Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to George Washington, 11 April 1791

To George Washington

Philada. April 11 1791.


I have just received a letter from Mr. King1 in these words—“Mr. Elliot,2 who it has been said was appointed will not come to America, owing say his friends here to a disinclination on his part which has arisen from the death of his eldest or only son. Mr. Seaton3 yesterday read me an abstract of a letter from London dated February 2. & written, as he observed, by a man of information, which says—’Mr. Frazer is appointed plenipotentiary to the United States of America and will go out as soon as it is ascertained here that a correspondent character is appointed in America’. Although Mr. Elliot might not have been altogether adequate to the appointment, yet he would not have been a bad choice; it is questionable whether we can say even as much as that for Mr. Frazer, who is probably the Gentleman lately resident with the Hans-towns, and formerly consul at Algiers, and who is said to be a wrong headed impetuous man.4 Should this information be correct, the appointment is not only unpromising but is also a pretty strong proof of the misguided opinions of the British administration concerning this Country.”

Nothing except the foregoing letter occurs worth communication more than is contained in my official dispatch herewith.5

With the truest and most respectful attachment   I have the honor to be   Sir   Your Obedt. Servant

A Hamilton

LC, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.

1For Rufus King’s letter, see King to H, n.d. (extract, in Thomas Jefferson’s handwriting, enclosed in Jefferson to George Washington, April 17, 1791 [ALS, RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters, January 1–July 31, 1791, National Archives]).

2Samuel Flagg Bemis (Jay’s Treaty, 62) suggests that the Elliot whose appointment as Minister to the United States was discussed by the British ministry “might possibly have been Thomas Elliot who was seeking an appointment in October, 1791” (see “Conversation with George Beckwith,” January 19–20, 1791). In the correspondence of John Graves Simcoe, governor of Upper Canada, however, he is identified as Andrew Elliot (E. A. Cruikshank, The Correspondence of John Graves Simcoe, with Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of Upper Canada [Toronto, 1923–1931], I, 21, 48; V, 163).

3William Seton.

4There were two Frasers who had served in the British diplomatic service, each of whom partially fits H’s description. Charles Henry Fraser was secretary of the British legation in Russia in 1787 and 1788 and went to Madrid in 1790 as Minister Plenipotentiary. Recalled in November, 1790, he was made resident of the Hanse towns. His credentials bore the date of April, 1791, and he reached Hamburg on May 13, 1791. Archibald C. Fraser was consul of Algiers from 1766 to 1774, but he held no other diplomatic position. A Scottish nobleman, he inherited the family estate in 1782 and was a member of Parliament for Invernesshire from 1782 to 1796.

In any event, neither man received the appointment to the United States, for in 1791 George Hammond was named Minister Plenipotentiary.

5Letter not found.

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