Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Philip Schuyler, 5 January 1795

From Philip Schuyler1

Poughkepsie [New York] January 5th 1795

My Dear Sir

Your favor of the 20th ult.2 passed me on my way to this place3 and was returned this morning.

My Dear Eliza’s perfect recovery4 affords me the most heartfelt satisfaction.

The paragraph you mention shall be disposed of as you wish.5 It has however already been Anticipated as far as verbal declarations extended, as soon as I found that Fairly and others of his complexion assigned as one of the motives for your resignation, a wish to be Governor of this state, that person also assigned another to wit that the affairs of your department were so deranged, that It was not possible for you to extricate It from the confusion In which It was Involved.6 Doubting If I was at Liberty to name my author who had heard Fairly make the Assertions, I contented myself with an Opportunity of declaring in his presence that the propagator of such a Calumny was a liar and a villain.

We have reason to conclude that success will attend our endeavours for the re-appointment of Mr. King.7 We shall however keep a close attention to the Object as we have to do with wiley adversaries.

If a good snow should fall would [it] not be most Eligible to send Eliza and the Children to NYork before February. I shall probably be there as Governor Clintons Indisposition will prevent his Attendance here,8 but should we not remove;9 and she arrive at New York at any time after the Appointment of the Senator, I would go and bring her up.

If you have not a copy of your report on the Institution of the bank of the Un: States,10 would It not be well to procure one before you are out of Office?

I am this moment informed that Chancellor Livingston has proposed to our friends at New York To form a Coalition,11 I do not know on what principles. I hope he has not met with encouragement for I am persuaded any kind of Coalition with him ⟨w⟩ould be Injurious to us.

Mr Rensselaer & Margret12 are arrived. She immediately proceeds to NYork—they join me in love.

God bless You   Yours ever Affectionately

P Schuyler

Hon: Alexander Hamilton

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Schuyler was H’s father-in-law.

2Letter not found.

3Schuyler was at Poughkeepsie as a member of the New York legislature, which convened there on January 6, 1795.

5This is a reference to the following paragraph “From a Correspondent” in The Albany Gazette, December 8, 1794: “Mr. Hamilton having notified his intention of resigning the office of secretary of the treasury, we should be pleased to hear he was a candidate for the government of this state: No doubt our fellow citizens would universally unite their suffrages for so able a statesman as Mr. H. Judge Jay (our correspondent observes) is not expected to return to this country, in season to be a candidate.”

In compliance with what were obviously H’s instructions, Schuyler, on January 5 (or the same day on which he wrote the letter to H printed above), wrote the following to Charles R. and George Webster, publishers of The Albany Gazette: “Previous to my departure from Albany I had drafted a paragraph for your paper but forgot to hand It to you, a copy is at bottom which please to give a place in Your paper at an Early day.

 “I am Gentlemen Your Obed: Servt. PH: Schuyler

“Messs Webster

“In some late paragraph Mr. Hamilton has been brought into view, as an Eligible Character for Governor of this state. A friend of his, well acquainted with his Sentiments and views, thinks fit to Assure his fellow-citizens, that it is Mr. Hamilton’s fixed determination to serve in no public Office whatever—this is made known, Among other reasons, to prevent the public Opinion being in any degree divided by the use of his name.” (ALS, Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, New Jersey.)

Schuyler’s “paragraph,” but not his enclosing letter, was printed without mention of his name in The Albany Gazette, January 9, 1795. Despite the announcement in The Albany Gazette that H was not a candidate for office, the following item appeared in the February 7, 1795, issue of the [Boston] Columbian Centinel: “The Hon. Alexander Hamilton, Esq. late Secretary of the Treasury, is in nomination, as Governor, of New-York; and Nicholas Cruger, Esq. as Lieut. Governor. The Hon. Mr. Burr will be set in opposition to Mr. H. The contest it is expected will be warm.”

H’s plans were of international, as well as national, interest. On January 5, 1795, Jean Antoine Joseph Fauchet wrote to the Commissioner of Foreign Relations that H was about to leave office and then added: “… On “le soupçonne de vouloir se mettre sur les rangs pour le Présidence, ou pour le Gouvernement de l’Etat de New York. Le premier but est peu probable, tout porte à croire que le Général Washington sera réélu, et qu’il occupera la chaire aussi longtems qu’il la voudra. Le second objet lui offrirait certainement plus de chances de succès. Le gouverneur Clinton, actuellement chef de l’Etat de New York, serait un antagoniste peu redoubtable; son âge et sa nullité dans les derniers tems ayant beaucoup diminué de sa popularité. On assure d’ailleurs que le beau père de Mr. Hamilton, habitant de cet Etat peut disposer d’un nombre suffisant de votes pour assurer son élection. Depuis que ces bruits se sont propagés, Mr. Hamilton a déclaré l’intention de ne point se mettre sur les rangs” (Turner, “Correspondence of French Ministers,” description begins Frederick J. Turner, ed., “Correspondence of the French Ministers to the United States, 1791–1797,” Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1903 (Washington, 1904), II. description ends 533).

6A resident of Albany, James Fairlie during the American Revolution served as a major and aide-de-camp to Baron von Steuben. After the war he became a clerk of the Circuit Court and of the Court of Oyer and Terminer. By 1796 he had become clerk of the New York Supreme Court. It is not insignificant that Fairlie had married Maria Yates, the sister of Robert Yates, the chief justice of the New York Supreme Court. Although Yates had run for governor in 1789 with the support of H and other Federalists, he was one of New York’s most prominent opponents of the Constitution and an acknowledged leader of the state’s Antifederalists. It is also pertinent that in 1795 Yates was the Republican party’s candidate for governor in an election which he lost to John Jay.

7Rufus King’s term as United States Senator from New York was to end on March 3, 1795. King was re-elected to the United States Senate by the New York legislature on January 27, 1795.

8Because of an attack of rheumatism Governor George Clinton was not present at the opening of the eighteenth session of the New York legislature, which assembled at Poughkeepsie on January 6, 1795.

9The New York legislature adjourned on January 14, 1795, to reassemble in New York City on January 20.

11Although Robert R. Livingston professed a lack of interest in the nomination for the New York governorship in 1795, he was less a reluctant office seeker than a realist who realized that he could not compete against Yates for the Republican party’s nomination. Livingston’s biographer has written concerning the Chancellor’s part in the New York election of 1795: “Thus, when the Federalists selected the absent Jay as their candidate for governor in 1795, Livingston betrayed very little excitement. For a brief while, after Clinton had announced that he would not run again, he thought he might be a candidate himself: so much one learns from his correspondence with his bailiff, Dr. William Wilson. But when it became clear that the Republican assemblymen would fix upon Robert Yates, he acquiesced with hardly a sigh” (George Dangerfield, Chancellor Robert R. Livingston of New York, 1748–1813 [New York, 1960], 269).

12Stephen Van Rensselaer, eighth patroon of Rensselaerwyck, was married to H’s sister-in-law Margaret (Margarita) Schuyler. Van Rensselaer was elected as a Federalist to the New York Assembly in 1789 and 1790. He served in the state Senate from 1791 to 1795 and was lieutenant governor of New York from 1795 to 1801.

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