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to washington - 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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Dec. 9, 1780.
Mr. Rensselaer, who has the direction of the armory here, tells me that the Board of War write him that they are unable to support it any longer on the present establishment for want of supplies, and propose to him to endeavor to have it carried on by contract. This he declares is impossible. The armory must either continue on the present footing, or cease. As far as I understand the matter, there is no objection to the terms in themselves, but a want of means to comply with them. If there is a want of means, the thing must be relinquished; but, as it does not strike me that it can be more difficult to maintain an armory here than elsewhere, and as I apprehend, in the present state of arsenals, we shall stand in need of all the repairing we can do, I take the liberty, at Mr. Rensselaer’s request, to mention the matter to you. I have seen the armory myself. It appears to be in excellent order, and under a very ingenious and industrious man. I am told it has been conducted hitherto with great activity. Its situation is, in my opinion, advantageous. As there is a considerable body of troops always at West Point, and the army generally in its vicinity, the river is very convenient for transportation to and from the armory, and I should think would be conducive to economy. This consideration strikes me as of importance. General Knox, however, will be the best judge of the usefulness of this armory.
Mr. Rensselaer also mentions a considerable number of hides in the hands of persons here who had had orders from the clothier-general not to dispose of them but by his order. He says he can no longer but with great difficulty procure leather for the public works on credit, and has requested me to mention this also to your Excellency.
Mrs. Hamilton presents her respectful compliments to Mrs. Washington and yourself. After the holidays, we shall be at headquarters.
I believe I imparted to you General Schuyler’s wish that you could make it convenient to pay a visit with Mrs. Washington this winter. He and Mrs. Schuyler have several times repeated their inquiries and wishes. I have told them I was afraid your business would not permit you; if it should, I shall be happy. You will enable me to let them know about what period it will suit. When the sleighing arrives, it will be an affair of two days up and two days down.
Feb. 7, 1781.
The first step to reformation, as well in an administration as in an individual, is to be sensible of our faults. This begins to be our case, and there are several symptoms that please me at this juncture. But we are so accustomed to doing right by halves, and spoiling a good intention in the execution, that I always wait to see the end of our public arrangements before I venture to expect good or evil from them. The plan of executive ministers is undoubtedly a good one, and by some men has been fruit-lessly insisted upon for three or four years back; but whether it will work a present good or evil must depend on the choice of the persons. This is a bad omen. I am not at all informed of the persons in nomination.
The accession of Maryland to the Confederacy will be a happy event if it does not make people believe that the Confederacy gives Congress power enough and prevent their acquiring more. If it has this effect it will be an evil, for it is unequal to the exigencies of the war or to the preservation of the Union hereafter. The cession of territory by Virginia ought to have an important influence. New York is about to make a similar cession. It is now before the Legislature and will probably be adopted.
The late disturbances in the army and disquietudes in the State of New York, which are with difficulty diverted, show that the republic is sick and wants powerful remedies. God send that the negotiation abroad for money may succeed, for it is only this that can give success to our interior efforts.
Paper credit cannot be supported without pecuniary funds. Back lands are a very good resource in reserve, but I suspect they will not have so much present efficacy as is imagined. I only regard the acquisition of territory to Congress as useful so far as it enables them to procure credit.
The Eastern States are really making great exertions towards the next campaign.
Have the goodness to assure the Chevalier De la Luzerne of my sincere respect and attachment, and do justice to the sentiments for you personally with which I have the honor to be, etc.1
This letter is now first printed from the mutilated original in the possession of a gentleman in New York, to whose kindness I am indebted for the opportunity to publish it. I am unable to give the name of my kind correspondent, as his note, which accompanied the copy of the letter, has been unfortunately lost—a circumstance which I cannot sufficiently regret.