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An inquiry into the formation of Washington's Farewell address .. online

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Hamilton sent a corrected and amended copy of this draught
to Washington, as he promised to do. His letter says, " he
shall shortly transcribe, coi^ect^ and forward it." The original
draught bears an indorsement in Hamilton's handwriting, in
these words : " Copy of the original draught, considerably
amended;" which cannot mean that the paper itself, on
which the indorsement was made, was considerably amended
from some other original, — for the paper itself is singularly
rough, and bears many interlineations, marginal and other-
wise, which in some respects deface it, and leaves also a
considerable blank in it, to be, perhaps, afterwards filled
up, — but it must import that the copy of that^ the original
draught, was considerably amended ; and this amended or
corrected copy, was the copy, no doubt, which Hamilton sent
to Washington, the rough original which bears the indorse-
ment remaining with Hamilton, and being now with Hamil-
ton's papers in the Department of State. It was this
corrected copy that was afterwards returned by Washington
to Hamilton, at his request, for revision^ and was again cor-
rected or revised, and in one or two particulars enlarged by

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him, and again returned to Washington. This corrected
copy, to distinguish it from the original draught, will here-
after be called Hamilton's revision. This large explanation
may be thought superfluous ; but, if attended to, it will be
foimd to prevent confusion, in the many references which
will occur to the different papers, and will also save the
necessity of periphrase.

To what extent, and in what manner the copy of the ori-
ginal draught which was sent to Washington, was amended or
corrected, either at first, or upon a revision, cannot be known
with absolute certainty; for we shall learn hereafter that
this paper is the only missing link. It may be heard of again
in the course of these remarks, and may, some time or other,
appear ; but it will not be discovered in time for the pur-
poses of this Inquiry. We know from infallible proofs, that
the amendments or corrections did not go to the extent of
changing the general order, subjects, or sentiments of the
paragraphs in Hamilton's original draught. He may have
struck out three of them, and a part of one or two of them,
and may have added two, or at most three, new ones. He
may have divided a few of the original paragraphs, and con-
solidated two paragraphs in one, in perhaps two or three
instances. The principal amendments must have been in
words, — a different selection from words or turns of expres-
sion nearly synonymous, and not changing the general
thought of the sentence. The comparison of Hamilton's
rough original draught with Washington's printed Farewell
Address, will establish the former, as continuing substan-
tially to the end, an identity, under all the amendments or
corrections that were made by Hamilton, or Washington.

On the 30th July, Hamilton wrote the letter to Wash-
ington which follows : —

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« Niw YOM, 30th July, 1796.

" Sir,—

" I have the pleasure to send you herewith a certain draught,
" which I have endeavored to make as perfect as my time and en-
^^ gagements would permit. It has been my object to render this
^^ act importantly and lastingly useful, and, avoiding all just cause
" of present exception, to embrace such reflections and sentiments
" as will wear well, progress in approbation with time, and redound
" to future reputation. How far I have succeeded, you will judge.

" I have begun the second part of the task, the digesting the
" supplementary remarks to the first address, which, in a fortnight,
" I hope also to send you ; yet, I confess, the more I have consi-
" dered the matter, the less eligible this plan has appeared to me.
" There seems to me to be a certain awkwardness in the thing, and
" it seems to imply that there is a doubt whether the assurance,
*' without the evidence, would be believed. Besides that, I think
" that there are some ideas that will not wear well in the former
" address; and I do not see how any part can be omitted, if it is
" to be given as the thing formerly prepared. Nevertheless, when
'' you have both before you, you can judge.

"If you should incline to take the draught now sent, after pe-
" rusing, and noting anything that you wish changed, and will send
" it to me, I will, with pleasure, shape it as you desire. This may
" also put it in my power to improve the expression, and perhaps,
" in some instances, condense.

" I rejoice that certain clouds have not lately thickened, and that
" there is a prospect of a brighter horizon.

" With afiiectionate and respectful

" attachment, I have the honor to be^

" Your very obedient servant,

« The President of the United States." " A. HAMILTON.

