Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Timothy Pickering, 15 March 1800

To Timothy Pickering1

New York March 15

D Sir

The bearer of this, Mr. DuPont,2 formerly Consul at Charles Town, is personally known to you. He comes with the rest of his family to establish themselves in the United States. They are desirous of being favourably viewed by our Government and my intervention for this purpose has been requested.

Inclosed is a letter from General Pinckney3 which speaks for itself. All that has come to my knowledge of this particular Gentleman is recommendatory of him, as far as situation has permitted. I have always understood that his sentiments toward this Country have been amicable & that he has not been very deeply tinctured with the Revolutionary spirit of his own, though circumstances have placed him in office under the new government. And I believe if ever diseased he is now perfectly cured. He is afraid that some expressions respecting the influence of the British Government in this Country may have given an ill impression.4 He explains by saying 1st that they are qualified. 2d. that they were a necessary concession to the preducies of the persons to whom his observations were addressed, calculated to procure attention to the conciliatory plan which he recommended by screening him from the suspicion of being a corrupted partisan of this country. This solution seems to me an admissible one. In addressing enthusiasts it is commonly requisite to adopt a little of their nonsense.

He has delivered me a paper which he sent to the Aurora5 to be published but which he says was suppressed and something of an insidious complexion substituted. He delivers the true communication that it may be seen what he really did.

I am much mistaken if his father6 be not really a benevolent well disposed man. Indeed the family generally impress us here agreeably & we are inclined to augur well of them.

Very truly yrs

A Hamilton

T Pickering Eq

ALS, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston.

1For background to this letter, see Charles Cotesworth Pinckney to H, February 8, 1800.

2On March 20, 1800, Victor Marie Du Pont de Nemours wrote to Pickering: “J’ai l’honneur de vous envoyer une lettre que le General Hamilton m’a remis pour vous.

“Si vos importantes occupations vous permettaient de m’áccorder un moment d’audience, je m’estimerais heureux de vous offrir mes devoirs et de vous presenter mon pere dont la reputation comme ami courageux de l’ordre, de la justice et de la morale, ne vous est pas inconnue.

“Etants venus chercher un Azile dan votre pays, et y vivre en paix à l’abri des revolutions d’Europe, sous le Gouvernement que nous regardont comme le plus sage et le plus essentiellement vertueun. Nous desirons nous rendre entout agréable aux hommes respectables qui sont à la tete de ce Gouvernement, Et solliciter en personne leur bienveillance & leur appui.” (ALS, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston.)

4This is a reference to a letter from Du Pont to the Directorial Commissary with the Tribunal of Cassation. In a letter to Fulwar Skipwith, United States consul general in France, June 10, 1799, Pickering wrote: “Mr. Dupont, in his letter before mentioned has made some very just reflections: but if he desires the least credit for any efforts he may make to obtain right and justice for the citizens of the United States, let him retract his insult on their Government; and let him no more say that it is ‘influencé par les conseils, les intrigues et la conduite astucieux de l’Angleterre.’ He has been too long a resident of the U. States & is too well acquainted with the character & principles of its government and of the men who administer it, to believe that such an ‘influence’ exists, or has ever existed. In addressing that sentiment to the Directory’s commissary, he has made a sacrifice to their power; and that and similar sacrifices may be necessary to secure or to promote his interest with that power: but being capable of making them, he can look, whatever in other respects may be his disposition, for no regard on this side of the Atlantic. We are not inclined to receive a benefit at the expence of truth & honor” (ALS, letterpress copy, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston).

5On January 22, 1800, Du Pont wrote to the editor of the [Philadelphia] Aurora. General Advertiser, William Duane: “I wish to contradict the information inserted in two of your papers respecting my arrival from france as an Agent of the Republic. In Consequence of the Revolution of the 18th fructidor [September 4, 1797] I was recall’d from the Office I then held in America & since that Revolution I have never been a candidate for any appointment. My arrival in America with my father & the whole of my family is, in consequence of private arrangements the result of a wish to live under the good will & free government of the United States—having retired for ever from public life I should be sorry to be thought assuming a character to which I have no title. Please to insert the above in your paper” (copy, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston). At the bottom of this letter H wrote: “perhaps influenced also by the advices and intrigues of G Britain.” Du Pont was referring to the following article printed in the Aurora on January 17, 1800: “A report has just originated, upon pretty respectable authority, that a cartel from Rochelle (in France) has arrived at Newport, in which M. Dupont, formerly appointed Consul general to the U. States, is passenger, who is the bearer of communications to our government from the French republic.” Du Pont’s arrival was confirmed in the Aurora on January 20, 1800. Instead of printing Du Pont’s letter of January 22, the Aurora printed the following item on February 1, 1800: “Mr. Victor Dupont formerly French Consul at Charleston S.C. has by letter requested us to declare that he has not come to the United States in any public character nor vested with any powers, but to make this country his residence.”

6Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours.

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