John Jay Papers
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From John Jay to Alexander Hamilton, 28 September 1783

To Alexander Hamilton

Passy 28 Septr. 1783

Dear Sir:

Mr. Carter lately delivered to me your friendly letter of the 25th July last. You was always of the Number of those whom I esteemed, and your Correspondence would have been both interesting & agreable. I had heard of ^your^ marriage, and it gave me Pleasure, as well because it added to your Happiness, as because it tended to fix your residence in a State, of which I long wished you to be and remain a citizen.—

The Character and Talents of Delegates to Congress daily become more and more important, and I regret your declining that appointment at this interesting Period. Respect however is due to the Considerations which influence You but as they do not oppose your accepting a Place in the Legislature, I hope the Public will still continue to derive advantage from your Services. Much remains to be done, and labourers do not abound—1

I am happy to hear that the Terms of Peace, and the Conduct of your negotiators, give general Satisfaction— But there are some of our Countrymen it seems who are not content, and that too with an article which I thought to be very unexceptionable, vizt. the one [ascertaining] our Boundaries—perhaps those Gentlemen are [latitudinarians]

[The American news Papers for some months] past, contain advices [that do us Harm— Violences & associations] against the Tories, [pay an ill Compt. to Government, & impeach our] Good Faith in the opinions of some, and our magnanimity in the opinions of ma[ny]—our Reputation also suffers from the apparent Reluctance to [Taxes,] and the Ease with which we incur Debts without providing for [their] Payment. The Complaints of the Army— The Jealousies respect[ing] Congress—the Circumstances which induced their leaving Philadelphia—and the too little appearance of a national Spirit pervading, uniting and invigorating the Confederacy, are considered as omens which portend Diminution of our Respectability, Power, and Felicity. I hope that as the wheel turns round, other & better Indications will soon appear. I am persuaded that America possesses too much wisdom and virtue, to permit her brilliant Prospects to2 fade away for the want of either—3

The Tories are as much pitied in these Countries as they are execrated in ours. An undue Degree of Severity towards them would therefore be impolitic as well as unjustifiable. They who incline to involve that whole Class of Men in indiscriminate Punishment and Ruin, certainly carry the Matter too far; it would be an Instance of unnecessary Rigour and unmanly Revenge without a Parallel, except in the annals of religious Rage in times of Bigotry and Blindness— What does it signify where nine tenths of these People are buried? I would rather see the Sweat of their Brows fertilize our Fields, than those of our Neighbours, in which they ^it^ would certainly water those Seeds of Hatred, wh[ich if so cultivated may produce a Hedge of Thorns agt. us— Shall all be pardoned then? by no means—4 banish & confiscate the Estates of such of them as have been either faithless or cruel—5 and forgive the rest—] Victory and Peace should in my opinion be followed by Clemency, Moderation and Benevolence & [we] should be careful not to sully the Glory of the Revolution by licentiousness and Cruelty— These are my Sentiments, & however unpopular they may be, I have not the least Desire to conceal or disguise them—

Mr & Mrs Carter are well, and our Endeavours shall not be wanting to render Paris agreable to them.

Be pleased to present my best compliments to Mrs. Hamilton, and believe me to be with Regard & Esteem— Dear Sir Your most obt. h’ble Servt.

John Jay

Col. A. Hamilton—

ALS, DLC: Hamilton (EJ: 10346). Ms partly mutilated; missing text filled in from Dft and indicated by brackets. Dft, UkWC-A (EJ: 28).

1On Hamilton’s resignation from Congress, see his letter of 25 July, above, and note 3.

2Here, in the Dft, JJ excised: “be clouded & blasted” before interlining “fade away”.

3Here, in the Dft, JJ wrote: “But, whatever time may produce, certain it is that our Reputation & our affairs suffer from present appearances.”

4Here in the Dft, JJ excised: “Humanity, to the widows and orphans & Justice to all forbid it—”

5Here, in the Dft, JJ exised: “as to those who have fought fairly, I prefer them to [illegible] and would forgive them with all my Heart nor after Peace in the Days of our Prosperity wd I condescend”.

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