Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to George Washington, [24 March 1783]

To George Washington

[Philadelphia, March 24, 1783]


Your Excellency will before this reaches you have received a letter from the Marquis De la Fayette informing you that the preliminaries of peace between all the belligerent powers have been concluded.1 I congratulate your Excellency on this happy conclusion of your labours. It now only remains to make solid establishments within to perpetuate our union to prevent our being a ball in the hands of European powers bandied against each other at their pleasure—in fine to make our independence truly a blessing. This it is to be lamented will be an arduous work, for to borrow a figure from mechanics, the centrifugal is much stronger than the centripetal force in these states—the seeds of disunion much more numerous than those of union.

I will add that Your Excellency’s exertions are as essential to accomplish this end as they have been to establish independence. I will upon a future occasion open myself upon this Subject.

Your conduct in the affair of the officers is highly pleasing here.2 The measures of the army are such as I could have wished them and will add new lustre to their character as wel⟨l⟩ as strengthen the hands of Congress.

I am with great truth & respect. Yr. Excellency’s Most Obed ser

A Hamilton

His Excelly General Washington

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Lafayette’s letter announcing the signing of the preliminary articles of peace between Great Britain, France, and Spain on January 20, 1783, was sent from Cadiz on February 5 and was read in Congress on March 24.

2H referred to the Newburgh addresses (see Washington to H, March 12, 1783) which threatened drastic action by the Army unless Congress satisfied the Army’s demands. The possibility of coercion by the Army was obviated by an address by Washington to the officers on March 15 in which he expressed his confidence in Congress and counseled patience. After Washington’s speech the officers adopted resolutions indicating their confidence in Congress.

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