Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from William Heth, 11 January 1796

From William Heth1

Virginia 11th January 1796

My dear Sir

I should have written to you long since, but from some doubts that a packet to you might excite curiosity, in your Post Office, not knowing of what kidney, your post-master & his clerks may be.

Capt Stratton2 who now takes charge of this, promises to deliver it in person, and tho it is without Signature, you will be at no loss to guess from whom it comes, as it serves to enclose the piece mentioned to you last Winter, written by —— you know who.3 Had it been forwarded to you when in Office, even Coll Hamilton, might for a moment have attributed it to views, & motives, by which the Author is incapable of being actuated. But admit that he then had motives for flattering you, he can have none now, and therefore he does not blush to say, that he loves you as a private friend; admires you as an able & most faithful public servant; and venerates you as a Man of most superior talents.4

A single line from you, informing of the same recd of this, will be very pleasing. The author will send you some other things lately written by him in the same stile.

Do you expect to be in Phila in the course of the Winter, or ensuing spring? I asked the Question, because public-business may oblige me there and I should be pleased to meet with you.

Mention me most respectfully to Mrs. Hamilton, and believe me to be most

faithfully & affectionately   Yrs

Coll A Hamilton

AL, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Heth, a Federalist and veteran of the American Revolution, was collector of customs at Bermuda Hundred, Virginia.

2Henry Stratton, like Heth, was a resident of Chesterfield County, Virginia (Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790 … Virginia [Washington, 1908], 49). He was apparently the same Henry Stratton who commanded the Virginia state schooner Alliance in 1779 and 1780 (William P. Palmer and Sherwin McRae, eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts, from July 2, 1790, to August 10, 1792.…, V [Richmond, 1885], 219).

3The author of the “piece” was Heth. See Heth to H, October 14, 1796. The piece may have been the article entitled “Philo-Jay,” which appeared in The [Richmond] Virginia Gazette, and General Advertiser, December 10, 1794. Although primarily a defense of John Jay, this article contains the following reference to H: “I have been led into these observations by the conduct of a certain description of persons who, for several years past, have been extremely liberal of their abuse, and even wanton in their vilifications of some of our most meritorious citizens. Last year and the year before, Mr. Hamilton was the chief object of their vengeance. But since his character has been rescued from the fangs of malicious falsehood, and due credit has been given by Congress to his talents and virtues, the tongue of slander has been, to a certain degree, gagged.…”

4Heth had consistently supported H’s financial and foreign policies while H was Secretary of the Treasury. See, for example, Heth to H, June 14, 1793; July 6, 1794.

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