Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Rufus King, 15 July 1799

From Rufus King

London July 15, 1799

Dear sir

The french still maintain themselves in switzerland tho’ unless soon and strongly reinforced they will be driven out of it. The success of the Allies has been almost uninterupted in Italy, from whence according to present appearances the Enemy must be in a short time be totally expelled. Thus far the Coalition has performed Prodigies—but the confederates are not without mutual Jealousies, which will increase with their success, and which already has had the Effect of preventing an agreement upon a precise and ultimate object. Between Eng. and Russia the greatest union and confidence exist, and these Powers do not disagree in what ought to be the End to be aimed at and avowed. An uncommon coldness and even more than coldness exists between Austria & England, and between the former & Russia there is less cordiality than could be wished, & expected. The issue of the campaign for these Reasons is less certain than it would be, were the Allies heartily & disinterestdly engaged in the only species of war that can give Peace and security to the different nations of Europe.

It is extremely difficult yet to understand the late changes at Paris;1 there are Persons who see in them the death Blow of french Republicanism, I doubt very much this Opinion, & am inclined to consider the last in the same light as I have done the former Revolutions. I did expect that the changes wd. be followed by measures of more Energy than have been adopted. There seems to be no reason, to suppose that we are likely to be benefited by the Revolution; Seiyes opinions concerning America are no secret, and they give us no room to expect a Treatment different from that we have so long and so patiently endured.2

The inclosure relates to a subject that I cease to write or talk of, for reasons that you will be at no loss to conjecture.3



ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1This is a reference to the coup d’état of June 18, 1799. On June 29, 1799, The [London] Times reported: “Late last night we received complete sets of Paris Journals to the 23d inst. inclusive, which confirm the reports that have been for some days past in circulation respecting the accusation and dismissal of three of the Members of the Executive Directory, and the impeachment of [Barthélemy Louis Joseph] Scherer. These accusations originated in the Council of Five Hundred, where the debates have been conducted with a boldness of expression that has not been remarked since the period which preceded the expulsion of the Deputies in September 1797, and their deportation to Cayenne.…

“The following are the names of the new Directors:

“[Louis Antoine] Gohier is chosen Director in the room of [Jean Baptiste, compte] Treilhard; [Pierre] Roger Ducos in the room of [Philippe Antoine] Merlin [of Douai]; and General [Jean François] Moulins, (commanding per interim the Army of England!!!) in the room of [Louis Marie La] Reveillere Lepaux. [Emmanuel Joseph] Syeyes is chosen President of the Directory.”

2On July 15, 1799, King wrote to Timothy Pickering: “I find very little in the late french Papers respecting America, nor do I hear any thing from Paris concerning the opinion of the new government. Perhaps nothing can be inferred from the silence that seems to be observed upon our affairs.…” In the same letter he stated: “… but not a word in reference to America has escaped any member of either of the Councils.” He concluded his discussion of France with the statement: “One of the last french papers states as an article of intelligence, that all the Commissions granted to American Consuls in the different french Ports were repealed—but I am uncertain whether this paragraph inaccurately refers to the act of our own government, or announces the withdrawal of the Exequaturs of our Consuls, by the Directory” (LS, RG 59, Despatches from United States Ministers to Great Britain, 1791–1906, Vol. 8, January 3, 1799–December 18, 1800, National Archives).

3Enclosure not found. This is, however, a reference to plans for the independence of the Spanish-American colonies. See Francisco de Miranda to H, April 1, 1797, February 7, April 6–June 7, August 17, October 19–November 10, 1798; H to Miranda, August 22, 1798; King to H, May 12, July 31, October 20, 1798, January 21, March 4, 9, 1799; H to King, August 22, 1798; Timothy Pickering to H, August 21–22, 1798.

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