Alexander Hamilton Papers
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From Alexander Hamilton to Rufus King, [20 April 1796]

To Rufus King

[New York, April 20, 1796]

Dr. Sir

Yesterdays Post brought me a letter from you1 which gave me pleasure. The papers will apprize you of the proceedings of the Merchants & Traders here on yesterday.2 There is among them also “unexampled unanimity”3 & as far as I can judge the current is in our favour throughout the City. Persons to day are going through the different wards.

Yrs. sincerely

A Hamilton

P.S. Our friends in the House will do well to gain time.

Rufus King Esq

ALS, New-York Historical Society, New York City.

2See H to King, April 15, 18, 1796.

On April 19, “at a meeting of the Merchant and Traders of the City of New York, convened by Public Notification, at the Tontine Coffee-House,” the following resolution was adopted: “… that it is expedient to present a respectful address to … [the House of Representatives], expressive of the sentiment that it deeply concerns the commerce, agriculture, peace and honor of the United States—that provision be made for the execution of the … treaty [with Great Britain] with punctuality and good faith.

“That it is also expedient to appoint a Committee for corresponding with the other trading towns in the United States, and also with the other Counties of this state on the abovementioned subject.

“That Gulian Verplanck, James Watson, Edmond Seaman, William Nelson, Moses Rogers, John B. Coles, Isaac Clason, John Thurston, Thomas Pearsal, and Cornelius Ray, be the said committee, and that they be instructed to appoint a suitable number of proper characters to proceed through the different Wards of this city to obtain the signatures to the said address of all those of our fellow-citizens who shall agree in opinion with this meeting.

“And thereupon the following address having been produced, read and considered, the same was agreed to by the meeting.

“By order of the meeting
Gulian Verplanck, Chairman.

“To the Honourable House of Representatives of the United States, now convened.

“We the undersigned, Merchants, Traders, and other Citizens of the City of New York, being of the number of your constituents and deeply interested in the issue of every public measure that can affect the essential interests of our country, find ourselves impelled by that consideration, to address you on the subject of certain resolutions now depending in your house respecting the Treaty made with Great Britain, which fills our minds with very serious apprehensions, which have already given occasion to very serious embarrasments, and which in our opinion threaten very extensive and complicated evils—the whole magnitude of which it is not easy to foresee or to calculate.

“Whatever difference of sentiment may at any time have existed among us respecting particular public measures, yet on this occasion and at this time, we all unite in one opinion—and that opinion is, that the abovementioned treaty ought to be provided for, and executed on the part of the United States with punctuality and good faith.

“We forbear to enter into the question what are the boundaries of the constitutional authority of the several branches of our government on the subject of this address; but however these may stand, we are convinced after full and mature deliberation, that no existing considerations are of sufficient weight, to render it adviseable to refuse making provision for the execution of the said treaty, and that it deeply concerns the Agriculture, Commerce, Peace, Character and Honour of our Nation, that such provision shall be promptly made.

“The compleat execution of the treaties with Great Britain, Spain and Algiers, by extinguishing all matters of controversy and war, which have heretofore existed between us and any foreign powers, appears to us a point of the greatest consequence to this young and rising country—affording a prospect of durable peace; and of an uninterrupted progress to that maturity and strength, which will enable us to defy the enmity of foreign powers, without those immense sacrifices which war in our present situation, must inevitably produce. And tho’ we shall be at all times disposed to encounter with the spirit and fortitude of Freemen, the calamities of a war, necessary as well as just, we could not but look forward with extreme regret and dissatisfaction to one, of which either justice or the necessity was doubtful.

“Thus impressed, we respectfully offer our sense of the momentous subject to the solemn and dispassionate consideration of the House of Representatives; firmly trusting that no impartial views or impressions will interfere with the true interest of our country; that its peace will be carefully cherished; and that its faith and honor will be preserved inviolable and unblemished.” ([Philadelphia] Gazette of the United States, April 21, 1796.)

3This is a quotation from King to H, April 17–18, 1796.

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