Maria Reynolds: The woman in America’s first political sex scandal


The Hamilton-Reynolds affair went down on historical past as America’s first ever political intercourse scandal – one which ruined Alexander Hamilton’s probabilities of ever changing into president.

Drama, intercourse, blackmail, secrets and techniques – even one in every of America’s nice forefathers wasn’t resistant to the pitfalls of human impulses, it appears.

A few of it’s possible you’ll know all the main points of the sordid affair already. The juicy particulars are popularized in one in every of Broadway’s hottest musicals, Hamilton.

Nonetheless, little is definitely identified of the girl concerned within the infamous scandal.

Her title was Maria Reynolds. And that is her story.

Humble beginnings

Maria Lewis was not born rich or prosperous, in contrast to most of the characters concerned on this malicious American chapter.

Born in New York Metropolis on the yr of 1768, she was the daughter of service provider/laborer Richard Lewis and Susanna Van Der Burgh.

The Lewises weren’t properly off. Her father Richard couldn’t signal his personal title. Her mom, nonetheless, may, so Maria grew up not less than literate, however largely uneducated.

She had one half-brother and 5 full siblings.

Marriage to James Reynolds

Maria married James Reynolds on the age of 15.

Not a lot is understood of James’ historical past. He had served within the commissary division through the Revolutionary Conflict. He was a number of years older than Maria.

They’d one daughter, Susan, born on August 18, 1785.

If he had a gentle job to assist his household after the struggle, nobody is aware of. However he did often attempt to declare damages to be reimbursed by the federal government.

The Hamilton-Reynolds affair

The Reynolds household moved to Philadelphia someday earlier than 1791. There occurred the chain of occasions that snowballed every part on its path.

That summer season, Maria knocked on the door of Alexander Hamilton’s house. She relayed the story of her mistreatment from a merciless husband who deserted her.

She requested him for financial assist so she may return to her buddies in New York. Alexander was prepared to assist.

That night, he visited Maria’s boarding home with the intention of giving her a $30 banknote.

Of the go to, Alexander said:

“I enquired for Mrs. Reynolds and was proven up stairs, on the head of which she met me and carried out me right into a bed room. I took the invoice out of my pocket and gave it to her.

“Some conversation ensued, from which it was quickly apparent that other than pecuniary consolation would [also] be acceptable.”

Thus, the affair began. She was 23, he was 34. It lasted for just a few months. However Hamilton paid a bigger worth for it.

Discovery, blackmail, and extortion

Naturally, Maria’s husband found the affair.

Whether or not he was genuinely heartbroken about it’s questionable, given his actions that adopted. He rapidly acknowledged the affair as a technique to get straightforward cash.

He subsequently blackmailed Alexander Hamilton. First, he made Alexander pay $1000, promising he’ll maintain quiet and depart city.

However he didn’t. As a substitute, he requested for more cash.


He inspired Alexander to maintain seeing her spouse. And every go to, Alexander would pay him $30 to $50.

Maria was both fully complicit of the blackmail, or she was manipulated into it by her husband. Both approach, she continued to jot down letters and “seduce” Alexander at any time when her husband was out of the home.

“A Beauty in Distress”

There’s little to no descriptions of Maria Reynolds’ bodily look.

One acquaintance of Alexander said that her “her innocent Countenance appeared to show an innocent Heart.”

Some individuals noticed that she was extremely emotional and was straightforward to weep.

In his unique draft of the Reynold’s Pamphlet, Hamilton referred to her as “a magnificence in misery.” and a “fairly lady.”

These phrases, nonetheless, weren’t used within the printed work.

The Reynolds pamphlet

James Reynolds one way or the other dragged Alexander Hamilton’s title right into a swindling scheme that might implicate the latter with corruption.

Reasonably than threat his political profession, he admitted his affair to a different group of politicians who agreed to place an finish to it and converse of it no extra.

The affair didn’t go public till 5 years later.

Nonetheless, copies of letters exchanged between Alexander and the Reynolds fell into the palms of his long-time nemesis, Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson’s workforce helped publish a pamphlet, reviving accusations of Hamilton’s involvement with Reynolds and his buddy, Cling man. The pamphlet advised that the affair was a canopy story for shady monetary dealings.

Alexander Hamilton retaliated together with his personal 95-page pamphlet. Within the first 37 pages, he confessed the main points of his affair and the extortion that adopted.

His desires of changing into president ended. Maria confronted public scorn and needed to stay the remainder of her life in obscurity.

Life after the affair

Maybe Maria wasn’t meant for a quiet life in spite of everything. Some fascinating issues occurred after their affair went public.

In 1973, with the assistance of Aaron Burr, Maria was in a position to divorce her husband. Earlier than the divorce, she was dwelling with Jacob Clingman, James’ outdated cronie.

She later married Clingman and moved to Alexandria, Virginia.

When the Hamilton-Reynolds pamphlet bought printed, public scorn in opposition to Maria proved an excessive amount of that it drove her and her second husband out of America.

She returned a number of years later with out Clingman. No divorce data had been discovered.

Maria then turned employed as a housekeeper for Dr. Mathew.

Her daughter, Susan, was despatched to a boarding college in Boston in 1800. Congressman William Eustis and Aaron Burr had been accountable for putting her there.

Maria married her employer in 1806 and have become Mrs. Mathew. Two years later, Susan got here to stay with them.

We are able to assume that this flip was Maria’s completely satisfied ending. As Mrs. Mathew, she was extremely revered locally as a physician’s spouse.

She turned to faith and joined the Methodist church, formally leaving her previous behind.

An acquaintance said that Maria was “highly amiable and handsome” and that she “enjoyed the love and good will of all who knew her.”

Maria died on March 25, 1828.

Apparently, in 1842, a service provider named Peter Grotjan claimed to have met Maria a few years earlier. Apparently, Maria advised her that she wrote her personal pamphlet, explaining her aspect of the Hamilton-Reynolds affair.

If it ever existed, it was by no means printed.

However had it been, maybe we’d know a extra rounded story of America’s first ever political intercourse scandal.

The Hidden Lure of Making an attempt to “Improve Yourself” (And What to Do As a substitute)

Be a part of us for this free online salon with Ideapod Founder Justin Brown as he explains what’s flawed with the self-improvement trade. Salons are just like webinars. They’re fully free and discover new methods of pondering within the fashionable age.

In the event you’re somebody who desires to alter your life or extra broadly in self-improvement, you might want to attend this salon. Discover out extra here.


Facebook Comments

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More