Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1802 - to dr. benjamin rush 1 - The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 10
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1802 - to dr. benjamin rush 1 - 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 dr. benjamin rush1
I felt all the weight of the obligation which I owed to you and your amiable family for the tender concern they manifested in an event beyond comparison the most afflicting of my life, but I was obliged to wait for a moment of greater calm to express my sense of the kindness.
My loss is indeed great. The brightest as well as the eldest hope of my family has been taken from me. You estimated him rightly. He was a fine youth. But why should I repine? It was the will of heaven, and he is now out of the reach of the seductions and calamities of a world full of folly, full of vice, full of danger—of least value in proportion as it is best known. I firmly trust, also, that he has safely reached the haven of eternal repose and felicity.
You will easily imagine that every memorial of the goodness of his heart must be precious to me. You allude to one recorded in a letter to your son. If no special reasons forbid it, I should be very glad to have a copy of that letter.
Mrs. Hamilton, who has drunk deeply of the cup of sorrow, joins me in affectionate thanks to Mrs. Rush and yourself; our wishes for your happiness will be unceasing.
to gouverneur morris
Feb. 27, 1802.
Your letter of the 22d is the third favor I am indebted to you since you left New York.
Your frankness in giving me your opinion as to the expediency of an application of our bar to Congress, obliged me. But you know we are not readily persuaded to think we have been wrong. Were the matter to be done over, I should pursue the same course. I did not believe the measure would be useful as a preventive, and for the people an expression of an opinion by letter would be as good as a memorial.
It appeared to be best, because it saved our delicacy, and because in the abstract, I am not over fond of the precedent of the bar addressing Congress. But I did what I thought likely to do more good. I induced the Chamber of Commerce to send a memorial. As to the rest, I should be a very unhappy man, if I left my tranquility at the mercy of the misinterpretations which friends as well as foes are fond of giving to my conduct.
Mine is an odd destiny. Perhaps no man in the United States has sacrificed or done more for the present Constitution than myself; and contrary to all my anticipations of its fate, as you know from the very beginning, I am still laboring to prop the frail and worthless fabric. Yet I have the murmurs of its friends no less than the curses of its foes for my reward. What can I do better than withdraw from the scene? Every day proves to me more and more, that this American world was not made for me.
The suggestions with which you close your letter suppose a much sounder state of the public mind than at present exists. Attempts to make a show of a general popular dislike of the pending measures of the government, would only serve to manifest the direct reverse. Impressions are indeed making, but as yet within a very narrow sphere.
The time may erelong arrive when the minds of men will be prepared to make an effort to recover the Constitution, but the many cannot now be brought to make a stand for its preservation. We must wait a while.
I have read your speeches with great pleasure. They are truly worthy of you. Your real friends had many sources of satisfaction on account of them. The conspiracy of dulness was at work. It chose to misinterpret your moderation in certain transactions of a personal reference.
A public energetic display of your talents and principles was requisite to silence the cavillers. It is now done. You, friend Morris, are by birth a native of this country, but by genius an exotic. You mistake, if you fancy that you are more of a favorite than myself, or that you are in any sort upon a theatre suited to you.
to gouverneur morris
You have seen certain resolutions unanimously pass our Legislature for amending the Constitution; 1st, by designating separately the candidates for President and Vice-President; 2d, by having electors chosen by the people in districts under the direction of the national Legislature.
After mature reflection, I was thoroughly confirmed in my full impression, that it is true federal policy to promote the adoption of these amendments.
Of the first, not only because it is in itself right, that the people should know whom they are choosing, and because the present mode gives all possible scope to intrigue, and is dangerous (as we have seen) to the public tranquillity; but because in every thing which gives opportunity for juggling arts, our adversaries will nine times out of ten excel us.
Of the second, because it removes thus far the intervention of the State governments, and strengthens the connection between the Federal head and the people, and because it diminishes the means of party combination, in which also, the burning zeal of our opponents will be generally an overmatch for our temperate flame.
I shall be very happy that our friends may think with me, and that no temporary motive may induce them to let slip the precious occasion in which personal motives induce the other party to forget their true policy.
We are told here, that at the close of your birthday feast, a strange apparition, which was taken for the Vice-President, appeared among you, and toasted “the union of all honest men.” I often hear at the corner of the streets important federal secrets, of which I am ignorant. This may be one.
If the story be true, ’T is a good thing, if we use it well. As an instrument, the person will be an auxiliary of some value; as a chief, he will disgrace and destroy the party.
