Untitled Document

The Founding Trio: Washington, Hamilton and Jefferson

Table of Contents

George Washington
Hamilton and Washington
Jefferson and Washington
Jefferson, Hamilton and the Cabinet
The Debt and Assumption
The Capital Dinner Deal
Bank of the United States
William Duer and Charges of Corruption
Giles Resolutions
Foreign Policy Disputes
American Neutrality and Citizen Genêt
Press Battles
Reelection in 1792 and Attempted Rapprochement
Retirements of Jefferson and Hamilton
Philip Mazzei Letter

George Washington

Ever the realist, George Washington did not seek the burdens of the Presidency. Indeed in 1789, Washington was very reluctant to accept the popular expectation that he would be the country’s first president. “I have no wish which aspires beyond the humble and happy lot of living and dying a private citizen on my own farm.”1 Washington wrote: “I clearly foresaw the endless jealousies, and, possibly, the fatal consequences, to which a government, depending altogether on the good will of the people for its establishment, would certainly be exposed in its early stages. Besides, I thought, whatever the effect might be in pleasing or displeasing any individuals at the present moment, a due concern for my own reputation not less decisively than a sacred regard to the interests of the Community, required that I should hold myself absolutely at liberty to act, while in office, with a sole reference to justice and the public good. It is true, in such a fallible state of existence and from the want of a competent knowledge of character I may err; but my errors in my nominations shall be such as result from the head – and not from the heart.”2

Commemorating Washington’s life after his death in December 1799, Massachusetts Congressman Fisher Ames spoke of Washington as one of "that small number" of men "who were no less distinguished for the elevation of their virtues than the luster of their talents...who were born, and who acted through life as if they were born, not for themselves, but for their country and the whole human race." Echoing the young officers who served with Washington in his youth, Ames said that, even as a young man, Washington had "acquired a maturity of judgment, rare in age, unparalleled in youth. Perhaps no young man had so early laid up a life’s stock of materials for solid reflection, or settled so soon the principles and habits of his conduct"3 Writing of Washington during the first year of his administration, Abigail Adams wrote that President Washington “has so happy a faculty of appearing to accommodate & yet carrying his point, that if he was not really one of the best intentioned men in the world he might be a very dangerous one. He is polite with dignity, affable without familiarity, distant without Haughtiness, Grave without Austerity, Modest, Wise & Good. These are traits in his Character which peculiarly fit him for the exalted station he holds, and God Grant that he may Hold it with the same applause & universal satisfaction for many many years, as it is my firm opinion that no other man could rule over this great people & consolidate them into one mighty Empire but He who is set over us.”4

Washington’s reluctance to accept the office of president was overcome by his sense of duty and an understanding that the office of president had been created with him in mind “Only his virtuous concern for the welfare of the nation he had done so much to create overcame his reluctance ‘to quit a peaceful abode for an Ocean of difficulties’ and risk the ‘good name of my own on this voyage.’ People like his friend Henry Knox appreciated his unwillingness to enter the political arena,” wrote historian Gordon S. Wood. “‘Secure as he was in his fame,’ wrote [Henry] Knox with some awe, ‘he has again committed it to the mercy of events. Nothing but the critical situation of his country would have induced him to so hazardous a conduct.”5 Washington received notification of his election from John Langdon, president pro tempore of the Senate of his election as president on April 14. Two days later, he left Virginia for New York, arriving on April 23. On April 30, Washington was inaugurated. Washington had been working on a suitable inaugural speech for some time. In a discarded draft of his inaugural, Washington wrote of his future co-workers: “In all our appointments of persons to fill domestic and foreign offices, let us be careful to select only such as are distinguished for morals and abilities. Some attention should likewise be paid, when ever the circumstances will conveniently admit, to the distribution of Offices among persons, belonging to the different parts of the Union. But my knowledge of the characters of persons, through an extent of fifteen hundred miles, must be so imperfect as to make me liable to fall into mistakes: which, in fact, can only be avoided by the disinterested aid of my coadjutors. I forbear to enlarge on the delicacy there certainly will be, in discharging this part of our trust with fidelity, and without giving occasion for uneasiness. It appears to me, that it would be a favorable circumstance, if the characters of Candidates could be known, without their having a pretext for coming forward themselves with personal applications. We should seek to find the Men who are best qualified to fill offices: but never give our consent to the creation of Offices to accommodate men.”6

