Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Henry Lee, 7 October 1793

From Henry Lee1

7th Octr. 93

My dear sir

I heard of your illness, with pain I heard of your repulse in n jersey,2 of your consternating Mr. Mrs Morris3 & above all the angelic Miss Morris in their retreat with wonder.

I wished for your return to health with affectionate sincerity, & I feel astonished at the recollection of this wish, in as much as you seemed to me long ago beset with trouble, & I have ever held death a sleep ending in better condition.

But why will you not answer my letters4 & say whether St. domingo bills on France in the hands of our citizens ought or ought not to be taken up by the Govr. of the U. States.5

God bless you if you can be blessed. Receive My affect. farewell

H Lee

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

2When H and his wife were en route from Philadelphia to Albany, their trip was made exceedingly difficult by the fact that at almost every town at which they stopped they were “shunned as infectious” (Powell, Bring Out Your Dead description begins J. H. Powell, Bring Out Your Dead (Philadelphia, 1948). description ends , 108). Most towns along the eastern seaboard set up some degree of quarantine for residents of Philadelphia fleeing the epidemic, and residents of New Jersey were particularly fearful of contagion.

The “repulse” to which Lee is referring may have been the following incident described by John Church Hamilton: “On his [H’s] first stage he met with an evidence of feeling which deeply affected him. The tavern which he reached was full of fugitives from the city, who, notwithstanding the time which had elapsed since he became convalescent, insisted that he should not be permitted to enter the house.” Upon the landlord’s insistence, however, the Hamiltons were finally permitted to remain (Hamilton, History description begins John C. Hamilton, Life of Alexander Hamilton, a History of the Republic of the United States of America (Boston, 1879). description ends , V, 372).

3This is presumably a reference to Anthony Morris, a Philadelphia merchant and member of the Pennsylvania Senate. Morris had a summer home on the Schuylkill River, to which he, his wife, and two daughters retreated at the height of the yellow fever epidemic (Powell, Bring Out Your Dead description begins J. H. Powell, Bring Out Your Dead (Philadelphia, 1948). description ends , 68).

5H endorsed this letter as follows: “Answered in a private letter. Nothing is likely to be done with the bills.” H’s letter to Lee has not been found.

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