I suspect, however, the folly of the mass will make him the latter, and from the moment it shall appear that this is the plan, it may be depended upon much more will be lost than gained. I know of no more important character, who has a less founded interest than the man in question. His talents may do well enough for a particular plot, but they are ill suited to a great and wise drama. But what has wisdom to do with weak men? Adieu.
to general charles cotesworth pinckney
March 15, 1802.
You will probably have learned before this reaches you that the act of last session for the better organization of the Judiciary Department has been repealed, and I take it for granted that you will, with me, view this measure as a vital blow to the Constitution. In my opinion it demands a systematic and persevering effort by all constitutional means to produce a revocation of the precedent, and to restore the Constitution. For this purpose I deem it essential that there should be, without delay, a meeting and conference of a small number of leading Federalists from different States. Unless there shall be a plan of conduct proceeding from such a source, our measures will be disjointed, discordant, and of course ineffectual. There is also a further danger which may attend the want of a plan capable of fixing opinions and determining objects. There are among us incorrect men with very incorrect views, which may lead to combinations and projects injurious to us as a party and very detrimental to the country. These considerations have determined me to make an attempt to bring about such a meeting. And it has occurred that the first Monday of May next, at the city of Washington, may be a good time and place. A general meeting of the Society of the Cincinnati is to be then and there held. I have likewise taken the liberty to request the attendance of Governor Davie, of North Carolina. In the event of your concurring in sentiment with me, it will be expedient for you to second my invitation to him.1
to gouverneur morris
April 6, 1802.
Amidst the humiliating circumstances which attend our country, all the sound part of the community must find cause of triumph in the brilliant display of talents which have been employed, though without success, in resisting the follies of an infatuated administration; and your personal friends will not have much reason for mortification on account of the part you have performed in the interesting scene. But, my dear sir, we must not content ourselves with a temporary effort to oppose the approach of evil. We must derive instruction from the experience before us; and learning to form a just estimate of things to which we have been attached, there must be a systematic and persevering endeavor to establish the fortune of a great empire on foundations much firmer than have yet been devised. What will signify a vibration of power if it cannot be used with confidence or energy, and must be again quickly restored to hands which will prostrate much faster than we shall be able to rear under so frail a system? Nothing will be done until the structure of our national edifice shall be such as naturally to control eccentric passions and views, and to keep in check demagogues and knaves in the disguise of patriots. Yet I fear a different reasoning will prevail, and an eagerness to recover lost power will betray us into expedients which will be injurious to the country and disgraceful and ruinous to ourselves. What meant the apparition and the toast which made part of the after-piece of the birthday festival? Is it possible that some new intrigue is about to link the Federalists with a man who can never be anything else than the bane of a good cause? I dread more from this than from all the contrivances of the bloated and senseless junto of Virginia.
The Federalists and Anti-federalists of this State united in certain amendments to the Constitution now before your House, having for objects, 1st, to discriminate the candidates for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency; 2d, to have the electors of these officers chosen by the people, in districts, under the direction of Congress. Both these appear to me points of importance in true federal calculation. Surely the scene of last session ought to teach us the intrinsic demerits of the existing plan. It proved to us how possible it is for a man in whom no party had confidence, and who deserved the confidence of none, by mere intrigue and accident, to acquire the first place in the government of our nation; and it also proves to us how serious a danger of convulsion and disorder is incident to the plan. On this point things have come to my knowledge, improper for a letter, which would astonish you. Surely, we ought by this time to have learnt that whatever multiplies the opportunities and means of cabal, is more favorable to our adversaries than to us. They have certainly the advantage in the game by greater zeal, activity, and subtlety, and especially by an abandonment of principle. On all these accounts it is our true policy to abridge the facilities to cabal as much as possible in all our public institutions and measures. As to the second of the amendments, it has ever appeared to me as sound principle to let the federal government rest, as much as possible, on the shoulders of the people, and as little as possible on those of the State Legislatures. The proposition accords with this principle, and, in my view, it is further recommended by its tendency to exclude combinations, which, I am persuaded, in the general and permanent course of things, will operate more against than for us. Colonel Burr, without doubt, will resist these amendments; and he may induce some of our friends to play into his hands; but this will be a very bad calculation, even admitting the inadmissible idea that he ought to be adopted as a chief of the federal party. We never can have him fairly in our power, till we render his situation absolutely hopeless with his old friends. While the indiscriminate voting prevails, he will find it his interest to play fast and loose, and to keep himself in a state to be at the head of the anti-federal party. If these hopes are cut off, he will immediately set about forming a third party, of which he will be at the head; and then, if we think it worth the while, we can purchase him with his flying squadron.
