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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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March 17, 1783.
I am duly honored with your Excellency's letters of the 4th and 12th instant. It is much to be regretted, though not to be wondered at, that steps of so inflammatory a tendency have been taken in the army. Your Excellency has, in my opinion, acted wisely. The best way is ever not to attempt to stem a torrent, but to divert it.
I am happy to find you coincident in opinion with me on the conduct proper to be observed by yourself. I am persuaded more and more it is that which is most consistent with your own reputation and the public safety.
Our affairs wear a most serious aspect, as well foreign as domestic. Before this gets to hand your Excellency will probably have seen the provisional articles between Great Britain and these States. It might at first appearance be concluded that these will be a prelude to a general peace, but there are strong reasons to doubt the truth of such a conclusion. Obstacles may axise from different quarters: from the demands of Spain and Holland; from the hope in France of greater acquisitions in the East; and perhaps still more probably, from the insincerity and duplicity of Lord Shelburne, whose politics, founded in the peculiarity of his situation, as well as in the character of the man, may well be suspected of insidiousness. I am really apprehensive if peace does not take place that the negotiations will tend to sow distrust among the allies and weaken the force of the common league. We have, I fear, men among us, and men in trust, who have a hankering after British connection. We have others whose confidence in France savors of credulity. The intrigues of the former and the incautiousness of the latter may be both, though in different degrees, injurious to the American interests, and make it difficult for prudent men to steer a proper course.
There are delicate circumstances with respect to the late foreign transactions, which I am not at liberty to reveal, but which, joined to our internal weaknesses, disorders, follies, and prejudices, make this country stand upon precarious ground.
Some use, perhaps, may be made of these ideas to induce moderation in the army. An opinion that their country does not stand upon a secure footing will operate upon the patriotism of the officers against hazarding any domestic commotions.
When I make these observations I cannot forbear adding that if no excesses take place I shall not be sorry that ill-humors have appeared. I shall not regret importunity, if temperate, from the army.
There are good intentions in the majority of Congress, but there is not sufficient wisdom or decision. There are dangerous prejudices in the particular States opposed to those measures which alone can give stability and prosperity to the Union. There is a fatal opposition to Continental views. Necessity alone can work a reform. But how produce that necessity, how apply it, and how keep it within salutary bounds? I fear we have been contending for a shadow.
The affair of accounts I considered as having been put on a satisfactory footing. The particular States have been required to settle till the first of August, '80, and the Superintendent of Finance has been directed to take measures for settling since that period. I shall immediately see him on the subject.
We have had eight States and a half in favor of a commutation of the half pay for an average of ten years' purchase—that is, five years' full pay instead of half pay for life, which, on a calculation of annuities, is nearly an equivalent. I hope this will now shortly take place.
We have made considerable progress in a plan to be recommended to the several States for funding all the public debts, including those of the army, which is certainly the only way to restore public credit and enable us to continue the war by borrowing abroad, if it should be necessary to continue it.
I omitted mentioning to your Excellency that, from European intelligence, there is great reason to believe, at all events—peace or war,—New York will be evacuated in the spring. It will be a pity if any domestic disturbances should change the plans of the British court.
P. S. — Your Excellency mentions that it has been surmised the plan in agitation was formed in Philadelphia, that combinations have been talked of between the public creditors and the army, and that members of Congress had encouraged the idea. This is partly true. I have myself urged in Congress the propriety of uniting the influence of the public creditors, and the army as part of them, to prevail upon the States to enter into their views. I have expressed the same sentiments out-of-doors. Several other members of Congress have done the same. The meaning, however, of all this was simply that Congress should adopt such a plan as would embrace the relief of all the public creditors, including the army, in order that the personal influence of some, the connections of others, and a sense of justice to the army, as well as the apprehension of ill consequences, might form a mass of influence in each State in favor of the measures of Congress. In this view, as I mentioned to your Excellency in a former letter, I thought the discontents of the army might be turned to a good account. I am still of opinion that their earnest but respectful applications for redress will have a good effect. As to any combination of force, it would only be productive of the horrors of a civil war, might end in the ruin of the country, and would certainly end in the ruin of the army.