Hamilton: Letters of H.G., Letter X

Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America’s first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury.

Self-Educated American, Classics Library

Alexander Hamilton: The Works of Alexander Hamilton, Volume 1, 1774

After the New York Ratifying Convention 1788: Letters of H.G. Letter X

New York,
March 3, 1789.
Dear Sir:

I have mentioned as a third circumstance tending to prove the enmity of the Governor to the Union, “that his behavior toward the individuals composing Congress has been of a nature calculated to give them just cause of disgust.”

I am well informed that his Excellency never made a visit to, or had any intercourse of civilities with, either of the two last Presidents of Congress. This neglect on his part appears the more pointed, as it is well known that he had been upon a footing of intimacy with one of the gentlemen previous to his appointment—I mean General St. Clair. This gentleman had been heard to lament that the Governor’s conduct toward him, in an official respect, had put it out of his power to keep up the amicable intercourse which had formerly subsisted between them. It seems as if the character of a President of Congress amounted, in the Governor’s estimation, to a forfeiture even of the rights of private friendship.

This behavior to the official head of Congress is to be regarded in a stronger light than mere disrespect to the individual. It may justly be esteemed disrespect to the body themselves, and to have been dictated by a disposition to humiliate the government which they administered.

The same spirit ran through the Governor’s conduct toward the members of Congress in general. Very few, if any of them, experienced any attentions whatever from him.

Whatever apology may be made for the Governor’s want of decent hospitality toward the representatives of the United States, I believe it will be difficult to find an excuse for his personal neglect of them. There are civilities which cost nothing, and these might have been bestowed without any violation of the frugality of his Excellency’s maxims.

It may be asked how it can be determined where the fault lay, whether with the Governor, or with the individuals of Congress. I answer, that with regard to the Presidents of Congress, there can be no doubt. As that body sat in the State, it was unquestionably the duty of the Governor to pay the first attentions to the President after his election. This rule has been understood throughout America, and its propriety is self-evident. The omitting to pay those attentions was a mark of disregard to the government of the Union, for which there can be no excuse, and which admits of but one interpretation.

Dear sir, Yours sincerely,etc.,


To ———, Esq., Suffolk County.

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The Works of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Henry Cabot Lodge (Federal Edition) (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). In 12 vols. The copyright for the original of this document is held in the Public Domain. Font, formatting, spelling modernizations, typo/transcription corrections, and explanatory footnotes for this version of  ”The Works of Alexander Hamilton” Copyright © 2011 Steve Farrell and Self-Educated American.