diminish whatever credit or influence I may possess,
and to effect this they stick at nothing. Among
many contemptible artifices practised by them they
have had recourse to an insinuation that I palmed
myself upon you, and that you dismissed me from
your family.' This I confess hurts my feelings, and
if it obtains credit, will require a contradiction.
You, sir, will undoubtedly recollect the manner in
which I came into your family and went out of it,
and know how destitute of foundation such insinua-
tions are. My confidence in your justice will not
permit me to doubt your readiness to put the matter
in its true light in your answer to this letter. It
cannot be my wish to give any complexion to the
affair which might excite the least scruple to you,
Â» In his reply to this letter, Washington says: " But as you say it is
insinuated by some of your political adversaries and may obtain public
credit, 'that you palmed yourself upon me and was dismissed from my
family,' and call upon me to do you justice by a recital of the facts,
I do therefore explicitly declare that both charges are entirely im-
Private Correspondence 425
but I confess it would mortify me to be under the
imputation either of having obtruded myself into
the family of a General or having been turned out
The new Constitution is as popular in this city as
it is possible for any thing to be, and the prospect
thus far is favorable to it throughout the State.
But there is no saying what turn things may take
when the full flood of official influence is let loose
against it. This is to be expected; for, though the
Governor has not publicly declared himself, his par-
ticular connections and confidential friends are loud
Mrs. Hamilton joins in respectful compliments to
October 30, 1787.
I am much obliged to your Excellency for the ex-
plicit manner in which you contradict the insinua-
tions mentioned in my last letter. The only use I
shall make of your answer will be to put it into the
hands of a few friends.
The constitution proposed has in this State warm
friends and warm enemies. The first impressions
everywhere are in its favor, but the artillery of its
opponents makes some impression. The event can-
not yet be foreseen. The inclosed is the first number
of a series of papers to be written in its defence.'
I send you also, at the request of the Baron de
Steuben, a printed pamphlet containing the grounds
* This allusion is to The Federalist
426 Alexander Hamilton
of an application lately made to Congress. He tells
me there is some reference to you, the object of
which he does not himself seem clearly to under-
stand, but imagines it may be in your power to be
of service to him.
There are public considerations that induce me to
be somewhat anxious for his success. He is fortified
with materials which, in Europe, could not fail to
establish the belief of the contract he alleges. The
documents of service he possesses are of a nature
to convey an exalted idea of them. The compen-
sations he has received, though considerable, if
compared with those which have been received by
American officers, will, according to European ideas,
be very scanty in application to a stranger who is
acknowledged to have rendered essential services.
Our reputation abroad is not at present too high.
To dismiss an old soldier empty and hungry, to seek
the bounty of those on whom he has no claims, and
to complain of unkind returns and violated engage-
ments, will certainly not tend to raise it. I confess,
too, there is something in my feelings which would
incline me in this case to go further than might be
strictly necessary, rather than drive a man, at the
Baron's time of life, who has been a faithful servant,
to extremities. And this is unavoidable if he does
not succeed in his present attempt. What he asks
would, all calculations made, terminate in this: an
allowance of his five hundred and eighty guineas a
year. He only wishes a recognition of the contract.
He knows that until affairs mend no money can be
produced. I do not know how far it may be in your
Private Correspondence 427
power to do him any good, but I shall be mistaken
if the considerations I have mentioned do not appear
to your Excellency to have some weight.
TO JAMES MADISON, JR.
New York, April 3, 1788.
I have been very delinquent, my dear sir, in not
thanking you for your letter from Philadelphia. The
remarks 3^ou made on a certain subject are impor-
tant, and will be attended to.
There is truly much embarrassment in the case.
I think, however, the principles we have talked of
are not onty just, but will apply to the other depart-
ments. Nor will the consequences appear so dis-
agreeable as they may seem at first sight, when we
attend to the true import of the rule established.
