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The Hague, 10 September 1785. MS ( PCC , No. 135, I, f. 286–320). PRINTED : Miller, Treaties Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America , ed. Hunter Miller, Washington, D.C., 1931–1948; 8 vols. , 2:162–184. LbC ( Adams Papers ); APM Reel 111. The undated LbC was done by Charles Storer in early August from the copies brought to London by William Short on 3 Aug. for...
183152Editorial Note (Adams Papers)
In 1784 and 1785 the absence of any treaties between the United States and the Barbary States produced a crisis when Morocco and Algiers seized American ships. Congress’ decision in March 1785 to resolve that problem, at the behest of the commissioners and the emperor of Morocco, opened a new chapter in the nation’s diplomacy. The documents presented here indicate the basis upon which the...
In early September 1786, John Adams returned to No. 8 Grosvenor Square from a whirlwind summer trip to the Netherlands with wife Abigail ( John Adams Visits the Netherlands, 3 Aug. – 6 Sept. , above). Mulling over his political conversations with old friends in the Dutch Patriot Party, which seemed on the verge of victory over the pro-stadholder Orangist Party, Adams plunged into researching...
Generations of H scholars have not been able either to date this letter or to determine its addressee with any certainty. The date has been variously given as 1779 and 1780 without naming a particular month. In the present instance the date assigned has been based on three factors: First, in the next to last paragraph, H writes that he can be reached through James Montague at the post office...
According to his biographer ( Robertson, The Life of Miranda William S. Robertson, The Life of Miranda (Chapel Hill, 1929). , I, 43), Miranda, while in New York City in 1784, devised a plan for the liberation of Venezuela which he revealed to Henry Knox and Hamilton. In the Miranda papers there are four lists of names, three of which are in the writing of Hamilton, and one of which is in an...
These Notes, which Hamilton divided into two parts entitled “Notes on the History of North America” and “Notes on the History of South America,” were prepared for a brief which he used in a case involving a land controversy between Massachusetts and New York. Some students of Hamilton have mistakenly assumed that these notes were prepared while Hamilton was a student in 1773 at the school...
The Assembly of the New York legislature resolved on January 17, 1787, “that a Committee be appointed to consider of and report, ways and means for discharging the debts of the State, and the maintenance of public credit” ( New York Assembly Journal Journal of the Assembly of the State of New York (Publisher and place vary, 1782–1788). , 1787, 10). The Journal , however, did not give the names...
There are five versions of Hamilton’s speech of June 18 to the Constitutional Convention. In the first place, there are Hamilton’s own notes which he presumably used while he was delivering the speech. In the second place James Madison, Robert Yates, John Lansing, Jr., and Rufus King all made notes on the speech while Hamilton was delivering it. Because the several accounts of the speech are...
The Federalist essays have been printed more frequently than any other work of Hamilton. They have, nevertheless, been reprinted in these volumes because no edition of his writings which omitted his most important contribution to political thought could be considered definitive. The essays written by John Jay and James Madison, however, have not been included. They are available in many...
On February 1, 1788, the New York legislature voted to call a convention to ratify or reject the proposed Constitution. Departing from the usual suffrage requirements, the legislature resolved that every free male citizen of twenty-one years or over was to have a vote. In the elections, held on the third Tuesday in April, Hamilton was elected one of the delegates to the New York Ratifying...
Sources for the ideas expressed by Hamilton in his Report Relative to a Provision for the Support of Public Credit are both varied and difficult to assess. Public credit, or the terms on which a state may borrow, had been discussed in Europe by philosophers, government officials, and political pamphleteers for almost a century before Hamilton drew up his famous Report. Many Americans had also...
There are two drafts of this document in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress. The final version, which was submitted to the House of Representatives, is the National Archives. The first draft, which is in Hamilton’s handwriting, is printed below in essentially the same form in which it was written by Hamilton. In the margin of the first draft are queries and insertions in the text which...
