Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from George Washington, 25 August 1796

From George Washington1


Philadelphia 25th. Augt. 1796

My dear Sir,

I have given the Paper herewith enclosed,2 several serious & attentive readings; and prefer it greatly to the other draughts, being more copious on material points; more dignified on the whole; and with less egotism. Of course less exposed to criticism, & better calculated to meet the eye of discerning readers (foreigners particularly, whose curiosity I have little doubt will lead them to inspect it attentively & to pronounce their opinions on the performance).

When the first draught was made, besides having an eye to the consideration above mentioned, I thought the occasion was fair (as I had latterly been the subject of considerable invective) to say what is there contained of myself—and as the Address was designed in a more especiall manner for the Yeomanry of this Country I conceived it was proper they should be informed of the object of that abuse; the silence with which it had been treated; and the consequences which would naturally flow from such unceasing & virule⟨nt⟩3 attempts to destroy all confidence in the Executive part of the Government; and that it was best to do it in language th⟨at⟩ was plain & intelligable to their understand⟨ing.⟩

The draught now sent, comprehends the most, if not all these matters; is better expressed; and I am persuade⟨d⟩ goes as far as it ought with respect to any personal mention of myself.

I should have seen no occasi⟨on⟩ myself, for its undergoing a revision. But as your letter of the 30th. Ulto. whi⟨ch⟩ accompanied it, intimates a wish to do this—and knowing that it can be more correctly done after a writing has been out of sight for sometime than while it is in hand, I send it in conformity there⟨to⟩—with a request, however, that you w⟨d.⟩ return it as soon as you have carefully reexamined it; for it is my intention to hand it to the Public before I leave this City,4 to which I came for the purpose of meeting General Pinckney5—receiving ministers from Spain6 & Holland7—and for the dispatch of other business which could not be so well executed by written communications between the heads of Departments & myself as by oral conferences. So soon as these are accomplished I shall return; at any rate I expect to do so by or before the tenth of next month for the purpose of bringing up my family for the Winter.

I shall expunge all that is marked in the paper as unimportant &ca. &ca. and as you perceive some marginal notes, written with a pencil, I pray you to give the sentiments so noticed mature consideration.8 After which, and in every other part, if change or alteration takes place in the draught, let them be so clearly interlined—erazed—or referred to in the Margin as that no mistake may happen in copying it for the Press.

To what Editor in this City do you think it had best be sent for Publication? Will it be proper to accompany it with a note to him, expressing (as the principal design of it is to remove doubts at the next Election) that it is hoped, or expected, that the State Printers will give it a place in their Gazettes—or preferable to let it be carried by my private Secretary9 to that Press which is destined to usher it to the World & suffer it to work its way afterwards? If you think the first most eligable, let me ask you to sketch such a note as you may judge applicable to the occasion. With affectionate regard

I am always   Yours

Go: Washington

Colo. A. Hamilton.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; ALS, facsimile (tracing), Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1For background to this letter, see the introductory note to H to Washington, May 10, 1796.

2This is a reference to H’s “Draft of Washington’s Farewell Address,” which is printed as an enclosure to H to Washington, July 30, 1796.

3Material within broken brackets has been taken from the facsimile in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

4On September 19, 1796, the day that Washington’s Farewell Address was printed in Claypoole’s [Philadelphia] American Daily Advertiser, the President left Philadelphia for Mount Vernon.

5Having decided to recall James Monroe as United States Minister Plenipotentiary to France, Washington offered that post to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney on July 8, 1796 (ALS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress; LC, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress), and Pinckney accepted it on July 27 (ALS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress). As Congress was not in session at the time of Pinckney’s appointment, his nomination was not sent to the Senate until December 21, 1796 (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 217). The Senate agreed to his appointment the following day (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 217). Monroe’s letter of recall is dated August 22, 1796 (Timothy Pickering to Monroe [copy, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston]).

6The new Spanish Minister, Carlos Martinez, Marquis de Casa Yrujo, presented his credentials to the President on August 25, 1796 ([Philadelphia] Aurora. General Advertiser, August 26, 1796).

7Washington received the new minister from the United Netherlands, Roger Gerard Van Polanen, on August 30, 1796 ([Philadelphia] Aurora. General Advertiser, August 31, 1796). Van Polanen was employed in the East India service and served as a member of the legislature for the province of Zeeland. After arriving in the United States in January, 1791, he bought an estate in Pennsylvania in 1792 and became a United States citizen in the New York Mayor’s Court on May 8, 1793. The government of the Batavian Republic appointed him Minister Resident to the United States in September, 1795.

8For these marginal notations, see H’s “Draft of Washington’s Farewell Address,” which is printed as an enclosure to H to Washington, July 30, 1796.

9Tobias Lear.

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