Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Gouverneur Morris, [13] January 1801

To Gouverneur Morris1

New York Janry [13] 1801

Dr. Sir

I hasten to give you some information which may be useful. I know as a fact that overtures have been made by leading individuals of the Fœderal party to Mr. Burr,2 who declines to give any assurances respecting his future intentions and conduct saying that to do it might injure him with his friends and prevent their cooperation—that all ought to be inferred from the necessity of his future situation as it regarded the disappointment and animosity of the Antifœderalists—that the Fœderalists relying upon this might proceed in the certainty that upon a second ballot New York & Tenessee would join him. It is likewise ascertained that he perfectly understands himself with Edward Livingston who will be his Agent at the seat of Government.3

Thus you see that Mr Burr is resolved to preserve himself in a situation to adhere to his former friends engagements and projects and to use the Fœderalists as the tools of his aggrandisement. The hope that by his election he will be separated from the Anti-fœderalists is a perfect farce. He will satisfy them that he has kept himself free to continue his relations to them, and as many of them are secretly attached to him, they will all be speedily induced to rally under his standard; to which he will add the unprincipled of our party & he will laugh at the rest.

It is a fact that Mr. Burr is now in frequent & close conference with a Frenchman4 who is suspected of being an Agent of the French Government, and it [is] not to be doubted that he will be the firm ally of Buonaparte.

You are at liberty to shew this letter to such friends as you think fit especially Mr. Bayard of Delaware in whose principles & sound sense I have much confidence. Depend on it men never played a more foolish game than will do the Fœderalists if they support Burr.

Yrs   ever


G Morris Esq

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1For background to this letter, see H to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., December 16, 1800, note 1.

In JCHW description begins John C. Hamilton, ed., The Works of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1851–1856). description ends , VI, 520, and HCLW description begins Henry Cabot Lodge, ed., The Works of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1904). description ends , X, 419, this letter is dated “January, 1801.”

2See James McHenry to H, December 31, 1800, note 4; John Rutledge, Jr., to H, January 10, 1801, note 5.

On August 24, 1802, during a newspaper debate in New York City concerning Aaron Burr’s alleged attempts to become President during the election of 1800, Robert Troup wrote to Rufus King: “His [Burr’s] manœuvering for the Presidency is past a doubt with us all; and was so before the view made its appearance. Hamilton has often said he could prove it to the satisfaction of any court and jury” (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 , IV, 161).

As part of the same newspaper debate, the New-York Evening Post printed an editorial on October 13, 1802, which reads: “We have good grounds too for asserting, that one of the gentlemen named in the publication in question [the (New York) American Citizen, October 12, 1802], as being present at a dinner in Albany in the winter of 1801, when Gen. Hamilton is stated to have said, that ‘Mr. Burr had intrigued with a federal gentleman to effect his election to the Presidency’ has declared that he has no recollection of the General’s having used those expressions, and that he does not believe they were used by him.

“We are also well assured that General Hamilton a few weeks since, at the table of Edward Livingston, Esq. in the presence of a numerous company, upon being appealed to for the purpose, declared that he had no personal knowledge of any negociation between Col. Burr and any person whatever, respecting the elevation of himself to the Chief Magistracy.”

4This may be a reference to a Mr. Montfort who had been Burr’s protégé. See Cheetham, Burr description begins [James Cheetham] A View of the Political Conduct of Aaron Burr, Esq. Vice-President of the United States (New York: Printed by Denniston & Cheetham, No. 142 Pearl-Street, 1802). description ends , 66, 69; Burr to Albert Gallatin, February 12, 1801 (ALS, New-York Historical Society, New York City); Thomas Jefferson to Burr, February 1, 1801 (ALS, letterpress copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress); Burr to Jefferson, February 12, 1801 (ALS, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress).

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