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to washington - 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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Nov. 5, 1795.
I received on the second instant your two letters of the 29th of October with the enclosures. An answer has been delayed to ascertain the disposition of Mr. King, who, through the summer, has resided in the country, and is only occasionally in town. I am now able to inform you he would not accept. Circumstances of the moment conspire with the disgust which a virtuous and independent mind feels at placing itself en but to the foul and venomous shafts of calumny which are continually shot by an odious confederacy against virtue, to give Mr. King a decided disinclination to the office.
I wish, sir, I could present to you any useful ideas as a substitute; but the embarrassment is extreme as to the Secretary of State. An Attorney-General, I believe, may easily be fixed upon by a satisfactory choice. Either Mr. Dexter or Mr. Gore would answer. They are both men of undoubted probity. Mr. Dexter has most natural talent, and is strong in his particular profession. Mr. Gore, I believe, is equally considered in his profession, and has more various information. No good man doubts Mr. Gore’s purity, but he has made money by agencies for British houses in the recovery of debts, etc., and by operations in the funds, which a certain party object to him. I believe Mr. Dexter is free from every thing of this kind. Mr. King thinks Gore on the whole preferable. I hesitate between them. Either will, I think be a good appointment.
But for a Secretary of State, I know not what to say. Smith, though not of full size, is very respectable for talent, and has pretty various information. I think he has more real talent than the last incumbent of the office. But there are strong objections to his appointment. I fear he is of an uncomfortable temper. He is popular with no description of men, from a certain hardness of character; and he, more than most other men, is considered as tinctured with prejudices towards the British. In this particular his ground is somewhat peculiar. It may suit party views to say much of other men, but more in this respect is believed with regard to Smith. I speak merely as to bias and prejudice. There are things, and important things, for which I would recommend Smith—thinking well of his abilities, information, industry, and integrity; but, at the present juncture, I believe his appointment to the office in question would be unadvisable.
Besides, it is very important that he should not now be removed from the House of Representatives.
I have conferred with Mr. King with respect to Mr. Potts. We both think well of his principles and consider him as a man of good sense. But he is of a cast of character ill-suited to such an appointment, and is not extensive either as to talents or information. It is also a serious question whether the Senate at this time ought to be weakened.
Mr. Innis, I fear, is too absolutely lazy for Secretary of State. The objection would weigh less as Attorney-General.
The following characters, in the narrowness of the probable circle as to willingness, have occurred to me. Judge Pendleton, of Georgia; Mr. Desaussure (late Director of the Mint), of South Carolina; Governor Lee, or Mr. Lee, late Collector of Alexandria, of Virginia; McHenry, of Maryland—I mean the Doctor.
Judge Pendleton writes well, is of respectable abilities, and a gentleman-like, smooth man. If I were sure of his political views, I should be much disposed to adopt his appointment under the circumstances, but I fear he has been somewhat tainted with the prejudices of Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison, and I have afflicting suspicions concerning these men. Desaussure, I believe, has considerable talents, is of gentleman-like manners, good views, and only wants sufficient standing to put him upon a footing with any attainable man.
Governor Lee1 has several things for him and several against him. He ought to have a good secretary under him. His brother I only know enough of to think him worth considering.
McHenry you know. He would give no strength to the administration, but he would not disgrace the office. His views are good. Perhaps his health, etc., would prevent his accepting.
I do not know Judge Bee. I have barely thought of him.
In fact, a first-rate character is not attainable. A second-rate must be taken with good dispositions and barely decent qualifications. I wish I could throw more light. ’T is a sad omen for the government.
By the fifteenth I will carefully attend to the other parts of your letters. I regret that bad health and a pressure of avocations will permit nothing earlier.
“Light-Horse Harry,” of Virginia.