The States retain all the authorities they were be-
fore possessed of, not alienated in the three modes
pointed out; but this does not include cases which
are the creatures of the new Constitution. For in-
stance, the crime of treason against the United
States immediately is a crime known only to the new
Constitution. There of course was no power in the
State constitutions to pardon that crime. There
will therefore be none under the new, etc. This is
something likely, it seems to me, to afford the best
solution of the difficulty. I send you the Federalist
from the beginning to the conclusion of the com-
mentary on the Executive Branch. If our sus-
picions of the author be right, he must be too much
engaged to make a rapid progress in what remains.
428 Alexander Hamilton
The Court of Chancery and a Circuit Court are now
We are told that your election has succeeded, with
which we all felicitate ourselves. I will thank you
for an account of the result generally. In this State
our prospects are much as you left them. A moot
point which side will prevail. Our friends to the
northward are active.
TO JAMES MADISON, JR.
May 4, 1788.
My Dear Sir:
I believe I am in your debt a letter or two, which
is owing to my occupation in relation to the elections,
These are now over in this State, but the result is
not known. All depends upon Albany, where both
sides claim the victory. Our doubts will not be re-
moved till the latter end of the month. I hope your
expectations of Virginia have not diminished.
Respecting the first volume of Puhlius I have ex-
ecuted your commands. The books have been sent
addressed to the care of Governor Randolph. The
second, we are informed, will be out in the course of a
week, and an equal number shall be forwarded. In-
closed is a letter, committed to my care by Mr. Van-
derkemp, which I forward with pleasure.
TO gouverneur morris
My Dear Sir: ^^^ Yo^m, May 19, 1788.
I acknowledge my delinquency in not thanking
you before for your obliging letter from Richmond.
Private Correspondence 429
But the truth is that I have been so overwhelmed in
avocations of one kind or another, that I have scarcely
had a moment to spare to a friend. You I trust will
be the less disposed to be inexorable, as I hope you
will believe there is no one for whom I have more
inclination than yourself â€” I mean of the male kind.
Your account of the situation of Virginia was in-
teresting, and the present appearances as represented
here justify your conjectures. It does not however
appear that the adoption of the Constitution can be
considered as out of doubt in that State. Its con-
duct upon the occasion will certainly be of critical
In this State, as far as we can judge, the elections
have gone wrong. The event, however, will not
certainly be known till the end of the month. Vio-
lence rather than moderation is to be looked for from
the opposite party. Obstinacy seems the prevailing
trait in the character of its leader. The language is
that if all the other States adopt, this is to persist in
refusing the Constitution. It is reduced to a cer-
tainty that Clinton has in several conversations de-
clared the Union unnecessary â€” though I have the
information through channels which do not permit
a public use to be made of it.
We have, notwithstanding this unfavorable com-
plexion of things, two sources of hope: one, the
chance of a ratification by nine States before we
decide, and the influence of this upon the firmness of
the followers; the other, the probability of a change
of sentiment in the people, auspicious to the Con-
430 Alexander Hamilton
The current has been for some time running to-
ward it ; though the whole flood of official influence,
accelerated by a torrent of falsehood, early gave the
public opinion so violent a direction in a wrong chan-
nel that it was not possible suddenly to alter its
course. This is a mighty stiff simile; but you know
what I mean ; and after having started it, I did not
choose to give up the chase.
The members of the Convention in this city, by a
majority of nine or ten to one, will be: John Jay,
Robert R. Livingston, Richard Morris, John Sloss
Hobart, James Duane, Isaac Roosevelt, Richard
Harrison, Nicholas Low, Alexander Hamilton.
TO JAMES MADISON, JR.
New York, May 19, 1788.
Some days since I wrote to you, my dear sir, in-
closing a letter from a Mr. Vanderkemp, etc.
I then mentioned to you that the question of a
majority for or against the Constitution would de-
pend upon the County of Albany. By the later ac-
counts from that quarter, I fear much that the issue
there has been against us.
As Clinton is truly the leader of his party, and
is inflexibly obstinate, I count little on overcoming
opposition by reason. Our only chances will be the
previous ratification by nine States, which may
shake the firmness of his followers; and a change
in the sentiments of the people, which have, for
some time, been travelling towards the Constitution,
though the first impressions, made by every species
Private Correspondence 43 ^
of influence and artifice, were too strong to be eradi-
cated in time to give a decisive turn to the elections.
