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From Alexander Hamilton to Elizabeth Hamilton, [12 September 1797]

To Elizabeth Hamilton

Rye 30 Miles from
New York
Tuesday Even [September 12, 1797]

I am arrived here1 My Dear Eliza in good health but very anxious about my Dear Philip.2 I pray heaven to restore him and in every event to support you. If his fever should appear likely to prove obstinate, urge the Physician to consider well the propriety of trying the cold bath—I expect it will, if it continues assume a nervous type and in this case I believe the cold bath will be the most efficacious remedy—but still do not attempt it without the approbation of the Physician. Also my Betsey how much do I regret to be separated from you at such a juncture. When will the time come that I shall be exempt from the necessity of leaving my dear family? God bless my beloved and all My Dear Children


Mrs. Hamilton

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1H was on his way to Hartford, Connecticut, to represent New York in the Connecticut Gore controversy before the United States Circuit Court, District of Connecticut, at Hartford. For information on the Connecticut Gore controversy, and H’s role in it, see Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., ed., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964– ). description ends , I, 657–84.

On April 9, 1798, Samuel Jones, comptroller of New York State, signed a warrant for eight hundred dollars to be paid to H for his services in the Connecticut Gore controversy (DS, Onandaga Historical Association, Syracuse, New York). See also John Jay to Jones, March 31, 1798 (L[S], Onandaga Historical Association, Syracuse, New York); Josiah Ogden Hoffman, attorney general of New York, to Aaron Burr and Abraham Van Vechten, an Albany attorney, March 13, 1798 (D[S], Onandaga Historical Association, Syracuse, New York). On a separate sheet of paper in the Onandaga Historical Association is the following receipt: “Received Albany 14th April 1798 from Robert McClallen Treasurer of the State of New York Eight Hundred Dollars in full of the Within Warrant   $800   to be transmitted to Colo Hamilton   Daniel Hale.” Hale was an Albany merchant and politician.

Under the date of January 4, 1797, H recorded in his Cash Book, 1795–1804: “Cash for this sum received of Atty General for State Adsm Connecticut Gore 250” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

H also attended the April, 1798, session of the United States Circuit Court, District of Connecticut, at New Haven. Three entries in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, under the date of April 1, 1798, read:

“paid on journey to N: Haven 100

“Cash received State Ads Connecti 800 “State of New York second journey to N Haven 8 days at 50Ds Da 400” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

For H’s earlier involvement in the Connecticut Gore controversy, see H to Jeremiah Wadsworth, September 29, 1796.

2Philip Hamilton, H’s eldest son. Dr. David Hosack, whose recollections are not entirely accurate, described Philip’s illness in a letter to John C. Hamilton on January 1, 1833: “I was first introduced into Your Father’s family as a physician, during the dangerous illness of your oldest brother Philip.… He was attacked with a severe, bilious fever which soon assumed a typhus character, attendant with symptoms which gave great alarm to his family and anxiety to his physician the late Dr. [John] Charlton.… The son’s complaints increasing in violence and danger, at the suggestion of Dr. Charlton and some of your family connexions I was called in consultation.

“Great distress then existing in your family added to the anxiety pervading their numerous friends, indeed I may say the community. I resolved at the request of Mrs. Hamilton and of Dr. Charlton, to remain with your brother while his situation continued thus perilous. His disease continuing to increase in violence, and scarcely a ray of hope remaining, your Father was sent for by an express, informing him that his son’s recovery was entirely despaired of. In the meantime more malignant symptoms appeared attended with delirium, insensibility to external objects, loss of pulse, and general prostration, insomuch that his Mother, overwhelmed with distress, by my advice, was removed to another room that she might not witness the last struggles of her son.

“At this moment it occurred to me that a stimulant bath prepared with a strong decoction of Peruvian bark with the addition of some bottles of rum, and that made use of at a high temperature, might possibly prove beneficial at least in prolonging his existence. The bath was immediately prepared. He was carefully immersed in it, and occasionally it was rendered still more stimulant, by the frequent addition of small quantities of the spirits of hartshorne. After a few minutes he was aroused from his delirium, his senses for the time were restored, his pulse acquired strength, and he was enabled to swallow some draughts of strong wine whey, which I had directed to be prepared. After remaining in the bath about 15 minutes, he was removed to his bed, and covered with warm dry blankets. He immediately fell into a sleep by which he was sensibly improved, but in a few hours he relapsed into delirium, with a return of the former alarming symptoms. The warm bath was renewed and the same salutary effects were produced as before. The third application of the bath upon the recurrence of a similar train of symptoms in the course of the day, placed him in a relatively safe situation, from which he gradually acquired strength and ultimately recovered.” (Typescript, furnished by Columbia University Libraries.) An entry in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, under the date of September 8, 1797, reads: “paid Doct Charleton 60” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

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