In preparing his “Second Report on the Further Provision Necessary for Establishing Public Credit,” Hamilton relied heavily on European precedents and theories of banking. The Bank of England and Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations undoubtedly influenced Hamilton’s thinking in varying degrees. It is more difficult, however, to generalize on the effect of earlier American experiments in banking on...
Precedents for Hamilton’s “Report on the Establishment of a Mint,” can be found in the writings of various Europeans and in the American proposals for a national system of coinage that had been submitted to Congress under the Articles of Confederation. During the autumn of 1790 Hamilton made repeated efforts to obtain information concerning practices and policies in other countries, and there...
There are at least eight manuscript versions of this famous document. One of these is an incomplete draft in Hamilton’s handwriting. The other seven are copies. The two versions that are printed below are the draft and that copy which it is assumed is the final version that was sent to George Washington. The seven copies of this document are located as follows: 1. Copy, Mr. John R. Dillard,...
Like Hamilton’s other major state papers, the “Report on Manufactures” is distinguished not so much by originality of thought as by the cogency and persuasiveness of its arguments, its far-reaching implications, and its ennobling vision of the destiny of the United States. Indeed, it contains few, if any, specific proposals that even the most enthusiastic supporters of Hamilton could maintain...
This letter concerns the problem of the so-called lost million. As early as September, 1775, Pierre August Caron de Beaumarchais, the French writer and courtier, had attempted to persuade the French government of the desirability of aiding the American colonies in their revolt against England. When, in the spring of 1776, the French government agreed to send supplies from France to the...
The completion of the census of 1790 offered Congress its first opportunity to reapportion representation to conform to the population. The Constitution provided that each state should have at least one representative, that the membership of the House of Representatives should “not exceed one for every 30,000,” and that for purposes of representation the slave population should be counted as...
On March 5, 1792, George Hammond, the British Minister to the United States, submitted to Jefferson a detailed account of the failure of the United States to abide by the provisions of the treaty of peace of 1783. On May 29, Jefferson wrote an extensively documented reply to Hammond’s charges. Jefferson had completed the draft of his letter to Hammond by May 15, 1792, but he delayed sending it...
This letter marks the beginning of a protracted dispute between Mercer and Hamilton. In 1792 Mercer was a candidate for reelection to the House of Representatives from Maryland’s Second District. He was opposed by John Thomas of Susquehanna. During the campaign Mercer made a series of speeches in which he criticized Hamilton’s administration of financial affairs. Mercer contended that the...
Although Hamilton’s “View of the Commercial Regulations of France & Great Britain in reference to the United States” is undated, it is clear that the documents which comprise it were written by Hamilton at different times during the early part of Washington’s Administration. As early as 1789 it was apparent to many Americans that in spite of the apparent prosperity of United States commerce...
This letter from Latimer, a Philadelphia merchant, concerns one phase of the involved question of using portions of the debt owed France by the United States for the relief of Santo Domingo. After the outbreak of the slave insurrection in Santo Domingo in August, 1791, the plight of the French colonists on the island became increasingly desperate. In September, 1791, Jean Baptiste de Ternant,...
According to Gouverneur Morris, United States Minister Plenipotentiary to France, Edmund Charles Genet had sailed from France in February, 1793, “with … three hundred blank commissions, which he is to distribute to such as will fit out cruisers in our ports to prey on the British commerce.” In July, 1793, Genet told Thomas Jefferson that on his arrival at Charleston on April 8 “he was...
This letter from Andrew Fraunces initiated a controversy over the payment of two warrants issued by the Board of Treasury in 1787 and 1789. Although Fraunces maintained that he had purchased these warrants in early May, 1793, it cannot be stated with certainty just how he obtained them or whether he ever actually owned them. During June, July, and August, 1793, Fraunces wrote to both Hamilton...
Throughout 1792 and the early months of 1793 the Washington Administration had received reports of Indian depredations and Spanish intrigue on the southern frontier. In 1790 the Creek Nation under the leadership of Alexander McGillivray had signed a treaty of peace and friendship with the United States at New York, which among other stipulations had provided for a survey of the boundary...
