George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, 25 March 1783

Phila. March 25th 1783


The inclosed I write more in a public than in a private capacity—Here I write as a citizen zealous for the true happiness of this country—as a soldier who feels what is due to an army which has suffered every thing and done much for the safety of America.

I sincerly wish ingratitude was not so natural to the human heart as it is—I sincerely wish there were no seeds of it in those who direct the councils of the United States. But while I urge the army to moderation, and advise Your Excellency to take the direction of their discontents, and endeavour to confine them within the bounds of duty, I cannot as an honest man conceal from you, that I am afraid their distrusts have too much foundation. Republican jealousy has in it a principle of hostility to an army whatever be their merits, whatever be their claims to the gratitude of the community. It acknowleges their services with unwillingness and rewards them with reluctance. I feel this temper, though smothered with great care, involuntarily breaking out upon too many occasions—I often feel a mortification, which it would be impolitic to express, that sets my passions at variance with my reason. Too many I perceive, if they could do it with safety or colour, would be glad to elude the just pretensions of the army—I hope this is not the prevailing disposition.

But supposing the Country ungrateful what can the army do? It must submit to its hard fate To seek redress by its arms would end in its ruin. The army would moulder by its own weight and for want of the means of keeping together—the soldiery would abandon their officers—There would be no chance of success without having recourse to means that would reverse our revolution I make these observations not that I imagine Your Excellency can want motives to continue your influence in the path of moderation; but merely to show why I cannot myself enter into the views of coercion which some Gentlemen entertain for I confess could force avail I should almost wish to see it employed. I have an indifferent opinion of the honesty of this country, and ill-forebodings as to its future system.

Your Excellency will perceive I have written with sensations of chagrine and will make allowance for colouring; but the general picture is too true—God send us all more wisdom. I am with very sincere respect Yr Excellys Obed. servt

A. Hamilton

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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