Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to James Nicholson, 22 July 1795

To James Nicholson1

New York July 22nd. 1795.


Your letter of this morng. surprises me as one part of it seems to imply that I had been seeking further correspondence between us. This certainly is not the fact. I considered your last letter2 as closing the business—nor did any step originate with me, or that I know of with any friend of mine for opening anew the discussion.

Measures it is true towards an accommodation have been subsequently in train; but I have had no other agency in the affair than that of meeting them, as I concieve, in a liberal & Gentlemanlike manner.

With this explanation, I shall only add that motives which affect me as an honest Man put it out of my power to abrige the time originally named—that I am sure, if alarms were excited in my family, I could find means to quiet them—that I should take it for granted the same would be equally practicable to You and that in every event I shall be ready to pursue our plan.

As to place I certainly did not mean Paulus Hook as the exact spot.3 I meant that as a point of rendezvous to proceed thence to some convenient place in the vicinity. But Col. Fish is instructed to arrange with You or your friend any other place out of this State which may be preferred. The reason of the choice of a place out of the State cannot need explanation.4

I am Sir   Your humble Servt.

A. Hamilton

James Nicholson Esqr.

Copy, in the handwriting of Nicholas Fish, Columbia University Libraries.

1For background to this letter, see H to Nicholson, first letter of July 20, 1795, note 1.

The following note is written at the bottom of this letter: “The original of this was delivered to Mr Clinton at 10 o’clock A.M.” DeWitt Clinton was one of Nicholson’s seconds.

4H is referring to the possibility that if one of the principals was killed in a duel in New York, the surviving participants could be prosecuted under Section 2 of “An Act for punishing Treasons and Felonies, and for the better regulating the Proceedings in Cases of Felony” (New York Laws, 11th Sess., Ch. XXXVII [February 21, 1788]). Section 2 reads in part: “That every Person who hereafter shall be, in due Form of Law, convicted or attainted of any Manner of … Murder … and every Person who shall aid, abet, assist, counsel, hire or command any Person or Persons to commit any of the said offences, and thereof be duly convicted or attainted, shall suffer death for the same….”

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