These observations are, of course, hypothetical, for, to my mind, the elevation of Mr. Burr, by federal means, to the chief magistracy of the United States, will be the worst kind of political suicide.
to james a. bayard
Your letter of the 12th instant has relieved me from some apprehension. Yet it is well that it should be perfectly understood by the truly sound part of the Federalists that there do, in fact, exist intrigues in good earnest between several individuals not unimportant, of the federal party, and the person in question, which are bottomed upon motives and views by no means auspicious to the real welfare of the country. I am glad to find that it is in contemplation to adopt a plan of conduct. It is very necessary; and, to be useful, it must be efficient and comprehensive in the means which it embraces, at the same time that it must meditate none which are not really constitutional and patriotic. I will comply with your invitation by submitting some ideas which, from time to time, have passed through my mind. Nothing is more fallacious than to expect to produce any valuable or permanent results in political projects by relying merely on the reason of men. Men are rather reasoning than reasonable animals, for the most part governed by the impulse of passion. This is a truth well understood by our adversaries, who have practiced upon it with no small benefit to their cause; for at the very moment they are eulogizing the reason of men, and professing to appeal only to that faculty, they are courting the strongest and most active passion of the human heart, vanity! It is no less true, that the Federalists seem not to have attended to the fact sufficiently; and that they erred in relying so much on the rectitude and utility of their measures as to have neglected the cultivation of popular favor, by fair and justifiable expedients. The observation has been repeatedly made by me to individuals with whom I particularly conversed, and expedients suggested for gaining good will, which were never adopted. Unluckily, however, for us, in the competition for the passions of the people, our opponents have great advantages over us; for the plain reason that the vicious are far more active than the good passions; and that, to win the former to our side, we must renounce our principles and our objects, and unite in corrupting public opinion till it becomes fit for nothing but mischief. Yet, unless we can contrive to take hold of, and carry along with us some strong feelings of the mind, we shall in vain calculate upon any substantial or durable results. Whatever plan we may adopt, to be successful, must be founded on the truth of this proposition. And perhaps it is not very easy for us to give it full effects; especially not without some deviations from what, on other occasions, we have maintained to be right. But in determining upon the propriety of the deviations, we must consider whether it be possible for us to succeed, without, in some degree, employing the weapons which have been employed against us, and whether the actual state and future prospect of things be not such as to justify the reciprocal use of them. I need not tell you that I do not mean to countenance the imitation of things intrinsically unworthy, but only of such as may be denominated irregular; such as, in a sound and stable order of things, ought not to exist. Neither are you to infer that any revolutionary result is contemplated. In my opinion, the present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide, must we combat our political foes, rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provides for amendments. By these general views of the subject have my reflections been guided. I now offer you the outline of the plan which they have suggested. Let an association be formed to be denominated “The Christian Constitutional Society.” Its objects to be:
1st. The support of the Christian religion.
2d. The support of the Constitution of the United States.
1st. A council, consisting of a president and twelve members, of whom four and the president to be a quorum.
2d. A sub-directing council in each State, consisting of a vice-president and twelve members, of whom four, with the vice-president, to be a quorum.
3d. As many societies in each State as local circumstances may permit to be formed by the sub-directing council.
The meeting at Washington to nominate the president and vice-president, together with four members of each of the councils, who are to complete their own numbers respectively.
1st. The diffusion of information. For this purpose not only the newspapers, but pamphlets, must be largely employed, and to do this a fund must be created; five dollars annually, for eight years, to be contributed by each member who can really afford it (taking care not to burthen the less able brethren), may afford a competent fund for a competent term. It is essential to be able to disseminate gratis useful publications. Wherever it can be done, and there is a press, clubs should be formed, to meet once a week, read the newspapers, and prepare essays, paragraphs, etc.
2d. The use of all lawful means in concert to promote the election of fit men; a lively correspondence must be kept up between the different societies.
3d. The promoting of institutions of a charitable and useful nature in the management of Federalists. The populous cities ought particularly to be attended to; perhaps it would be well to institute in such places—1st, societies for the relief of emigrants; 2d, academies, each with one professor, for instructing the different classes of mechanics in the principles of mechanics and the elements of chemistry. The cities have been employed by the Jacobins to give an impulse to the country; and it is believed to be an alarming fact that, while the question of presidential election was pending in the House of Representatives, parties were organizing in several of the cities in the event of there being no election, to cut off the leading Federalists and seize the government.
