Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens, [15 August 1782]

To Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens1

[Albany, August 15, 1782]

I received with great Pleasure, My Dear Laurens, the letter which you wrote me in   last.2

Your wishes in one respect are gratified; this state has pretty unanimously delegated me to Congress. My time of service commences in November.3 It is not probable it will result in what you mention.4 I hope it is too late. We have great reason to flatter ourselves peace on our own terms is upon the carpet. The making it is in good hands. It is said your father is exchanged for Cornwallis and gone to Paris to meet the other commissioners and that Grenville on the part of England has made a second trip there, in the last instance, vested with Plenipotentiary powers.5

I fear there may be obstacles but I hope they may be surmounted.

Peace made, My Dear friend, a new scene opens. The object then will be to make our independence a blessing. To do this we must secure our union on solid foundations; an herculean task and to effect which mountains of prejudice must be levelled!

It requires all the virtue and all the abilities of the Country. Quit your sword my friend, put on the toga, come to Congress. We know each others sentiments, our views are the same: we have fought side by side to make America free, let us hand in hand struggle to make her happy.

Remember me to General Greene with all the warmth of a sincere attachment.6

Yrs for ever

A Hamilton

Col Laurens

ALS, Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City.

1Laurens, after participating in the Yorktown campaign, returned to South Carolina where he joined in the irregular warfare which continued there. On August 27, 1782, he was killed in a skirmish with a British foraging expedition. It is, of course, doubtful that H’s letter reached him.

2See Laurens to H, July, 1782. Date left blank by H.

3H was appointed a delegate to the Continental Congress on July 22, 1782, his one-year term to commence in November, 1782.

4Laurens had written to H in July, 1782, “I shd. prefer your going into Congress, and from thence, becoming a Minister plenipotentiary for peace.…”

5Benjamin Franklin, American Minister to France, in June, 1782, approved the exchange of Henry Laurens and Lord Cornwallis, reserving to Congress the right to disavow his act. Laurens had not gone to Paris to join the American Peace Commissioners, as H states, but had gone to southern France to visit relatives.

In the spring of 1782, Charles James Fox, who as Secretary of Northern Department was charged with the conduct of foreign affairs in the Rockingham Ministry, sent Thomas Grenville to France to treat with Franklin and Vergennes. Grenville, however, had not made a second trip to Paris, for, upon Rockingham’s death on July 1, 1782, Lord Shelburne became Prime Minister. Fox resigned, and the peace negotiations were carried on by Richard Oswald who earlier had represented Shelburne in Paris.

6Major General Nathanael Greene commanded the American forces in the South.

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