Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1792 - to rufus king - The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 10
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1792 - to rufus king - Alexander Hamilton, The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 10 
The Works of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Henry Cabot Lodge (Federal Edition) (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). In 12 vols. Vol. 10.
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to rufus king
July 25, 1792.
My Dear Sir:
I received, lately, a letter from you, in which you expressed sentiments according with my own on the present complexion of your party politics, as, if a letter of mine to you did not miscarry, you will have seen. I wished that Clinton and his party should be placed in a just light before the people, and that a spirit of dissatisfaction, within proper bounds, should be kept alive; and this for national purposes, as well as from a detestation of their principles and conduct.
But a resort to first principles, in any shape, is decidedly against my judgment. I don’t think the occasion will, in any sense, warrant it. It is not for the friends of good government to employ extraordinary expedients, which ought only to be resorted to in cases of great magnitude and urgent necessity. I reject as well the idea of a convention as of force.
To rejudge the decision of the canvassers by a convention, has to me too much the appearance of reversing the sentence of a court by a legislative decree. The canvassers had a final authority in all the forms of the Constitution and laws. A question arose in the execution of their office, not absolutely free from difficulty which they have decided (I am persuaded wrongly), but within the power vested in them. I do not fell it right or expedient to attempt to reverse the decision by any means not known to the Constitution or laws.
The precedent may suit us to-day; but to-morrow we may see its abuse.
I am not even sure that it will suit us at all. I see already publications aiming at a revision of the Constitution, with a view to alterations which would spoil it. It would not be astonishing, if a convention should be called, if it should produce more than is intended. Such weapons are not to be played with. Even the friends of good government, in their present mood, may fancy alterations desirable which would be the reverse.
Men’s minds are too much unsettled everywhere at the present juncture. Let us endeavor to settle them, and not to set them more afloat. I find that strong-minded men here view the matter in the same light with me, and that even Mr. Jay’s character is likely in a degree, to suffer by the idea that he fans the flame a little more than is quite prudent. I wish this idea to be conveyed to him with proper management. I have thoughts of writing to him.
You see, out of the reach of the contagion, I am very cool and reasonable. If I were with you I should probably not escape the infection.
Francis Childs1 is a very cunning fellow. In Philadelphia, in the person of his proxy, Freneau, he is a good Anti-federalist and Clintonian; in New York, he is a good Federalist and Jayite. Beckley and Jefferson pay him for the first, and the Federal citizens of New York for the last. Observe a paragraph in his Daily Advertiser of the 18th instant. These things ought, in a proper way, to be brought into view.
to colonel edward carrington
July 25, 1792.
My Dear Sir:
I have received and thank you for your two letters of the 11th instant.
When I asked your opinion concerning the most fit position for a branch of the bank, I had no idea that the question would have been decided with so much precipitation as has happened. After some loose conversation with individual directors,in which the comparative merits of different places were slightly discussed, and left, as I understood, for further information, I was surprised with an intimation that the place had been decided upon, that Richmond was that place, and that some day in August had been assigned for choosing directors. A predominating motive, though an insufficient one, appears to have been that most of the bank-stock held in Virginia is held by persons in and about Richmond.
The reasons assigned in your letter in favor of another place are prodigiously weighty. Without committing you, they shall be made known before the thing is finally finished. But I suspect it has gone too far.
Your observations concerning the temper of the people of your State are, as far as they go, consoling. Reflections according with them had arisen in my mind, though I could not be sure that I might not overrate circumstances. I shall wait with expectation for the further communication which you are so obliging as to promise.
What you remark concerning the non-execution of the excise law in North Carolina is very interesting. The probable effect of a continuance of the affair in the same posture is obvious. It has been the wish to win the object from time and reflection. But this can no longer be relied upon. The thing must be brought to an issue, and will be, as soon as the new arrangement respecting compensations is completed. If process should be violently resisted in the parts of North Carolina bordering on your State, how much could be hoped from the aid of the militia of your State?1
to rufus king
July 27, 1792.
