Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799)
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TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XIV (1798-1799).
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TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
Mount Vernon, 27 May, 1798.
My dear Sir,
Yesterday brought me your letter of the 19th instant. You may be assured, that my mind is deeply impressed with the present situation of our public affairs, and not a little agitated by the outrageous conduct of France towards the United States, and at the inimitable conduct of its partisans, who aid and abet their measures. You may believe further, from assurances equally sincere, that if there was anything in my power, which could be done with consistency, to avert or lessen the danger of the crisis, it should be rendered with hand and heart.
The expedient however which has been suggested by you, would not in my opinion answer the end, which is proposed—the object of such a tour could not be vailed by the extensive cover to be given to it; because it would not apply to the state of my health which never was better and as the measure would be susceptible of two interpretations the enemies to it, always more active and industrious than friends wou’d endeavor, as much as in them lay, to turn it to their own advantage by malicious insinuations; unless they should discover that the current against themselves was setting too strong, and of too serious a nature for them to stem, in which case the journey would be unnecessary, and in either case the reception might not be such as you have supposed.
But, my dear Sir, dark as matters appear at present, and expedient as it is to be prepared at all points for the worst that can happen, (and no one is more disposed to this measure than I am,) I cannot make up my mind yet for the expectation of open war, or, in other words, for a formidable invasion by France. I cannot believe, although I think them capable [of] any thing bad, that they will attempt to do more than they have done; or that, when they perceive the spirit and policy of this country rising into resistance, and that they have falsely calculated upon support from a large part of the people thereof to promote their views and influence in it, that they will desist even from those practices, unless unexpected events in Europe, and their possession of Louisiana and the Floridas, should induce them to continue the measure. And I believe further, that, although the leaders of their party in this country will not change their sentiments, that they will be obliged nevertheless to change their plan, or the mode of carrying it on, from the effervescence which is appearing in all quarters, and from the desertion of their followers, which must frown them into silence, at least for a while.
If I did not view things in this light, my mind would be infinitely more disquieted than it is; for, if a crisis should arrive, when a sense of duty or a call from my country should become so imperious, as to leave me no choice, I should prepare for the relinquishment, and go with as much reluctance from my present peaceful abode, as I should do to the tomb of my ancestors.
To say at this time, determinately, what I should do under such circumstances, might be improper, having once before departed from a similar resolution; but I may declare to you, that, as there [is] no conviction in my breast, that I could serve my country with more efficiency in the command of the armies it might levy than many others, an expression of its wish that I should do so must somehow or another be unequivocally known, to satisfy my mind, that, notwithstanding the respect in which I may be held on account of former services, that a preference might not be given to a man more in his prime; and it might well be supposed, too, that I should like previously to know who would be my coadjutors, and whether you would be disposed to take an active part, if arms are to be resorted to.1
Before this letter can get to your hands, you will have seen the resolutions and proposed address from citizens of Charleston in South Carolina. Their proceedings will, I am persuaded, give the tone to other parts of that State. Two or three very good addresses have already appeared from North Carolina, one with the signature of a late Governor thereof (Spaight.) All the most popular and hardy yeomanry of this State have come and are coming forward, with strong addresses to the executive and assurances of support. The address from Norfolk (I do not mean the impertinent one from Magnien’s Grenadier Company) is a good one. The middle counties of this State, with two or three exceptions, have hitherto been silent. They want leaders; but I shall be much mistaken, if a large majority of them do not forsake, if they have heretofore been with those, who have pretended to speak their sentiments. As to the resolutions, which were entered into at Fredericksburg, it is only necessary to point to the manager of them, and add that the meeting was partial.2
From Georgia no development of the public sentiment has yet appeared; but I learn from an intelligent gentleman just returned from where he has been some time for the benefit of his health, travelling, going and returning slowly, and making considerable halts, that the people of that State, as also those of South and North Carolina, seem to be actuated by one spirit, and that a very friendly one to the general government. I have likewise heard, that the present governor of the first (Georgia) professes to be strongly attached to it. These disclosures, with what may yet be expected, will, I conceive, give a different impression of the sentiments of our people to the Directory of France, than what they have been taught to believe, while it must serve to abash the partisans of it for their wicked and presumptive information.
Your free communications, on these political topics, is so far from needing an apology, that I shall be much gratified and thankful to you for the continuation of them; and I would wish you to believe, that, with great truth and sincerity, I am always your affectionate friend, &c.
[1 ]“You ought to be aware, my dear Sir, that, in the event of an open rupture with France, the public voice will again call you to command the armies of your country; and, though all who are attached to you will from attachment, as well as public considerations, deplore an occasion which should once more tear you from that repose to which you have so good a right, yet it is the opinion of all those with whom I converse, that you will be compelled to make the sacrifice. All your past labors may demand, to give them efficacy, this further, this very great sacrifice.”—Hamilton to Washington, 19 May, 1798.
[2 ]“The present dangerous crisis of public affairs makes one anxious to know the sentiments of our citizens in different parts of this commonwealth; and no one has a better opportunity to form an opinion of the central part thereof than yourself. This will be my apology for giving you the trouble of a letter at this time.