We shall leave nothing undone to cultivate a favor-
able disposition in the citizens at large.
The language of the Anti- Federalists is, that if all
the other States adopt. New York ought still to hold
out. I have the most direct intelligence, but in a
manner which forbids a public use being made of it,
that Clinton has, in several conversations, declared
his opinion of the inutility of the Union. It is an
unhappy reflection that the friends to it should, by
quarrelling for straws among themselves, promote
the designs of its adversaries. We think here that
the situation of your State is critical. Let me know
what you now think of it. I believe you meet nearly
at the time we do. It will be of vast importance
that an exact communication should be kept up be-
tween us at that period; and the moment any de-
cisive question is taken, if favorable, I request you
to dispatch an express to me, with pointed orders to
make all possible diligence, by changing horses, etc.
All expense shall be thankfully and liberally paid.
I executed your commands respecting the first volume
of the Federalist. I sent forty of the common copies
and twelve of the finer ones, addressed to the care
of Governor Randolph. The printer announces the
second volume in a day or two, when an equal num-
ber of the two kinds shall also be forwarded. He
informs that the Judicial Department â€” Trial by
Jury â€” Bill of Rights, etc., is discussed in some addi-
tional papers which have not yet appeared in the
432 Alexander Hamilton
TO JOHN SULLIVAN, ESQ., PRESIDENT OF THE STATE OF
New York, Jtine 6, 1788.
You will no doubt have understood that the Anti-
federal party has prevailed in this State by a large
majority. It is therefore of the utmost importance
that all external circumstances should be miade use
of to influence their conduct. This will suggest to
you the great advantage of a speedy decision in your
State, if you can be sure of the question, and a
prompt communication of the event to us. With
this view, permit me to request that the instant you
have taken a decisive vote in favor of the Constitu-
tion, you send an express to me at Poughkeepsie.
Let him take the shortest route to that place, change
horses on the road, and use all possible diHgence. I
shall with pleasure defray all expenses, and give a
liberal reward to the person. As I suspect an effort
will be made to precipitate us, all possible safe dis-
patch on your part, as well to obtain a decision as to
communicate the intelligence of it, will be desirable/
TO JAMES MADISON, JR.
My Dear Sir: ^^^ yÂ°^^' J"^^ ^' '^ss-
In my last, I think, I informed you that the elec-
tions had turned out, beyond expectation, favorable
to the Anti-federal party. They have a majority of
two thirds in the Convention, and, according to the
I This interesting letter, now first printed, I owe to the kindness of
Mr. George Clarendon Hodges, of Boston, the possessor of the original.
Private Correspondence 433
best estimate I can form, of about four sevenths in
the community. The views of the leaders in this
city are pretty well ascertained to be turned towards
a long adjournment â€” say, till next spring or summer.
Their incautious ones observe that this will give an
opportunity to the State to see how the government
works, and to act according to circumstances.
My reasonings on the fact are to this effect: The
leaders of the party hostile to the Constitution are
equally hostile to the Union. They are, however,
afraid to reject the Constitution at once, because
that step would bring matters to a crisis between
this State and the States which had adopted the
Constitution, and between the parties in the State.
A separation of the Southern District from the other
parts of the State, it is perceived, would become the
object of the Federalists and of the neighboring
States. They therefore resolve upon a long ad-
journment as the safest and most artful course to
effect their final purpose. They suppose that when
the government gets into operation, it will be obliged
to take some steps in respect to revenue, etc., which
will furnish topics of declamation to its enemies in
the several States, and will strengthen the minorities.
If any considerable discontent should show itself,
they will stand ready to head the opposition. If, on
the contrary, the thing should go on smoothly, and
the sentiments of our own people should change,
they can elect to come into the Union. They, at all
events, take the chances of time and the chapter of
How far their friends in the country will go with
434 Alexander Hamilton
them, I am not able to say, but, as they have always
been found very obsequious, we have little reason to
calculate upon an uncompliant temper in the present
instance. For my own part, the more I can pene-
trate the views of the Anti-federal party in this
State, the more I dread the consequences of the non-
adoption of the Constitution by any of the other
States â€” the more I fear an eventual disunion and
civil war. God grant that Virginia may accede.