Desirous of examining accurately the question decided by the canvassers, I will thank you for a minute of all the authorities which were consulted by you when you gave your opinion.1
I shall be glad to have them as soon as convenient.
July 30, 1792.
I received the most sincere pleasure at finding in our late conversation, that there was some relaxation in the disposition you had before discovered to decline a re-election. Since your departure, I have left no opportunity of sounding the opinions of persons, whose opinions were worth knowing on these two points. 1st. The effect of your declining, upon the public affairs, and upon your own reputation. 2dly. The effect of your continuing, in reference to the declarations you have made of your disinclination to public life; and I can truly say that I have not found the least difference of sentiment on either point. The impression is uniform, that your declining would be to be deplored as the greatest evil that could befall the country at the present juncture, and as critically hazardous to your own reputation; that your continuance will be justified in the mind of every friend to his country, by the evidence necessity for it. ’T is clear, says every one with whom I have conversed, that the affairs of the national government are not yet firmly established—that its enemies, generally speaking, are as inveterate as ever—that their enmity has been sharpened by its success, and by all the resentments which flow from disappointed predictions and mortified vanity—that a general and strenuous effort is making in every State to place the administration of it in the hands of its enemies, as if they were its safest guardians—that the period of the next House of Representatives is likely to prove the crisis of its permanent character—that if you continue in office nothing materially mischievous is to be apprehended, if you quit, much is to be dreaded—that the same motives which induced you to accept originally ought to decide you to continue till matters have assumed a more determined aspect—that indeed it would have been better, as it regards your own character, that you had never consented to come forward, than now to leave the business unfinished and in danger of being undone—that in the event of storms arising, there would be an imputation either of want of foresight or want of firmness—and, in fine, that on public and personal accounts, on patriotic and prudential considerations, the clear path to be pursued by you will be, again to obey the voice of your country, which, it is not doubted, will be as earnest and as unanimous as ever.
On this last point, I have some suspicion that it will be insinuated to you, and perhaps (God forgive me if I judge hardly) with design to place before you a motive for declining—that there is danger of a division among the electors, and of less unanimity in their suffrages than heretofore. My view of this matter is as follows:
While your first election was depending, I had no doubt that there would be characters among the electors, who, if they durst follow their inclinations, would have voted against you; but that in all probability they would be restrained by an apprehension of public resentment—that nevertheless it was possible a few straggling votes might be found in opposition, from some headstrong and fanatical individuals—that a circumstance of this kind would be in fact, and ought to be estimated by you, as of no importance, since there would be sufficient unanimity to witness the general confidence and attachment towards you.
My view of the future accords exactly with what was my view of the past. I believe the same motives will operate to produce the same result. The dread of public indignation will be likely to restrain the indisposed few. If they can calculate at all, they will naturally reflect that they could not give a severer blow to their cause than by giving a proof of their hostility to you. But if a solitary vote or two should appear wanting to perfect unanimity, of what moment can it be? Will not the fewness of the exceptions be a confirmation of the devotion of the community to a character which has so generally united its suffrages after an administration of four years at the head of a new government, opposed in its first establishment by a large proportion of its citizens, and obliged to run counter to many prejudices in devising the arduous arrangements requisite to public credit and public order? Will not those who may be the authors of any such exceptions, manifest more their own perverseness and malevolence than any diminution of the affection and confidence of the nation? I am persuaded that both these questions ought to be answered in the affirmative, and that there is nothing to be looked for, on the score of diversity of sentiment, which ought to weigh for a moment.
I trust, sir, and I pray God, that you will determine to make a further sacrifice of your tranquillity and happiness to the public good. I trust that it need not continue above a year or two more; and I think that it will be more eligible to retire from office before the expiration of a term of election, than to decline a re-election.
The sentiments I have delivered upon this occasion, I can truly say, proceed exclusively from an anxious concern for the public welfare, and an affectionate personal attachment. These dispositions must continue to govern in every vicissitude one who has the honor to be, very truly and respectfully, etc.
