Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from William Loughton Smith, 22 August 1793

From William Loughton Smith

Boston, Augt. 22d. 93.

I have read, my dear Sir, with much satisfaction, your circular Letter1 & I am happy to find that it is in general very acceptable to the Citizens of this Place; Mr Izard,2 with his best Complimts. desires me to inform you that it has afforded him peculiar pleasure, & that he is glad to find that the President has at length taken his Ground & resolved to maintain it. We are both convinced that in so doing He will receive a firm & effectual Support from the respectable Citizens of all parts of the Union.

You will be delighted with the Anti-Gallican Spirit which has lately burst forth in this State & which breathes the genuine Effusions of Patriotism in nervous Resolutions, engaging to support our paternal President & those real friends of the Country who advise him, against the insolent Attempts of a foreign Incendiary & a rascally Crew of Demagogues.

Four Men were apprehended yesterday & confined in Gaol to take their Trial for entering on board a french Privateer & there can be little doubt of their Conviction from the general Temper of the Citizens.3 Yesterday afternoon a Spanish Ship loaded with Sugar, Cochineal &ca, and bound from the Havannah to Cadiz, was brought in here, a Prize to the America of 74 Guns & said to be taken in the W. Indies.4

I inclose a Newspaper, which contains an Address to Genet. I wish it could be sent to him by the Post. Among other good things is a Clause in the Treaty between England & France while entirely overthrows his pretended right to fit out Privateers in our Ports.5 Among the many good arguments against that preposterous Claim I have found one originating with the French themselves—in a Paper, published & circulated all over Europe by order of the National Assembly which deposed the King entitled “Exposition des Motifs d’apres lesquels l’Assem. Natle. a proclamé la Convocation d’une Convent. Nat. & prononcé la suspension du Pouvoir Executif dans les Mains du Roi,”6 is this remarkable passage, page 2d. “Des Princes, qui se disoient les Alliés de la France, avoient donné aux Emigrés, non un Asyle, mais la Liberté de s’armer, de se former en corps de troupes, de lever des Soldats, de faire des approvisionnements de guerre; & le Roi fut invité par un Message solennel a rompre, sur cette violation du droit des Gens, un Silence qui avoit duré trop long tems: Il parut ceder au voeu national; des preparatifs de guerre furent ordonnés, &ca.”7 If the French Nation thought such a Conduct on the part of an Ally a cause of rupture & a violation of the Law of Nations, wouldn’t Holland have the same right to complain of us? I think some publication, quoting the above Morceau & commenting on it would have a good effect; you can get it from any of the French Consuls or Genet. In the 3d. page, it goes on, “L’Assem. Nat. crut qu’il étoit necessaire a la Sureté de la France d’obliger L’Empereur a declarer s’il vouloit etre son Allié ou son Ennemi, &c.”8 May not Holland, Prussia, G. Britain think it necessary for their safety to do the same?

My stay here is uncertain. If you have Leisure in a few days after you receive this to write me, I shall be happy to hear from you, directed here—if you have anything material to communicate after that, direct to New Y.

I remain Dear Sir with much esteem   Yours &c.

Wm Smith

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

2Ralph Izard was a United States Senator from South Carolina.

3An item in The Boston Gazette and the Country Journal for August 26, 1793, states: “Two small vessels, bound from Nova-Scotia to this port, have been captured by the French-commissioned Privateer Roland, and brought by her into this port. Since which four Americans belonging to the Roland … have been apprehended, and after being examined … have been committed to jail, to take their trials at the next Circuit Court to be holden in this town, on the 12th October next. The charge against them is—Aiding, and assisting in manning and fitting out vessels, and piratically and feloniously capturing the vessels of nations, with whom the United States are at peace.”

4The Spanish ship was the Comete (The Boston Gazette and the Country Journal, August 26, 1793).

6Exposition des motifs d’après lesquels l’Assemblée nationale a proclamé la convocation d’une Convention nationale, et prononcé la suspension du pouvoir exécutif dans les mains du roi, Imprimée par Ordre de l’Assemblée Nationale (Paris, 1792).

7This passage is on page three rather than page two. The remainder of this paragraph reads as follows: “mais bientôt on s’apperçut que les négociations, dirigées par un ministère foible ou complice, se réduiroient à obtenir de vaines promisses, qui, demeurant sans exécution, ne pourroient être regardées que comme un piége ou comme un outrage. La ligue des rois prenoit cependant une activité nouvelle, et à la tête de cette ligue paroissoit l’empereur, beau-frère du roi des Français, uni à la nation par un traité utile à lui seul, que l’Assemblée constituante, trompée par le ministère, avoit maintenu en sacrifiant, pour le conserver, l’espérance alors fondée d’une alliance avec la maison de Brandebourg.”

8The remainder of this paragraph reads as follows: “et à prononcer entre deux traités contradictoires, dont l’un obligeoit à donner du secours à la France, et l’autre l’engageoit à l’attaquer; traités qu’il ne pouvoit concilier sans avouer l’intention de séparer le roi de la nation, et de faire regarder la guerre contre le peuple français comme un secours donné à son allié. La réponse de l’empereur augmenta les défiances que cette combinasion de circonstances rendoit si naturelles. Il y répétoit contre l’Assemblée des représentans du peuple français, contre les sociétés populaires établies dans nos villes, les absurdes inculpations dont les emigrés, dont les partisans du ministère français fatiguent depuis longtemps les presses contre-révolutionnaires. Il protestoit de son desire de rester l’allié du roi, et il venoit de signer une nouvelle ligue contre la France en faveur de l’authorité du roi des Français.”

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