James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Alexander Hamilton, 16 October 1783

To Alexander Hamilton

RC (LC: Papers of Alexander Hamilton). Manuscript much frayed along its right edge. In JM’s hand, but his signature and part of his complimentary close are missing. In the left margin alongside the first four lines of the letter appears in an old-fashioned script, “A. H. Testifies the opposition of H. to the removal of Congress to Princeton, both before and after the event.” Docketed by Hamilton, “Letter from Mr. Maddison.”

Princeton Octr. 16. 1783

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 6th of July1 by some singular ill luck never found its way to my hands till yesterday evening. The only part that now needs attention is a request that I will answer the following Question “What appeared to be my ideas and disposition respecting the removal of Congress—did I appear to wish to hasten it, or did I not rather shew a strong disposition to procrastinate it?”2 If this request had been recd. at the time it ought it might have been answered as fully as you then wished. Even after the delay which has taken place my recollection enable[s] me with certainty to witness that the uniform strain of yo[ur] sentiments as they appeared both from particular conversations with myself and incidental ones with others in [my] presence was opposed to the removal of Congress excep[t] in the last necessity; that when you finally yielded the measure it appeared to be more in compliance with the peremptory expostulations of oth[ers] than with any disposition of your own mind,3 an[d] that after the arrival of Congress at Princeton you[r] conversation shewed that you received the removal with regret than with pleasure.4

Perhaps this obedience to your wishes may be too [late?] to answer the original object of them; But I could not [let pass?] such an opportunity of testifying the esteem & regard with

1Q.v., and n. 7.

2This is an accurate quotation of Hamilton’s fourth paragraph in his letter of 6 July 1783.

3For the context of this matter, see JM Notes, 19 June, and nn. 6–8; 20 June, and n. 1; 21 June, and nn. 1–8; JM to Randolph, 30 June; Hamilton to JM, 29 June; 6 July 1783, and nn. 3, 5, 6; Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and Jacob E. Cooke, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (15 vols. to date; New York, 1961——). description ends , III, 438–58, and esp. 448–49.

4JM and Hamilton were together in Congress at Princeton during the first day or two of July and for several days later that month (ibid., III, 413, 414, 418; Hamilton to JM, 6 July, nn. 1, 7; JM to Randolph, 15 July, n. 7; to Jefferson, 17 July, n. 14; Livingston to JM, 19 July 1783, n. 6).

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