August 3d. Since writing the foregoing, I am favored with your interesting letter of the 29th of July. An answer to the points raised is not difficult, and shall as soon as possible be forwarded.
Aug. 10, 1792.
I have been duly honored with your letters of the 1st and 5th instant. A copy of the letter is inclosed according to your desire.
You may depend upon it, sir, that nothing shall be wanting in this department to furnish all requisite supplies for the army with efficiency and economy, and to bring to exact account all persons concerned in them as far as shall consist with the powers of the department. Hitherto moneys have been furnished to the War Department as they have been called for, for procuring all those articles which have not been objects of direct contract with the Treasury. And I learn from the Secretary of War that every thing is in great maturity.
Under the former system, provisions and clothing were the only articles which the Treasury had the charge of procuring; the receiving, issuing, and inspecting their quality belonged to the Department of War by usage.
The act of the last session, entitled “An act making alterations in the Treasury and War Departments,” prescribes that all purchases and contracts for all supplies for the use of the Department of War, be made by or under the direction of the Treasury Department.
As much progress has been made in the preparation for the campaign, prior to the passing of this act, by the Secretary of War, I thought it best to continue the business under his immediate care for some time—till in fact all the arrangements begun should be completed. It is now, however, determined that on the first of September the business of procuring all supplies will be begun under the immediate direction of the Treasury, upon estimates and requisitions from time to time furnished and made by the Department of War.
The arrangement which is contemplated for this purpose is the following:—Provisions and clothing will be provided as heretofore, by contracts made by the Secretary of the Treasury pursuant to previous advertisements. Articles in the quartermaster’s department will be to be procured by him, or his agents or deputies; for which purpose, advances of money will be made to him directly, to be accounted for to the Treasury by him. Ordnance stores, Indian goods, and all contingent supplies, will be procured by an agent who will be constituted for the purpose, with an allowance of eight hundred dollars a year in lieu of commission. Accounts for his purchases, in every case in which it can conveniently be done (which will comprehend the greatest number of cases), will be settled immediately with the Treasury, and the money paid directly to the individuals. In other cases, advances on account will be made to the agent, to be accounted for directly to the Treasury.
A leading object of this arrangement is to exempt the officers, both of the War and Treasury Departments, from the ill-natured suspicions which are incident to the actual handling and disbursements of public money. None of the inferior officers of either department, except the Treasurer, will have any concern with it.
The supplies of every kind will be delivered to the order of the Department of War. The issuing of them and the accounting for the issues (except as to provisions, which are directly issued by the contractors to the troops, and which are proved to the Treasury upon vouchers prescribed for the purpose) appertain to the Department of War. The regulations which have been adopted for the purpose, will no doubt be eagerly reported to you by the Secretary of War, as well as those which have been concerted with the Treasury respecting the paying and accounting for the pay of the troops.
I beg leave to assure you, that, in the application of the general arrangement which you have adopted respecting the execution of the act concerning distilled spirits, the greatest attention will be paid to economy, as far as the precautions of the Treasury can insure it.
I presume it to have been you intention that the opinion of the Attorney-General should be taken as to the power of the President to appoint the supplementary officers contemplated during the recess of the Senate; which shall accordingly be done.
It affords me much satisfaction to observe that your mind has anticipated the decision to enforce the law, in case a refractory spirit should continue to render the ordinary and more desirable means ineffectual. My most deliberate reflections have led me to conclude, that the time for acting with decision is at hand; and it is with pleasure I can add, that an increasing acquiescence is likely to render this course the less difficult in the cases in which an uncomplying temper may finally prevail.
I shall without delay execute your directions respecting the officers of the cutters.
to elias boudinot
Aug. 13, 1792.
