Thomas Jefferson Papers

Notes on Alexander Hamilton, 24 August 1797

Notes on Alexander Hamilton

Aug. 24. About the time of the British treaty, Hamilton and Taleyrand, bp. of Autun dined together, and Hamilton drank freely. Conversing on the treaty, Taleyrand says ‘mais vraiment Monsr. Hamilton, ce n’est pas bien honnete, after making the Senate ratify the treaty to advise the Presidt. to reject it.’ ‘The treaty, said Hamilton is an execrable one, and Jay was an old woman for making it, but the whole credit of saving us from it must be given to the President.’ After circumstances had led to a conclusion that the President also must ratify it, he said to the same Taleyrand, ‘tho’ the treaty is a most execrable one, yet when once we have come to a determination on it, we must carry it through thick and thin, right or wrong.’ Taleyrand told this to Volney who told it to me.

There is a letter now appearing in the papers from Pickering to Monroe dated July 241 97. which I am satisfied is written by Hamilton. He was in Philadelphia at that date.2

MS (DLC: TJ Papers, Vol. 102: 17461); entirely in TJ’s hand, written on same sheet as Note on Diplomatic Appointments, July 1797, and Notes on Conversations with John Adams and George Washington, [after 13 Oct. 1797], and likely written at same sitting as the former; see also Note on Spanish Expenditures, 13 Oct. 1797.

Hamilton and Taleyrand: French diplomat and politician Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord lived in exile in the United States, where he was on friendly terms with Alexander Hamilton, from April 1794 until June 1796 (John L. Earl III, “Talleyrand in Philadelphia, 1794–1796,” PMHB description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1877- description ends , xci [1967], 283, 286–7, 289, 298). The 24 July 1797 letter of Timothy Pickering to James Monroe, one of a series of letters exchanged by the two during that month, concerned the administration’s refusal to comply with Monroe’s request for an explanation of his recall from France (Pickering to Monroe, 24 July 1797, DLC: Monroe Papers; Philadelphia Aurora, 4 Aug. 1797).

1Figure reworked.

2TJ added this sentence later.

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