On the 10th of August, 1796, Hamilton again wrote to
Washington, as foUows : —

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" Sir,—

" About a fortniglit since, I sent you a certain draught. I now
" send you another, on the plan of incorporation. Whichever you
" may prefer, if there be any part you wish to transfer from one to
" another, any part to be changed, or if there be any material idea
" in your own draught which has happened to be omitted, and which
" you wish introduced, — ^in short, if there be anything further in
" the matter in which I can be of any [service], I will, with great
** pleasure, obey your commands.

" Very respectfully and affectionately,
" I have the honor to be,
" Sir,

" Your obedient servant,

" A. Hamilton.

" To the President." « August 10th, 1796.

Washington's draught in its original form, together with
the other on the plan of incorporation, must have been re-
turned at the same time with this letter, though it is not so
expressed. The care and return of it were enjoined by
Washington, and he had it, with the other, in his hands,
when he wrote his letter of 25th August, hereafter given.

On the same 10th August, Washington acknowledged
Hamilton's letter of 30th July, and the draught it

"Mount Vkbnon, lOth August, 1796.

" My dear Sir, — *

" The principal design of this letter is to inform you that your
" favor of the 30th ult., with its inclosure, got safe to my hands by
" the last post, and that the latter shall have the most attentive
" consideration I am able to give it.

" A cursory reading it has had ; and the sentiments therein con-
" tained are extremely just, and such as ought to be inculcated.

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" The donbt that occurs at first view, is the length of it for a news-
^^ paper publication ; and how far the occasion would countenance
^^ its appearing in any other form, without dilating more on the
*'^ present state of matters, is questionable. All the columns of a
" large gazette could scarcely, I conceive, contain the present
^^ draught. But, having made no accurate calculation of this
" matter, I may be much mistaken.

" If any matters should occur to you as fit subjects of communi-
" cation at the opening of the next session of Congress, I would
^^ thank you for noting and furnishing me with them. It is my
" wish and my custom to provide all the materials for the speech in
^' time, that it may be formed at leisure.

" With sincere esteem and afiectionate regard,
" I am always yours,

" Geo. Washington.

«Col. A. Hamiltoh."

One fact that must strike the reader upon perusing this
letter, is the great emphasis which Washington lays upon
the extent or magnitude of Hamilton's draught. Wash-
ington had, no doubt, intended his draught for a news- »
paper, as being the best instrument of diffusive pubUcation.
Upon a cursory reading of this draught, he perceived, as he
thought, that all the columns of a large gazette would
scarcely contain it ; and that it was questionable whether
the occasion would countenance its appearing in another
form, without dUating more on the present state of matters.
Indeed, it is the only fact with regard to Hamilton's draught
which the letter records, except that his letter and draught
had been received, and that the draught had had a cursory
reading : and this fact vdll be found to have a marked bear-
ing on the main question to be answered, namely, the con-

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tributory shares of Washington and Hamilton in the
Farewell Address.

The two parts of Washington's draught, which Mr.
Sparks has printed in the Appendix to the twelfth volume
of Washington's Writings, — Madison's draught, and Wash-
ington's part, called in that Appendix " Hints or Heads of
Topics,"— -would have filled, as has been remarked, about
five pages of printed matter, of the same size as the pages
in his Appendix ; and if to these be added the beginning
and conclusion of Washington, they wiU make about a page
and a half more ; and these together would not have made
up one-half of what the columns of a large newspaper would
have contained. By recurring to the copy of Hamilton's
original draught, which is presented in the seventh volume
of his Works, beginning at the top of page 575, it wiU be
found to end seven lines below the beginning of page 594,
and thus to contain nineteen pages. The page of Mr.
Sparks's Appendix contains about a fifth more matter than
Hamilton's page, from which we may deduce that Hamil-
ton's draught was more than twofold larger than the entire
preparation of Washington, including aU its four parts.
Washington's emphatic remarks show that Hamilton's
draught must have greatly exceeded his own in length,
without excluding from the latter several long paragraphs
which, in accordance with Washington's permission, Hamil-
ton had thought it expedient to omit. A more substantial
comparison wiU be made hereafter.

