Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Uriah Tracy, 23[–24] March 1797

From Uriah Tracy1

Philada. 23d. [–24] March 1797


You will probably remember, I applied to you for James Johnson of Salisbury in Connecticut, for the purchase of a tract of Land lying in that Town, of which you had the care & disposal.2 Johnson has lately written me, that the sale is not yet completed & wishes me to pursue the business, as he is still very desirous of purchasing the Land.

You will recollect how far the negociation has proceeded & whether you mean to sell to Johnson—please to let me know as I wish to inform him what he must do to finish the Contract, on his part.

I am, Sir, with respect   Your very humble sert.

Uriah Tracy

Alexr. Hamilton Esqr.

NB. I am detained here3 by indisposition. You can, if you please direct a line to me here. I hope to be in health sufficient to go on to Connecticut soon, when I shall, on my way, see you at New York.

Since writing the within I have se⟨en⟩ the Speech of Barras to Citizen Munroe on his taking leave.4 Pardon me, when I say—the most diabolical & at the same time vapid puffing speech that ever disgraced a Burletta like that of Tommy Thumb.5 I foresee a struggle now in our Councils to send Maddison or Gallatin, or possibly John Swanwick6 or Ned Livingston,7 Envoy Extraordinary to the Cut-throat Directory. The United States, for fear of being subject to G. Britain will struggle hard, to be so to France. God in his infinite mercy grant, that we may be sunk in an Asphaltic Lake rise, where once stood the States—rather than subject ourselves to that nest of Assassins.


U. Tracy.

Mr. Hamilton.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Tracy was United States Senator from Connecticut and state’s attorney for Litchfield County.

2The land in question belonged to John Barker Church and was located in Salisbury, Litchfield County, Connecticut.

3Congress had adjourned on March 3, 1797, but the Senate had reconvened in special session for one day on March 4, 1797 (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States: with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , VI, 1580).

4The speech which Paul François Jean Nicolas Barras, President of the Directory, made to James Monroe on December 30, 1796, was printed in the [Philadelphia] Aurora. General Advertiser on March 24, 1797. It reads: “On this day presenting your letters of recall … you give to Europe a very strange spectacle.

“France, rich in her liberty, encompassed by her train of victories, strong in the esteem of her allies, will not abuse herself by calculating the consequences of the commission of the American government to the suggestions of its ancient masters.

“The French Republic hopes, that at least the successors of Columbus and of Penn always jealous of their liberty, will never forget what they owe to France. They will weigh in their wisdom, the magnanimous good will of the French people, with caresses of certain perfidious persons, who meditate to bring them back to their former slavery. Assure, Sir, the good American people, that, like them, we adore liberty; that they shall always have our esteem; and that they will find in the French people, that republican generosity which knows how to grant peace as it knows how to make its sovereignty respected.

“As for you, Mr. Minister Plenipotentiary you have contended for principle, you have known the true interests of your country; depart with our regret. We give up in you a representative to America, and we keep the remembrance of a citizen, whose personal qualities do honor to that title.”

5Henry Fielding, The Tragedy of Tragedies; or the Life and Death of Tom Thumb (London, 1730).

6Swanwick was a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.

7Edward Livingston was a Republican member of the House of Representatives from New York.

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