The foregoing to be the principal engine, and, in addition, let measures be adopted to bring as soon as possible the repeal of the judiciary law before the Supreme Court; afterwards, if not before, let as many Legislatures as can be prevailed upon instruct their Senators to endeavor to procure a repeal of the repealing law. The body of New England, speaking the same language, will give a powerful impulse. In Congress our friends to propose little, to agree cordially to all good measures, and to resist and expose all bad. This is a general sketch of what has occurred to me. It is at the service of my friends for so much as it may be worth.
to rufus king
June 3, 1802.
I have been long very delinquent towards you as a correspondent, and am to thank you that you have not cast me off altogether as an irretrievable reprobate. But you know how to appreciate the causes, and you have made a construction equally just and indulgent.
In your last you ask my opinion about a matter delicate and important, both in a public and in a personal view. I shall give it with the frankness to which you have a right, and I may add that the impressions of your other friends, so far as they have fallen under my observation, do not differ from my own. While you were in the midst of a negotiation interesting to your country, it was your duty to keep your post. You have now accomplished the object, and with the good fortune, not very common, of having the universal plaudit. This done, it seems to me most advisable that you return home. There is little probability that your continuance in your present station will be productive of much positive good. Nor are circumstances such as to give reason to apprehend that the substitute for you, whoever he may be, can do much harm. Your stay or return, therefore, as it regards our transatlantic concerns, is probably not material, while your presence at home may be useful in ways which it is not necessary to particularize. Besides, it is questionable whether you can long continue in the service of the present administration consistently with what is due, as well to your own character as to the common cause. I am far from thinking that a man is bound to quit a public office merely because the administration of the government may have changed hands. But when those who have come into power are undisguised persecutors of the party to which he has been attached, and study with ostentation to heap upon it every indignity and injury, he ought not, in my opinion, to permit himself to be made an exception, or to lend his talents to the support of such characters. If, in addition to this, it be true that the principles and plans of the men at the head of affairs tend to the degradation of the government, and to their own disgrace, it will hardly be possible to be in any way connected with them without sharing in the disrepute which they may be destined to experience.
I wish I had time to give you a comprehensive and particular map of our political situation; but more than a rude outline is beyond my leisure, devoted as I am more than ever to my professional pursuits.
You have seen the course of the administration hitherto, especially during the last session of Congress, and I am persuaded you will agree with me in opinion, that it could hardly have been more diligent in mischief. What, you will ask, has been and is likely to be the effect on the public mind?
Our friends are sanguine that a great change for the better has been wrought and is progressive. I suppose good has been done—that the Federalists have been reunited and cemented; have been awakened, alarmed. Perhaps, too, there may be some sensible and moderate men of the opposite party who are beginning to doubt. But I as yet discover no satisfactory symptoms of a revolution of opinion in the mass—”informe ingens cui lumen ademptum.” Nor do I look with much expectation to any serious alternation until inconveniences are extensively felt, or until time has produced a disposition to coquet it with new lovers. Vibrations of power, you are aware, are of the genius of our government.
There is, however a circumstance which may accelerate the fall of the present party. There is certainly a most serious schism between the chief and his heir-apparent; a schism absolutely incurable, because founded in the hearts of both, in the rivalship of an insatiable and unprincipled ambition. The effects are already apparent, and are ripening into a more bitter animosity between the partisans of the two men, than ever existed between the Federalists and Anti-federalists.
Unluckily, we are not as neutral to this quarrel as we ought to be. You saw, however, how far our friends in Congress went in polluting themselves with the support of the second personage for the Presidency. The cabal did not terminate there. Several men of no inconsiderable importance among us like the enterprising and adventurous character of this man, and hope to soar with him to power. Many more, through hatred to the chief, and through an impatience to recover the reins, are linking themselves to the new chief almost without perceiving it, and professing to have no other object than to make use of him; while he knows that he is making use of them. What this may end in, it is difficult to perceive.
Of one thing only I am sure, that in no event will I be directly or indirectly implicated in a responsibility for the elevation or support of either of two men who, in different senses, are in my eyes equally unworthy of the confidence of intelligent or honest men.
