George Washington Papers

VI, 21 November 1793


Alexander Hamilton’s Draft of a Statement on the Neutrality Proclamation for GW’s Fifth Annual Address to Congress

[c.21 November 1793]

It is greatly to be lamented, for the sake of humanity, that the flame of War, which had before spread over a considerable part of Europe has within the present year extended itself much further; implicating all those powers with whom the United States have the most extensive relations. When it was seen here, that almost all the maritime Nations either were, or were likely soon to become parties to the War, it was natural that it should excite serious reflections about the possible consequences to this Country. On the one hand, it appeared desireable, that no impressions in reference to it should exist—with any of the powers engaged, of a nature to precipitate arrangements or measurs tending to interrupt or endanger our peace.1 On the other, it was probable, that designing or inconsiderate persons among ourselves might from different motives embark in enterprizes contrary to the duties of a nation at peace with nations at war with each other; and, of course,2 calculated to invite and to produce reprisals and hostilites. Adverting to these considerations, in a situation both new and delicate, I Judged it adviseable to issue a Proclamation (here insert the substance of the Proclamation)—The effects of this measure have, I trust, neither disappointed the views which dictated it, nor disserved the true interests of our Country.

AD, DLC:GW; ADf, DLC: Alexander Hamilton Papers. The document at DLC: Hamilton Papers is an earlier draft that contains numerous emendations and stricken passages. The draft at DLC:GW, which contains far fewer changes, was docketed by GW. This draft evidently was prepared for the cabinet meeting of 21 Nov. (see editorial note above).

1On the earlier draft, Hamilton first wrote: “On the one hand, it was not impossible that the unfounded jealousies of some of the powers concerned might have led hastily to measures injurious to our rights and tending to implicate us in hostility,” but he deleted that text and substituted the language used here.

2In the earlier draft, Hamilton initially finished this sentence with the phrase, “to occasion reprisals detrimental to our well dispos ed citizens.”

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