Alexander Hamilton Papers

H. G. Letter XIV, 9 April 1789

H. G. Letter XIV1

[New York] April 9, 1789

Dear Sir,

In mine of the 25th of February last, I observed, that there were reasons to conclude that the Governor’s conduct, immediately after the evacuation of this city, had been influenced by condescentions to those who were at the time advocates for persecution, which in some measure involved him in their policy; and in confirmation of this idea I mentioned some circumstances, as they then presented themselves to my memory, which had attended the suppression of a proclamation issued by the council for the temporary government of the southern district, in consequence of certain irregularities committed in this city, by some of the persons alluded to. You have no doubt seen in the newspapers Mr. Willet’s statement of this affair, and the correspondence which ensued between that gentleman and myself.2

Pursuant to the assurance contained in my letter to Mr. Willet, I shall now disclose to you the result of the enquiries I have made. It has turned out as was to have been apprehended. Neither of the gentlemen to whom I have applied, has a distinct recollection of particulars.3 One of them indeed recollects little more than that he was a good deal displeased with the transaction. The other has a perfect remembrance of some circumstances, though not of all. Among other things, he well recollects, that he was much dissatisfied with the Governor’s conduct in the affair, and that the impression, which he had at the time was, and constantly since has been, that there had been, on the part of the Governor, an undue and improper acquiescence, at least, in the conduct of the persons concerned in suspending the printing of the proclamation. But what the facts or appearances were, which produced that impression, have now, in a great measure, escaped his memory.*

Thus stands the affair. The investigation has not weakened in my mind the evidence, that the circumstances attending the suppression of the proclamation were evincive of condescentions, on the part of the Governor, towards the advocates for persecution, at the period in question, which in some measure involved him in their policy. This, by reference to my letter, you will perceive was the sole purpose for which the transaction was quoted. I do not insist, that the particulars as first stated, are accurate. You will observe they are stated with hesitation and uncertainty; but I feel an entire conviction that the aggregate complexion of the affair was such as I have supposed it to be.

I remain with sincere regard,   Dear Sir,   Your very humble Servant,

H___ G___

To___ ___. Esq. }
Suffolk County.

The [New York] Daily Advertiser, April 11, 1789.

2See the exchange of letters between “H.G.” and Marinus Willett, March 19, 23, and 24, 1789.

3Robert R. Livingston and Egbert Benson (see H to Livingston, March 18, 22, 1789).

4Willett replied to this note by “H.G.” in The Daily Advertiser, April 13, 1789:

“Mr. Willett, in consequence of a note at the foot of a letter signed H.G. which was published in the Daily Advertiser the 11th inst. called on the printer, who informed him that he was directed to refer him to Judge [John Sloss] Hobart for satisfaction on the subject of that letter. To Judge Hobart Mr. Willett repaired, and on advising him of the cause of the visit, the Judge signified that he did not expect the note had alluded to him; but after some consideration, said he imagined it must have been owing to a conversation that had taken place a few days before between the Attorney General [Egbert Benson] and himself, that he would send for the Attorney General in order to bring about an explanation. After remaining there some time the Attorney General came, when a conversation respecting the proclamation alluded to in the letter took place. In the course of that conversation, Mr. Willett asked each of those gentlemen, whether they believed the relation he had given of that transaction was true, and both of them expressed their persuasion of the truth of the facts as they were related by Mr. Willett. Mr. Willett is at a loss to know why he was referred to those gentlemen. He feels great regret at taking up any more of the public’s time on this subject. It was his earnest desire that the business might be settled without infringing on the time of his fellow citizens: He knows every part of the account of that transaction as stated by him was true, and had formed to himself expectations of being advised who H.G. was; in which case he promised himself he would have satisfied H.G. of the fairness of that relation, so that the public would have been no more intruded upon on that subject. Every method in the power of Mr. Willett to accomplish this end has been tried without effect. The public are requested to excuse this necessary intrusion. It is the desire of Mr. Willett to settle this and all his other concerns himself. The note which referred him to the printer, and sent him on a fruitless enquiry, has drawn him again to appear in public contrary to his intention.”

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

* Mr. Willet by applying to the Printer, may satisfy himself of the fairness of this representation, and of the respectability of the authority on which it is founded.4

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