Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Marquis de Lafayette, 15 October 1787

From Marquis de Lafayette

Paris October the 15th 1787

My dear Hamilton

While you Have Been Attending your Most Important Convention, debates were also Going on in france Respecting the Constitutional Rights, and Matters of that kind. Great Reforms are taking place at Court. The Parliaments are Remonstrating,1 and our provincial Assemblies Begin to pop out.2 Amidst Many things that were not Much to the purpose, some Good principles Have Been laid out, and altho our Affairs have a proper Arrangement, the Nation will not in the last Be the looser. The prime Minister is a Man of Candour, Honesty, and Abilities.3 But Now the Rumour of War has us a Going. Not that france is Wishing for it, and great Britain ought to be Satisfied With an Advantageous treaty of Commerce, and the profit of Hers, and Prussia’s treachery in Holland.4 But while I consider the Madness of the Turks,5 the Movements of the Imperial Courts,6 the folly of His prussian Majesty, the late Catastrophe in Holland, and the Cry of England for war,7 I Hardly think that the peacefull dispositions of this Ministry, and they say [of] Mr Pitt, will Be able to Extinguish a fire that is Catching at Every Comit of Europe.

It would Be Consistent with My Inclination and self views that America Be engaged in an Active Cooperation. But as I Do not think it Consistent with Her interest, I have taken the liberty to Express My ideas in an official letter to Mr jay to whom I refer you. It seems to me that a friendly, Helping Neutrality would Be Useful to france, profitable to the United States, and perfectly safe on the footing of the treaties. Should America Be forced to War, I wish it would Be But for the last Campaign, time enough to Occupy Canada and Newfoundland. But I see no inconvenience in privateering with french letters of Marque.

Inclosed is the journal of a preliminary Assembly in Auvergne. I am returning there as soon as we Have done some Arrangements Respecting American Commerce which will put it on as Good footing in this Kingdom as it is for the Moment possible—the Ministry are Most favourably disposed.

I Hope You will be satisfied with Count de Moustier,8 and the Countess de Brehan9 His Sister in law. I Beg leave to introduce Both to You and Mrs Hamilton to whom I offer My Most affectionate Respects. Remember me to the Rest of the family and all friends. My Best Compliments wait on genl Schuyller and the doctor.10 Adieu, My good friend, the post is going to Brest. I have only time to tell you that I am for Ever

Your Most affectionate friend


There goes a young gentleman in the frigate Named Mr dupont—a son to a man of much merit, who is emploied By Administration in our Commercial Arrangements.11 I Recommend Him to your Acquaintance and patronage.

Tell Colonel Lee12 that I depend on you to introduce the passengers to Him and that I shall write fully to Him By the November packet that sails in a fortnight—pray don’t forget it.

The journals they say will go By post. I shall send them By the packet.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1In February, 1787, the King of France had summoned the Assembly of Notables to approve proposed administrative and fiscal reforms. The Assembly refused to cooperate, and it was dismissed on May 25, 1787. Etienne Charles de Loménie de Brienne, Archbishop of Toulouse and Controller-General of Finances, attempted to have various fiscal measures approved by the Parlement of Paris, a measure which was made necessary by the ancient practice of having all royal declarations inscribed on the register of the appropriate parlement. The Parlement of Paris, however, refused to register some of the tax measures proposed by the King, and in August it was exiled to Troyes. Remonstrances followed against the proposed measures of the King, not only from the exiled Parlement of Paris, but from the parlements of Rennes, Rouen, Bordeaux, Pau, Toulouse, Grenoble, and Besançon. The Parlement of Paris was recalled on September 24, but continued its resistance when Loménie de Brienne proposed new loans.

2Lafayette presumably is referring to the organization of provincial assemblies, the formation of which had been provided for by an edict of June, 1787.

3Loménie de Brienne became Prime Minister on August 28, 1787.

4In 1787, William V, the Stadholder, called in Prussian troops to restore his authority in the Netherlands. The Prussian army, with the English fleet standing guard to safeguard the victory, routed the rebels and restored the House of Orange. “The rumor of war” to which Lafayette is referring did not materialize, for on October 23, 1787, France renounced all intentions of giving aid to the Dutch.

5In August, 1787, the Turks, after the rejection of their ultimatum for the restitution of the Crimea and the end of Russian control in Georgia, had declared war on Russia.

6In the early summer of 1787, Catherine, Empress of Russia, and Joseph II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, had concluded a tour of Crimea.

7See note 4.

8Eléanor François Elie, Marquis de Moustier, recently had been appointed French Minister to the United States.

9The Marquise de Bréhan accompanied Moustier to the United States.

10Philip Schuyler and Dr. John Cochran.

11Victor Marie du Pont, son of the famous physiocrat Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, came to the United States as an attaché to the French legation.

12Henry Lee.

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