[New York, April 10, 1801]
After which2 General Hamilton addressed the meeting in one of those eloquent and impressive speeches which distinguish this superior man. He took a general review of the state of the country since the revolution—examined the conduct of the two parties which have existed in it—shewed that it was to the Federal party exclusively that we owe the unexampled prosperity which we have hitherto enjoyed, and that those measures had met with undistinguishing opposition from their adversaries. He dwelt upon the advantages which we had derived from our neutrality, and warned the Merchants particularly against a blind confidence in our present prosperous situation. It was his opinion that the spirit of Jacobinism which has almost desolated France and threatened the world, was now only held in chains by the power of one man, and that if the hand of the assassin could only reach the life of Buonaparte, the monster would rage again with more violence and ferocity than ever—That there was a set of men in this country, actuated, some by motives less worthy than others (who might rather be considered dupes) but the great mass of whom were downright Jacobins at heart, and upon whose movements and machinations it was of the last importance to keep the most vigilant eye—That it was highly important that Federalism should still discover to her enemies an energetic and imposing character—that it was of extreme consequence that the state of New-York should be able to harmonize with the politics of New-England, for although he was disposed to hope the best from the administration of Mr. Jefferson, yet it was certainly desirable that we should be able to present such a phalanx as might enable us to support the chief magistrate, if he went right, and sufficient to deter him if he appeared disposed to go wrong.3
[New York] Commercial Advertiser, April 11, 1801.
1. H delivered this address at a Federalist meeting that was called to nominate thirteen candidates from New York City for the state Assembly.
2. The account of H’s speech is preceded by the following paragraph: “A meeting of the Federalists was held last evening at the City-Hotel, in Broadway, which was the most respectable for character and numbers that the city ever witnessed. The meeting was opened by Mr. Harrison [Richard Harison, United States attorney for the District of New York], who after many pertinent observations on the present crisis of our affairs, and the necessity of vigorous and united exertions at the ensuing election, in order to preserve to our country the blessings of social order, reported from the general committee the following Ticket for Members of Assembly, which was unanimously agreed upon:
|Robert Troup,||Jacob Sherred,|
|John Oothout,||Abraham Russell,|
|Selah Strong,||Cadwall D. Colden,|
|James Roosevelt,||Samuel Stilwell,|
|Nathaniel Pendleton,||John Townsend,|
|Jonathan Little,||William W. Woolsey.”|
3. The account of H’s speech is followed by a paragraph which reads: “It would be impossible to follow him in detail thro’ his long and animated speech; of which this is but a feeble outline. It was the energy of Demosthenes, the ardor of Chatham, the overpowering rapidity of Fox, the logic of Pitt, and the classical imagery of Burke. In short it was worthy of Alexander Hamilton. It gave a new pulse to the public feelings and we hope to see its effects among all classes of men.
Belden, the nephew of Noah Webster, Jr., was a partner with his uncle in the firm of E. Belden and Company, which published the Commercial Advertiser.
On April 25, 1801, a meeting of “merchants and traders” of New York City at the Tontine Coffee House endorsed the Federalist slate for the New York Assembly and the Federalist candidates for governor and lieutenant governor (The [New York] Spectator, April 29, 1801). On April 27, 1801, Aaron Burr wrote to his son-in-law, Joseph Alston: “Our election commences to-morrow, and will be open for three days. The republican members of assembly for this city will be carried by a greater majority than last year, unless some fraud be practised at the polls. The corporation [of the City of New York] have had the indecent hardiness to appoint known and warm federalists (and no others) to be inspectors of the election in every ward. Hamilton works day and night with the most intemperate and outrageous zeal, but I think wholly without effect” (Davis, Burr description begins Matthew L. Davis, Memoirs of Aaron Burr. With Miscellaneous Selections From His Correspondence. 2 vols. (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1836–1837). description ends , II, 149).
The state election took place on April 28, 29, 30, 1801, and all the Federalist candidates for the Assembly were defeated (The [New York] Spectator, May 6, 1801). After the election, on August 8, 1801, Robert Troup wrote to Rufus King: “Hamilton is supremely disgusted with the state of our political affairs. He has all along said and still maintains the opinion that Jefferson and his party had not talents or virtues sufficient to administer the government well; and he entertains no doubt that they will finally ruin our affairs and plunge us into serious commotions. Although he does not think this result will immediately take place, yet he predicts it is not so remote as many might imagine. He assures me that nothing short of a general convulsion will again call him into public life” (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 , III, 496).