Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Rufus King, 20 October 1798

From Rufus King

London Oct. 20. 1798

My dear sir

I have received your letter of the 22. of august with an inclosure1 that has been delivered as directed. On that subject, things are here, as we could desire: there will be precisely such a cooperation as we wish, the moment we are ready.2 The Secretary of State will shew you my communications on this Subject, tho’ I have not a word from him respecting it;3 your outline corresponds with what had been suggested by me, and approved by this Government—fortunately some months past I obtained a fac Simile of the latest map of the Country. It has been now two months in the Hands of an Engraver, who has engaged to deliver the Copies in January.4 This Government has considerable information respecting the interior, as well as concerning the condition and Dispositions of the Inhabitants, tho’ I apprehend it is not of a recent date.5 What we know is favorable; but if we are to be betrayed by France, the glorious opportunity will be lost. I am gratified in receiving your Opinion of the good condition of our public affairs, but I do not feel confident that we are as Safe as you appear to think we are. It is fraud not force that I fear. A Paris Paper of the 8th. instant which is the latest that takes any notice of the U. S. says, “les dernieres Lettres de Bourdeaux assurent qu’il y est arrivé un courier extraordinaire, porteur d’ordres pour remettre l’embargo sur les navires américains. Voilà donc la guerre inevitable avec ce peuple; de moins toutes nos correspondances coincident avec ce bruit.”



P:S: As I presume from your present connection with the Government that you are acquainted with ⟨all the⟩ information possessed by it ⟨I need⟩ not say any thing to you upon ⟨these⟩ Subjects that I should otherwise ⟨think⟩ of. Another reason, we have no cy⟨pher. It⟩ may be advantageous that we should establish one. Genl. Schuyler invented a most excellent cipher, & I wish you would send it to me by the Packet or other safe conveyance, preserving the counter part.


ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1The enclosure was H to Francisco de Miranda, August 22, 1798. For information on Miranda’s plans to liberate the Spanish-American colonies, see Miranda to H, April 1, 1797; February 7, April 6–June 7, August 17, October 19–November 10, 1798.

2On August 17, 1798, King wrote to Timothy Pickering and described his conference with Lord Grenville of August 16: “Our Conference here took a turn to the probability of the revolution of South America; he was fuller and more explicit than he had been on any former occasion, always understanding that my conversation on this Subject was merely personal and wholly unauthorised. This digression which treated of the practicability and the means of effecting the measure tended to shew to me that they have at times considered and combined with their views of a future connection with the United States the independence of the Spanish Continental colonies. I did not perceive nor do I believe it to be the Case that they have any recent information of the present temper disposition or plans of the Spanish Colonies more easily procured from the UStates than from Europe and which is indispensably requisite to the success of an enterprize to accomplish the revolution. We spoke of the government to be established in case of a revolution. He thought our system would naturally attract and receive their approbation and made some remarks upon the apprehensions to be Entertained on account of their genius and character which especially in Peru was said to be highly animated and full of enthusiasm and Concluded by observing that he was more and more confirmed in the opinion that none but Englishmen and their descendants knew how to make a revolution …” (LS [deciphered], RG 59, Despatches from United States Ministers to Great Britain, 1791–1906, Vol. 7, January 9–December 22, 1798, National Archives). In a private letter to Pickering on October 20, 1798, King wrote: “… You are silent concerning South America; I have again and again touched upon it; I have wished to say much more, but I have not thought it prudent. As England is ready she will furnish a fleet and military stores and we should furnish the army …” (King, The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King description begins Charles R. King, ed., The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King (New York, 1894–1900). description ends , II, 453–54).

3For King’s dispatches to Pickering, dated February 7, 26. April 6, 1798; see Miranda to H, February 7, 1798, note 5; April 6–June 7, 1798, note 1.

4On August 20, 1798, King wrote to Miranda asking him “to secure … an early and certain publication of the Map.… I have recommended to the Col. [John Turnbull] to take a Receit for the Map in my name, with an engagement to Engrave it …” (Archivo, Miranda, XV description begins Archivo del General Miranda: Negociaciones 1770–1810 (Caracas, 1938), XV. description ends , 299). Turnbull was a member with John Forbes of the London mercantile firm of Turnbull, Forbes, and Company.

On January 1, 1799, William Faden published a copy of “Mapa Geográfico de America Meridional Dispuesto y Gravado por D. Juan de la Cruz Cano y Olmedilla, Geogfo Pensdo. de S.M. individuo de la Rl Academia de Sn Fernando y de la sociedad Bascongada de los Amigos del Pais; teniendo presentos varios Mapas y noticias originales con arreglo à Observaciones astronómicas, Ano de 1775” (PRO: F.O. [Great Britain] description begins Public Record Office of Great Britain. description ends , 925/1216).

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