Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Theodore Sedgwick, 7 May 1800

From Theodore Sedgwick

Phila. 7. May 1800

Dear sir,

I have this moment recd. yours of the 4th. I have already detailed to you1 what was done on saturday evening.2 On this subject our friend Dexter3 is not perfectly right. I have had a conversation with him this morning. The view he takes of the subject is this—He says that however those who have an opportunity of personal observation may esteem the cha⟨ra⟩cter of Mr. Adams, as he is viewed by the great majority of ⟨Fe⟩deralists, he is the most popular man in the U.S. and ⟨d⟩eemed best qualified to perform the duties of President. That should an agreement to support, equally him and General Pinkney ultimate in the election of the latter, it will be supposed to result from an insidious intention, in a certain description of man, to displace him from the office of President. That this will crumble the federal party to atoms. He says, indeed, that when it shall be reduced to an absolute certainty that we have no alternative but to pursue this course or submit to the election of Jefferson, he shall not hesitate to adopt the former. That this crisis exists is to my mind absolutely certain. He, however, says that federal electors may be chosen in S. Carolina, that Maryland may give us an unanimous vote, and that several electors may be chosen in New York; and should all these circumstances take place votes may be thrown away in Massa. without endangering the election of Jefferson.

You cannot but perceive the mischievious tendency of these observations from a man of Dexter’s ⟨-⟩ of character. This I expected from Otis4 but not from him. At any rate we shall have infinite difficulties to contend with. I did not expect to have them either increased ⟨or⟩ multiplied from this quarter; and if possible he must be reclaimed. Every thing I can do shall be attempted. Are you in such habits as to authorise an address to him on the subject? Of course he must not know that I have suggested the idea to you.

Marshall has this morning been nominated as Secy. at War. He was never consulted, and had no information that McHenry was to retire. He will not accept.5 I hope Carring⟨ton⟩6 may be brought in. I have as usual written this in the h⟨ouse.⟩

I am ever yours

Theodore Sedgwick

Genl. Hamilton

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

3Samuel Dexter was a Federalist Senator from Massachusetts.

4Harrison Gray Otis was a Federalist member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts. Otis’s biographer sums up his position in the election of 1800 as follows: “Otis was one of the few Federalist leaders who were not concerned in the intrigue against Adams. This much appears from his correspondence; but we look in vain for any indication of the steps taken by him and other Adams men to thwart their opponents” (Morison, Harrison Gray Otis description begins Samuel Eliot Morison, The Life and Letters of Harrison Gray Otis. 1765–1848 (Boston and New York, 1913). description ends , I, 189).

5Adams nominated John Marshall as Secretary of War (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 352) without having asked Marshall if he would accept the appointment. Marshall declined the nomination (Marshall to Adams, May 8, 1800 [ALS, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston]).

6Edward Carrington was a Virginia Federalist and supervisor of the revenue for that state. He had been George Washington’s choice as quartermaster general in the Additional Army but declined to accept the post unless Washington took the field in person. See Washington to H, July 14, 1798, note 66.

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