Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Thomas Lloyd Moore, 6 October 1799

To Thomas Lloyd Moore1

New York October 6th. 1799


It is afflicting to learn that Such a dispute as you state in your letter of the third instant should have occurred between two officers of the American army. Particular attachment to any foreign nation is an exotic sentiment which, where it exists, must derogate from the exclusive affection due to our own country. Partiality to France at this late date is a bad symptom. The profession of it by Captain Johnson, in my opinion, does him no honour. How far it ought to impair confidence must depend in a degree on personal character. But as often as a similar byass is manifested, the conduct of the person ought to engage the vigilant Attention of his commanding officer. I hesitate as to what my duty requires on the occasion, and must think further of the matter. You will be pleased to ascertain and inform me whether Lt. Irving be an American citizen or not.

You will receive another letter of this date on the subject of Winter Quarters.2

With Considr & esteem   I am, Sir   yr obt St

Col. Moore

Df, in the handwriting of Thomas Y. How, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1This letter concerns a duel on September 12, 1799, in which Captain Andrew Johnson shot and killed Lieutenant John Sharp. Both men were members of the Tenth Regiment of Infantry, of which Moore was the commanding officer. The events leading up to this duel are discussed in Moore to H, September 17, 20, October 3, 1799; H to Moore, September 18, 30, 1799, all of which are listed in the appendix to this volume. In his letter to H of October 3, 1799, Moore wrote in part: “… The particular subject of the dispute between Cap. Johnston & Lt. [David] Irving was this. Cap. Johnston advocated the French nation by saying that notwithstanding the treatment we have recd. he would rather take part with it, than with Great Britain or words to this effect. The other expressed himself warmly in favor of G. Britain and (I believe) declared himself to be a British Subject. Cap. Johnston on this made use of very harsh language to Lt. Irving. It being in Lt. Sharps tent he interfered not in the political dispute but rather to protect Lt. Irving from (what he thought) Insult. The affair now took a turn, and some violent language passed between Cap. Johnston & Lt. Sharp, which ended as You have been informed. I ought to mention that I believe Cap. Johnston in his argument meant to speak in a friendly manner of the Nation, but did not go so far as to advocate french principles, if there can be this distinction made. And at any rate the Acct. must be confused owing to the state in which the parties were at the time.…”

2This letter is listed in the appendix to this volume. In this letter H informed Moore that the winter quarters for the Tenth Infantry Regiment would be at Harpers Ferry. He ordered Moore to march to York, Pennsylvania, “the part of your Regiment assembled at your Regimental Rendezvous” and he suggested that Moore consolidate at Carlisle and York, “the ten subdistricts into two batallion-districts” for purposes of recruiting or propose another arrangement for his approval.

Index Entries