Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to the Editor of the Minerva, 11 August [1795]

To the Editor of the Minerva1

New York August 11.2 [1795]

The Editor of the Minerva having received information, through an authentic channel, that Mr. Pinckney, our Minister at London, had written to this Country in a manner, which indicated that he had been consulted by Mr. Jay on the subject of the Treaty lately negotiated with Great Britain, and that it had met with his approbation; felt himself warranted in stating these ideas to the public. Having been called upon, in the Argus of Saturday last,3 in a manner not very decent, for evidence of the fact; & knowing that Mr. Jay must be able to give a confirmation of it; and thinking it probable that he might not be unwilling to do so—The Editor took the liberty through a friend to make the Inquiry of him. Mr. Jay has obligingly furnished the following extract of a letter from himself to the Secretary of State: which fully establishes the truth of what has been alleged. (viz)

Extract of a Letter from Mr Jay to the Honb. Edm. Randolph Esqr Secy of State. dated at London the 19 Novr 1794.4

“I ought not to omit mentioning the acknowledgments due from me to mr. Pinckney: with whom I have every Reason to be satisfied, and from whose advice and opinions I have derived Light and advantage in the course of the negociation. His approbation of the Treaty gives me pleasure; not merely because his opinion corresponds with my own, but also from the Sentiments I entertain of his Judgment and Candour.”5

ADf, MS Division, New York Public Library; [New York] American Minerva; an Evening Advertiser, August 11, 1795.

1Noah Webster, Jr., was the editor of the [New York] American Minerva; an Evening Advertiser.

2The date is not in H’s handwriting.

3On August 8, 1795, the following letter appeared in The [New York] Argus, or Greenleaf’s New Daily Advertiser:

“Citizen Greenleaf,

The Editor of the Minerva asserts, that Mr. Pinckney, our minister in London, knew of and approved the treaty. This is so high a charge upon the character of that gentleman, that it ought not to be credited upon the bare ipse dixit of a printer, not remarkable for a scrupulous adherence to facts. A friend of Mr. Pinckney calls upon the Editor of the Minerva to produce proof of this assertion, otherwise the public will regard it as a most infamous aspersion, calculated to lessen the popularity of a minister who has hitherto deserved well of his country.     Z.”

The words “Saturday last” are not in H’s handwriting.

4The extract, which is attached to H’s draft, is in the handwriting of John Jay.

5H’s letter and the extract of Jay’s letter were reprinted in The [New York] Argus, or Greenleaf’s New Daily Advertiser, August 13, 1795. Immediately below them the following “Remarks” appeared: “It may be observed on the above—

“First, That the letter is from Mr. Jay—not from Mr. Pi[n]ckney.

“Secondly, That Mr. Jay is giving testimony in his own cause.

“Thirdly, That it does not appear whether Mr. Jay shewed him the whole treaty, or only mentioned some of the articles to him.

“Fourthly, That it would have been extremely rude in Mr. Pinckney, to have told Mr. Jay, that he disapproved of the treaty.

“Fifthly, That if Mr. Pi[n]ckney really approved of the treaty, it must be easy to produce some letter from him to that effect—And

“Lastly, That the public ought to suspend their opinion, rather than condemn Mr. Pinckney on the evidence of a person so much interested in the question as Mr. Jay is. Time will discover the truth.    Z.”

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