The example will have a vast influence on our poli-
tics. New Hampshire, all accounts give us to ex-
pect, will be an assenting State.
The number of the volumes of the Federalist which
you desired have been forwarded, as well the second
as the first, to the care of Governor Randolph. It
was impossible to correct a certain error.
In a former letter, I requested you to communicate
to me, by express, the event of any decisive question
in favor of the Constitution, authorizing changes of
horses, etc., with an assurance to the person that he
will be liberally paid for his diligence.
TO JAMES MADISON, JR.
Dear Sir* Poughkeepsie, June, 1788.
Your letter of the 20th came to hand two days
since. I regret that your prospects are not yet re-
duced to greater certainty. There is more and more
reason to believe that our conduct will be influenced
Our discussions have not yet travelled beyond the
power of taxation. To-day we shall probably quit
Private Correspondence 435
this ground to pass to another. Our arguments con-
found, but do not convince. Some of the leaders,
however, appear to be convinced by circumstances,
and to be desirous of a retreat. This does not apply
to the chief, who wishes to establish Clintonism on
the basis of Anti-federalism.
TO JAMES MADISON, JR.
POUGHKEEPSIE, JunC 21, 1788.
Yesterday, my dear sir, the Convention made a
House. That day and this have been spent in
preliminary arrangements. To-morrow we go into a
committee of the whole on the Constitution. There
is every appearance that a full discussion will take
place, which will keep us together at least a fort-
night. It is not easy to conjecture what will be the
result. Our adversaries greatly outnumber us. The
leaders gave indications of a pretty desperate dis-
position in private conversations previous to the
meeting; but I imagine the minor partisans have
their scruples, and an air of moderation is now as-
sumed. So far the thing is not despaired of. A
happy issue with you must have a considerable in-
fluence upon us. I have time to add nothing more
than the assurance of my sincere attachment.
TO JAMES MADISON, JR.
My Dear Sir: Poughkeepsie, June 21, 1788.
I thank you for your letter of the 9th instant, and
am glad to learn that you think the chance is in your
436 Alexander Hamilton
favor. I hope no disagreeable change may appear.
Yet, I own I fear something from your indisposition.
Our debate here began on the clause respecting the
proportion of representation, etc., which has taken
up two days. To-morrow, I imagine, we shall talk
about the power over elections. The only good in-
formation I can give you is, that we shall be some
time together, and take the chance of events.
The object of the party at present is undoubtedly
conditional amendments. What effect events may
have cannot precisely be foreseen. I believe the
adoption by New Hampshire is certain.
TO JAMES MADISON, JR.
PouGHKEEPSiE, Friday morning, June 27, 1788.
A day or two ago General Schuyler, at my request,
sent forward to you an express with an account of
the adoption of the Constitution by New Hamp-
shire. We eagerly wait for further intelligence from
you, as our chance of success depends upon you.
There are some slight symptoms of relaxation in
some of the leaders, which authorizes a gleam of
hope, if you do well, but certainly I think not
TO JAMES MADISON, JR.
My Dear Sir: July 8,1788.
I felicitate you sincerely on the event in Virginia,
but my satisfaction will be allayed if I discover too
much facility in the business of amendment-making.
I fear the system will be wounded in some of its vital
Private Correspondence 437
parts by too general a concurrence in some very in-
judicious recommendations. I allude more particu-
larly to the power of taxation. The more I consider
requisition in any shape, the more I am out of humor
with it. We yesterday passed through the Constitu-
tion. To-day some definitive proposition is to be
brought forward, but what, we are at a loss to judge.
We have good reason to believe that our opponents
are not agreed, and this affords some ground of hope.
