Alexander Hamilton Papers

A Plain Honest Man, [30 October–17 November 1792]

A Plain Honest Man

[Philadelphia, October 30–November 17, 1792]

For the Gazette of The UStates1

In consequence of the intimation contained in the first Number of the Vindication of Mr. Jefferson which originated in the American Dayly Advertiser that “if any doubt should be suggested of the authenticity of the extracts published they should be immediately made accessible to others”2 a person called upon Mr. Dunlap3 to obtain an inspection of those originals. He replied, that they had not been left with him; neither [was he possessed of the necessary information where to direct an enquirer;]4 but that if desired he would by advertisement notify to him the application for a perusal of the letters. A statement of this answer, as extraordinary as it was unexpected, was prepared to be inserted in this Gazette and was communicated to Mr. Dunlap with a view to verifying its accuracy. The Evening before that destined for its appearance Mr. Dunlap called upon the person and informed him that the Originals [were now to be seen &] would be communicated to any person who might incline to see them—observing at the same time that [it appeared to him] it could not be necessary to publish the statement which has been mentioned, as intended. This was accordingly foreborne.5

On the  6 [a] Note appeared in Mr. Dunlaps paper of that day which after commenting on the disingeniousness of some doubts hinted in one of the papers under the signature of Catullus gives “notice, that any Gentleman of known honor and delicacy, who shall be named to the Editor, of the American Dayly Advertiser shall have an opportunity of examining not only the passages extracted but the intire contents of the original letters.”

What Gentleman of real delicacy would be willing to present himself under the professed character of a “Gentleman of known honor and delicacy” at the hazard of being affronted by a rejection, to obtain the proffered access? Is not an offer so clogged a felo de se? What is the natural inference?

If I am not Mr Printer a “Gentleman of known honor and delicacy” I hope you will not think the worse of me for being only

A plain Honest Man

ADf, Hamilton, Papers, Library of Congress.

1Although this article was written for publication in the [Philadelphia] Gazette of the United States, it has not been found in that paper.

2For the “Vindication of Mr. Jefferson,” see “Catullus No. IV,” October 17, 1792, note 4. The first number of this series appeared in [Philadelphia] Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser, September 22, 1792.

3John Dunlap, editor of Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser.

4The material within brackets in this article is in the handwriting of John Fenno, editor of the Gazette of the United States.

5Fenno returned this draft to H with a note in the margin which reads as follows: “On the 17 Nov. Mr. Dunlap was again applied to and again proposed an advertisement—but afterwds., hinted as a preliminary condition of the Letter’s being seen, that the person in whose possession the Letters were should be made acquainted with the name of the person who applied for that purpose. Mr. D. afterwds. sd. he would apply again for the Letters, & have them in his own possession, to shew them agreeable to the Declaration published—but after this being again applied to, ansd. as before that the applicant must be previously known.”

6Space left blank in MS. H is referring to October 30, 1792, which is the date on which the “Note” that H is quoting in this paragraph appeared in Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser.

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