George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, 5 April 1793

From Alexander Hamilton

Philadelphia April 5, 1793


The Ship John Buckeley is just arrived here from Lisbon, which place she left on the 23d of Februay.1

The Messrs Walls a respectable Mercantile House here have received a letter from Mr John Buckeley a respectable Merchant of Lisbon, after whom the Ship is named, of which the following is an extract.

“By letters from France by this day’s Post, we find, that an Embargo took place there the 2d instant on all English Russian and Dutch Vessels, which is certainly the prelude of War[.]” This letter is dated the 22d of February.2

Messrs Walls, in addition, inform that on the 23 of Feby the moment the Ship was getting under way Mr Buckeley came on board with a letter from Mr Fenwick of Bourdeaux, informing him that War had been declared by France against England Russia & Holland—The foregoing particulars I have directly from the Walls.

The Report in the City is that the War was declared on the 8th of Feby.3

Combining this with the Letter of Lord Grenville to Mr Chauvelin requiring his departure & the Kings Message to the House of Commons founded upon—there seems to be no room for Doubt of the existence of War.4 With perfect respect & the truest Attachment I have the honor to be Sir Yr most Obed. ser.

A. Hamilton5

P.S. I this instant learn that there are English Papers in Town by way of St Vincents which mention that on the 8th of February The late Queen of France was also put to Death after a Trial & Condemnation .6

ALS, DLC:GW; copy, DLC: Hamilton Papers.

1The John Bulkeley arrived at Philadelphia on 5 April 1793 (Gazette of the United States [Philadelphia], 6 April 1793).

2The letter from Bulkeley to John and Joseph Wall has not been identified.

3The information given by Joseph Fenwick, the U.S. consul at Bordeaux, to Bulkeley in this unidentified letter was only partially correct. France had declared war on Great Britain and the Netherlands on 1 Feb. (Thomas Jefferson to GW, 1 April 1793). Russia did not join in an alliance against France until September 1794.

4Bernard-François, marquis de Chauvelin (1766–1832), had served at the court of King Louis XVI in 1789, but he succeeded in allying himself with the revolutionaries and had secured an appointment as minister to Great Britain in 1792. According to the 6 April issue of the Gazette of the United States (Philadelphia), Lord Grenville, in his letter to Chauvelin of 24 Jan. 1793, expelled the French minister to Great Britain due to the execution of King Louis XVI, which had occurred on 21 January. When King George III addressed the House of Commons on 28 Jan. 1793, he informed the members of Chauvelin’s expulsion and the need to augment the British navy and army. For more information on the U.S. government’s reaction to the death of King Louis XVI and the widening war in Europe, see GW to Cabinet, 18 April, and note 2.

5Just to the left of his signature Hamilton wrote “See Postcript,” which he wrote on the next page.

6Upon the execution of King Louis XVI, French revolutionaries imprisoned Queen Marie Antoinette, but they did not execute her until 16 Oct. 1793.

Index Entries