To Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord1
[New York, March 25, 1804]
Presuming on the acquaintance, from which I derived so much pleasure during your stay in this Country, I am going to take a very great liberty. It concerns a near relation of mine, Mr. Alexander Hamilton,2 now a prisoner of war on parol, at Paris.
His brother, from whom I have just received a letter3 informs me, that being upon a visit to the Continent as a Traveller, he was overtaken by the war between France & G Britain, and has been since that time in the situation which I have mentioned. He is a Scotch Gentleman of Education and literary acquirement, who having amassed a pretty handsome fortune in the East Indies, had returned to his own country to devote himself to the pursuits of knowlege; and was induced to pass over to the Continent to indulge his curiosity, with a particular eye to the very interesting monuments of the arts of which Paris is now the Depository.
I will ask nothing specific for him because I know not what could with propriety be done; contenting myself with merely saying, that if your interposition can procure for him any facility, indulgence, or favour, it will confer a personal obligation on one, who has the honor to remain with great respect and regard
Your very obedt servt
ADfS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. In September, 1792, Talleyrand fled from Paris to England. Expelled from England in the spring of 1794, he sailed for the United States, where he and H became friends. He remained in the United States until June, 1796. In 1797 he became the French Minister for Foreign Affairs.
For two reports on Talleyrand’s admiration of H, see Hamilton, Reminiscences description begins James A. Hamilton, Reminiscences of James A. Hamilton: or Men and Events, at Home and Abroad, During Three Quarters of a Century (New York, 1869). description ends , 7 and note. For Talleyrand’s recollection of a conversation he had with H on the probable direction of economic growth in the United States, see Talleyrand, Memoires 1754–1807 (Paris: Librairie Plon, 1957), 232–33.