To Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Decr. 29. 18021
My Dear Sir
A garden, you know, is a very usual refuge of a disappointed politician. Accordingly, I have purchased a few acres about 9 Miles from Town, have built a house and am cultivating a Garden. The melons in your country are very fine. Will you have the goodness to send me some seed both of the Water & Muss Melons?
My daughter2 adds another request, which is for three or four of your peroquets. She is very fond of birds. If there be any thing in this quarter the sending of which can give you pleasure, you have only to name them. As Farmers a new source of sympathy has risen between us; and I am pleased with every thing in which our likings and tastes can be approximated.
Amidst the triumphant reign of Decomocracy, do you retain sufficient interest in public affairs to feel any curiosity about what is going on? In my opinion the follies and vices of the Administration have as yet made no material impression to their disadvantage. On the contrary, I think the malady is rather progressive than upon the decline in our Northern Quarter.3 The last lullaby message,4 instead of inspiring contempt, attracts praise. Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture.
But a difficult knot has been twisted by the incident of the cession of Louisian5 and the interruption of the Deposit at New Orleans.6 You have seen the soft tun given to this in the message.7 Yet we are told the President in conversation is very stout.8 The great embarrassment must be how to carry on war without taxes. The pretty scheme of substituting œconomy to taxation will not do here; and a war would be a terrible comment upon the abandonment of the Internal Revenue. Yet how is popularity to be preserved with the Western partisans if their interests are tamely sacrificed? Will the artifice be for the Chief to hold a bold language and the subalters to act a public part? Time must explain.
You know my general theory as to our Western affairs. I have always held that the Unity of our empire and the best interests of our Nation require that we should annex to the UStates all the territory East of the Mississippia, New Orleans included.9 Of course I infer that in an emergency like the present, Energy is Wisdom.
Adieu My Dear Sir Ever Yrs
Mrs. H joins me in affectionate Compliments to Mrs. Pinckney.
ALS, Charleston Library Society, Charleston, South Carolina.
2. Angelica Hamilton, H’s older daughter, was eighteen years old in 1802. According to Allan McLane Hamilton, “Upon receipt of the news of her brother’s death in the Eacker duel, she suffered so great a shock that her mind became permanently impaired, and although taken care of by her devoted mother for a long time there was no amelioration in her condition, and she was finally placed under the care of Dr. [James] MacDonald of Flushing, and remained in his charge until her death at the age of seventy-three” (Hamilton, Intimate Life description begins Allan McLane Hamilton, The Intimate Life of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1910). description ends , 219). For information on the duel between Philip Hamilton and George I. Eacker, see Benjamin Rush to H, November 26, 1801.
3. On November 6, 1802, George Cabot wrote to Rufus King: “The failure of the Federalists in the Election of J. Q. Adams may be attributed to negligence or rather weariness.… but the failure of Mr. Pickering proves the decline of good influence in that district” (King, The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King description begins Charles R. King, ed., The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King (New York, 1894–1900). description ends , IV, 181). In November, 1802, Adams and Timothy Pickering were unsuccessful candidates for the House of Representatives from Massachusetts.
4. H is referring to Thomas Jefferson’s second annual message, which Jefferson sent to Congress on December 15, 1802 (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, 1834–1852). description ends , XII, 12–15).
6. Under the provisions of Article XXII of the Treaty of Friendship, Limits, and Navigation, which the United States and Spain had signed at San Lorenzo el Real on October 27, 1795, United States traders had the right to store goods at New Orleans for shipment to other ports (Miller, Treaties, II description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America (Washington, 1931), II. description ends , 318–38). This article reads in part: “… his Catholic Majesty will permit the Citizens of the United States for the space of three years from this time to deposit their merchandize and effects in the Port of New Orleans, and to export them from thence without paying any other duty than a fair price for the hire of the stores, and his Majesty promises either to continue this permission if he finds during that time that it is not prejudicial to the interests of Spain, or if he should not agree to continue it there, he will assign to them on another part of the banks of the Mississipi an equivalent establishment” (Miller, Treaties, II description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America (Washington, 1931), II. description ends , 337).
The deposit was formally established in 1798. On October 18, 1802, Juan Ventura Morales, acting intendant of Louisiana, adhering to secret orders from the Spanish crown, published a proclamation ending the right of American deposit. News of the proclamation reached New York City on November 22, 1802 (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, November 23, 1802; New-York Evening Post, November 25, 1802). An English translation of part of Morales’s proclamation appeared in both newspapers on November 26.
7. Jefferson made no mention in his message of the ending of the right of deposit at New Orleans. Concerning the cession of Louisiana, Jefferson stated: “The cession of the Spanish province of Louisiana to France, which took place in the course of the late war, will, if carried into effect, make a change in the aspect of our foreign relations, which will doubtless have just weight in any deliberations of the Legislature connected with that subject” (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, 1834–1852). description ends , XII, 14).
8. On January 2, 1802, Louis André Pichon wrote to Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord: “J’ai eû il y a quelques jours avec M. Jefferson une longue conversation où il a été question de la Louisiana et des relations de commerce à lier entre les deux Nations.… La prise de possession de la Louisiana lui parait toujours de notre pais une grande faute politique et qui dois produire à la premiere guerre d’Europe une rupture entre nous et les Etats-unis et amener entre ceux-ci et l’Angleterre une Alliance. Nous n’y resterons, dit-il, qu-autans qu’il plaira aux Etats-unis; il ne pense pas que la chose vaille une guerre, mais ce sera un evenemens qu’on ne pourra pas émpeché” (copy, Arch. des Aff. Etr., Corr. Pol., Etats-Unis description begins Transcripts or photostats from the French Foreign Office deposited in the Library of Congress. description ends ).
On March 6, 1802, Edward Thornton, British chargé d’affaires at Washington, wrote to Robert Banks Jenkinson, Lord Hawkesbury, British Foreign Secretary: “Mr. Jefferson used the ⟨same⟩ language to me which I heard he had ⟨held⟩ to other persons on the subject. He said that the occupation of this country by ⟨France⟩ gave an entirely new character to all the American relations with her—that hither⟨to⟩ he had regarded her as so removed by ⟨her⟩ situation and absolute want of contact ⟨for⟩ any collision with the United States, that it was not easy to foresee any mode of disturb⟨ing⟩ the mutual tranquillity of the two countries—that his wish for peace and harmony con⟨tinued⟩ equally sincere and ardent; but the inevitable consequences of such a neighborhood must ⟨provoke⟩ jealousy, irritation, and finally hostilities. He had mentioned this, he observed, with the same frankness to the Spanish and French Agents, and had frequently suggested to both ⟨of⟩ them, as the only mean of averting future quarrels, the voluntary cession of the Island of Orleans to the United States (which as ample stipulations for its freedom even in time of war as could be devised) because it could not fail to come into their hands, whenever the arrival of that calamity should oblige them to exert their force” (ALS, PRO: F.O. description begins Public Record Office of Great Britain. description ends , 5/96–99).