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to william duer. 1 - Alexander Hamilton, The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 9 
The Works of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Henry Cabot Lodge (Federal Edition) (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). In 12 vols. Vol. 9.
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to william duer.1
6th May, 1777.
The bearer of this is Mr. Malmedi,2 a French gentleman of learning, abilities, and experience. I believe he thinks himself entitled to preferment, and comes to Congress for that purpose. At the recommendation of General Lee, he was made Brigadier-General by the State of Rhode Island, and filled the station to the satisfaction of his employers, as appears by a letter from Governor Cook,3 speaking of him in the highest terms of approbation. This has led him to hope that he should be adopted by the Continent on an equal footing. But in this he will no doubt be mistaken, as there are many insuperable objections to such an event. Among others, it would tend to raise the expectations of the Frenchmen in general, already too high, to a pitch, which it would be impossible to gratify or endure. It might not however, be amiss to do whatever propriety would warrant to keep him in good humor, as he is a man of sense and merit. I think policy would justify the advancing him a step higher than his former Continental rank.
Congress in the beginning went upon a very injudicious plan with respect to Frenchmen. To every adventurer that came, without even the shadow of credentials, they gave the rank of field officers. This circumstance, seconding the aspiring disposition natural to those people, carried the expectations of those who had really any pretensions to the character of officers to a length that exceeds all the bounds of moderation. As it was impossible to pursue this impolitic plan, the Congress have begun to retrench their excessive liberality; and the consequence has been universal disgust and discontent.
It would, perhaps, be injurious, as the French are much addicted to national punctilio, to run into the opposite extreme to that first embraced, and by that means create a general clamor and dissatisfaction. Policy suggests the propriety of discriminating a few of the most deserving, and endeavoring to keep them in temper, even by gratifying them beyond what they can reasonably pretend to. This will enable us to shake off the despicable part with safety, and to turn a deaf ear to the exorbitant demands of the many. It will be easily believed in France that their want of merit occasioned their want of success, from the extraordinary marks of favor that have been conferred on others; whereas, the united voice of complaint from the whole, might make ill impressions in their own country, which it is not our interest should exist.
We are already greatly embarrassed with the Frenchmen among us, and, from the genius of the people, shall continue to be so. It were to be wished that our agents in France, instead of courting them to come out, were instructed to give no encouragement but where they could not help it; that is, where applications were made to them by persons, countenanced and supported by great men, whom it would be impolitic to disoblige. Be assured, sir, we shall never be able to satisfy them; and they can be of no use to us, at least for some time. Their ignorance of our language, of the disposition of the people, the resources and deficiencies of the country—their own habits and tempers; all these are disqualifications that put it out of their power to be of any real use or service to us. You will consider what I have said entirely as my own sentiments.
Col. Wm. Duer, born in England in 1747, served with Lord Clive in India, and came to New York in 1768. He warmly espoused the patriot side, married Catherine Alexander, daughter of William Alexander, commonly known as Lord Stirling, and was a life-long friend of Hamilton, who stood by him and helped him in the business misfortunes which befell him, and which cost Hamilton deep anxiety. Col. Duer figures often in this correspondence. He was at this time on the New York Committee of Safety, and was soon after chosen to Congress.
Mr. Malmedi was appointed Colonel on the Continental establishment. He thought the rank below his deserts, and was one of the many French officers who harassed Washington on this score. See Writings of Washington, iv., 419.
Nicholas Cook, Governor of Rhode Island from 1775 to 1778.