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to rufus king - 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 rufus king
Jan. 5, 1800.
It is indeed a long time, my dear sir, since I have written to you, and I feel my obligation to you for the continuance of your correspondence, notwithstanding my delinquency.
Had it been true that I had left every thing else to follow the drum, my delinquency would not have been so great. But our military establishment offers too little inducement, and is too precarious to have permitted a total dereliction of professional pursuits. The double occupation occasioned by these added military duties, and the attention which circumstances call me to pay to collateral objects, engage my time more than ever, and leave me less leisure to communicate with distant friends.
If the projected cipher was established, I should now have very much to say to you. But for this the arrangement is not yet mature. Soon, however, I hope to make it so, by forwarding to you the counterpart, which is in preparation. I must, however, give you some sketch of our affairs.
At home every thing is in the main well; except as to the perverseness and capriciousness of one, and the spirit of faction of many.
Our measures from the first cause are too much the effect of momentary impulse. Vanity and jealousy exclude all counsel. Passion wrests the helm from reason.
The irreparable loss of an inestimable man removes a control which was felt, and was very salutary.
The leading friends of the government are in a sad dilemma. Shall they risk a serious schism by an attempt to change? Or shall they annihilate themselves and hazard their cause by continuing to uphold those who suspect or hate them, and who are likely to pursue a course for no better reason than because it is contrary to that which they approve?
The spirit of faction is abated nowhere. In Virginia it is more violent than ever. It seems demonstrated that the leaders there, who possess completely all the powers of the local government, are resolved to possess those of the national, by the most dangerous combinations; and, if they cannot effect this, to resort to the employment of physical force. The want of disposition in the people to second them will be the only preventive. It is believed that it will be an effectual one.
In the two houses of Congress we have a decided majority. But the dread of unpopularity is likely to paralyze it, and to prevent the erection of additional buttresses to the Constitution, a fabric which can hardly be stationary, and which will retrograde if it cannot be made to advance.
In the mass of the people the dispositions are not bad. An attachment to the system of peace continues. No project contrary to it could easily conciliate favor. Good-will towards the government, in my opinion, predominates; though a numerous party is still actuated by an opposite sentiment, and some vague discontents have a more diffused influence. Sympathy with the French Revolution acts in a much narrower circle than formerly, but the jealousy of monarchy, which is as actual as ever, still furnishes a handle by which the factions mislead well-meaning persons.
In our councils there is no fixed plan. Some are for preserving and invigorating the navy and destroying the army. Some among the friends of government for diminishing both on pecuniary considerations.
My plan is to complete the navy to the contemplated extent: say, six ships of the line, twelve frigates, and twenty-four sloops of war; to make no alteration for the present as to the military force; and, finally, to preserve the organs of the existing force, reducing the men to a very moderate number. For this plan there are various reasons that appear to me solid. I must doubt, however, that it will finally prevail.
The recent depredations of British cruisers, sanctioned in various instances by the courts, have rekindled in many hearts an animosity which was fast being extinguished. Such persons think they see in this circumstance a new proof that friendship towards this country on the part of Great Britain will always be measured by the scale of her success. A very perplexing conflict of sensations is the result of this impression.
I must hasten to a conclusion. It was unnecessary for me to have told you that for the loss of our illustrious friend every heart is in mourning. Adieu.
Who is to be Commander-in-Chief?
Not the next in command. The appointment will probably be deferred.