Before the 25th of August, 1796, Washington must have
received Hamilton's letter of the 10th, which inclosed to
Washington, probably his own draught, and certainly, the
incorporation with that draught of Hamilton's corrections

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or emendations ; for on that 25th of August, Washington

had in his hands those two papers, — ^his own draught, and

the same draught corrected or amended by Hamilton, — ^with

. which he had compared a third paper, namely, the amended

' copy of Hamilton's original draught.

On that day, Washington addressed the following letter
to Hamilton, returning to him at the same time the copy of
Hamilton's original draught: —


** Philadbkphu, 25th August, 1796.

" My dear Sir, —

" I have given the paper herewith inclosed several serious and
" attentive readings, and prefer it greatly to the other draughts,
" being more copious on material points, more dignified on the
" whole, and, with less egotism, of course less exposed to criticism,
" and better calculated to meet the eye of the discerning reader
" (foreigners particularly, whose curiosity, I have little doubt, will
" lead them to inspect it attentively, and to pronounce their opinion
" on the performance).**

" When the first draught was made, besides having an eye to the
" consideration above mentioned, I thought the occasion was fair
" (as I had latterly been the subject of considerable invective) to
" say what is there contained of myself; and as the address was
" designed in a more especial manner for the yeomanry of the
" country, I conceived it was proper they should be informed of
" the object of that abuse, the silence with which it had been
" treated, and the consequences which would naturally flow from
" such imceasing and virulent attempts to destroy all confidence
" in the executive part of the government ; and that it would be
" best to do it in language that was plain and intelligible to their
" understandings/*

" The draught now sent comprehends the most, if not all, these
" matters, is better expressed, and, I am persuaded, goes as far as
" it ought, with respect to any personal mention of myself."

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" I should have seen no occasion myself for its undergoing a
" revision ; but as your letter of the 30th ult., which accompanied
" it, intimates a wish to do this, and knowing that it can be more
" correctly done after a writing has been out of sight for some time,
" than while it is in hand, I send it in conformity thereto, with a
" request, however, that you would return as soon as you have care-
" fully re-examined it ; for it is my intention to hand it to the
" public before I leave this city, to which I came for the purpose of
" meeting General Pinckney, receiving the Ministers from Spain
" and Holland, and for the despatch of other business, which could
" not be so well executed by written communications between the
" heads of Departments and myself, as by oral conferences. So
" soon as these are accomplished, I shall return ; at any rate, I
" expect to do so by, or before, the tenth of next month, for the
" purpose of bringing up my family for the winter.*'

" I shall expunge all that is marked in the paper as unimportant,
" &c. &c. ; and as you perceive some marginal notes, written with
** a pencil, I pray you to give the sentiments so noticed mature
*' consideration. After which, and in every other part, if change
*^ or alteration takes place in the draught, let them be so clearly
'* interlined, erased, or referred to in the margin, as that no mistake
^^ may happen in copying for the press."

" To what editor in this city do you think it had best be sent for

" publication ? Will it be proper to accompany it with a note to

** him, expressing (as the principal design of it is to remove doubts

*^ at the next election) that it is hoped, or expected, that the State

*' printers will give it a place in their gazettes ; or preferable to let

^* it be carried by my private secretary to that press which is

" destined to usher it to the world, and suffer it to work its way

" afterwards? If you think the first most eligible, let me ask you

** to sketch such a note as you may judge applicable to the oc-

'* casion."

" With affectionate regard,

" I am always yours,

«Coi. A. Pamiltoh" " Geo. Washington.

