Eric testified Thursday in front of the Senate Correspondence Committee about accusations of forgery leveled against him by the late Peggy Schuyler, sister-in-law to the famed politician and rap sensation Alexander Hamilton. The following is the transcript of Eric’s opening statement, as prepared by The New York Times:
Mr. Chairman, readers of my holiday letters, and members of the Senate Correspondence Committee, thank you for allowing me to make my statement. I wrote it all by myself yesterday afternoon and evening. Nobody helped me. Nobody has seen it, other than Amy and Julie and Laura and Karen and Susie and Maura and Megan and Nicki. The list goes on. Yes, I was drunk when I wrote it. I like beer.
Last year, after I sent a holiday letter purportedly written by Peggy Schuyler in 1773, I was publicly accused of forging the letter. I denied the allegation immediately, categorically, and unequivocally. Most of the people who read the letter said they don’t recall that it was a holiday letter. In fact, many said under penalty of felony that they do not even know me! And that includes Amy and Julie and Laura and Karen and Susie and Maura and Megan and Nicki. The list goes on. Think about that fact.
The day after the allegation appeared, I told this committee that I wanted to write another holiday letter as soon as possible to clear my name. I demanded that Christmas be held again the very next day! Unfortunately, it took an ENTIRE YEAR before we could have another Christmas. In that very long year, as was predictable and as I predicted, my name has been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional accusations. The year-long delay has been harmful to me, to holiday letters in general, and to the country.
I have been accused not just of forgery, but also of plagiarism! It’s been suggested that my holiday letters are nothing more than stolen movie scripts, song lyrics, or transcripts from Senate hearings that have only minor changes. These reckless accusations have ruined my reputation. I will now never have the opportunity to pilot a Boeing 747 or coach women’s basketball, two things I might have enjoyed. Now I’ll never know. It’s so unfair. Interestingly, nobody ever mentions all the authors who I haven’t plagiarized. And there are many of them! To my knowledge, I have never stolen the work of Tennessee Williams. OK, that was a shorter list than I thought it would be, but I’ve made my point.
Since I wrote my last holiday letter, there’s been a frenzy to come up with something--anything--to block me from writing another one. One recipient said he would “oppose me with everything he’s got.” Another reader said, “Eric’s holiday letter is your worst nightmare and will threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come.” That’s probably an exaggeration. And then, as no doubt was expected, if not planned, came a long series of false last-minute smears designed to drive me out of the letter-writing process. This whole effort has been revenge on behalf of the Clintons, who have never forgiven me for that time I attended a fundraiser and stole a decorative soap from their powder room. This is a circus! Yes, I drank beer with my friends. Almost everyone did. Sometimes I had too many beers. I liked beer. I still like beer. But I did not drink beer to the point of blacking out and forging letters. If every American who drinks beer and writes letters that are supposed to be by someone else is suddenly presumed guilty of forgery, we’ll be in an ugly new place in this country.
I am an optimistic guy. I always try to be on the sunrise side of the mountain. But today, I have to say that I fear for the future of holiday letters. Allegations of forgery must always be taken seriously. At the same time, the person who is the subject of the allegations also deserves to be heard. Due process is the foundation of holiday letters. I’m not questioning that Ms. Schuyler may have had a letter forged by some person in some place at some time. But I have never forged a letter by her or anyone. That’s not who I am; it is not who I was. I intend no ill will to Peggy Schuyler or the Schuyler sisters.
First, Peggy Schuyler’s allegation stems from a forgery that is alleged to have occurred in December of 2017, when I was only fifty years old. Just a child, really. Second, Peggy Schuyler and I did not travel in the same social circles. It’s possible we met at some point at some event, although I do not recall that. In fact, it is very unlikely that we ever met at all, because she died in 1801. To repeat, the very person whose letter I am accused of forging has not confirmed any of this because she is dead. These allegations are uncorroborated. Further, nobody mentioned in the letter has come forward to support the accusation. This includes Alexander Hamilton and King George III, who are both also dead. Coincidence?
Third, I have submitted to this committee detailed calendars recording my activities in December 2017. Let me explain to you the very special way I use calendars. Sometimes I write something down in a calendar to remind me to do that thing on a specific date in the future. But--here’s the exciting part--I can also look at a date from the past and see if I wrote down something for that date. If I did, it could offer a clue about something I did on that day. I know. I’m a genius, right? So, the forgery described by Ms. Schuyler presumably happened on a weekend because that is when I do my forgeries. Well, if it did happen on a weekend, my calendars show that I was too busy to have forged any letters. Especially such a high-quality and hilarious letter as the one I am being accused of writing. My calendar shows that I was busy almost every weekend night in December. I spent one weekend night at a small holiday gathering at Becky’s house with Matt, Denise, Lori, and Jenny. Their names are all listed on my calendar, which is not weird at all. All we did at that gathering was sit around and talk and drink a few hundred beers and forge letters. So let me emphasize this point: if the forgery described by Ms. Schuyler happened in December of 2017 on a weekend night, my calendar shows all but definitively I could not have done it.
The committee also has a letter that I forged from 65 writers who knew me last year. They said I always plagiarized them with dignity and respect. One of those writers, Gertrude Stein, sent me a text last night that read, “Deep breaths, you’re a good man, a good man.” A text I received yesterday from Jane Austen read: “Eric, be strong. Pulling for you to my core.” Or read the op-ed Eleanor Roosevelt wrote about me in 1936: “Eric was an advocate for young women like me. He encouraged me to take on more responsibility and to feel confident in my role. Eric gave me the opportunity to help with the preparation and review of the president’s remarks, something I never would have had the chance to do if he had not included me.” Wow. Powerful words from Eleanor Roosevelt.
As I said in my opening statement the last time I was with you: Cherish your friends, look out for your friends, lift up your friends, love your friends. And that includes Amy and Julie and Laura and Karen and Susie and Maura and Megan and Nicki. The list goes on. I wish all my friends and family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!