Meet the woman behind the legends
Eliza Jumel was born in poverty in Providence, Rhode Island, and died one of the richest women in New York. During her rise from the workhouse to Paris's place Vendôme, she acquired a fortune from her first husband, a French merchant, and nearly lost it to her second, the notorious Aaron Burr. Divorcing him promptly amid lurid charges of adultery, she lived on triumphantly to the age of ninety, astutely managing her property and public persona. After her death, a titanic battle over her estate went all the way to the United States Supreme Court . . . twice.
During the decades-long fight over Eliza's dollars, claimants adapted her life history to serve their own ends. Family members described a woman who earned the gratitude of Napoleon I and shone at the courts of Louis XVIII and Charles X. Their opponents painted a less flattering picture: they said Eliza bore George Washington an illegitimate son, defrauded her first husband, and even plotted his death.
Highlights of this rags-to-riches biography include:
With the help of archival documents and court filings untouched since the nineteenth century, Eliza Jumel's real story—so unique that it surpasses any invention—has finally been told.
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