Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from James McHenry, 15 October 1791

From James McHenry1

Baltimore 15 Octbr. 1791.

The electors of the Senate of Maryland have chosen me one of the Senate of our State legislature, and many of my friends are urgent that I should accept. As yet I have given no answer. If you still entertain the project you mentioned to me when in Philadelphia it may somewhat influence my determination. Perhaps the complexion of several European powers, as it respects France, and the claims for succours she may bring forward under the 11th article of the treaty of alliance,2 in case of being attacked, may render the presence of a ministerial character necessary at the Hague, as a spot which can afford a tolerable view of the parties likely to be concerned.3 Perhaps too it is an eligible situation to forward our commerce with the Northern nations as well as England, at least it would seem a position which might enable a qualified person to watch the course of trade, and improve favorable conjunctures. But if the chief object would be your loans or financial operations I think I could give you entire satisfaction. I have been led thus far into a change of sentiment, since we spoke together on this subject, by an alteration in my health, which I flatter myself would be benefited by the voyage and the new materials with which the employment would furnish my mind. Should things take the turn you wi⟨sh⟩, you will readily conceive that I ought to be allowed some time for preparations as I must take my family with me.

But whether here or elsewhere, in sickness or heal⟨th⟩ I shall always my dear Hamilton be your sincere friend.

James McHenry

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1McHenry, who had served as George Washington’s secretary during the American Revolution, had attended the Constitutional Convention and the Maryland Ratifying Convention. He was a member of the Maryland Assembly from 1788 to 1790.

2Article 11 of the Treaty of Alliance of 1778 with France reads: “The two Parties guarantee mutually from the present time and forever, against all other powers, to wit, the united states to his most Christian Majesty the present Possessions of the Crown of france in America as well as those which it may acquire by the future Treaty of peace: and his most Christian Majesty guarantees on his part to the united states, their liberty, Sovereignty, and Independence absolute, and unlimited, as well in Matters of Government as commerce and also thair Possessions, and the additions or conquests that their Confederation may obtain during the war, from any of the Dominions now or heretofore possessed by Great Britain in North America, conformable to the 5th. & 6th articles above written, the whole as their Possessions shall be fixed and assured to the said States at the moment of the cessation of their present War with England” (Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States (Washington, 1931–1948). description ends , II, 39–40).

3At this time the United States had neither a minister nor a chargé d’affaires at The Hague. During the Confederation period American affairs at The Hague had been handled by an agent, Charles F. W. Dumas, a Swiss national.

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