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

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ington, on t]i(^ Gth September, 1796. It was received, pro-
bably, the next day, and the autograph was signed and
dated the 17th of September, nine or ten days afterwards.
It may also be recollected that Washington intended to have
it copied, or at least prepared for being copied,/;?- the press,

Now, the draught that was before Washington when he
madi^ liis autograph copy, was not Hamilton's original draught.
'lliat original draught, probably, never left Hamilton's pos-
session during his life. Though Hamilton's original draught
was the basis of the paper which he transcribed and sent
to A^'asliington, and is also the basis of the autograph
copy, the alteration of words in many places, quite fre-
([uently tlu-oughout the work — the change of paragraphs
l)y consolidation and division — the occasional introduction
of a ncnv thought, and a new line or two, in pages of the
autograph copy where there is not an interlineation or era-
sure by Washington, show that the copy from which Wash-
ington was writing, was a different paper. Whoever com-
pares the autograph copy with the original draught of
Hamilton, will be convinced of this.

Tlie presumption naturally arises,— and I state it at this

BUT Hamilton's revisiox. 123

time only as a presumption,— that the drauijlit irom wliich
Washington made his autograpli copy, Avas Ilainihou's
revision. Setting aside for the moment Washiiiirton's own
alteration of words, in the autograph, which spcalv pretty
clearly for themselves, it was just such a drauglit as we
might expect Hamilton's revision to be.

The original draught, it may he recollected, bears an in-
dorsement, in Hamilton's handwriting, that it liad ]){^cn
" considerably amended." Words are changed, in the
manner that is shown in the two parallel columns on
page 93 of this essay, of a long clause, taken literally from
Hamilton's original draught, and the corresponding clause
taken from Washington's autograph copy, upon which the
cancelling or altering pen of Washington has not, according
to Mr. Ir"\ing's reprint, fallen in a single instance from be-
ginning to end. There are, perhaps, twenty verbal differ-
ences between the two clauses, such as a very critical writer
might make in an amendment and revision of his own com-
position ; but Washington does not appear to have made a
single one, by change or obliteration in the autograph copy ;
and probably no other man than the author would have
thought it a needful improvement to make more than a ^ cry
few of them.

In other instances, the order of a sentence or phrase is
improved, — a clause is added upon '^ education," — and two
or three paragraphs, which are in the original draught of
Hamilton, are left out altogether, and not noticed in any
way in the autograph copy. This is strong presumptive
proof that it was Hamilton who left them out of his

amended copy.

Nearly a dozen paragraphs in the autograph were copied

l-jt wapiiixoton's autograph caxcellatioxs.

and tluMi ("lucc'llod by AVashington, and are now seen re-
stored at the foot of tlie pages in the printed copy of the
auto<,n-a])h. Some of these are, probably, the paragraphs
wliirh ^^'aslli^gto^, iu Ids letter of 25th August, told Ham-
ihon that lie sliould expunge. " I shall expunge," — not
tliat lie Jiiul expunged them, — as being " unimportant" &c.
&c. One of them is a long paragraph, so marked in the
j)rinted ropy of the autograph, Hamilton had retouched
them all in his corrected and amended copy, or in his revl-
sion of the original draught, just as he had retouched other
paragraphs of that draught, and had left Washington to
expunge them, if he should see fit ; but Washington had
not toudied a word before expunging them, but in two in-
stances, to be noticed hereafter. It looks as if Washington
had subsecpiently intended to retain them, but had afterwards
cancelled tliem, in conformity with his first intention.

All the appearances in the autograph — and some of them
will be further coiToborated — show that it was Hamilton's
revision of his amended copy of the original draught that
Wasliington first copied in extenso, and then proceeded to
alter and to cancel. This, I repeat, is only presumption.
The main question Avill not be disturbed by its not being
well founded; though, if it be well founded, it becomes
demonstrative of the whole question.