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It i» particularly worthy of obserration, that Washington,
after " several serious and attentive readings," and a fort-
night's consideration, remarked in this letter, that the copy
y of Hamilton's original draught comprehended " most if not
" all those matters" that personally concerned the feelings
of Washington* He chose to say it was better expressed,
and went as £ur as was proper. It leads me to remark, that
a carefiil comparison of all that was written on both sides,
will discover to every person of candor, that all Washington's
sentiments were brought with infinite care into that draught,
nothing omitted, nothing modified, except in such a manner,
in both respects, as to obtain Washington's approbation, and
nothing added through a personal design of the writer, or in
reference to himself^ but only to give the greater effect to
Washington's own sentiments.

On the 1st of September, Washington again wrote to
Hamilton (Hamilton's Works, vol. vi, p. 147), saying : —

" About the middle of last week I wrote to you ; and that it
** might escape the eye of the inquisitive (for some of my letters
** have lately been pried into), I took the liberty of putting it under
** a cover to Mr. Jay.'*

" Since then, revolving on the paper that was inclosed therein,
** on the various matters it contained, and on the just expression of
" the advice or recommendation which was given in it, I havS re-
" gretted that another subject (which, in my estimation, is of inte-
" resting concern to the well-being of this country) was not touched
" upon also : I mean education generally, as one of the surest means
" of enlightening and giving just ways of thinking to our citizens;
" but particularly the establishment of a university.''

And then the letter proceeds at some length to state the

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advantages of such an institution at the seat of the General
Grovemment, and a purpose, on Washington's part, to con-
tribute to its endowment.

" Let me pray you, therefore, to introduce a section in the Ad-
*' dress expressive of these sentiments, and recommendatory of the
" measure, without any mention, however, of my proposed personal
" contribution to the plan. Such a section would come in very
** properly after the one which relates to our religious obligations,
*' or in a preceding part, as one of the recommendatory measures to
'^ coimteract the evils arising from geographical discriminations."

Hamilton repUed on the 4th of September : —

« Nbw Yobk, Sept. 4th, 1796.

" Sir,—

" I have received your two late letters, the last but one trans-
" mitting me a certain draught. It will be corrected and altered
" with attention to your suggestions, and returned by Monday's or
" Tuesday's post. The idea of the University is one of those which
" I think will be most properly reserved for your speech at the
" opening of the Session. A general suggestion respecting educa-^
'^ tion, will very fitly come into the Address.

" With respect, and affectionate attachment,
" I have the honor to remain,
" Sir,

" Your very obed't ser't,
'^ A. Hamilton.

*» The President."

Washington replied on the 6th of September (Hamilton's
Works, vol. vi, p. 149) : —

" I received yesterday your letter of the 4th instant. If the
" promised paper has not been sent before this reaches you, Mr.

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'* Kip, the bearer of it, who goes to New York, partly on mine and
" partly on his own business, will bring it safely. I only await now,
" and shall in a few days do it impatiently, for the arrival of General
" Pinckney.

" If you think the idea of a University had better be reserved
" for the speech at the opening of the Session, I am content to defer
" the communication of it until that period ; but even in that case,
" I would pray you, as soon as convenient, to make a draught for
" the occasion, predicated on the ideas with which you have been
^^ furnished ; looking at the same time, into what was said on this
" head in my second speech to the first Congress, merely with a view
" to see what was said upon the subject at that time.'*

Hamilton, on the preceding day, had written thus to
Washington : —

" Nbw York, Sept 5th, J 796.

" Sir,—

" I return the draught corrected agreeably to your intimations^
" You will observe a short paragraph added respecting Education.
" As to the establishment of a University, it is a point which, in
" connection with Military Schools, and some other things, I meant,
" agreeably to your desire, to suggest to you, as parts of your
" speech at the opening of the Session. There will several things
" come there much better than in a general Address to the People,
" which likewise would swell the Address too much. Had I had health
" enough, it was my intention to have written it over ; in which case
" I could both have improved and abridged. But this is not the
" case. I seem now to have regularly a period of ill-health every
" summer.

" I think it will be advisable simply to send the Address by your
" secretary to Dunlap. It will, of course, find its way into all
" the other papers. Some person on the spot ought to be

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" charged with a careful examination of the impression by the
" proof-sheet.**

" Very respectfully and affectionately,
" I have the honor to be,
" Sir,

" Your very obed't serv't,

" A. Hamilton.