This letter marks Hamilton’s initial involvement in a protracted and acrimonious dispute between Rufus King and John Jay on the one hand and Edmond C. Genet on the other. Briefly stated, the controversy centered on whether Genet on July 6, 1793, at the height of the crisis over the sailing of the Little Sarah , had or had not told Alexander Dallas Alexander J. Dallas that “he would appeal from...
In the period immediately preceding George Washington’s Fifth Annual Address to Congress on December 3, 1793, the President and the members of his cabinet held a series of meetings at which the contents of the message were discussed. Thomas Jefferson’s accounts of these meetings in the “Anas” indicate that he and Edmund Randolph disagreed with Hamilton on several occasions and that the...
On December 16, 1793, the Speaker of the House of Representatives “laid before the House a Letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, requesting that a new inquiry into his official conduct may be instituted, in some mode most effectual for an accurate and thorough investigation; which was read, and ordered to lie on the table.” Because of Republican criticism of the manner in which the 1793...
The threat of war with Great Britain in the spring of 1794 was met in the United States with proposals for reprisals, for strengthening American defenses, and for negotiation. Most individuals who urged negotiation also advocated that the task be entrusted to a special envoy. Secretary of State Edmund Randolph stated on April 6 that he was “among the first, if not the first, who suggested this...
183180Introductory Note (Hamilton Papers)
This report is among the more significant and neglected of Hamilton’s state papers. Its significance arises from at least two factors. As James Madison stated, it was Hamilton’s “Valedictory Rept.,” and as such it contains both a summary of where the Treasury Department had been under his direction and his views on where it should go after he had left the Government. More important, although...
This is one of a series of letters concerning Tench Coxe’s speculations in Pennsylvania lands. Most of the purchases were made by Coxe for a partnership which he had formed with John B. Church, Elizabeth Hamilton’s brother-in-law. When this partnership was established, Church was in England, and it was Hamilton as Church’s business representative and attorney in fact who drew up the agreement...
This letter is the first in a protracted—although one-sided—correspondence, which lasted even beyond Robert Morris’s imprisonment for debt on February 15 February 16 , 1798. Aside from this letter to Morris, all the other letters in this group were written by Morris to Hamilton. Morris’s letters consist almost entirely of discussions of his tangled, multitudinous, and complex financial...
The contents of this letter can best be understood in the context of Hamilton’s “Report on a Plan for the Further Support of Public Credit,” January 16, 1795 . Congress considered Hamilton’s proposals in February, 1795, and in the following month enacted “An Act making further provision for the support of Public Credit, and for the redemption of the Public Debt.” In this letter Hamilton is...
This letter is one of many which Morris wrote to Hamilton concerning a debt which Morris owed to John B. Church. Hamilton was directly involved in this transaction because he handled Church’s business affairs in the United States while Church, who had married Elizabeth Hamilton’s sister Angelica, was in his native England. Any student attempting to understand Morris’s numerous and involved...
This is the first of thirty-eight articles entitled “The Defence” and signed “Camillus,” which were written in support of the Jay Treaty. The Senate had given its advice and consent to the treaty on June 24, 1795, and George Washington had ratified it on August 14, 1795. As soon as the contents of the treaty had been made public in the first week of July, 1795, it was widely attacked—and...
The opening paragraph of this letter contains the first reference in Hamilton’s extant correspondence to a series of business transactions in which he was to be involved for several years as the representative of Schuyler and certain other New Yorkers. When Schuyler wrote this letter, he believed that he, Barent Bleecker, Edward Goold, and William Greene had a claim to a portion of Cosby Manor...
This letter is the first in Morris’s correspondence with Hamilton that refers to a debt which Benjamin Walker was trying to collect from Morris. Hamilton became involved in this matter because both men consulted him about it on more than one occasion and because the debt in question became inextricably intertwined in Morris’s efforts to pay a debt which he owed to John B. Church, who was the...
