Though today commemorates the WWI Armistice, it’s a good time to reflect on all U.S. veterans, dating to our very first. Soldiers’ Monument in Lower Manhattan, NYC, commemorates “those brave and good Men who died whilst imprisoned in this City, for their devotion to the cause of AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE.” Many of the soldiers held captive by the British are thought to be buried in the churchyard. The memorial is located in the cemetery of Trinity Church, which was established in 1697 by royal charter during the British occupation, and later burned to the ground by the British in 1776’s “Great Fire of New York” during Revolutionary War. The present edifice was erected in 1846 and, fun fact, its spire was the highest point in all of New York City from 1846-1853, and again from 1854-1890.
The graves in the surrounding churchyard are the final resting places some of America’s earliest British settlers and also several Revolutionary War heroes. (This site is not to be confused with the larger Trinity Church Cemetery, established in 1842 in Upper Manhattan, at 153rd Street and Broadway.) Perhaps the most prominent among them, and owner of the indubitably largest tombstone, is Alexander Hamilton. A Revolutionary War veteran and aide-de-camp to General George Washington, as well as America’s First Treasury Secretary, among many other accolades, Alexander is buried in the southernmost section of the churchyard.
Buried by his side fifty years later is his wife, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, who, as the daughter of Revolutionary War veteran General Phillip Schuyler, bears the distinction of being a Daughter of the American Revolution.
Several blocks north of Trinity Church is the affiliated St. Paul’s Chapel, founded in 1766. The chapel was visited by President George Washington on April 30, 1789, the day of his inauguration as the first President of the United States. More than two hundred years later, the site would serve a crucial role in the 9/11 events as a haven for recovery workers toiling at the World Trade Center site across the street, and as a posting center for those seeking information on their loved ones.
Trinity Church, St. Paul’s Chapel, and the Trinity Church Cemetery are free and open to the public daily. Visit their websites for further information. The richness of history offered by these sites is not to be missed. And, as the inscription on Hamilton’s gravestone proclaims, posterity will be “grateful,” “Long after this MARBLE shall have mouldered into DUST.”