Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Henry Lee, [10 September 1792]

From Henry Lee

[Richmond, September 10, 1792]

My dear friend

I found on my return from a visit to the southwestern frontier of this state your letter of the 22d. Ult.1 I am still depressed in my mind & continue to be the subject to unavailing woe. My son2 on whom I cheifly counted for future comfort was suddenly deprived of life during my absence, which event on the back of what took place two years past3 has removed me far from the happy enjoyment of life.

Yet I feel the force of old connexions & acknowledge with pleasure the truth of your recognition of my friendship for you. It is unabated & will so continue to be, altho I never did nor never can admire the funding system of which you confessedly was the father. Why cannot men differ in politics as they do in other matters and yet hold established regards?

I see no insurmountable difficulty in the way and feel its practicability.

I believe you are in some degree right in your conjecture with respect to my friends. Generally speaking those in the political line will be found arranged with you, but in the opposition are some too, loved by me & attached to me.

Why do not these virulent partys coalesce? Is there no middle ground on which a union might be formed. The public harmony as well as individual comfort would be promoted by such an event.

Whether Mr P4 succeeds in his request for the place in the adm of the bank intended to be established here is only interesting to me from my knowledge of his worth & of my preference always to the father of a family.

The jus trium liberorum5 I have estimated as a wise regulation, & feel the influence of the principle whenever my opinion is asked about the pretensions of competitors to office.

I could say much to you with respect to the Bank & many other congressional measures springing from the funding system, but I prefer silence to discussion when no good can result therefrom. Would to God you had never been the patron of the measure in its present shape, for I augur ill of its effect on yourself personally, as well as on the public prosperity.

The horse cost me 30 gs; but I do not think him worth so much by five;6 I esteemed him highly as a riding horse & can replace him by one younger more costly & handsome if he does not exactly suit you. You gave me ten guineas, which perhaps you may have forgot. Present me to Mrs H & tell her, that I wish her all happiness.

Adieu my friend

Henry Lee

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Letter not found.

2Philip Ludwell Lee.

3This is a reference to the death of Lee’s wife, Matilda Lee.

4This may be a reference to Robert Pollard of Richmond. On July 30, 1792, Richard Henry Lee had written to Thomas Willing, president of the Bank of the United States, requesting that Pollard be appointed cashier of the Richmond branch of the Bank of the United States (Burton Alva Konkle, Thomas Willing and the First American Financial System [Philadelphia, 1937], 149–50).

5In Roman law, this was a right granted to the parent of three or more children. The privileges granted under this right were exemption from guardianship, priority in holding office, and an extra proportion of corn.

6See Lee to H, May 6, 1792.

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