Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Jonathan Dayton, [26 March 1789]

To Jonathan Dayton1

[New York, March 26, 1789]

Dr Sir

Circumstances prevented my seeing a certain Gentleman. But I have reflected more fully on the subject of our conversation.

I continue strongly inclined to the opinion that the Council ought to have canvassed prior to the day appointed for the Meeting of Congress upon the returns then before them, and that the subsequent canvass has been irregular and is void.

But as to the second point—the prudence of an appeal to Congress, in this commencement of the Government, my doubts have been rather strengthened than diminished by reflection.

I remain with very great regard, Dr Sir   Yr. Obed serv

A Hamilton

J. Dayton

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Dayton recently had been elected to the New Jersey Council. The election for Representatives from New Jersey to the first Congress was characterized by remarkable irregularities. The governor of New Jersey and his Privy Council were charged with announcing the results of the balloting. Because of the confusion with which they were faced (Essex County authorities for example, had refused to close the polls because they feared defeat for their favorite candidates), the council declared that the four men with the highest number of votes should be the Representatives from New Jersey, but it left “the legality of the election … to those to whom it appertains,” presumably Congress. Dayton was one of the candidates who had been defeated by the irregular proceedings which were particularly pronounced in western New Jersey, a region whose leader opposed him. Dayton evidently had discussed with H the question of having Congress decide on the legality of the New Jersey election.

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