Tlie gentleman who is the present proprietor of the auto-
grapli, and whose remarks upon it are printed as a preface
to tlie copy in !Mr. Irving's work, after seeing the original
draufj^lit of Hamilton, and reading certain letters between
Wasliington and Hamilton, in the possession of Mr. John
C. HamiUdiu lias expressed, with caution and modesty, the
following opinion: " It seems probable that this" — namely,


the autograph copy of Washmgton— « is tlie vorv draucrlit
" sent to General Hamilton and Chief Justice Jay, as related
" in the letter of the latter." And again : " It appears from
" these communications,"— the letters between Wasliiii<rton
and Hamilton, — "that the President, both in sendiiii^r to liim
" a rough draught of the document, and at subsequent dates,
" requested him to prepare such an address as he tlimi^'lit
" would be appropriate to the occasion ; that Washington
" consulted him particularly and most minutely on many
"points connected w^ith it; and that, at different times,
" General Hamilton did forward to the President three
" draughts of such a paper. The first was sent back to him,
" wdth suggestions for its correction and enlargement ; from
" the second draught, thus altered and improved, the manu-
" script now printed may be supposed to have been prepared
" by "Washington, and transmitted for final examination to
" General Hamilton and Judge Jay ; and with it tlie third
" draught w'as sent to the President, and may, probably, yet
" be found among his papers." — The concluding remark of
this gentleman is all that we shall further extract : •' The
" comparison of these two papers " — Hamilton's original
draught, which the writer speaks of as "probably the
" second of these draughts," compared with Washington's
autograph — " is exceedingly curious. It is difficult to con-
" ceive how two persons could express the same ideas, in
" substantially the sai^ie language, and yet in such diversity
^' in the construction of the sentences and the position of the
" words."

I entirely agree with this gentleman in a part of these
remarks. It has been shown to be my supposition, that the
autograph copy of Washington was prepared from the


aniciidod or corTortcd ropy of Hamilton's original draught,
altrrrd and improved 1)} his second, which I have called his
rrrifiinii. The differences between the original draught and
Wasliington's uutograi)li copy — noticed in this gentleman's
rlosJTiLr remark just quoted — are easily explained, upon the
tlieory tliat Washington adopted Hamilton's revision^ and
not Hamilton's original draught, as the exemplar of the
autograph copy.

But I am compelled to express my dissent from the other
remarks and suggestions of the proprietor of the autograph,
'["lie material fact, as he states it, is, in my opinion, rightly
stated ; but the history of Hamilton's agency, and the trans-
mission of the autograph copy to Hamilton and Jay, or of
any coin" of the Farewell Address prepared by Washington,
after Hamilton's amended and revised copy had been sent to
him, are matters which I think this gentleman would have
regarded differently, if he had had all the letters and papers
in liis own hands, for deliberate consideration and compari-
son. It is a patient and minute review of the whole of
tliem, side by side, including Mr. Jay's letter to Judge
Peters, that has obliged me to adopt the opinion, that the
supposed transmission is not only negatived by the corre-
spondence, but that it disregards the dates of the letters, the
course of the transaction as it is shown by the letters, and,
most of all, the statement of Mr. Jay himself.

Tlie first draught sent bv Hamilton to W^ashington was
not sent back to Hamilton, " with suggestions for its correc-
tion ami cnhirgementr Washington's letters of the 10th
and '2.)t]i of August are decisive to the contrary. Instead
of suggesting enlargement of that draught, the letter of the
lOth August was only apprehensive of its being too large as


it was; and instead of suggestin^r con-cction^—thnw^U tlio
paper was sent back, at Hamilton's request, for revision,—
the letter of 25th August says that AVashington '• slioukl
" have seen no occasion himself for its undcrgoiuir a rc-
" vision." It says that he should expunge all that was
marked in the paper as unimportant, &c., and called atten-
tion to some marginal notes with a pencil, to obtain
Hamilton's mature consideration of the sentiments referred
to. With these very limited qualifications, the letter was a
full adoption of Hamilton's draught in all points.

It is also a misapprehension to suppose that Hamilton's
" second draught," from which " the manuscript now printed
" may be supposed to have been prepared by Washington,"
was " transmitted for final examination to General Hamilton
" and Jay."

There was no such transmission. The letters and dates
are plainly to the contrary. Time alone considered, there
was not sufficient time. The draught was sent back to
AVashington, with a letter from Hamilton dated the (itli of
September, and the Farewell Address was copied with
Washington's own pen, and was signed and dated for the
gazette and for recording in the Department of State, the
17th of September, 1796.

