Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Rufus King, 16 December 1795

From Rufus King

[Philadelphia] Wednesday 16 Decr. [1795]

I send you Dunlap1 of this Morning, in it you have the foreign intelligence. Fenno2 Dunlap & others have erroneously stated that Mr Warder brought the Ratification of Great Britain—no official Dispatch has been received.3 Rutledge was negatived yesterday by the Senate.4 From present appearances the address to the President by the House will pass without a Debate. The Draft5 has been by agreement in the Committee6 who reported it, shaped so as to reserve all points intended to be discussed relative to the Treaty; the words underscored in the inclosed Draft,7 were offered in the Committee by Mr. Madison, who agreed to concur in the paragraph if they were added—you perceive the object.8

Adieu I am &c

R King

A. Hamilton

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Dunlap and Claypoole’s [Philadelphia] American Daily Advertiser printed the following item on December 16, 1795: “Mr. John Warder, merchant of this city, who comes passenger in the Richmond, from Bristol, has brought the Ratification of the Treaty between the United States and Great Britain, on the part of his Britannic Majesty.” John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole were the publishers of this newspaper.

2John Fenno, publisher of the [Philadelphia] Gazette of the United States.

3On October 28, 1795, William Allen Deas informed Acting Secretary of State Timothy Pickering that Great Britain had ratified the treaty that day. Deas also enclosed a copy of the British instrument of ratification (ALS, RG 59, Despatches from United States Ministers to Great Britain, 1791–1906, Vol. 3, November 29, 1791–May 4, 1797, National Archives). Deas’s dispatch is endorsed as received on December 28, 1795. The original British instrument of ratification, sent by Thomas Pinckney, arrived on April 22, 1796 (Pickering to Pinckney, April 23, 1796 [LC, RG 59, Diplomatic and Consular Instructions of the Department of State, 1791–1801, Vol. 3, June 5, 1795–January 21, 1797, National Archives]).

5This is a reference to the draft of the reply of the House of Representatives to George Washington’s seventh annual message. See H’s “Draft of George Washington’s Seventh Annual Address to Congress,” November 28–December 7, 1795.

6The House committee to prepare the reply was composed of James Madison, Theodore Sedgwick, and Samuel Sitgreaves.

7The “inclosed Draft” reads: “Made the 14th of December, 1795.


“From the Committee appointed to prepare and report an address to the President of the United States, in answer to his speech to both Houses of Congress.”

The report reads: “As the Representatives of the people of the United States, we cannot but par[t]icipate in the strongest sensibility to every blessing which they enjoy, and cheerfully join with you in profound gratitude to the author of all good for the numerous and extraordinary blessings which he has conferred on our favored country.

“A final and formal termination of the distressing war which has ravaged our North Western Frontier, will be an event which must afford a satisfaction proportioned to the anxiety with which it has long been sought; and in the adjustment of the terms, we perceive the true policy of making them satisfactory to the Indians as well as to the United States, as the best basis of a durable tranquility. The disposition of such of the southern tribes as had also heretofore annoyed our frontier, is another prospect in our situation so important to the interest and happiness of the United States, that it is much to be lamented that any clouds should be thrown over it, more especially be excesses on the part of our own citizens.

“While our population is advancing with a celerity which exceeds the most sanguine calculations—while every part of the United States displays indications of rapid and various improvement—while we are in the enjoyment of protection and security, by mild and wholesale laws, administered by governments founded on the genuine principles of rational liberty, a secure foundation will be laid for accelerating, maturing and establishing the prosperity of our country, if by treaty and amicable negotiation, all those causes of external discord which heretofore menaced our tranquility shall be extinguished on terms compatible with our national rights and honor, and with our constitution, and great commercial interests.

“Contemplating that, probably, unequalled spectacle of national happiness, which our country exhibits, to the interesting summary which you, Sir, have been pleased to make, in justice to our own feelings, permit us to add the benefits which are derived from your presiding in our councils, resulting as well from the undiminished confidence of your fellow citizens, as from your zealous and successful labors in their service.

“Among the various circumstances in our internal situation, none can be viewed with more satisfaction and exultation, than that the late scene of disorder and insurrection, has been completely restored to the enjoyment of order and repose. Such a triumph of reason and of law, is worthy of the free government under which it happened, and was justly to be hoped from the enlightened and patriotic spirit which pervades and actuates the people of the United States.

“The several interesting subjects which you recommend to our consideration will receive every degree of it, which is due to them: And whilst we feel the obligation of temperance and mutual indulgence in all our discussions, we trust and pray that the result of the happiness and welfare of our country may correspond with the pure affection we bear to it.” (Copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.)

8In the final version of the House’s reply to Washington’s annual address, which was agreed to on December 16, 1795, the fourth paragraph of the draft became the fifth paragraph and was amended to read: “In contemplating the spectacle of national happiness which our country exhibits, and of which you, Sir, have been pleased to make an interesting summary, permit us to acknowledge and declare the very great share which your zealous and faithful services have contributed to it, and to express the affectionate attachment which we feel for your character” (Journal of the House description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I, II, III, IV description ends , II, 379–80).

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