Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from George Washington, 5 May 1793

From George Washington

[Philadelphia] Sunday Noon—5th May 1793.

Dear Sir,


Before you dispatch the circular letter (of wch you enclosed me a Copy) to the several Collectors, I would speak to you respecting a particular clause in it.1

In the conversation you may have with a certain Gentleman to day*—I pray you to intimate to him gently, & delicately, that if the letters, or papers wch. he has to present, are (knowingly to him) of a nature which relates to public matters, and not particularly addressed to me—or if he has any verbal communications to make of a similar kind, I had rather they should come through the proper channel—add thereto, generally, that the peculiar situation of European affairs at this moment my good wishes for his Nation agregately—my regard for those of it in particular with whom I have had the honor of an acquaintance—My anxious desire to keep this Country in Peace—and the delicacy of my situation renders a circumspect conduct indispensably necessary on my part. I do not, however, mean by this that I am to with-hold from him such civilities as are common to others. Those more marked, notwithstanding our former acquaintance, would excite speculations which had better be avoided. And if the characters (similarly circumstanced with his own) could be introduced by any other than himself; especially on tuesday next in the public room when, it is presumed, the Officers of the French Frigate will be presented it would, unquestionably be better. But how this can be brot. about as they are strangers without embarrassment as the F—— M——3 is shy on the occasion I do not at this moment see, for it may not escape observation (as every movement is watched) if the head of any department should appear prompt in this business in the existing state of things.

I am always   Yours &ca.

G W——n

ADfS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.

2Louis Marie, Vicomte de Noailles, hero of Yorktown, had arrived in Philadelphia on May 3, 1793, with several other French Royalist refugees. Soon after his arrival he had sought a private interview with the President.

3The French Minister to the United States, Jean Baptiste de Ternant. In a letter to James Monroe, dated May 5, 1793, Jefferson wrote: “When Ternant received certain account of his appointment thinking he had nothing further to hope from the Jacobins, he … put on mourning for the king, & became a perfect Counter-revolutioner. A few days ago he received a letter from Genest [Edmond Charles Genet] giving him a hope that they will employ him in the army. On this he has tacked about again, become a Jacobin, & refused to present the Viscount Noailles & some French aristocrats arrived here” (Ford, Writings of Jefferson description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (New York, 1892–1899). description ends , VI, 240).

That French suspicions of Noailles were warranted is indicated by a statement in a letter from Lord Grenville to George Hammond, July 25, 1793. This letter reads as follows: “Before M. Noailles left England for America he made some offers of service here which were civilly declined on account of his former connections and conduct.… He expressed however a desire of being of service to you when he got there, and stated himself to have the means of being so, desiring at the same time that his disposition to that effect might be mentioned to you” (Historical Manuscripts Commission, The Manuscripts of J. B. Fortescue, Esq., Preserved at Dropmore, Fourteenth Report, Appendix, Part V [London, 1894], II, 408).

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

* Viscount de Noailles2

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