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to james a. bayard - 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 james a. bayard
Dec. 27, 1800.
Several letters to myself and others from the city of Washington, excite in my mind extreme alarm on the subject of the future President. It seems nearly ascertained that Jefferson and Burr will come into the House of Representatives with equal votes, and those letters express the probability that the federal party may prefer the latter. In my opinion, a circumstance more ruinous to them, or more disastrous to the country, could not happen.
This opinion is dictated by a long and close attention to the character of B., with the best opportunities of knowing it—an advantage of judging which, few of our friends possess, and which ought to give some weight to my opinion.
Be assured, my dear sir, that this man has no principle, public nor private. As a politician, his sole spring of action is an inordinate ambition; as an individual, he is believed by friends as well as foes to be without probity; and a voluptuary by system—with habits of expense that can be satisfied by no fair expedients. As to his talents, great management and cunning are the predominant features; he is yet to give proofs of those solid abilities which characterize the statesman. Daring and energy must be allowed him; but these qualities, under the direction of the worst passions, are certainly strong objections, not recommendations. He is of a temper to undertake the most hazardous enterprises, because he is sanguine enough to think nothing impracticable; and of an ambition that will be content with nothing less than permanent power in his own hands. The maintenance of the existing institutions will not suit him; because under them his power will be too narrow and too precarious. Yet the innovations he may attempt will not offer the substitute of a system durable and safe, calculated to give lasting prosperity, and to unite liberty with strength. It will be the system of the day, sufficient to serve his own turn, and not looking beyond himself. To execute this plan, as the good men of the country cannot be relied upon, the worst will be used. Let it not be imagined that the difficulties of execution will deter, or a calculation of interest restrain. The truth is, that under forms of government like ours, too much is practicable to men who will, without scruple, avail themselves of the bad passions of human nature. To a man of this description, possessing the requisite talents, the acquisition of permanent power is not a chimera. I know that Mr. Burr does not view it as such, and I am sure there are no means too atrocious to be employed by him. In debt, vastly beyond his means of payment, with all the habits of excessive expense, he cannot be satisfied with the regular emoluments of any office of our government. Corrupt expedients will be to him a necessary resource. Will any prudent man offer such a President to the temptations of foreign gold? No engagement that can be made with him can be depended upon; while making it, he will laugh in his sleeve at the credulity of those with whom he makes it;—and the first moment it suits his views to break it, he will do so.1 Let me add, that I could scarcely name a discreet man of either party in our State, who does not think Mr. Burr the most unfit man in the United States for the office of President. Disgrace abroad, ruin at home, are the probable fruits of his elevation. To contribute to the disappointment and mortification of Mr. J., would be, on my part, only to retaliate for unequivocal proofs of enmity; but in a case like this, it would be base to listen to personal considerations. In alluding to the situation, I mean only to illustrate how strong must be the motives which induced me to promote his elevation in exclusion of another.
For heaven’s sake, my dear sir, exert yourself to the utmost to save our country from so great a calamity. Let us not be responsible for the evils, which in all probability will follow the preference. All calculations that may lead to it must prove fallacious.
A recent incident will give you an idea of his views as to foreign politics. I dined with him lately. His toasts were: “The French Republic,” “The Commissioners who Negotiated the Convention,” “Buonaparte,” “The Marquis La Fayette.” His doctrines, that it would be the interest of this country to permit the indiscriminate sale of prizes by the belligerent powers; and the building and equipment of vessels—a project amounting to nothing more nor less (with the semblance of equality) than to turn all our naval resources into the channel of France, and compel Great Britain to war. Indeed, Mr. Burr must have war, as the instrument of his ambition and cupidity. The peculiarity of the occasion will excuse my mentioning in confidence the occurrences of a private table.