Can anyone tell me why Alexander Hamilton had an affair with Maria Reynolds????

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Well this is awkward... Also I love this type of history so my answer will be long.

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Maria Reynolds came to Alexander Hamilton in the summer of 1791. She needed help. Long abandoned by her abusive husband, Maria went to Hamilton seeking for help returning to New York. Hamilton himself was a New Yorker, so Reynolds thought he could help her travel back to New York so she could stay with friends and family.

Hamilton was happy to help, but he couldn't meet up with her right away, so he later arrived at the Reynolds home. When he arrived Maria led him to an upstairs bedroom. They had a conversation and Hamilton said that he felt “other than pecuniary consolation would be acceptable." And then began the affair with them writing letter to each other frequently.

Hamilton's wife and children were currently with relatives in Albany, so Hamilton and Reynolds continued to see each other till the fall of 1791, until the abusive husband returned. Maria proceeded to send Alexander a letter that would go on to say that the husband (James Reynolds) found out about the affair and is threatening to write a letter to Mrs. Hamilton.

James Reynolds sent Hamilton a letter saying that Hamilton "had destroyed a happy marriage." Which of course was not true as the marriage was already falling apart. James goes on to say that if Hamilton pays him $1,000, then James will leave town. Instead James didn't leave town and he allowed the relationship between the two. With the condition that Hamilton pays James every so often in little sums.

James got into a bit of trouble and landed on forgery charges. James thought that Hamilton could help him out, in which Hamilton refused. So James told Hamilton's Republican rivals that he had dirt on a top Federalists. So James Monroe (who would be later elected president), with Congressmen Abe Venable and Frederick Muhlenberg visited both James and Maria and got the information they needed.

They confronted Hamilton and Hamilton admitted to the affair. He also said that he'd been a fool to allow James to extort from him. But Hamilton, along with Monroe and Muhlenberg, were respected Gov't officials. Happy that they didn't find anything that Hamilton had done wrong, they promised to keep it a secret (affairs were very common with wealthy Gov't officials in this era).

Monroe kept copies of the letter between Hamilton and Maria and sent them to Thomas Jefferson (who had affairs too.)

Hamilton then wrote an essay criticizing Jefferson, which bit Hamilton back when journalist James Callender wrote a book on the history of the US, which accused Hamilton of a speculation scheme within the Treasury. Hamilton was forced to either deny everything and be proven that he was lying, or to admit the affair.

Hamilton decided to admit the affair and then he published a pamphlet giving his side of the story. Known for being clever, Hamilton's pamphlet made it seem "positively simple." James Reynolds refused to allow Hamilton to see Maria again.

The pamphlet was damaging to Hamilton image, but got rid of accusations of involvement of the scheme. The pamphlet killed any higher political aspirations for Hamilton, and he personally blamed Monroe. Hamilton's wife, Elizabeth, forgave him.

Maria Reynolds would file for divorce against James. Do you know that attorney that litigated that? It was none other than Aaron Burr.

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