Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Marquis de Lafayette, [31 March 1803]

From Marquis de Lafayette

Paris Germinal the 10th. 11th year
[March 31, 1803]

My dear hamilton

I would like by this opportunity to write to you a long letter, but having been Laying on my back for two months past, and being for three weeks to come, doomed to the same situation, I must confine myself to a few lines written near my bed. The particulars of the accident and his cure1 will be given to you by General Bernadotte,2 whom I must particularly introduce and his lady3 to Mrs. Hamilton and to you. Politics I will not dwell upon. My sentiments are so well Known to you that it were superfluous to say what I think of senatus-consulta4 at home, and settling colonies in North America.5 Yet I hope this late affair may still be arranged to mutual satisfaction, and I am sure nobody could have better personal disposition than my friend General Bernadotte, who to those high and brilliant abilities which have so much contributed to ⟨the⟩ triumph of the french arms, joins one of the most civic, generous, ⟨and⟩ candid hearts, it is possible to meet with. I Know he sets a great value by the approbation of the citizens of America, and is particularly desirous of your acquaintance, and properly sensible of its advantages.

I have seen in the papers a letter from you relative to the transactions at our Yorktown redoubt6 in which I have found my friend hamilton’s whole caracter, and the more pleased I have been to receive it, as the attack had been for some time known to me, but on the proposal of some friends to write to you, I had answered you were on the spot, and would know better what was best for me to be done.

Adieu my dear friend, my best respects to Mrs. hamilton, remember me to our friends, I Know you are most friendly interested in my private concerns, and have ever depended upon it.

most affectionately I am your constant friend


Gen. hamilton

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1On February 23, 1803, Lafayette slipped on the ice while he was in Paris and broke his left leg. The treatment which his physicians used left him permanently lame.

2Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary of France to the United States in January, 1803.

Bernadotte did not deliver this letter to H. In May, 1803, on the eve of his departure for the United States, Bernadotte received the news of war between France and England, and he gave up his appointment to return to military duty.

3In 1798 Bernadotte married Désirée Clary, whose sister was the wife of Joseph Bonaparte.

4The Senatus Consultum, dated August 4, 1802, radically amended the Constitution of the Year X through a series of decrees, the most significant of which gave the First Consul the right to choose his successor.

5This is a reference to the cession of Louisiana to France by Spain.

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