Front Page Titles (by Subject) van ness to pendleton - The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 10
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van ness to pendleton - 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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van ness to pendleton
June 27, 1804.
The letter which I had the honor to receive from you, under date of yesterday, states, among other things, that in General Hamilton’s opinion, Col. Burr has taken a very indefinite ground, in which he evinces nothing short of pre-determined hostility, and that General Hamilton thinks it inadmissible that the inquiry should extend to his confidential as well as other conversations. In this Col. Burr can only reply, that secret whispers, traducing his fame and impeaching his honor, are, at least, equally injurious with slanders publicly uttered; that General Hamilton had at no time and in no place a right to use any such injurious expressions, and the partial negative he is disposed to give, with the reservation he wishes to make, are proofs that he has done the injury specified.
Col. Burr’s request was, in the first instance, proposed in a form the most simple, in order that General Hamilton might give to the affair that course to which he might be induced by his temper and his knowledge of facts. Col. Burr trusted with confidence that, from the frankness of a soldier and the candor of a gentleman, he might expect an ingenuous declaration. That if, as he had reason to believe, General Hamilton had used expressions derogatory to his honor, he would have had the magnanimity to retract them; and that if, from his language, injurious inferences had been improperly drawn, he would have perceived the propriety of correcting errors which might thus have been widely diffused. With these impressions, Col. Burr was greatly surprised at receiving a letter which he considered as evasive, and which in manner he deemed not altogether decorous. In one expectation, however, he was not wholly deceived, for the close of General Hamilton’s letter contained an intimation that if Col. Burr should dislike his refusal to acknowledge or deny, he was ready to meet the consequences. This Col. Burr deemed a sort of defiance, and would have felt justified in making it the basis of an immediate message. But as the communication contained something concerning the indefiniteness of the request, as he believed it rather the offspring of false pride than of reflection, and as he felt the utmost reluctance to proceed to extremities while any other hope remained, his request was repeated in terms more explicit. The replies and propositions on the part of Gen. Hamilton have, in Col. Burr’s opinion, been constantly in substance the same.
Col. Burr disavows all motives of premeditated hostility, a charge by which he thinks insult added to injury. He feels as a gentleman should feel when his honor is impeached or assailed; and without sensations of hostility or wishes of revenge, he is determined to vindicate that honor at such hazard as the nature of the case demands.
The length to which this correspondence has extended, only tending to prove that the satisfactory redress, earnestly desired, cannot be obtained, be deems it useless to offer any proposition, except the simple message, which I shall now have the honor to deliver.