Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Rufus King, 10 July [1792]

From Rufus King1

[New York] Tuesday 10 July [1792]

You will see by our papers to what we are tending2—hitherto I have been quite aside, and have not engaged in the controversy. The addresses from albany and other northern Towns, together with Mr. Jays answers3 leave no room to doubt that the question will be brought to a decision in some way or other—if it can be done under any authority of Law I shall rejoice, because I consider the Determination to be a precedent dangerous to free Elections. Still however I do not clearly see the prudence of an appeal to the People—yet others have no doubts on that subject, and there is reason to conclude that Mr. Jay deems the occasion such as will justify the step should it be found that the powers of government are insufficient to afford a Remedy. He has an idea of a convention for the sole purpose of canvassing the canvassers and their Decision.

But Mr. Clinton is in fact Governor, and though he may not be free from anxieties & Doubts, he will not willingly relinquish the Office—the majority, and a very great one are now against him—should he persist, and the sword be drawn, he must go to the wall—but this my dear Sir, is a dreadful alternative, and what & whom it may affect is altogether uncertain. If this case will justify a recurrence to first Principles, what are we not to expect from the disputes, which must & will arise in the Succession of the Presidency? and how are we able to place confidence in the security of our Government?

Tuesday Evening

Mr. Jay has arrived. Notice was given in the morning papers that he would be in Town this Evening, and “the friends of Liberty” were invited to go forth to meet him. I took Benson4 with me in my carriage. The concourse was immense, & Mr. Jay has been recd. with the ringing of Bells, firing of cannon, huzzaings & clapping of hands. The shout was for “Jay & Liberty.”5

Yr’s &c.

R King

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1King was a Federalist Senator from New York.

2King is referring to the disputed gubernatorial election in New York. See Philip Schuyler to H, May 9, 1792, note 4; H to John Adams, June 25, 1792, note 2; H to King, June 28, 1792.

3In reply to the address of a committee of citizens of Lansingburgh John Jay said: “The citizens of the state know the value of their Rights; and it is to be expected, as well as sincerely to be wished, that their efforts to assert and maintain them, will on every occasion, be marked by temper and moderation, as well as by constancy and zeal.” At Albany he said: “When sentiments and opinions, relative to public measures, are capable of being ascribed to private and personal considerations, prudence dictates a great degree of delicacy and reserve—But there are no considerations which ought to restrain me from expressing my ardent wishes, that the important question you mention, may be brought to a decision, with all that mature reflection, as well as manly constancy, which its connection with the rights of freemen demands …” (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, July 7, 10, 1792).

4Presumably Egbert Benson, member of the House of Representatives from New York.

5A notice for those who intended to meet Jay near Harlem Heights was placed in The Daily Advertiser on July 10, 1792. The next issue carried a description of Jay’s arrival in the city.

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