Alexander Hamilton Papers

Conversation with George Hammond, [May 29–June 2, 1792]

Conversation with George Hammond1

[Philadelphia, May 29–June 2, 1792]

I have the honor of transmitting to your Lordship a representation which I have received from Mr. Jefferson in answer to the statement that I delivered to that Gentleman on the 5th of March last.2

The great quantity of irrelevant matter contained in this paper, the positive denial of many facts, which I had advanced upon the authority of the British agents and of other respectable persons in this country, the unjustifiable insinuations thrown out with respect to the mode of prosecuting the war, and to the conduct of his Majesty’s ministers subsequent to the peace, and the general acrimonious stile and manner of this letter, all contributed to excite in me considerable surprize.


  I therefore waited upon Mr Hamilton, and communicated to him very freely my opinion of this extraordinary performance. This Gentlemen treated me (as he has done upon every occasion) with the strictest confidence and candour. After lamenting the intemperate violence of his colleague Mr Hamilton assured me that this letter was very far from meeting his approbation, or from containing a faithful exposition of the sentiments of this government. He added that at the time of our conversation the President had not had an opportunity of perusing this representation: For having returned from Virginia in the morning only on which it had been delivered to me,3 he had relied upon Mr Jefferson’s assurance, that it was conformable to the opinions of the other members of the executive government.4

D, PRO: F.O. description begins Transcripts or photostats from the Public Record Office of Great Britain deposited in the Library of Congress. description ends , Series 4, Vol. 15.

1This conversation has been taken from Hammond to Lord Grenville, June 8, 1792, Dispatch No. 22.

2Shortly after Hammond had presented his credentials as British Minister to the United States, Thomas Jefferson proposed that he and Hammond begin negotiations with an enumeration by each man of the treaty violations by the other country (see “Conversation with George Hammond,” January 1–8, 1792, note 3). On March 5, 1792, Hammond submitted to the Secretary of State a detailed indictment of American refusal to fulfill the treaty obligations. Jefferson replied on May 29, 1792, with an extensively documented rebuttal. The exchange of letters and documents between Hammond and Jefferson is printed in ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 193–237.

3Hammond was mistaken as to the time of Washington’s return. The President returned to Philadelphia from Mount Vernon on May 28, 1792 (Freeman, Washington description begins Douglas Southall Freeman, George Washington (New York, 1948–1957). Volume VII of this series was written by John Alexander Carroll and Mary Wells Ashworth. description ends , VI, 358).

4The letter of May 29, 1792, to Hammond was submitted by Jefferson not only to Washington for comment but also to James Madison, Edmund Randolph, and H. See Jefferson to Washington, May 16, 1792, and Jefferson to Madison, June 1, 1792 (Ford, Writings of Jefferson description begins Paul Leicester Ford, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (New York, 1892–1899). description ends , V, 514–15; VI, 69). For H’s comments to Jefferson on this letter, see H to Jefferson, May 20–27, 1792.

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