To Samuel Chase
[Valley Forge, 27 April 1778]
Your favour of the 20th instant, I have received—The practice of seizing & confining the friends to America in the civil line, however barbarous it may be is a favourite engine of policy with the enemy; from which, I believe it will not be easy1 to make them depart. Their object is to deter men from taking an active and leading part in our governments; the firm establishment of which they foresee2 will be fatal to their views. Whether the measure, of seizing3 their friends with us, to redeem ours in their power would put a stop to the4 practice is extremely doubtful—There are few persons among us, whom they esteem of sufficient consequence—to desist on their account, from any thing which they look upon, as advancive of their interest.
With respect to Mr Bedford, if the exchange you mention was under my direction I should chearfully consent to its taking place. But Mr Cook is not, that I know of, a military prisoner; consequently not subject to my disposal. I apprehend he must be a prisoner to this state—and therefore it lies with them to determine whether he shall be exchanged for Mr Bedford. I am with real esteem and regard Dr Sir Your most Obedt servt.
Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Hamilton revised the draft extensively; the most significant changes are noted below. The date is taken from a docket on the draft; also Chase’s letter to GW of 20 April, to which this replies, is docketed, “From Samuel Chase Esqr. April 27. 1778.”
1. Hamilton substituted the word “easy” for “impossible” on the draft.
2. On the draft Hamilton initially wrote, “which they are sensible, if once firmly established and in good hands,” but he substituted the phrase “the firm establishment of which they forsee.”
3. On the draft Hamilton had written “retaliating on,” but he substituted the word “seizing.”
4. On the draft Hamilton originally finished this sentence, “persecution, is rather problematical.”