Different things are thought of â€” conditions precedent,
or previous amendments; conditions subsequent, or
the proposition of amendments, upon condition that
if they are not adopted within a Hmited time, the
vState shall be at liberty to zvithdraw from the Union ;
and, lastty, recommendatory amendments. In either
case, constructive declarations will be carried as far as
possible. We will go as far as we can in the latter
without invalidating the act, and will concur in
rational recommendations. The rest for our oppo-
nents. We are informed there has been a disturb-
ance in the city of Albany, on the fourth of July,
which has occasioned bloodshed. The Anti-federal-
ists were the aggressors, and the Federalists the vic-
tors. Thus stand our accounts at present. We
trust, however, the matter has passed over, and
tranquillity been restored.
TO JAMES MADISON, JR.
PouGHKEEPSiE, Saturday, July, 1788.
I thank you, my dear sir, for yours by the post.
Yesterday I communicated to Duer our situation,
438 Alexander Hamilton
which I presume he will have communicated to you.
It remains exactly the same. No further question
having been taken, I fear the footing I mentioned to
Duer is the best upon which it can be placed, but
every thing possible will yet be attempted to bring
the party from that stand to an unquahfied ratifica-
tion. Let me know your idea upon the possibiHty
of our being received on that plan. You will under-
stand that the only qualification will be the reserva-
tion of a right to recede in case our amendments have
not been decided upon in one of the modes pointed
out by the Constitution, within a certain number of
years, perhaps five or seven. If this can, in the first
instance, be admitted as a ratification, I do not fear
any further consequences. Congress will, I presume,
recommend certain amendments to render the struc-
ture of the government more secure. This will satisfy
the more considerate and honest opposers of the Con-
stitution, and with the aid of them will break up the
TO NATHANIEL CHIPMAN ^
gjj^; POUGHKEEPSIE, July 22, I788.
Your brother delivered me your favor, which I re-
ceived with pleasure, as the basis of a correspondence
that may be productive of public good.
I Nathaniel Chipman, of Vermont, was born in Connecticut, in 1752,
and died in 1843. He was a soldier of the Revolution and a distin-
guished lawyer and statesman. He was Chief-Justice of Vermont and
Senator from that State. The letter to which this is a reply related
to the question of the New York grants. In 1789 Mr. Chipman was
appointed to settle the differences with New York, and two years later
was one of the Commissioners to arrange for the admission of Vermont
into the Union.
Private Correspondence 439
The accession of Vermont to the Confederacy is,
doubtless, an object of great importance to the
whole ; and it appears to me that this is the favorable
moment for effecting it upon the best terms for all
concerned. Besides mere general reasons, there are
circumstances of the moment which will forward a
proper arrangement. One of the first subjects of
deliberation with the new Congress will be the
independence of Kentucky, for which the Southern
States will be anxious. The Northern will be glad
to send a counterpoise in Vermont. These mutual
interests and inclinations will facilitate a proper
I see nothing that can stand in your way but the
interfering claims under the grants of New York.
As to taxation, the natural operation of the new
system will place you exactly where you might wish
to be. The public debt, as far as it can prudently be
provided for, will be by the Western lands and the
appropriation of some general fund. There will he
no distribution of it to particular parts of the com-
munity. The fund will be sought for in indirect
taxation; as for a number of years, and except in
time of war, direct taxes would be an impolitic
measure. Hence, as you can have no objection to
your proportion of contribution as consumers, you
can fear nothing from the article of taxation.
I readily conceive that it will hardly be practicable
to you to come into the Union, unless you are se-
cured from claims under New York grants. Upon
the whole, therefore, I think it will be expedient for
you, as early as possible, to ratify the Constitution,
440 Alexander Hamilton
" upon condition that Congress shall provide for the
extinguishment of all existing claims to land under
grants of the State of New York, which may inter-
fere with claims under the grants of the State of
Vermont." You will do well to conform your
boundary to that heretofore marked out by Con-
gress, otherwise insuperable difficulties would be
likely to arise with this State.
I should think it altogether unadvisable to annex
any other conditions to your ratification, for there is
scarcely any of the amendments proposed that will
not have a party opposed to it, and there are several
that will meet with a very strong opposition; and
it would, therefore, be highly inexpedient for you
to embarrass your main object by any collateral
As I write in Convention, I have it not in my