Truly, my dear sir, the prospects of our country are not brilliant. The mass is far from sound. At headquarters a most visionary theory presides. Depend upon it, this is the fact to a great extreme. No army, no navy, no active commerce; national defence, not by arms, but by embargoes, prohibitions of trade, etc.; as little government as possible within;—these are the pernicious dreams which, as far and as fast as possible, will be attempted to be realized. Mr. Jefferson is distressed at the codfish having latterly emigrated to the southern coast, lest the people there should be tempted to catch them, and commerce, of which we have already too much, receive an accession. Be assured this is no pleasantry, but a very sober anecdote.
Among Federalists old errors are not cured. They also continue to dream, though not quite so preposterously as their opponents. All will be very well (say they) when the power once gets back into federal hands. The people, convinced by experience of their error, will repose a permanent confidence in good men. Risum teneatis.
to the editor of the “evening post”
Aug. 10, 1802.
Finding that a story, long since propagated, under circumstances which it was expected would soon consign it to oblivion (and by which I have been complimented at the expense of Generals Washington and Lafayette), has of late been revived, and has acquired a degree of importance by being repeated in different publications, as well in Europe as America, it becomes a duty to counteract its currency and influence by an explicit disavowal. The story imports in substance, that General Lafayette, with the approbation or connivance of General Washington, ordered me, as the officer who was to command the attack on a British redoubt, in the course of the siege of York Town, to put to death all those of the enemy who should happen to be taken in the redoubt, and that, through motives of humanity, I forbore to execute the order. Positively and unequivocally I declare, that no such nor similar order, nor any intimation nor hint resembling it, was ever by me received, or understood to have been given. It is needless to enter into an explanation of some occurrences on the occasion alluded to, which may be conjectured to have given rise to the calumny. It is enough to say that they were entirely disconnected with any act of either of the generals who have been accused.
With esteem, I am, sir, your most obedient servant.1
to oliver wolcott
Aug. 14, 1802.
When you were last in town, I proposed to communicate to you the outline of a project, by which I think you may enter upon a career of business beneficial to yourself and friends. My almost constant attendance at court ever since you were here, has retarded the communication which I shall now make.
Let a commercial capital be found, to consist of 100,000 dollars, divided into shares of $100 each. A subscriber to pay in cash one tenth of his subscription, and for the residue 7 per centum per annum. It will then be his interest to pay up as soon as he can.
The subscribers to form a partnership, under the firm of Oliver Wolcott & Co.; Oliver Wolcott alone to have the signature of the firm, and the active management of the affairs of the company, with an allowance of $1,500 per annum out of the profits for the trouble of management, besides his share of profits as a partner.
Oliver Wolcott and two others of the partners to form a board of direction, to plan, etc.
Clerks and all incidental expenses to be paid out of the fund.
The objects of the company.
1. Agencies of purchase and sales of land, stocks, etc.
2. Factorage of cargoes, consigned on commission; purchase of goods on commission, etc.; in brief, “the business of a commission merchant merely.”
3. Purchases at auction, and sales of the articles purchased.
4. Loans of money on deposit of goods, with a right, if not redeemed in time, to sell on commission, perhaps.
Speculative enterprises in navigation and commerce to be excluded.
In a company thus formed under your management, I should be willing to become a partner for from 5 to 10,000 dollars, and I have no doubt that the capital will be readily formed of confidential and trustworthy characters, who would insure great credit to the house. I am also confident, that when it should be known in Europe that certain characters were of the company, it would attract a good portion of profitable employment.
I will enter into no further detail. If the project impresses you favorably, come to New York, and we will give it form, and finish and prepare for execution. Do not lightly reject it.
to gouverneur morris
I fully intended to have dined with you to day, but, going to town the two last days, and forgetting that I ought to observe a regimen, I have brought back, in some degree, the complaint which lately annoyed me, and which requires to be well watched. This must deprive me of the pleasure of seeing you.
I send schedules of the papers required of Tillier, all which have been put into my hands; the bills to remain till the close of the affair; the other documents to be delivered to your order.
I also send a draught of the trust deed. It endeavors to comply with your suggestion, as far as can be done without running foul of the danger desired to be avoided.
Your guests are invited to dine with us Thursday next.
Will you make one?
to general charles cotesworth pinckney
Dec. 29, 1802.
