Alexander Hamilton Papers
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To Alexander Hamilton from Rufus King, 25 August 1796

From Rufus King

London Aug. 25. 1796

Dear sir,

It would have been agreeable to this Government if we would have agreed to the appointment of Doct. Swabey as the fifth commissioner; he is really a very candid and honorable man, but for the same reason that we could not satisfy the Commissioners on the part of G.B. with the appointment of our Country man Colo Trumbull, an equally candid and honorable character, they have been unable to convince us that under all circumstances it would be adviseable that we should accept Doctr. Swabey.1

The utmost propriety of conduct has been shewn on both sides, and out of several Names proposed by each, the British Commissioners selected Colo. Trumbull and our Commissioners Doctr. Swabey, as the names to be put in the urn—the lot has decided in our favor, and Colo Trumbull who is on the spot is the fifth Commissioner. The Board being now complete will proceed to Business without unnecessary Delay.

Knowing the immense importance of this Commission to our Commerce, and navigation, I take the earliest Opportunity to give you this information. The surrender of the Posts which has taken place,2 and the very explicit assurances that I have received from the highest authority in this nation, of a Resolution to carry into Effect the Treaty with the most scrupulous Fidelity, make me anxious that nothing should take place on our side that should furnish even a pretence, much less a Justification, for arresting the further and complete execution of the Treaty—the very extraordinary situation of Europe at this moment should inspire us with great caution; and those whose Property depend on the Treaties being permitted to go into full Effect, should feel, and be influenced by, this Reflection.

Farewell!   Very sincerely yr’s

Rufus King

Col. Hamilton

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Article 7 of the Jay Treaty provided for a five-man commission to settle the claims of United States citizens against Great Britain and the claims of British citizens against the United States. The commission was to consist of two representatives from Great Britain and two from the United States. The four commissioners were then authorized to choose a fifth commissioner by a unanimous vote. If this proved impossible, each side was to nominate a candidate with the choice between these two being determined by lot (Miller, Treaties, II description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America (Washington, 1931), II. description ends , 252–53).

The British members of the commission were John Nicoll and John Anstey; the United States members were Christopher Gore and William Pinkney. After the four commissioners had failed to agree on a candidate for the fifth commissioner, the British nominated Maurice Swabey and the Americans nominated John Trumbull.

2Article 2 of the Jay Treaty reads in part: “His Majesty will withdraw all His Troops and Garrisons from all Posts and Places within the Boundary Lines assigned by the Treaty of Peace of the United States. This Evacuation will take place on or before the first Day of June One thousand seven hundred and ninety six …” (Miller, Treaties, II description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America (Washington, 1931), II. description ends , 246). This deadline was not met because of the delay caused by the debate in the House of Representatives over the implementation of the Jay Treaty (see the introductory note to H to George Washington, March 7, 1796). On December 7, 1796, Washington reported to Congress: “The period during the late session at which the appropriation was passed for carrying into effect the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, between the United States and his Britannic Majesty, necessarily procrastinated the reception of the posts stipulated to be delivered, beyond the date assigned for that event. As soon however, as the Governor General of Canada [Guy Carleton, Lord Dorchester] could be addressed with propriety on the subject, arrangements were cordially and promptly concluded for their evacuation, and the United States took possession of the principal of them, comprehending Oswego, Niagara, Detroit, Michilimakinac, and Fort Miami, where such repairs and additions have been ordered to be made, as appeared indispensable” (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 30).

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