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To Alexander Hamilton from Henry Lee, 6 February 1801

From Henry Lee1

W[ashington]. Feby. 6th. 1801.

dear sir

Yr. favor was duely recd2& would have been replied to immediately, had not the subject it regards been so momentous & was I not solicitous to communicate my final decision to you thereupon.

It is certainly cause of no little regret in my mind to find myself in opposition to you on any occurrence, especially on one so important as that which now presents itself.

But really my friend after much deliberation on the business I am decidedly convinced that our best interests will be jeopardized shd. Mr J succeed. That a different result may not happen under the guidance of Mr. B is to be rationally expected for he must lean on those who bring him to the chair, or he must fall never to rise again. His own side will abandon him excepting those few whom personal considerations may bind to him.

What will be the issue is very uncertain. Mr. Jefns friends are Confident. Six states at most can be counted on for Mr B, but I believe if they adhere with firmness, victory will attach to them.

In any event I feel disturbed for our poor country, but in every vicissitude I shall hope for the best, resign to the public will, & continue affcy. to regard you.


H Lee

Accidentally calling on the S of S, he read to me yr. letter.3 I feel its force, but am not convinced. In morality both are alike, in the power of doing ill, the Virginian surpasses. We have lost the battle of Marengo, & like Melas4 you are for giving all up.

I wish to continue the action by a diversion in the enemys country. Be of better chear.



ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1For background to this letter, see H to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., December 16, 1800, note 1.

2Letter not found.

4General Michael F. von Melas commanded the Austrian forces which the French defeated at the Battle of Marengo on June 14, 1800. The next day, Melas signed a truce which provided for his withdrawal to the Mincio River and gave the French possession of Piedmont and Lombardy.

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