From Timothy Pickering1
Salem (Massachusetts) April 5. 1803.
The assertion of the Jacobins, that you are an aristocrat & a Monarchist, is not new: But at a late meeting of the sect in this town, one of their leaders declared “That General Hamilton proposed (&, it was understood, advocated) in the general Convention, That the President of the United States, and the Senators, should be chosen for life: That this was intended as an introduction to Monarchy: And that the Federalists of this county (Essex) had adopted General Hamilton’s plan.”2
Your friends here (who are the real friends of their country) are very desirous of knowing the fact. If you did not make and advocate that proposition, it will be useful to have it known, & the Jacobin lie contradicted. If the proposition was offered in the Convention, your friends will know to what motives to ascribe it; and that, whatever form of Government you may have suggested for consideration, the public welfare, and the permanent liberty of your country, were not less the objects of pursuit with you, than with the other members of the Convention.
Your answer will gratify me and your numerous friends here. Such use only shall be made of it as you shall prescribe. And as I shall be absent [for about]3 four weeks from this time, have the goodness to direct your letter to me, under cover to my nephew Samuel Putnam Esqr. of Salem.4
I am, as ever, truly & respectfully yours,
Copy, in Pickering’s handwriting, Essex Institute, Salem, Massachusetts; copy, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston; copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. Following his dismissal as Secretary of State on May 12, 1800, Pickering moved to Easton, Pennsylvania, where he owned land which he planned to cultivate. His Federalist friends subsequently purchased his land by subscription, and Pickering returned to his home in Essex County, Massachusetts. From March 4, 1803, to March 3, 1811, he was a member of the United States Senate.
2. On March 31, 1803, Republicans held a meeting at Rhust’s Hall in Salem to nominate candidates for governor and state senators. On April 4, 1803, the Salem Register, a Republican newspaper, printed a report of the meeting, which reads in part: “The following propositions were made by the celebrated Alexander Hamilton, in the Convention, and shew unequivocally his political opinions. Here we have a President and Senate For Life. Governors of the States chosen by this President and Senate, with an absolute Negative upon all laws. The whole Militia under The Sole and Exclusive direction of the General Government. The State Governments reduced to mere corporations—All Courts instituted by the United States. The Senate with Sole power to declare war; and in fine all the prerogatives of a monarch and nobility.” The eleven propositions printed at the end of this article were the same as the provisions in H’s first plan of government in the Constitutional Convention. See “Constitutional Convention. Plan of Government,” June 18, 1787.
3. The words in brackets have been taken from the copy in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
4. Putnam, a lawyer in Salem, Massachusetts, was the husband of Sarah Gooll, a daughter of Pickering’s sister, Lois Gooll.