Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Timothy Pickering, 26 March 1797

From Timothy Pickering

Philadelphia March 26. 1797.

Dr. Sir,

On the 25th I was favoured with your letter of the 22d. The first measure of calling Congress together had been determined on by the President the preceding evening; and I had the draught of the proclamation inclosed, in my hand, to present to him, when I received your letter.1 Some other of the measures suggested had been contemplated; and all will receive attention from me & my colleagues. I beg you to continue to communicate to me your ideas on public affairs, especially at the present interesting period.

You mention the appointing a commission extraordinary: we more than doubt the propriety of this step. The Directory have declard “qu’il ne reconnoitra, et ne recevra plus de Ministre Plenipotentiare des Etats Unis, jusqu’ apres la redressement des griefs demandé au Gouvernment Americain, et que la Republique Francaise est en droit d’en attendre.”2 These “griefs” are doubtless those detailed by Citizen Adet and M. Delacroix, as exhibited in the notes of the former and the summary of the latter, and which you will see in my letter to General Pinckney,3 which I had the pleasure to send you in print. All the important acts of the government must therefore be Reversed, before a minister can be admitted. The former is impossible—and there seems therefore no opening at present for a new mission. This new mission is what the enemies of our government wish for; however circumstances may oppose it. In suggesting “a commission extraordinary,” I presume you did not know that the refusal to receive “another minister, until” &c. had been so peremptory.

I am going to prepare a state of the information received from Mr. Pinckney for the press anonymously, yet with clear marks of authenticity; and it will, if approved by the President, be speedily published.4 It seems highly important that the public mind should be enlightened as to facts.5

I am very sincerely & respectfully yours

T. Pickering

Alexander Hamilton Esq

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; ALS, letterpress copy, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston.

1On March 25, 1797, President John Adams issued a proclamation convening Congress on May 15 (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 , VII, 29).

2This quotation is taken from a letter from Charles Delacroix, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, to James Monroe, stating that Monroe’s recall and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney’s credentials had been presented to the Directory (Delacroix to Monroe, December 11, 1796 [LC, RG 59, Despatches from United States Ministers to France, 1789–1869, Vol. 5, November 17, 1796-September 24, 1797, National Archives]). For English translations of this letter, see ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, 1, 746–47; II, 6.

3Pickering to Pinckney, January 16, 1797 (LC, RG 59, Diplomatic and Consular Instructions of the Department of State, 1791–1801, Vol. 3, June 5, 1795-January 21, 1797, National Archives). This letter is printed in ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 559–75. See George Washington to H, January 22, 1797, note 2; H to Washington, January 25–31, 1797, note 4.

5Pickering endorsed the letterpress copy of this letter: “Letter to Coll Hamilton March 26, 1797. answer sent March 27th.” Pickering was mistaken, for H answered this letter on March 29, 1797.

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