From Hugh Williamson1
Edenton [North Carolina] 27th May 1794.
In traveling through the Country I have lately observed a considerable uniformity of Sentiment among the People with a great want of Consistence of which they do not themselves appear to be conscious. There are frequent complaints of the want of vigorous measures in the Executive to resent the Insults of the british Nation. This they receive from a certain Class of Politicians & political writers. There is also an observation almost universal among the Planters that 15 or 20 years longer Peace would make us so rich and powerful that we should despise the Attempts of any Nation on Earth. This opinion is their own and they seem not to suspect until the System is explained that the advocates for vigorous measures are in effect courting a general War in the Hope of destroying public Credit and overturning a Government to which they have been uniform Enemies. I verily believe that this War making Project when well understood will produce a considerable Apostacy from Antifederalism.
By this days Post I have at the Request of Gentlemen concerned forwarded certain Papers to Mr Randolph. Probably well authenticated claims to reparation will be sent after Mr Jay2 in Support of his Complaints. The Case of Mr Armistead that I have forwarded seems to have been a clear Robbery unpalliated by Excuse. Our People are in general fair Traders.3
I am, Dr Sir With the utmost Respect your most obedt servt.
Honble Alexr Hamilton
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. Williamson, who had been a merchant in Edenton, North Carolina, and a physician in Philadelphia before the American Revolution, was surgeon general of the North Carolina troops from 1779 to 1782. He was a member of the Continental Congress from 1782 to 1785 and also during the years 1787 and 1788. After serving as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, he became a member of the North Carolina Ratifying Convention in 1789. From 1789 to 1793 he was a Federalist member of the House of Representatives from North Carolina. In 1793 he moved to New York City.
2. On May 27, 1794, Edmund Randolph wrote to John Jay: “… I have thought it best to send to you, by this opportunity, such papers on the vexations and spoliations of our trade as have been transmitted to my office. They are indeed extremely imperfect in every respect; but they contain enough of the cases in general, to afford a competent idea of the principle of each, and may be useful, until the full records arrive, or if any accident should befal them.” Randolph sent additional papers to Jay on June 8 and July 10, 1794 (LC, RG 59, Diplomatic and Consular Instructions of the Department of State, 1791–1801, Vol. 2, August 22, 1793–June 1, 1795, National Archives).
3. H endorsed this letter as follows: “Answered in a private letter.” H’s letter to Williamson has not been found.