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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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November 4, 1796.
I have lately been honored with two letters from you, one from Mount Vernon, the other from Philadelphia, which came to hand yesterday. I immediately sent the last to Mr. Jay, and conferred with him last night. We settled our opinion on one point, viz.: that whether Mr. Adet acted with or without instruction from his government in publishing his communication, he committed a disrespect towards our government, which ought not to pass unnoticed, and would most properly be noticed to him as the representative or agent. That the manner of noticing it, in the first instance, at least, ought to be negative; that is, by the personal conduct of the President towards the Minister. That the true rule on this point would be to receive the Minister at your levees with a dignified reserve, holding an exact medium between an offensive coldness and cordiality. The point is a nice one to be hit, but no one will know better how to do it than the President.
Self-respect and the necessity of discouraging further insult, requires that sensibility should be manifested; on the other hand, the importance of not widening a breach, which may end in rupture, demands great measure and caution in the mode.
Mr. Jay and myself are both agreed also, that no immediate publication of the reply which may be given ought to be made, for this would be like joining in an appeal to the public—would countenance and imitate the irregularity, and would not be dignified; nor is it necessary for any present purpose of the government. Mr. Jay inclined to think that the reply ought to go through Mr. Pinckney to the Directory, with only a short note to Adet, acknowledging the reception of his paper and informing him that this mode will be taken. I am not yet satisfied that this course will be best. We are both to consider further, and confer. You will shortly be informed of the result.
But whatever be the mode adopted, it is certain that the reply will be one of the most delicate papers that has proceeded from our government, in which it will require much care and nicety to steer between sufficient and too much justification, between self-respect and provocation of further insult or injury; and that will at the same time save a great political interest which this step of the French Government opens to us. Did I not know how guarded you will yourself be, I should be afraid of Mr. Pickering’s warmth. We must, if possible, avoid a rupture with France, who, if not effectually checked, will, in the insolence of power, become no less troublesome to us than to the rest of the world.
I dedicate Sunday to the execution of your commands in preparing certain heads. You will speedily hear again from me.