It must be recollected, that fifteen years after Mr. Jay had
been consulted about the corrections and emendations of " the
" President's draught," and the only time, so far as his letter
imports, that he ever was consulted in regard to any drauglit
of the Farewell Address, he speaks in his letter of its having
been so77W time before the Address appeared ; and we know
that the Farewell Address appeared on the 19th September,
1796, in a pubUc gazette of Philadelphia. The interval had

128 ArTO<:itAIMI not sent to HAMILTON AND JAY.

imim'svc.l Mr. Jny's memory. It was long enough to have
inadr an iinpivssion which had lasted nearly fifteen years.
It is not concoival)lo tliat any interval whatever would have
hrrn impn^ssod as a distinct fact upon Mr. Jay's memory,
brt\v(-cn the tim(> of conference upon an autograph paper, the
cxrmj)lar of wliicli was received by Washington on the 7th
of Sci)t('mber at tlie earliest, copied with his own pen after
tliat, and tlien transmitted to Hamilton and Jay, reviewed,
coiT(>ctc(l, and amended by Hamilton, a day fixed for an
interview with Jay to consult about it, and that subsequent
day given to the reading and approval of the emendations,
and after tliat review returned to Washington and more
fullv corrected by him, before the 17th September. Steam
speed is not equal to this. I say nothing of Mr. Jay's omit-
ting to write a word of its being an autograph of Washing-
ton, wliicli he would have known and noticed as soon as any
one, nor of lianiilton's saying in the interview, that he had
thouglit it " best to write the whole over with amendments,"
».^-c. ^^'e cannot under such suggestions abandon Hamil-
ton's letter of 10th August.

IJut furtlier: from the 6th of September, there was no
letter t'roni AN'ashington to Hamilton, but one of the same
date, wliich requested Hamilton to send the paper by Mr.
Ki]), if not sent before, until the 2d November, six weeks
after tlie Farewell Address had been printed.* Mr. Jay's

• It i» in this letter of 2d November, 179G, from Wasliington to Hamilton, a letter of
three pnjjps, referrinj; to tlie case of the minister of France, Adet, and asking Hamil-
ton's opinion on the course the Government should take in regard to him, that Wash-
ington tiuis $peaks of his unrestrained confidence and freedom of correspondence with
Hnmilton: " As I have a very high opinion of Mr. Jay's judgment, candor, honor, and
"discretion (though 1 am not in the habit of writing so freely to him as to you), it would


privity with the subject began and ended in tlie one inter-
view, of which the result was sent to Wasliington on the
10th August. The supposition that the autograpli ever
came back to Hamilton, either individually or for joint con-
sidtation and alteration by Hamilton and Jay, is tlicrefore
not only without autliority from the correspondence, but is
in direct opposition to it, as well as to Mr. Jav's letter to
Judge Peters.

But the decisive consideration against the transmission of
an autograpli copy, or any other prepared copy, of the Fare-
well Address to Hamilton and Jay for correction, and the
return of such copy corrected for the final Farewell Address,
is this. There was but ona interview between Jay and
Hamilton on this subject — one interview, after the time for
it was previously arranged between them. Mr. Jay's letter
to Judge Peters mentions that, and no other, interview.
The proceedings at that interview are detailed by Mr. Jay
with great distinctness, both what was said and wliat was
done. The result of the interview is given Avitli equal dis-
tinctness: it was the reading and approving of a paper
containmg amendments of "the President's draught," as
Mr. Jay calls it, of which the original was left fur ; and the
amendments were so made, or arranged, that Wasliington
would perceive by inspection where they would find their
proper places in that draught. Now, let it be remarked,
such a correction of Washington's draught existed in ori-

" be very pleasing to me, if you would show liiin this letter (although it is a hurried
" one, my time having been much occupied since my arrival by the heads of depart-
" ments, and with the papers which have been laid before me), and let me have for
"consideration your joint opinions on the several matters herein staled."— //nmiY/oii'i
Works, vol. vi, ]>. 159.



jriual at Wasliin,i;t()n's death, and was found among Wash-
ington's papers. It is tlie same which Hamilton returned
tn Washin-ton, on the 10th August, 1796. A copy of it is
in the possession of Mr. Sparks. I have seen and read a
ro\^^■ of Mr. Sparks's copy.* It is sufficient to say, that it

