In pre-Revolutionary days, the house may have been used as headquarters of an “underground railroad,” around 1730, when the police tried to pick up the alleged instiga- tors of the so-called “Slave Plot,” evidently being sheltered here. “Lawrence” may refer to the portrait of Washington by Lawrence which used to hang over the fireplace in the house.
On the other hand, I found a T. Lawrence, M. D., at 146 Greenwich Street, in Elliot’s Improved Directory for New York (1812); and a “Widow Patterson” is listed by Longworth (1803) at 177 William Street; a William Lawrence, druggist, at 80 John Street. According to Charles Burr Todd’s Story of New York, two of Hamilton’s pallbearers were Oliver Wolcott and John L. Lawrence. The other names mentioned could not be found. The description of the man in white trousers is of course the perfect image of Hamilton, and the goings-on at the house with its many coffins, and women dying in childbirth, are indeed understandable for a doctor’s residence. It does not seem surprising that Alexander Hamilton’s shade should wish to roam about the house of the man who tried, vainly, to save his life.