George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Alexander Hamilton, 5 November 1794

To Alexander Hamilton

Philadelphia 5th Novr 1794

Dear Sir,

Since my last to you,1 I have received your several letters of the 25th 26th and 29th of last month, & am glad to hear that the Troops continued to be in good health & spirits, notwithstanding the bad weather & the Roads; and that further indications of submission were likely to be manifested by the Insurgents.

I have not received the rout of either column of the Army—nor a copy of the order establishing them, issued on the day of my departure from Bedford.2

Upon enquiry, I find that it was copies only, of Papers, that had been sent from the Secretary of State’s Office, the originals being adjudge necessary for the Archives.3

For want of a quorum in the Senate, Congress have not yet proceeded on business; and it is questionable, it seems whether it will make a house to day; five members being wanting for this purpose, yesterday afternoon.

Bache (as I expected) has opened his batteries upon your motives for remaining with the Army.4 As the papers (I presume) are sent to you, I shall not repeat them. Although there are some late arrivals, the Gazettes have not, as yet, announced any thing new.

Mrs Hamilton & your family were well yesterday. Mrs Schuyler and Son ( John) and daughter, are there, but talk of going away to day, or to morrow.5 I am—Your Affecte

Go: Washington

ALS, DLC: Alexander Hamilton Papers.

2In Henry Lee’s general orders of 21 Oct., he divided the army into a right column consisting of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey lines under the command of Thomas Mifflin, and a left column consisting of the Maryland and Virginia lines under Lee’s immediate command (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 2d ser., 4:350–53).

3Hamilton requested the original papers in his letter to GW of 29 Oct.; Secretary of State Edmund Randolph supplied this explanation in his letter to GW of 4 November.

4The General Advertiser (Philadelphia) had complained about Hamilton’s presence with the army as early as 3 Nov.: “we find the Secretary of the Treasury usurping the station of the god of war and directing the avenging thunder of the nation. Yet what is his station in the army? He has no ostensible character there, as far as the public have learnt, and it would be insulting the patriotism and talents of the commander in chief to suppose he needs a director. At any rate the Secretary is there surely out of his element, and as he is paid to attend to the financial concerns of this country his absence from the seat of government is a direlection of his duty. But perhaps, this absence may have the good effect of convincing those not already convinced that his labours in the financial career can be dispensed with, and that money bills can be originated without his instrumentality.”

GW, however, probably was referring to the article that appeared in the General Advertiser on this date: “Those who consult the secret springs of the human mind will readily account for the Secretary of the Treasury’s presence with the army. The excise as the child of his own heart, tho’ a bastard in the soil that gave it birth, has called forth the feelings of the father, when the avenging sword was to be drawn for the punishment of its opposers. The Secretary by his presence with the army will, thro’ the means of his talents and influence, to forward the views of his faction, assist in placing the principle which led to the almost unanimous exertions against the opposers of the law, in a false light, a favourite end with the faction at the present moment. It is their wish to make the friends of constitutional law be considered as friends to the introduction into our soil of all the poisonous exotics of the old world: But the discriminating sense of the people of this country will baffle the attempt and while they will hold up their hand against all illegal opposition to the measures of government will also ever raise their voice against all the instrumentality systems of the Secretary.”

5Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler (1734–1803), who had married Philip Schuyler in 1755, was Hamilton’s mother-in-law. John Bradstreet Schuyler (1765–1795) was the eldest surviving son of that marriage. He had been elected in the spring of this year to represent Saratoga in the New York legislature. Which of Mrs. Schuyler’s daughters accompanied the two has not been determined.

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