A garden, you know, is a very useful refuge of a disappointed politician. Accordingly, I have purchased a few acres about nine miles from town, have built a house, and am cultivating a garden. The melons in your country are very fine. Will you have the goodness to send me some seed, both of the water and musk melons? My daughter adds another request, which is for three or four of your paroquets. She is very fond of birds. If there be any thing in this quarter the sending of which can give you pleasure, you have only to name them. As farmers, a new source of sympathy has arisen between us, and I am pleased with every thing in which our likings and tastes can be approximated. Amidst the triumphant reign of democracy, do you retain sufficient interest in public affairs to feel any curiosity about what is going on? In my opinion, the follies and vices of the administration have as yet made no material impression to their disadvantage. On the contrary, I think the malady is rather progressive than upon the decline in our Northern quarter. The last lullaby message, instead of inspiring contempt, attracts praise. Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold and cunning imposture. But a difficult knot has been twisted by the incidents of the cession of Louisiana, and the interruption of the deposit of New Orleans. You have seen the soft turn given to this in the message. Yet we are told that the President, in conversation, is very stout. The great embarrassment must be how to carry on the war without taxes. The pretty scheme of substituting economy to taxation will not do here. And a war would be a terrible comment upon the abandonment of the internal revenue. Yet how is popularity to be preserved with the Western partisans if their interests are tamely sacrificed? Will the artifice be for the chief to hold a bold language, and the subalterns to act a feeble part? Time must explain. You know my general theory as to our Western affairs. I have always held that the unity of our empire and the best interests of our nation require that we shall annex to the United States all the territory east of the Mississippi, New Orleans included. Of course I infer that, in an emergency like the present, energy is wisdom.
Mrs. Hamilton joins me in affectionate compliments to Mrs. Pinckney.
to timothy pickering1
Sept. 18, 1803.
I will make no apology for my delay in answering your inquiry, some time since made, because I could offer none which would satisfy myself. I pray you only to believe that it proceeded from any thing rather than want of respect or regard. I shall now comply with your request. The highest-toned propositions which I made in the convention were for a President, Senate, and Judges during good behavior—a House of Representatives for three years. Though I would have enlarged the legislative power of the general government, yet I never contemplated the abolition of the State governments, but on the contrary, they were, in some particulars, constituent parts of my plan. This plan was, in my conception, conformable with the strict theory of a government purely republican, the essential criteria of which are that the principal organs of the executive and legislative departments be elected by the people, and hold their offices by a responsible and temporary or defeasible tenure. A vote was taken on the proposition respecting the executive. Five States were in favor of it, among these Virginia, and though, from the manner of voting—by delegations,—individuals were not distinguished, it was morally certain, from the known situation of the Virginia members (six in number, two of them, Mason and Randolph, professing popular doctrines), that Madison must have concurred in the work of Virginia; thus, if I sinned against republicanism, Mr. Madison was not less guilty. I may truly then say that I never proposed either a President or Senate for life, and that I neither recommended nor meditated the annihilation of the State governments. And I may add that, in the course of the discussions in the convention, neither the propositions thrown out for debate, nor even those voted in the earlier stages of the deliberation, were considered as evidences of a definitive opinion in the proposer or voter.2 It appeared to me to be in some sort understood that, with a view to free investigation, experimental propositions might be made, which were to be received merely as suggestions for consideration. Accordingly, it is a fact that my final opinion was against an Executive during good behavior, on account of the increased danger to the public tranquillity incident to the election of a magistrate of this degree of permanency. In the plan of a constitution which I drew up while the convention was sitting, and which I communicated to Mr. Madison about the close of it, perhaps a day or two after, the office of President has no greater duration than for three years.3 This plan was predicated upon these bases: 1. That the political principles of the people of this country would endure nothing but republican government. 2. That in the actual situation of the country, it was in itself right and proper that the republican theory should have a fair and full trial. 3. That to such a trial it was essential that the government should be so constructed as to give all the energy and stability reconcilable with the principles of that theory.
These were the genuine sentiments of my heart, and upon them I acted. I sincerely hope that it may not hereafter be discovered that, through want of sufficient attention to the last idea, the experiment of republican government, even in this country, has not been as complete, as satisfactory, and as decisive as could be wished.
The distinguished physician and patriot of Philadelphia. The letter refers to the death of Hamilton’s eldest son, Philip, who was killed in a duel arising from a political quarrel.
Reprinted from the History of the Republic, vii., 564.
Reprinted from the History of the Republic, ii., 271.
At this time Senator from Massachusetts.
See Madison Papers, ii., 724—762.
Ibid., iii.; Appendix xvi. and xxi.