Front Page Titles (by Subject) to oliver wolcott - The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 10
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
to oliver wolcott - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
to oliver wolcott
March 30, 1797.
My Dear Sir:
Every one who can properly appreciate the situation of our affairs at this moment, in all the extent of possible circumstances, must be extremely anxious for such a course of conduct in our government, which will unite the utmost prudence with energy. It has been a considerable time my wish, that a commission extraordinary1 should be constituted to go to France, to explain, demand, negotiate, etc. I was particularly desirous that the first measure of the present president’s administration should have been that. But it has not happened. I now continue to wish earnestly that the same measure may go into effect, and that the meeting of the Senate may be accelerated for that purpose. Without opening a new channel of negotiation, it seems to me the door to accommodation is shut, and rupture will follow, if not prevented by a general peace. Who, indeed, can be certain that a general pacification of Europe may not leave us alone to receive the law from France? Will it be wise to omit any thing to parry, if possible, these great risks?
Perhaps the Directory have declared they will not receive a minister till their grievances shall have been redressed.
This can hardly mean more than that they will not receive a resident minister. It cannot mean that they will not hear an extraordinary messenger, who may even be sent to know what will satisfy.
Suppose they do. It will still be well to convince the people that the government has done all in its power, and that the Directory are unreasonable.
But the enemies of the government call for the measure. To me this is a very strong reason for pursuing it. It will meet them on their own ground, and disarm them of the plea that some thing has been omitted.
I ought, my good friend, to apprise you, for you may learn it from no other, that a suspicion begins to dawn among the friends of the government, that the actual administration is not much averse to war with France. How very important to obviate this!
The accounts just received offer a great danger, that the Emperor may be compelled to make peace. Paul of Russia is evidently lukewarm in the cause of the allies. From lukewarmness to enmity, when fortunes take the other side, is but a step.
If England is left to bear the burthen alone, who can say that France may not venture to sport an army to this country? It may get rid of troublesome spirits.
As in the case of England, so now, my opinion is, to exhaust the expedients of negotiation; and, at the same time, to prepare vigorously for the worst. This is sound policy. Any omission or deficiency either way, will be a great error.
Madison, Pinckney, and Cabot.