Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Henry Lee, 5 March 1800

From Henry Lee

Philada. March 5th. 1800

My dear sir.

Yr. very friendly letter1 I duely recd, & altho I was persuaded you could not listen a moment to the base insinuations to which I referred,2 yet I felt not inconsiderable satisfaction in the explicit contempt which yr. answer manifests. This game yet continues, in a late aurora an absolute falshood is issued3 to the world in which I am at large named & my friend Ludwell Lee4 by initials. The letters he alludes to, I never heard of before, & I well know that Mr. Lee is like myself equally ignorant of them. I beleive no letters of the sort were ever published in Virga—at least I never heard of such, nor saw such. On what ground the assertion has been risked I am at a loss to conjecture. I had at first determined publicly to contradict the falshood with my name, but in this have been stopped by the disapprobation of gentlemen in whom I place confidence.

It gives me pain to find you so despondent. Certainly you cannot regard the calumnys of yr. enemys. This to them would be high gratification. Nor ought you to despond of yr. country: we have heretofore prospered, when surrounded by infinitely greater difficultys, in contributing to which prosperity, no man alive has done more than yr. self.

Be then more like yr self & resist to victory all yr. foes.

It would give me great pleasure to see you here, & I had expected that official duty would have brought you among us a second time during the winter. We are now engaged in the little pitiful business of the irish murderer Nash5 & I fear much of our time will be spent in this dirty affair.

Yrs. affty.

H. Lee

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Letter not found.

3On March 1, 1800, the [Philadelphia] Aurora. General Advertiser stated: “The purposed nomination of General H. Lee to the command of the standing army, is said to be relinquished by the New-England party—Hamilton like his sympathetic friend [Robert Goodloe] Harper, would throw his sword into the adverse scale, if it were done; for it seems he has heard of a series of Letters written by General Lee, in conjunction with Mr. L. Lee, against the Inspector General and his politics.

“General Lee’s political letters concerning gen. Hamilton were much talked of on a particular occasion in Virginia, so much so indeed that they were the prime incitement to his being once elected Governor of that state—yet the letters never were published—after he became governor, Mr. Lee in his free suavid mode soon forgot his political enmity—Hamilton never forgets.”

4Ludwell Lee, son of Richard Henry Lee, married the sister of Matilda Lee, first wife of Henry Lee.

5This is a reference to the case of Thomas Nash, alias Jonathan Robbins. See James Wilkinson to H, second letter of November 21, 1799, note 2. This case was debated in the House of Representatives on February 4, 7, 17, 20, 25, 26, 27, March 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 1799 (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 , X, 511–12, 515–18, 526, 532–33, 541–78, 583–621).

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