Alexander Hamilton Papers
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From Alexander Hamilton to Jeremiah Wadsworth, [1 December 1796]

To Jeremiah Wadsworth

[New York, December 1, 1796]

Dr. Sir

I have lately received a line from you.1 I had been apprised of the machination to cheat us into Mr Burr2 but I have no apprehension of its success. My chief fear is that the attachment of our Eastern friends to Mr. Adams may prevent their voting for Pinckney likewise, & that some irregularity or accident may deprive us of Adams & let in Jefferson.

Judge Tichener3 in passing through informed me that from something which had occurred to his recollection while here he feared that the votes of Vermont would be lost for want of being warranted by a subsisting legislative Act.4 If so, Adams will not have sufficient votes to prevent the question going to the House of Representatives & then we can be at no loss for the result. The whole number I venture to depend on for Adams (including Vermont & two in Pensylvania) is 73. Take off Vermont and there will be 69 which is less by one than the whole number of Electors.

It may be said Georgia also is irregular.5 This I do not consider as certain. But if so at first there was time enough to discover & rectify it. Not so as to Vermont. Besides who will take care to have the necessary authentic proof from Georgia? From Vermont it can be had & our patriots are not likely to neglect it.

Tis therefore a plain policy to support Mr. Pinkney equally with Mr. Adams.

Yrs. truly

A Hamilton

J Wadsworth E

ALS, Mr. Pierce W. Gaines, Fairfield, Connecticut.

1Letter not found, but see H to Wadsworth, November 8, 1796. See also H to ——, November 8, 1796.

2See the enclosures to Theodore Sedgwick to H, November 19, 1796. See also an entry in H’s Cash Book, 1795-1804, on November 26, 1796, which reads: "Costs & Fees received of <—> & Sadler for arbitration opinion 20" (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

3Isaac Tichenor, United States Senator from Vermont, was associate justice of the Vermont Supreme Court from 1790 to 1794 and its chief justice in 1795 and 1796. In October, 1796, he was elected to the United States Senate, where he served until October, 1797, when he resigned to become governor of Vermont.

4In The [New York] Minerva, & Mercantile Evening Advertiser, November 26, 1796, the following item appeared: “We have good authority to believe the election of Electors in Vermont is invalid—being grounded only on a Resolve of the Legislature, not a law. This is supposed to have been known to the ‘Patriots,’ of that State at the time. It being now too late to correct the mistake, it has leaked out in whispers.” This item was reprinted in the [Boston] Columbian Centinel on December 7, 1796. On December 28, 1796, the Columbian Centinel printed the following paragraph, dated December 14, from a correspondent in Vermont: “We have seen in the Centinel a doubt of the validity of our votes for President and Vice-President, but we can have no idea on what ground that doubt is founded. There is a law in this state which points out the mode of appointing Electors, and they were made agreeably to that law.…”

Vermont’s electoral votes were cast and counted for John Adams.

5Although in the election of 1796 four western counties in Georgia voted for the Federalist ticket, the state’s four electoral votes were cast for Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.

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