Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to William Short, 1[–15] October 1792

To William Short

Newark, N.J. Oct. 1.[–15] 1792


On my arrival here, upon an excursion of a few days, I find the intelligence of a suspension of the King of France, and of a new revolution in that country. I take it for granted, that after such an event, no further payments will have been made to France.1 It is now impossible to calculate anything concerning the affairs of that country, and of course the validity, as well as the utility to itself of future reimbursements would be questionable. This letter serves for the present barely to convey this idea.

With much consideration   & esteem, I am, &c.


Copy, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston.

1For a discussion of the problems involved in the payment of the American debt to France after the suspension of the King on August 10, 1792, see Gouverneur Morris to H, September 25, 1792, and Short to H, September 25, 1792.

2At the bottom of this letter the following notation appears:

“Addition to the Triplicate of the foregoing letter, sent Oct. 15th.

“P. S. The President confirms the object of the above letter, & has directed a similar communication to Mr Morris.”

Morris was informed of the suspension of payments on the French debt in a letter from Jefferson dated October 15, 1792. Jefferson wrote: “We are informed by the public papers that the late Constitution of France, formally notified to us, is suspended, and a new Convention called. During the time of this suspension, and while no legitimate government exists, we apprehend we cannot continue the payments of our debt to France because there is no person authorized to receive it, and to give us an unobjectionable acquital. You are therefore desired to consider the payment as suspended until further orders. Should circumstances oblige you to mention this (which it is better to avoid if you can) do it with such solid reasons as will occur to yourself, and accompany it with the most friendly declarations that the suspension does not proceed from any wish in us to delay the payment, the contrary being our wish, nor from any desire to embarrass or oppose the settlement of their government in that way in which their nation shall desire it: but from our anxiety to pay this debt justly and honorably, and to the persons really authorized by the nation (to whom we owe it) to receive it for their use, nor shall this suspension be continued one moment after we can see our way clear out of the difficulty into which their situation has thrown us” (LC, RG 59, Diplomatic and Consular Instructions of the Department of State, 1791–1801, January 23, 1791–August 16, 1793, National Archives).

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