The opening paragraph of this letter contains the first reference in Hamilton’s extant correspondence to the preparation of Washington’s Farewell Address. Washington first conceived of the idea of a valedictory address in 1792, when he thought that he would retire at the end of his first term in March, 1793. In May, 1792, he asked James Madison to draft a farewell address, and Madison complied...
The events described in this letter precipitated the final phase of what has come to be known as the “Reynolds Affair.” In pamphlets appearing in June and July, 1797, James Thomson Callender stated that Hamilton, while Secretary of the Treasury, had joined with James Reynolds in a series of speculative ventures that were at best improper and at worst illegal. Two months later Hamilton...
This letter contains the first of many references to the plans for the fortification of New York City during the Quasi-War with France. What on the surface should have been a relatively simple operation became extraordinarily complex because of the division of responsibility among the United States Government, the Military Committee of New York City, the state government, and the city...
This letter contains the first mention in Hamilton’s extant correspondence of the question of who was to serve directly under Washington in his capacity as “Commander in Chief of all the armies raised, or to be raised, in the United States.” When Washington wrote this letter, he assumed that Congress would pass “An Act to augment the Army of the United States, and for other purposes,” which...
This letter concerns proposals for reorganizing the Army. This is a complicated subject, for it involves a series of bewildering statutes enacted by Congress concerning the Regular Army, Additional Army, Provisional Army, and Eventual Army. When the Constitution went into effect in 1789, the new government inherited an army which had served under the Continental Congress and which was the...
The opening paragraph of the letter printed below contains the first reference in Hamilton’s extant correspondence to a series of events that led to the chartering of the Manhattan Company. This company, which eventually was to supply New York City with an inadequate water system and a major bank, owed its creation primarily to the ingenuity of Aaron Burr, who at the time the charter was...
Introductory Note The letter printed below is one of many which Hamilton and his correspondents wrote concerning Federalist prospects in the presidential campaign of 1800. These letters present several problems for the modern reader. In the first place, the electoral process in 1800 was so complicated that it appeared either through design or inadvertence to make the selection of the President...
As Hamilton indicates in the letter printed below, he was about to set out on a trip to New England. This trip, which began on June 7 and ended on June 30, enabled Hamilton to review for the first and last time the members of the brigade stationed at Oxford, Massachusetts, and to visit with Federalists in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. A leading historian of New...
This letter contains the first explicit reference to the Grange, Hamilton’s country home in upper Manhattan. Hamilton may have begun to plan this “retreat,” as he called it, as early as 1798, when he wrote to his wife Elizabeth of a “sweet prospect” which he had formed. The name he gave to his country estate was the same as that of his family’s ancestral home in Ayrshire, Scotland, and of his...
Hamilton’s record as Secretary of the Treasury demonstrated to all but his most inveterate enemies that he was a statesman of the first order. His Letter … Concerning the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams revealed that he had become an inept politician who was a burden to the party he had helped to create and hoped to lead. Although the pamphlet’s influence on the outcome of the...
This is the first of a series of eighteen articles entitled “The Examination” and signed by “Lucius Crassus.” They appeared in the New-York Evening Post during the winter of 1801–1802 and were designed to refute the points raised by Thomas Jefferson in his first annual message to Congress on December 8, 1801. The New-York Evening Post printed the first installment of “The Examination” on...
On the afternoon of the 17th June last I received a Note from Col: Burr requesting me to call on him the following morning which I did. Upon my arrival he observed that it had of late been frequently stated to him that Genl Hamilton had at different times and upon various occasions used language and expressed opinions highly injurious to his reputation—that he had for some time felt the...
Genl Hamilton read the Note of Mr Burr and the printed letter of Mr Cooper to which it refers, and remarked that they required some consideration, and that in the course of the day he would send a answer to my office. At ½ past 1 O clock Genl Hamilton called at my house and said that a variety of engagements would demand his attention during the whole of that day and the next—but that on...