Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Gouverneur Morris, [19 May 1788]

To Gouverneur Morris

[New York, May 19, 1788]

My Dear Sir

I acknowlege my delinquency in not thanking you before for your obliging letter from Richmond.1 But the truth is that I have been so overwhelmed in avocations of one kind or another that I have scarcely had a moment to spare to a friend. You I trust will be the less disposed to be inexorable, as I hope you believe there is no one for whom I have more inclination than yourself—I mean of the male kind.

Your account of the situation of Virginia was interesting,2 and the present appearances as represented here justify your conjectures. It does not however appear that the adoption of the constitution can be considered as out of doubt in that state. Its conduct upon the occasion will certainly be of critical importance.

In this state, as far as we can judge, the elections have gone wrong.3 The event however will not certainly be known till the end of the month. Violence rather than moderation is to be looked for from the opposite party. Obstinacy seems the prevailing trait in the character of its leader.4 The language is, that if all the other states adopt, this is to persist in refusing the constitution. It is reduced to a certainty that Clinton has in several conversations declared the Union unnecessary; though I have the information through channels which do not permit a public use to be made of it.

We have, notwithstanding the unfavourable complexion of things, two sources of hope—one the chance of a ratification by nine states before we decide and the influence of this upon the firmness of the followers, the other the probability of a change of sentiment in the people, auspicious to the constitution. The current has been for some time running towards it; though the whole flood of official influence accelerated by a torrent of falsehood, early gave the public opinion so violent a direction in a wrong channel that it was not possible suddenly to alter its course. This is a mighty stiff simile; but you know what I mean; and after having started it, I did not choose to give up the chace.

Adieu Yrs. Sincerely

A Hamilton

The members of the Convention in this City, by a Majority of nine or ten to one, will be5

  • John Jay
  • Robert R. Livingston
  • Richard Morris
  • John Sloss Hobart
  • James Duane
  • Isaac Rosevelt
  • Richard Harrison
  • Nicholas Lowe
  • Alexander Hamilton

G Morris Esqr

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Letter not found. Morris, an influential member of the Constitutional Convention, had gone to Virginia in the fall of 1787 to settle some of the business affairs of Robert Morris, in which he too was involved.

2Morris presumably had written to H about the chances of the adoption of the Constitution by the Virginia Ratifying Convention which was scheduled to meet on June 1.

3The New York elections had been held during the last week in April, 1788. They resulted in the election of a majority of Antifederalists.

4H is referring, of course, to Governor George Clinton.

5The results of the New York City election were announced on May 31, 1788, in The [New York] Independent Journal: or, the General Advertiser as follows:

John Jay, 2735
Richard Morris, 2716
John S. Hobart, 2713
Alexander Hamilton, 2713
Robert R. Livingston, 2712
Isaac Rosevelt, 2701
James Duane, 2680
Richard Harrison, 2677
Nicholas Low, 2651

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