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No. XXII. p. 400.



Several days before the nomination to the Senate of a person to be sent as an envoy extraordinary to England, and before the President's intentions were made known, a rumor had gone abroad that his choice would fall on Mr. Hamilton. This rumor caused a considerable alarm in the party politically hostile to that gentleman, the leaders of which were in fact opposed to the measure itself, deeming it inexpedient to make any such advance to the British government for the purposes of a negotiation. In the warmth of his feelings a member of the House of Representatives wrote a letter on the subject to the President, pressing in very strong and somewhat discourteous language the impropriety of the step, both on public grounds and on account of the risk to which he would thereby expose his own popularity, and urging with all the ardor of party zeal the objections to the Secretary of the Treasury as an envoy, even if it should be determined to prosecute the mission. Mr. Monroe, then a member of the Senate, likewise wrote to the President on the same subject. These letters involved points of delicacy. It was at least questionable how far a member of Congress had a right to interfere in a matter so exclusively belonging to the prerogative of the executive, and especially a senator, who would act on the nomination. In this stage of the business, the President laid both the letters before the Secretary of State for his opinion. Mr. Monroe's letter, and that of the Secretary of State, will add further explanations.


“ Philadelphia, 8 April, 1794. “ SIR, “Having casually heard, that it was requested by many of Colonel Hamilton's political associates, that you would nominate him as envoy to the court of Great Britain, and as I should deem such a measure not only injurious to the public interest, but also especially so to your own, I have taken the liberty to express that sentiment to you; and likewise to observe farther, that, in case it is your wish I should explain to you more at large my


reasons for this opinion, I will wait on you at any hour you may appoint for that purpose. “ With true respect and esteem, I am, Sir, yours, &c.




“ Philadelphia, 9 April, 1794. “Sir,

Among my first reflections upon the two letters, which you did me the honor of showing to me yesterday and the day before, I could not forget that they produced a degree of delicacy to myself. The authors of them are of the number of my friends; and one is closely connected with me by other considerations. However, I did not rest long upon any idea of this kind; being persuaded, that, after my declaration of the most absolute and unequivocal ignorance of what was meditated, and of what was done, you would not for a moment believe, that I had resorted to those expedients for conveying to you sentiments, which I was unwilling to deliver to you in person. This never has been, and never can be a resource of mine; although I have no doubt, that both parties have more or less endeavoured to forward their views, by occasionally, and as it would seem without concert, making communications of the supposed opinion of the public.

I cannot learn that any body has undertaken to say, that you had determined to nominate any particular gentleman. At any rate, nothing has fallen from me except the conversation, which you permitted me to hold upon the affair ; and in which the individual was spoken of only as a character which stood forward.

“ The first of the two letters appears to be settled ; that is, it has been so considered and explained, as to prove that the writer is not (and I affirm it) inferior to any man in the United States in attachment to yourself.

“The letter of the second gentleman creates the difficulty; and these seem to be the leading ideas.

“Is no person to write to the executive upon public subjects, but an acquaintance? The answer will immediately be, that the President will receive information from every quarter.

“Is the President to answer these letters ? Undoubtedly not, for reasons too obvious to need an enumeration.

“ Is there any line to be drawn between matter proper and improper for such communications ? They may speak of facts, or of public opinion ; but they ought to be disregarded, if they go beyond these.


“But what kind of attention is to be paid to these facts, and this public opinion ? An inquiry into both.

“Suppose charges are brought against public officers, and the writers offer themselves as witnesses. I presume they will be heard, and called upon to produce proofs, if the character of the informer be not such as to render it disgraceful to listen to him.

“Suppose a particular appointment be apprehended, and a stranger shall arraign it, without making charges against the per

The letter ought to be treated with silent contempt, unless an occasion should arise for expressing a particular disapprobation.

“This is a course of thinking for cases in general. But that of a senator has other aspects.

“If I were to examine the question upon abstract principles, I should say, that no senator ought to recommend or oppose a candidate by any representations, except of fact, made beforehand to the President; for he will have his vote upon the nomination; and to recommend is to promise to support, and to oppose is a declaration to thwart the nomination; neither of which is exempt from indecorum.

