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to theodore sedgwick - 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 theodore sedgwick
February 2, 1799.
What, my dear sir, are you going to do in Virginia? This is a very serious business, which will call for all the wisdom and firmness of the government. The following are the ideas which occur to me on the occasion. The first thing in all great operations of such a government as ours is to secure the opinion of the people. To this end the proceedings of Virginia and Kentucky, with the two laws complained of,1 should be referred to a special committee. That committee should make a report, exhibiting with great luminousness and particularity the reasons which support the constitutionality and expediency of those laws, the tendency of the doctrines advanced by Virginia and Kentucky to destroy the Constitution of the United States, and with calm dignity united with pathos the full evidence which they afford of a regular conspiracy to overturn the government. And the report should likewise dwell upon the inevitable effect, and probably the intention, of the proceedings to encourage hostile foreign powers to decline accommodation and proceed in hostility.
The government must not merely defend itself, it must attack and arraign its enemies. But in all this there should be great care to distinguish the people of Virginia from their Legislature, and even the greater part of those who may have concurred in the Legislature from their chiefs, manifesting, ndeed, a strong confidence in the good sense and patriotism of the people that they will not be the dupes of an insidious plan to disunite the people of America, to break down their Constitution, and expose them to the enterprise of a foreign power. This report should conclude with a declaration that there is no cause for a repeal of the laws. If, however, on examination, any modifications consistent with the general design of the laws, but instituting better guards, can be devised, it may be well to propose them as a bridge for those who may incline to retreat over. Concessions of this kind, adroitly made, have a good rather than a bad effect. On a recent, though hasty, revision of the Alien law, it seems to me deficient in precautions against abuse and for the security of citizens. This should not be. No pains or expense should be spared to disseminate this report. A little pamphlet containing it should find its way into every house in Virginia. This should be left to work and nothing to court a shock should be adopted. In the meantime the measures for raising the military force should proceed with activity. ’T is much to be lamented that so much delay has attended the execution of this measure. In times like the present, not a moment ought to have been lost to secure the government so powerful an auxiliary. Whenever the experiment shall be made to subdue a refractory and powerful State by militia, the event will shame the advocates of their sufficiency. In the expedition against the Western insurgents, I trembled every moment lest a great part of the militia should take it into their heads to return home rather than to go forward. When a clever force has been collected, let them be drawn toward Virginia, for which there is an obvious pretext, then let measures be taken to act upon the laws and put Virginia to the test of resistance. This plan will give time for the fervor of the moment to subside, for reason to resume the reins, and, by dividing its enemies, will enable the government to triumph with ease.2
The Alien and Sedition laws.
Reprinted from the History of the Republic, vii., 277.