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to john steele 1 - 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 john steele1
Oct. 15, 1792.
My Dear Sir:
The letter which you did me the favor to write me, of the 19th of September, came to hand two days ago. The late symptoms of acquiescence in the duty on distilled spirits, which you announce in your quarter, are particularly satisfactory. If the people will but make trial of the thing, their good-will towards it will increase. This has hitherto happened everywhere, where the law has gone into operation. There certainly can be no tax more eligible or less burthensome. Though I impose on myself great circumspection on the subject of elections for the federal government, yet, in relation to the characters you mention, I feel myself more at liberty, and my entire confidence in you will not permit me to affect reserve. I take it for granted that in all the Northern and Middle States, the present President will have a unanimous vote. I trust it will be so in the South also. A want of unanimity would be a blot on our political hemisphere, and would wound the mind of that excellent character to whom the country is so much indebted. For Vice-President, Mr. Adams will have a nearly unanimous vote in the Eastern States. The same thing would happen in New York if the electors were to be chosen by the people; but as they will be chosen by the Legislature, and as a majority of the existing Assembly are Clintonians, the electors will, I fear, be of the same complexion. In Jersey, Mr. Adams will have a unanimous vote, and, according to present appearances, in Pennsylvania likewise. The parties have had a trial of their strength here for representatives, and though the issue is not finally ascertained, there is a moral certainty, from the returns received, that the ticket supported by the federal interest will prevail by a large majority. The electors nominated by the same interest will all, or nearly all, favor Mr. Adams. I believe the weight of Delaware will be thrown into the same scale. And I think it probable there will be votes for Mr. Adams in Maryland. I presume none in Virginia or Georgia. Of North Carolina, you can best judge. In South Carolina he will have votes, but I am at a loss to judge of the proportion.
This statement will inform you that Mr. Adams is the man who will be supported in the Northern and Middle States, by the friends of the Government. They reason thus: “Mr. Adams, like other men, has his faults and foibles; some of the opinions he is supposed to entertain, we do not approve, but we believe him to be honest, firm, faithful, and independent—a sincere lover of his country—a real friend to genuine liberty, but combining his attachment to that with love of order and stable government. No man’s private character can be fairer than his. No man has given stronger proofs than he of disinterested and intrepid patriotism. We will therefore support him as far preferable to any one who is likely to be opposed to him.”
Who will be seriously opposed to him, I am yet at a loss to decide. One while, Governor Clinton appeared to be the man. Of late, there have been symptoms of Col. Burr’s canvassing for it. Some say one or both of these will be played off as a diversion in favor of Mr. Jefferson. I do not scruple to say to you that my preference of Mr. Adams to either of these is decided. As to Mr. Clinton, he is a man of narrow and perverse politics, and as well under the former as under the present government, he has been steadily, since the termination of the war with Great Britain, opposed to national principles. My opinion of Mr. Burr is yet to form—but, according to the present state of it, he is a man whose only political principle is to mount at all events, to the highest legal honors of the nation, and as much further as circumstances will carry him. Imputations not favorable to his integrity as a man rest upon him, but I do not vouch for their authenticity.
There was a time when I should have balanced between Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams; but I now view the former as a man of sublimated and paradoxical imagination—cherishing notions incompatible with regular and firm government.
Thus have I opened myself to you with frankness; I doubt not I am perfectly safe in doing it.
You give me pain by telling me that you have declined serving in the House of Representatives after the third of March next, and that it is doubtful whether you will attend the next session. I anxiously hope that you will find it convenient to attend, and that you will change your resolution as to not serving in a future House. The ensuing session will be an interesting one, and the next Congress will either anchor the government in safety or set it afloat.
My apprehension is excited when I see so many valuable members dropping off. Mr. Lawrence1 and Mr. Benson2 will not serve again. Mr. Barnwell3 also declines. The House will, I fear, lose more of its talents than it can spare.
Member of Congress from North Carolina, 1790 to 1793.
John Lawrence, an Englishman by birth and a soldier in the Revolution, was an eminent lawyer of New York, at this time a member of Congress, and afterwards U. S. District Judge and Senator from New York.
Egbert Benson, at this time a member of Congress from New York, and again in 1813. Attorney-General of New York, 1780–1789, and from 1794 to 1801 a Judge of the Supreme Court of the State.
Robert Barnwell, member of Congress from South Carolina from 1791 to 1793.