♦ A few days after this essay was put to press, and a part of it printed, I was favored
by Mr. Jolin C. Hamilton with a copy of tlie paper containing Hamilton's corrections of
Washington's draught, received by him from Mr. Sparks ; the paper alluded to in Ham-
ilton's letter to Washington, dated lOdi August, 1796. It is a paper of thirteen manu-
script pafses, foolscap, sparsely written on one side of each leaf; and, except on the
first page, written in two columns. The beginning of it is obviously intended to be a
substitute for the beginning of Washington's original draught of an Address, and modi-
fies it to some extent. After completing the correction of this part, there follows, in
tbe right hand column of the second page, this line, as the beginning of a new para-
graph : "The period, &c. (lake in the whole Address.)"' The words "The period,"
are the initial words of Mr. Madison's draught. See Washington's Work.«, vol. xii, page
387. The words of the line between parentheses, are therefore a direction to go on
with the whole of Mr. Madison's draught.

Tlie copy then proceeds, in the subsequent pages, to arrange, tnodify, and add to the

tliouglits exi)ressed in the paper entitled by Mr. S] arks, "Hints, or Heads of Topics,"

beginning with the following paragraph, written by Hamilton: "Had not particular

"occurrences intervened to exhibit our political situation, in some respects, under new

'• attitudes, I should have thought it unnecessary to add anything to what precedes,'' &c.

This supplies the first sentence of the " Hints, or Heads of Topics,'' which is as follows :

" Had the situation of our public affairs continued to wear the same aspect they assumed

•^at the time the foregoing Address was drawn, I should not have taken the liberty of

" troubling you, my fellow-citizens, with any new sentiment," &c. ; and, after this first

parngmph closes, there is an asterisk, directing the reader to the top of die adjacent

column, on the left hand side, where Hamilton immediately introdtices the subject of

the Union, (the last but one of Washington's wishes or vows in the '' Heads, or Hints of

" Topics,") in these words : " Let me, then, conjure you, fellow-citizens, btill more ear-

" nestly than I have done, to hold fast to that Union which constitutes you one people;"

and he goes on through the following pages to page 8 of the manuscript, with an orderly

notice of other parts of the " Hints, or Heads of Topics," very much after the manner

of his origuial draught, introdutjing on page 8, opposite to a paragraph in regard to the

«pirit of party, the following line, written lengthwise on die right hand margin; "This

•• !• not in the first— may be interwoven :'' the first referring, no doubt, to Hamilton's

onginal and amended draught, already sent on. And then the paper proceeds to the


is a correction or emendation of Washington's original or
preparatory draught, and no more ; and in phm, and con-

end of the amendments and of the paper itself in the same manner, closinj; with the^^e
words: "The nation which indulges against another habitual hatred, or for another
« habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is," &c. Immediately below which
is this direction : " To the end, as in the former." At the top of the left hand column
of this last page (13), and opposite to the concluding paragraph, of which I have given
the closing lines, are these words: "Varied from the first I sent, and I think for the
" better. If the first be preserved (? preferred), "tis easy to incorporate this.''

By recurring to Hamilton's original draught, in his Works, vol. vii, page 589, it will
readily be perceived, that the direction " to the end, as in the former,"' refers to the
middle of the second paragraph on that page, where these words occur: "That nation
" which indulges towards anoiher'an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some
"degree a slave. . . It is a slave to its animosity," &c. Hamilton's direction, therefore,
is to go on to the end of that paragraph, in the copy of his original and amended
draught, sent on the 30th July; perhaps, also, to the end of Washington's Conclusion.

There is no further clause or direction on my copy of die paper, nor was there, I
presume, on the original. We may suppose, therefore, perhaps, that the corrections,
having supplied the place of Mr. Sparks's " Hints, or Heads of Topics," Washington's
Conclusion, as I have called it, was to be followed to the end, after the paragraph
referred to in his own draught first sent

This character of the paper I possess, which I think is here accurately described,
though it substantially accords with Mr. Jay's account of it, makes it difficult to believe
that at least parts of the "President's draught" were not read at that interview from
the very paper itself; for in the copy there are but two words written of Mr. Madison's
draught, nor yet any part of Washington's Conclusion. There is not even an express
direction at the end, to include that Conclusion. But as the subjects contained in the
" Hints, or Heads of Topics" had been corrected and amended by Hamilton, as far as
he intended, and as his own correciing paper did not supply any conclusion at all, tho
former direction to go on "to the end, as in the former,"' may have comprehendeil the
Conclusion of Washington's paper, as well as the remainder of the jjaragrapli in his
draught first sent.