“ The letter of Colonel Monroe does not relate to fact, as far as I can discover from its language. But he shows that he wishes an interview, and an interview for the purpose of communicating facts would, I suppose, be admissible. How is it to be brought about? The mode ought to be well considered. To refuse to receive information would be food for clamor; to admit the offers to give it, without restrictions and in full latitude, hazards the independence of the executive. The following, therefore, is the best style of proceeding which occurs to me.

“. That the Secretary of State inform Colonel Monroe verbally, that his station entitles his communications to attention ; that it is presumed, that he has considered and made up his mind as to the kind of interference, which a senator ought to make in a nomination beforehand; that upon this idea the President will be ready to afford an interview at a given time.'

“It may be added in the course of conversation as the opinion of the Secretary, that facts are the principal things to be consulted. Should he place his advances upon the ground of private friendship or regard, then I think that he may be told, that any letter going upon this ground ought to be worded in such a manner, as demonstrably to show that he intended it in that and no other light.

“I have the honor to be, Sir, with the most respectful ana sincere attachment, &c.

“ EDMUND RANDOLPA." The President, it seems, did not accord in opinion with the Secretary of State as to the mode of proceeding. He declined a personal interview, and wrote a letter to Mr. Monroe (which is contained in the text), saying that he was always ready to receive information, and requesting that whatever Mr. Monroe had to communicate might be sent in writing.

No. XXIII. p.




Richmond, 17 August, 1794. MY DEAR SIR, Your late orders for a detachment of militia, and your proclamation, give birth to a variety of sensations and opinions. All good citizens deplore the events, which have produced this conduct on your part, and feel but one determination to maintain inviolate our happy government at the risk of their lives and fortunes. There are some among us, from the influence of party spirit and from their own ambitious views, who rejoice in national adversity, and gladden when they hear of governmental embarrassments. I am gratified in telling you, that the great body of this State will exert themselves in whatever way you may direct, to the utmost of their power; and I am persuaded that you may count with certainty on their zeal and determination. The awful occasion demands united efforts, and I beg leave to offer to you my services in any way or station you may deem them proper.

When I saw you in Philadelphia, I had many conversations with you respecting Mr. Henry, and since my return I have talked very freely and confidentially with that gentleman. I plainly perceive, that he has credited some information, which he has received (from whom I know not), which induces him to believe that you consider him a factious, seditious character, and that you expressed yourself to this effect on your return from South Carolina, in your journey through this State, as well as elsewhere. Assured in my own mind, that his opinions are groundless, I have uniformly combated them, and lament that my endeavours have been unavailing. He seems to be deeply and sorely affected. It is very much to be regretted; for he is a man of positive virtue as well as of transcendent talents; and, were it not for his feelings above expressed, I verily believe he would be found among the most active supporters of your administration. Excuse me for mentioning this matter to you. I have long wished to do it, in the hope that it will lead to a refutation of the sentiments entertained by Mr. Henry.

A very respectable gentleman told me the other day, that he was at Mr. Jefferson's, and, among inquiries which he made of that gentleman, he asked, if it were possible that you had attached yourself to Great Britain, and if it could be true that you were governed by British influence, as was reported by many. He was answered in the following words; “ That there was no danger of your being biassed by considerations of that sort, so long as you were influenced by the wise advisers, or advice, which you at present had.” I requested him to reflect, and reconsider, and to repeat again the answer. He did so, and adhered to every word. Now, as the conversation astonished me, and is inexplicable to my mind, as well as derogatory to your character, I consider it would be unworthy in me to withhold the communication from you. To no other person will it ever be made. Wishing you every happiness, I am yours, &c.



Alexandria, 17 July, 1795. MY DEAR SIR, It was a long time before I had an opportunity of making known to Mr. Henry the purport of that part of your letter to me, which concerns him. But very lately have I received his reply, which I beg leave to enclose for your perusal.

I am very confident that Mr. Henry possesses the highest and truest regard for you, and that he continues friendly to the general government, notwithstanding the unwearied efforts applied for the end of uniting him to the opposition; and I must think he would be an important official acquisition to the government.

· I hear you will be at home in the course of next week, and would with great pleasure wait and see you, if I could possibly

Before your return I certainly will do myself that honor. VOL. X.


do so.

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