My Dear Sir:
Some skirmishing having begun in the Gazette of the United States respecting Mr. Freneau’s receiving a salary from government, I mentioned in conversation with a friend all that I knew of the matter, and among other things, but without naming you, the information you had given me concerning Mr. Madison’s negotiation with Freneau. Upon this he founded a very pointed attack upon Mr. Freneau and Mr. Jefferson, which I dare say you have seen, as also Mr. Freneau’s affidavit denying all negotiation with “Thomas Jefferson, Esq., Secretary of State,” etc., etc. The gentleman has since applied to me to obtain, if possible, an authentication of the fact of the negotiation.
If I recollect right, you told me that this, if necessary, could be done; and, if practicable, it is of real importance that it should be done. It will confound and put down a man who is continually machinating against the public happiness.
You will oblige me in the most particular manner by obtaining and forwarding to me without delay the particulars of all the steps taken by Mr. Madison— the when and where—and with liberty to use the name of the informant. His affidavit to the facts, if obtainable, would be of infinite value. Care ought to be taken that nothing is asserted which is not unquestionable.
to john adams
Aug. 16, 1792.
I have been duly favored with your letter of the 4th inst. A warrant for one thousand dollars in your favor has issued. If any authorization from you had been sent to your son or any one else, your signature on the warrant would have been unnecessary. But as it is, it will be indispensable. Perhaps, however, the Treasurer may pay in expectation of it.
The question when the Vice-President entered on the duties of his office is open at the Treasury, though an opinion has obtained that the taking of the oath was the criterion. This has been founded on two considerations—analogy to the case of the President. The Constitution requires that he shall take an oath before he enters upon the execution of his office. He cannot enter upon the duties of it without entering upon the execution of it, and he cannot legally do the latter till he has taken the oath prescribed. The same injunction, however, is not laid upon the Vice-President, and therefore, except by analogy, resort must be had to the second consideration, namely, that the taking of the oath of office is the legal act of acceptance and may be supposed to date the commencement of service.
But this reasoning, it must be confessed, is not conclusive, and therefore the opinion of the Attorney-General will be taken, both as to the President and Vice-President, and I presume will guide in the adjustment.
Twenty thousand dollars have been appropriated, and the advances by anticipation may reach that limit.
You forgot that Mr. Clinton could feast upon what would starve another. He will not, however, have an opportunity of making the experiment, and I hope the starvation policy will not long continue fashionable.
Your confirmation of the good disposition of New England is a source of satisfaction. I have a letter from a well-informed friend in Virginia who says: “All the persons I converse with are prosperous and happy, and yet most of them, including the friends of the government, appear to be much alarmed at a supposed system of policy tending to subvert the republican government of the country.” Were ever men more ingenious to torment themselves with phantoms?
to william seton
August 17, 1792.
My Dear Sir:
Your letter mentioning certain particulars respecting the two banks has been received and will be duly attended to. I trust, however, that certain appearances have in no degree proceeded from any unkind disposition. The solution, I believe, is to be found in the necessity of sending here a considerable sum in specie. Large payments into the Bank of North America on account of the State of Pennsylvania, subscriptions to canals, etc., and large calls upon the Bank of the United States for the services of government, joined to liberal discounts, had produced a considerable balance in favor of the Bank of North America, which rendered it expedient to draw a sum of specie from New York, not to leave the National Bank in any degree in the power of the Bank of North America, which once manifested a very mischievous disposition, that was afterwards repaid by acts of kindness and generosity. The tide is now changing and must speedily reverse the balance, and I mention it in confidence, because I wish by explaining to cherish the confidence between the two institutions at New York so necessary to their mutual interest.
Inclosed, my dear sir, is a letter to Mr. Donald, of St. Vincents, which I beg your most particular care in forwarding. I presume he is a merchant there, but a gentleman lately mentioned to me that he thought the name of the Governor of St. Vincents was Donald. If so, he is probably the person intended. I received a letter from him giving me some information of my father. The letter to Mr. Donald covers one to my father, who, from a series of misfortunes, was reduced to great distress. You will perceive from this that I must be anxious for the safe conveyance of my letter. If there is any person of whom you can make previous inquiry concerning Mr. Donald, you will oblige me by doing it as a guide in forwarding the letter. I mean to send a duplicate from this place.
to john jay