It would seem to follow, that the lapse of time had in some degree impaired Mr.
Jay's recollections of the interview. Parts of Washington's draught must have been
read from the paper. Neither Madison's drauglit nor Washington's Conclusion appears
in my copy. The paper, moreover, is not a transcript, as Mr. Sparks calls it, but Wash-
ington"s paper "corrected upon the general plan of it,"" as Hamilton"s letter of 25ih
June said it would be, with marks and references to show how the corrections or
amendments should be incorporated.

\:V2 wasiiimjton's ori(;inal draught, the only paper

sinruoiisly in rxtcnt or volume, is a totally different paper
from thr l'':innvell Address, from Hamilton's original
dr.mirlit. ;iii(l from Wnslnn<T:ton's autograph copy, in either
stage of it. witli or without the cancelled passages. But it is
rortaiu. ;it thr same time, that Hamilton's corrections, in
several ])articulars, followed the sentiments and language
of his oriijinal drauglit, with or without such variations as
lie introduced into his amended copy, wdiich he sent to
Washington on tlie :^()th July, 1796, — the corrections of
Washington's (h-aught liaving heen begun and being under
wa\ hrfore he sent his amended copy to Washington.

It follows necessarily, from these premises, that the auto-
gniph copy was not sent to Hamilton and Jay, and that they
liad no interview to correct it, and that they did not correct
it ; and, if we may imply a negative from the full affirmative
evidence we possess, that neither Jay nor Hamilton ever
saw it. Tli'^ paper which was read and approved in that
interview, and sent back, was Washington's original draught,
and not Hamilton's original draught, nor Hamilton's reci-
mm of that draught, nor Washington's autograph copy of
the Far(>will Address, nor anything else but W^ashington's
original or preparatory draught amended, the same which
was sent to A\'ashington on the lOtli of August. The paper
thus sent to ^^'ashington was not the subject of a single
remark l)y him afterwards, except in his letter of 25th
August, when he inclosed to Hamilton, at his own request,
the amendeil copy of Hamilton's original draught, and said,
*• I liave giv(Mi the paptn- herewith inclosed several serious
" and attentive Holdings, and prefer it greatly to the other
" dniwjlds,'^ — which other draughts were two onlv. Wash-
ingtou's original or preparatory draught, " left fair," as Mr.


Jay says, and the emendations of it by Hamilton, whicli Uud
been read by Hamilton to Jay. The supposition, tlicrctbre,
that Hamilton and Jay, or Hamilton ^vith Jay's assistance,
made, by amendment or other\vise, a Ihlnl {liau«;ht, after
Washington had sent forward his autograph copy, or a pre-
pared copy, of the Farewell Address, for correction, con-
founds both dates and facts, and puts all the letters of
Washington and Hamilton, and Mr. Jay's letter to Judge
Peters, just as much as the others, completely out of joint.
Of course, a hasty or current perusal of Hamilton's letters
and original draught might have led to the same impression
in anybody, which the Preface to the copy of the autograph
in Mr. Irving's work expresses ; but the possession of those
letters for the requisite time in my hands, has enabled me
to look with great care into the whole series, and to get, I
think, tlie true bearing of all.

It may be very safely predicted that such a third draught
as the Preface in Mr. Irving's Appendix postulates, will
never be found, since no one of the letters I \vd\c referred
to, recognizes it as ha^dng existed, and, on the contrary, the
very connected story they tell imphes, necessarily, that it
never did exist. That Hamilton's revision, from which 1
have supposed that Washington copied his autograph in
extenso in the tirst instance, before he altered any part of it, —
the same which the Preface in :Mr. Irving's Appendix calls
Hamilton's second draughf,—\yi\\ never be found, is another
matter. There can be no doubt that AVashington, according
to his imiform habit, of which the traces are strong in regard
to the papers concerning the Farewell Address, did preserve
it up to the time of his death. In all probability, it will
not be found, if there has been anything illicit in its disap-


IM'.iranrr. If it sliall !)(> ionml it will supersede this con-
j,Mturc as to tln« iiiiinediatc exemplar of the autograph copy;
hut tlicrc is (\\utr cnoui^di in the orio-inal draught of Ham-

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Online LibraryHorace BinneyAn inquiry into the formation of Washington's Farewell address .. → online text (page 10 of 20)