Alexander Hamilton Papers
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To Alexander Hamilton from James Wilkinson, 21 November 1799

From James Wilkinson

[Baltimore] Novr. 21st. 1799

My dear General & Friend—

It is a truth, that in the variety of my Life, I have very seldom experienced so essential a privation, as the loss of your Society. I should find difficulty in the discrimination, but you have Interests about you, which I have never discovered in another, matter to captivate the understanding, & manner to charm the Heart—pardon this effusion of grateful Friendship, since it gives pleasure to a Heart, which has ever been the play-thing of its affections.

With submission, I think you Should be in Philadela. at an early day, your influence & your conciliation may I fear become necessary to prevent a dangerous Schism in the ad----.----n. the Atty. Genl.1 is vociferous in his reprobations of the surrender of Robbins,2 & it is whispered that the M. of S. has transcended in that case the presidential authorization;3 the Antis are encouraged, organized & united, ready to seize every advantage—parties are bitter here, but among the most bitter & the most opposite, I find your name listened to with respect. Whatever may be said to the contrary, the Interests of your old rival4 will be pushed for the chair of State. I find here an opposition man now of Congress, your admirer & your friend personally. You have slighted Him last winter & he is piqued; but yr. future attentions will be gratefully received, and you may I am persuaded use Him to good effect in our professional concerns, as he certainly will have influence on that subject. Devoted to you with Hand, Head, & Heart I implore Heaven to have particular charge of you.

Adieu Adieu

Harper5 is here, so is Miss Carrall.6 I saw them yesterday, & infer that the swain has been importunate.

AL, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Charles Lee.

2Jonathan Robbins, whose real name was Thomas Nash, was a deserter from the British navy. A petty officer on the frigate Hermione and a participant in the mutiny on that ship in September, 1797, he and other members of the crew subsequently joined the United States Navy. Early in 1799 he was recognized by Benjamin Moodie, the British consul for North and South Carolina and Georgia, and jailed in February, 1799, on the suspicion of being a British citizen and involved in the Hermione mutiny. He was held in custody by the marshal of the District for South Carolina in conformity with Article 27 of the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation between the United States and Great Britain (the Jay Treaty) (Miller, Treaties, II, 263). In an effort to avoid extradition, Nash stated that he was a native of Danbury, Connecticut. The selectmen of Danbury, however, denied his statement. He also maintained that he had been impressed by the British and detained on the Hermione until the crew had taken the frigate into a Spanish port by force. During his trial in the West Indies, it was learned that he was an Irishman, born at Waterford; that on December 21, 1792, he had become a volunteer on the Dover; and that on January 28, 1793, he was transferred to the Hermione.

Robert Liston, the British Minister to the United States, wanted Nash turned over to the Royal Navy. Charles Lee and Thomas Bee, who was United States judge for the District of South Carolina, thought that this could be accomplished only with an application to the President, which Liston submitted in May, 1799. On June 3, 1799, Secretary of State Timothy Pickering, at the request of the President, instructed Bee to deliver Nash to the British consul. Nash was tried in Jamaica for murder and piracy on the high seas, convicted, and hanged. See Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and all the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , X, 511–12, 515–18, 526, 532–33, 541–58, 583–621; Wharton, State Trials description begins Francis Wharton, State Trials of the United States During the Administrations of Washington and Adams (Philadelphia, 1849). description ends , 392–457.

3This is a reference to Pickering, who authorized Bee to deliver Nash to the British consul (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and all the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , X, 516).

4Thomas Jefferson or Aaron Burr.

5Robert Goodloe Harper was a member of the House of Representatives from South Carolina from 1795 to 1801.

6Catherine Carroll, the daughter of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, became engaged to Robert Harper in 1801. Although her father disapproved of the marriage, she married Harper in May, 1801, and settled in Baltimore that year.

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