Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Oliver Wolcott, Junior, 3 October 1795

To Oliver Wolcott, Junior

New York October 3. 1795

Dear Sir

I have received your letter of the1 and thank you for the information. As to Randolph, I shall be surprised at nothing—but if the facts come out, his personal influence is at all events damned. No colouring will remove unfavourable impressions. To do mischief he must work in the Dark.

What you say respecting your own department disquiets me; for I think we shall for the present weather all storms but those from real deficiencies in our public arrangements. Not knowing details I can attempt to suggest nothing except this general observation—that if the means heretofore provided are seriously likely to prove inadequate—Congress ought to be explicitly told so in order to a further provision. It was a maxim in my mind that Executive arrangements should not fail for want of full disclosure to the Legislature. Then if adequate provision be not made the responsibility is theirs. The worst evil we can struggle with is inefficiency in the measures of Government.

If I remember right, it never appeared that Fauchet2 had any power to make a Commercial Treaty with us and the late Attorney General (Bradford)3 informed me that Adet4 had power only to treat none to conclude. How are these things? I ask for special reasons.5

What is the object of the Dispatch boat from France?6 Nothing menacing I hope.

Mrs. Hamilton joins me in affect Compliments to Mrs. Wolcott. Adieu.

Yrs. with great

A Hamilton

O Wolcott Esq

ALS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford; extract, in the handwriting of H, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Although H omitted the date, he is referring to Wolcott’s letter of September 26, 1795.

2Jean Antoine Joseph Fauchet, who succeeded Edmond Charles Genet as French Minister to the United States, arrived in the United States in February, 1794.

3William Bradford had died on August 23, 1795. George Washington asked Charles Lee of Virginia to accept the position on November 19, 1795 (ALS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress; LC, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress). Lee, who had served as collector of customs at Alexandria from 1789 to 1793 and as a member of the General Assembly of Virginia for Fairfax County from 1793 to 1795, accepted Washington’s offer on November 30, 1795 (ALS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress).

On December 9, 1795, Washington sent Lee’s nomination to the Senate, and the appointment was confirmed the following day (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 193).

4Pierre Auguste Adet succeeded Fauchet as French Minister in June, 1795. For Adet’s authority to negotiate a commercial treaty, see Adet to Edmund Randolph, June 20, 1795, and “Extract from the instructions given to P. A. Adet Minister Plenipotentiary of the French Republic, near the United States of America by the Committee of Public Safety of the National Convention charged by the law of 7 Fructidor 2d year, with the direction of foreign affairs” (Correspondence of the French Ministers with the United States Government description begins Correspondence of the French Ministers, Joseph Fauchet and P. Adet; with the United States Government during the Years 1794–1796 (n.p., 1797?). description ends , Nos. 110 and 111).

5The “special reasons” refer to H’s preparation of the “Camillus” essays. In “The Defence No. XXIV,” November 14, 1795, which was drafted by Rufus King, H added a paragraph in which he discussed the inability of Adet and Fauchet to conclude a commercial treaty.

6On October 2, 1795, The [New York] Argus, or Greenleaf’s New Daily Advertiser printed the following item: “Yesterday the sloop of war the Ranger, belonging to the Republic of France, arrived at this port with dispatches for the minister of the Republic in America, and our government. She sailed from Brest on the 11th of August, and confirms the account of Peace with Spain.” The Treaty of Basel between France and Spain had been concluded on July 22, 1795.

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