Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from David Ross, 21 March 1794

From David Ross1

Bladensburgh [Maryland] March 21. 1794

Dear Sir

Co Mercer passed through this place yesterday in the Stage on his way as he says to Congress2—yet he may perhaps be going no farther than Baltimore but if he should go on it is probable he will be satisfied to have the appearance of closing the correspondence with you3 as I find he never sent forward to the office your last4 & has now withdrawn the whole of the papers. If however I should be mistaken & he should answer your last I need not again express my sentiments as to your putting yourself on a footing with him. If any thing should take place I hope to be informed by you as no dependance can be put on the representation of it by Co Mercer.

I was sorry I missed you several times before I left the City on the subject of Britains then supposed unexpected conduct towards this Country which is now believed & Sedgwicks Motions in Congress are supposed to be brought forward in consequence of such belief.5 Those I have yet seen in your City & this State who were the most inclined for peace and opposed to Madisons Resolutions are for very spirited Measures if a War cannot be avoided but they have a confidence also that no precipitate conduct will involve us but that we shall rather give Britain an opportunity (after showing ourselves prepared even for offensive operations) of altering her Measures in time to avoid a War. At any rate the idea is that if any Declaration takes place it should be first on the part of Britain & that we should not do as the French did, attach the People of England to the Measures of their administration by a hasty Declaration of War instead of continuing only acts of Retaliation.

A Judgment can be formed of the principles on which Madisons Resolutions have been brought forward & supported, by the part their advocates take on Sedgwicks Resolutions.

Yours in haste

David Ross

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Ross had served during the American Revolution as a major in Grayson’s Additional Continental Regiment. After the war he practiced law and managed his family’s estates in Frederick County, Maryland. From 1786 to 1788 he was a delegate to the Continental Congress from Maryland.

2John F. Mercer of Maryland did not arrive in Philadelphia to take his seat in the House of Representatives until March 24, 1794 (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , IV, 527). Less than a month later, on April 13, 1794, he wrote to Governor Thomas Sim Lee of Maryland that he was resigning his seat in Congress because of illness in his family ([Philadelphia] Gazette of the United States & Evening Advertiser, April 30, 1794).

3For information on the protracted dispute between Mercer and H, see the introductory note to H to Mercer, September 26, 1792.

4The last document in this dispute which has been found is dated April, 1793. See “Statement on Remarks by John F. Mercer,” April, 1793. Ross is undoubtedly referring to a later letter.

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