« The President"

On the 8th September, Hamilton replied to Washington's
letter of the 6th: —

" Nbw York, Sept. 8th, 1796.

" Sir,—

" I have received your letter of the 6th by the bearer. The
** draught was sent forward by post on Tuesday.

" I shall prepare a paragraph with respect to the University, and
" some others for consideration, respecting other points which have
** occurred.*'

" With true respect and attachment,
" I have the honor to be,

" Your very obedient servant,

" A. Hamilton.

"The President"

And thus ends the correspondence between Washington
and Hamilton on the subject of the Farewell Address.
That Address was dated and signed by Washington on the
17th of September, nine days after the date of Hamilton's
last letter, and was published on the 19th September, in
Claypoole's Daily Advertiser. An acknowledgment of the
safe arrival of Hamilton's revisian, the revised copy of his
amended draught, thus sent forward by post on Tuesday,

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may have been written by Washington; but there is no
copy of such an acknowledgment by letter in Hamilton's
Works, nor a copy of any other letter from Washington to
Hamilton, until the 2d of November, more than six weeks
after the publication of the Farewell Address in the gazette.

It is made manifest by this correspondence, that if Wash-
ington's original draught is well identified with the preserved
paper, and if Hamilton's original draught, also, is identified
with the paper printed in his works, then we may obtain all
that Washington contributed specifically to the Farewell
Address, and all that Hamilton contributed, such additions
only excepted as are found in the Farewell Address, and
cannot be traced to either of the preceding draughts ; and
these may have been made by new matter, or by alterations,
in Hamilton's amended copy revised, or by Washington in his
autograph copy. So far as the author of these additions or
alterations shall remain uncertain by the loss or disappearance
of Hamilton's amended copy afterwards revised, so far the
respective contributors of those additions or alterations will
not be distinguished to absolute demonstration ; but it will
be of little prejudice to the result of this Inquiry ; for the
original basis of* each contributor being fixed by the two
draughts, — ^Washington's draught and Hamilton's original
draught, — the diflferences in the Farewell Address may
either be traced with reasonable certainty to one of the
parties, or be disregarded, as having no influence upon the
main question.

It is proper in this place, for the better apprehension and
estimation of the proofs, to ask attention to one or two matters
not already adverted to.

A corrected and amended copy of Hamilton's original

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draught passed once from Hamilton to Washington, on the
30th July, 1796, and once came back from Washington to
Hamilton, on the 25th of August following. I say a cor-
reefed and amended copy, because Hamilton's letter of 5th
July promised that he would "shortly transcribe, correct^
and forward it;" and he indorsed on the rough original,
" Copy of the original draught, considerably amended.^^

Washington's draught, and the transcript of that draught
corrected by Hamilton, which, as will hereafter be seen, was
read by Hamilton to Jay, having been sent by Hamilton to
Washington on the 10th of August, and put aside, with his
own preparatory draught, by Washington's letter of 25th of
August, from his great preference for Hamilton's draught,
they were not the subject of remark by either party after-
wards. They may, therefore, be dismissed from further
cdnsideration in this place.

Hamilton's copy of the original draught being returned
to him on the 25th of August for revision, with certain
remarks, he proceeded to revise and correct it, and returned it
to Washington pn Tuesday, the 6th September. This revi-
sion did not come to Hamilton's hands again, and was not
the subject of ftirther remark between the parties. Hamilton
sent it to Washington in the rough state in which the revi-
sion had left it, because, as his letter remarks, he had not
health at the time to transcribe it. The almost necessary
presumption, therefore, is, that the amended copy of the
original draught was the very paper that was revised and
sent back. If the copy had been revised and corrected on
feir paper, there was nothing in the corrections, as we can
very safely infer from the Farewell Address, when compared

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Online LibraryHorace BinneyAn inquiry into the formation of Washington's Farewell address .. → online text (page 5 of 20)