Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from James Duane, 16 September 1779

From James Duane

Manor Livingston [New York] 16th September 1779

My dear Col.

I have had no earlier opportunity to acknowledge the Receipt of your very agreeable favour of the 7th Instant. To yours of the  1 I transmitted an answer by the post.

I perfectly agree in opinion with you what the Enemy ought in good policy to attempt; but as they uniformly contravene their best Interest, and persue measures which can produce their least possible advantage, I conclude they will not persevere in the System of attacking us in our weakest side—the Southern States. They may too by this Time have some Reason for declining what a more enterprising People woud hazard at every Event. I think I intimated to you that I should not be surprized if Count D’Estaign paid a Visit to our Coast this Fall. Reports prevail which announce his Approach. In that Case they will be as safe in New york as at Savannah or Charles Town; and it is no Slander to say that the Safety of their Army has all along been their first object.

I have many Reasons to be anxious for the Expedition against the Six Nations.2 No less than the Safety of our Northern and Western frontiers depends upon it’s Success; to say nothing of the vast national advantages which will be derived from the Reduction of these perfidious Savages.

By the Way what will the World think of our Spirit & our Resources, when at the very Instant our Enemies, foreign & domestic pronounced our immediate Ruin from the Embarassments of our Finances, and a Train of heavy Calamities under which they affirmd we were expiring; they see their grand Army cooped up in a Garrison, their Forts taken from them by unparalled Bravery; the Country of their Indian Allies ravaged & destroyd without a single Effort for their protection; and a Capital Naval Armament equippd by a single State which it requird misconduct perhaps, on our part, & certainly the most hazardous Efforts on their’s to defeat!

I wait with great Impatience for further Intelligence from General Sullivan’s Army. I am not sufficiently acquainted with the Country to form a clear Idea of their intended Rout[e]: but if they visit the Senecas efectually I suppose we soon shall hear from them at Conodestogo3 the chief Seneca Town, where our State so long ago as 1732 made a large purchase for a Settlement to keep them in a Area but which was not prosecuted on account of the turbulent & faithless Temper of the Senecas & the want of Vigour in our own Government.

I must close or lose the opportunity by sloop passing to New Windsor. Be so good as to pay my most respectful Compliments to his Excellency, the Family, Generals McDougel Green & Knox &c. And if he is still safe to G Wayne.4 And believe me to be with great Regard, and a disposition to do you every possible service Your most Obedient Servant

Jas. Duane

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Duane left this space blank. He may have been referring to H’s letter of August 28, 1779.

2I.e., Major General John Sullivan’s expedition against Britain’s Indian allies in western Pennsylvania and New York.

3I.e., Canadasaga.

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