Alexander Hamilton Papers
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To Alexander Hamilton from George Washington, 18 November 1795

From George Washington

Philadelphia 18th. Novr. 1795

My dear Sir,

Having no doubt that the petition contained in the enclosed Gazette, will make its appearance in the Virginia Assembly;1 and nearly as little of its favourable reception in that body, I resolved to give you the perusal of it, at this moment.

But my principal view in writing to you now, is, to request that you would desire young Fayette and his Tutor2 to proceed to this place without delay; having resolved, unless some powerful reasons can be suggested to the contrary, to take them at once into my family.

The young gentleman must have experienced some unpleasant feelings already from being kept at a distance from me, and I feel as unpleasantly as he can do, from the same cause.

Very sincerely & affectionately   I am Yours

Go: Washington

Colo. Hamilton.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Washington is referring to the following proceedings in the Virginia House of Delegates on November 17, 1795: “A motion was made that the House do come to the following resolution:

Resolved, That this House do approve of the conduct of Henry Tazewell and Stephens Thompson Mason, Esquires, Senators from this state in the Congress of the United States in voting against the ratification of the treaty lately negociated between the United States and Great-Britain.

“And the said resolution being read, a motion was made to amend the same, in the following words, to wit:

“‘Whereas the powers granted by the people to the continental government, and to the state governments, are and should remain separate and distinct, so that neither exercise what is granted to the other; and this General Assembly have full confidence in the public servants in each branch of the general government.

“‘Resolved, That the discussion of the late treaty between the United States and Great-Britain, as ratified by the President and Senate, is unnecessary in the House of Delegates, and ought to be avoided, and that without a full discussion and investigation thereof, this House cannot be prepared to express any mature opinion upon the conduct of the Senators from Virginia touching that subject.’” (Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia [Richmond, 1795], 21.)

For the actions of Tazewell and Mason, see H to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., June 26, 1795, note 2; William Bradford to H, July 2, 1795.

On November 20, 1795, the House of Delegates again debated the motions. The Committee of the Whole House reported: “Resolved, That this House do approve of the conduct of Henry Tazewell and Stephens Thompson Mason, Senators from this state in the Congress of the United States, in voting against the ratification of the treaty, lately negociated, between the United States and Great-Britain.

“And the said resolution being again read, and the question being put to amend the same by substituting in lieu thereof the following resolution:

“‘Whereas the General Assembly have full confidence in the Senators of this state, and in the other public servants in each branch of the central government;

“‘Resolved, That the discussion of the late treaty between the United States, and Great-Britain, as ratified by the President and Senate, which they have a right to make, is unnecessary in the House of Delegates, except as to its constitutionality, and that without a full investigation thereof, this House cannot be prepared to express any mature opinion upon the conduct of the Senators from Virginia, touching on that subject.’

“It passed in the negative: Ayes 52—Noes 98.…

“And then the question being put, that the House do agree to the Resolution as reported from the committee of the whole House?

“It was resolved in the affirmative: Ayes 100—Noes 50.” (Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 27.)

On November 21 the Virginia House of Delegates “Resolved, That the motives which influenced the President of the United States, to ratify the treaty lately negociated with Great-Britain, meet the entire approbation of this House; and that the President of the United States for his great abilities, wisdom, and integrity, merits and possesses the undiminished confidence of his country.

“And the said resolution being again read, and a motion made to amend the same by striking out from the word ‘resolved’ to the end, and inserting in lieu thereof, the following words:

“‘That the House do entertain the highest sence of the integrity and patriotism of the President of the United States; and that while they approve the vote of the Senators of this State in the Congress of the United States, relative to the treaty with Great-Britain, they in no wise mean to censure the motives which influenced him in his conduct thereupon.’

“It passed in the affirmative. Ayes 89—Noes 56.…

“A motion was then made to amend the said amendment, in the words following:

“‘Resolved, That the President of the United States, for his great abilities, wisdom, and integrity, merits and possesses the undiminished confidence of this House.…’

“It passed in the negative: Ayes 59—Noes 79.…

“And then the question being put that the House do agree to the first resolution as amended.

“It passed in the affirmative.” (Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 28–29.)

In a letter to James Madison on November 26, 1795 (AL, letterpress copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress), Thomas Jefferson enclosed the following extract of a letter written to him from Richmond on November 22: “Mann Page’s motion for a resolution appr⟨oving⟩ the conduct of the minority in the national senate was warmly agit⟨ated⟩ three whole days.… it was much less ⟨ably⟩ defended than opposed. John Marshall it was once apprehended would make a great number of converts by an argument which cannot be considered in any other light than an uncandid artif⟨ice⟩.… It is clear that it was brought forward for the purpose of gaining over the unwary & the wavering.… It’s author was disappointed however—upon a division the vote stood 100 to 50. After the question Charles Lee brought forward a motion of compliment to the P.… A resolution so worded as to acquit the P. of all evil intention, but at the same time silently censuring his error, was passed by a majority of 33. 89 to 56” (D, in the handwriting of Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress).

For evidence that the above extract was written by Thomas Mann Randolph, Jefferson’s son-in-law, see Jefferson to Randolph, November 25, 1795 (ALS, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress).

2For information on George Washington Motier Lafayette and Felix Frestel, his tutor, see H to Washington, October 16, 26, 1795; Washington to H, October 29, November 10, 1795.

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