Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIII (1794-1798)
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TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIII (1794-1798) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XIII (1794-1798).
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TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
Mount Vernon, 26 June, 1796.
My Dear Sir:
Your letter without date came to my hands by Wednesday’s post, and by the first post afterwards I communicated the purport of it (withholding the names) to the Secretary of State, with directions to bestow the closest attention to the subject, and, if the application which had been made to the Minister of France, consequent on the capture of the ship Mount Vernon had not produced such an answer as to supersede the necessity, then to endeavor to obtain such explanation of the views of the French government relatively to our commerce with Great Britain, as the nature of the case appeared to require.
That the fact is as has been represented to you, I have very little if any doubt. Many, very many circumstances, are continually happening in confirmation of it; among which, it is evident, Bache’s paper, which receives and gives the tone, is endeavoring to prepare the public mind for this event, by representing it as the predicted and natural consequence of the ratification of the treaty with Great Britain.
Let me ask, therefore, Do you suppose that the Executive, in the recess of the Senate, has power, in such a case as the one before us, especially if the measure should not be avowed by authority, to send a special character to Paris as Envoy Extraordinary, to give and receive explanations? And if there be a doubt, whether it is not probable, nay, more than probable that the French Directory would, in the present state of things, avail themselves of the unconstitutionality of the measure to decline receiving him? The policy of delay, to avoid explanations, would induce them to adopt any pretext to accomplish it. Their reliance upon a party in this country for support would stimulate them to this conduct; and we may be assured they will not be deficient in the most minute details of every occurrence and every opinion worthy of communication. If, then, an envoy cannot be sent to Paris without the agency of the Senate, will the information you have received, admitting it should be realized, be sufficient ground for convening that body?
These are serious things; they may be productive of serious consequences, and therefore require very serious and cool deliberation. Admitting, however, that the powers of the President during the recess were adequate to such an appointment, where is the character who would go, and unites the proper qualifications for such a mission, and would not be obnoxious to one party or the other? and what should be done with Mr. M[onroe] in that case?
As the affairs of this country, in their administration, receive great embarrassment from the conduct of characters among ourselves, and as every act of the Executive is misrepresented and tortured with a view to make it appear odious, the aid of the friends to government is peculiarly necessary under such circumstances and at such a crisis as the present. It is unnecessary, therefore, to add, that I should be glad, upon the present and all other important occasions, to receive yours; and as I have great confidence in the abilities and purity of Mr. Jay’s views, as well as in his experience, I should wish that his sentiments on the purport of this letter, and other interesting matters as they occur, may accompany yours; for having no other wish than to promote the true and permanent interests of this country, I am anxious always to compare the opinions of those in whom I confide with one another, and those again (without being bound by them) with my own, that I may extract all the good I can.
Having from a variety of reasons (among which a disinclination to be longer buffeted in the public prints by a set of infamous scribblers) taken my ultimate determination “to seek the post of honor in a private station,” I regret exceedingly that I did not publish my valedictory address the day after the adjournment of Congress. This would have preceded the canvassing for electors (which is commencing with warmth in this State). It would have been announcing publicly, what seems to be very well understood, and is industriously propagated privately. It would have removed doubts from the minds of all, and left the field clear for all. It would, by having preceded any unfavorable change in our foreign relations (if any should happen), render my retreat less difficult and embarrassing. And it might have prevented the remarks which, more than probable, will follow a late annunciatiation—namely, that I delayed it long enough to see that the current was turned against me, before I declared my intention to decline. This is one of the reasons which makes me a little tenacious of the draught I furnished you with, to be modified and corrected.
Having passed, however, what now I conceive would have been the precise moment to have addressed my constituents, let me ask your opinion (under a full conviction that nothing will shake my determination to withdraw) of the next best time, considering the present, and what may, probably, be the existing state of things at different periods previous to the election; or rather the middle of October, beyond which the promulgation of my intentions cannot be delayed. Let me hear from you as soon as it it convenient, and be assured always of the sincere esteem and affectionate regard of.1
[1 ]“As to your resignation, sir, it is not to be regretted that the declaration of your intention should be suspended as long as possible, and suffer me to add that you should really hold the thing undecided to the last moment. I do not think it is in the power of party to throw any slur upon the lateness of your declaration. And you have an obvious justification in the state of things. If a storm gathers, how can you retreat? This is a most serious question. The proper period now for your declaration seems to be two months before the time for the meeting of the electors. This will be sufficient. The parties will in the meantime electioneer conditionally, that is to say, if you decline; for a serious opposition to you will, I think, hardly be risked. I have completed the first draft of a certain paper, and shall shortly transcribe, correct, and forward it. I will then also prepare and send forward without delay, the original paper, corrected upon the general plan of it, so that you may have both before you for a choice in full time, and for alteration if necessary.”—Hamilton to Washington, 5 July, 1796.