In his actual Inaugural Address at Federal Hall on April 30, Washington ommited those guidelines. Instead, he began: “Among the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years—a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions all I dare aver is that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be affected. All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.”7

Washington would have been even more reluctant to lead the country had he understood the running quarrel between the secretary of the Treasury and the secretary of State that he would be expected to umpire and on which he would eventually take sides. Washington wanted to set a good example by appointing the best people to his administration – so it was natural that Washington (57) would choose two of the most talented young Americans he knew – Alexander Hamilton (32) and Thomas Jefferson (46) to serve with him. Historian Forrest McDonald wrote of Washington: “In the crucial business of making appointments, several things worked in his favor. He was a good judge of character, and the range of his acquaintances was wide, and the same was true of his principal advisers. The pool of available talent was large, for veritable hordes offered their services, and the revolutionary generation of Americans produced an astonishing number of gifted and public-spirited men.”8 In military and civil affairs, Washington preferred coopting to confrontation. He preferred coordination to conflict, but he put into his cabinet two men who were destined to differ and dispute. Historian Glenn Phelps asked: “Why then was Jefferson so heavily lobbied by Washington for inclusion in the first cabinet? In part he was responding to the entreaties of [James] Madison who was close to both men. However, a strategy of cooptation provides an equally plausible explanation. Jefferson already had a substantial personal following, especially in the southern states.”9 In such a small cabinet, the potential for administrative overlap was great. Historian Jay Winik wrote: “Since there were only three departments, each secretary wielded considerable power; they were the government. Moreover, Washington’s cabinet members lacked clearly delineated lines of authority and often worked at cross purposes, frequently interfering with one another’s tasks.”10 Hamilton and Jefferson fought in two primary arenas – economic and diplomatic – but the two areas were related and the differences were exacerbated by the attempts of each to intervene in the primary sphere of the other.

More than any other figure in America, Washington had real experience with his country. He had traveled and experienced it firsthand. He had not served abroad like John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay or Thomas Jefferson, but he had experience in dealing with British and French officials before and during the American Revolution. Unlike colleagues like George Mason and James Madison who found refuge in books and study, Washington had made his mark on the battlefield and councils of war. Historian Harold W. Bradley wrote: “The practical figure of the first President seems curiously remote from the realm of abstract ideas. Washington, however, appears to have fancied himself as something of an amateur philosopher – at least in the field of political thought. His private correspondence is filled with allusions to the delights of the philosophically minded – a category in which obviously he included himself. Perhaps a better to clue to his self-analysis is his description of himself, in a letter to Lafayette, as ‘a Philanthropist by character, and...a Citizen of the great republic of humanity at large.’”11 Washington combined a broad perspective with a deep prudence.

From his years as a military officer, Washington understood how to reflect and how to make decisions. John Marshall argued in his biography of President Washington: "The judgment of the president was never hastily formed, but, once made up, it was seldom to be shaken."12 Historian Ron Chernow wrote: “If Washington lacked the first-rate intellect of Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and Adams, he was gifted with superb judgment. When presented with options, he almost invariably chose the right one.”13 Still, being a nation’s chief executive was a new and untested experience. Historian Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., noted that Washington “regarded the department heads as his assistants, not as independent ministers, in administering the laws, and from the outset he made it clear that he was in charge of his administration and expected that all policy matters be presented to him for approval.”14 Historian Nathan Schachner wrote: “He usually called on all the members of his cabinet for their opinions on moot questions. Hamilton was quick to avail himself of this privilege and, though refusing to accept interference in the running of his own department, the Treasury, from the other members of the cabinet, inserted himself wherever possible in their affairs. Especially in the field of foreign affairs was he active. Jefferson resented this from the beginning, and his resentment grew with the years.”15

Lacking sons of his own, Washington liked his official family (in both war and peace) to function smoothly. “Trusting that the government was a kind of neutral umpire in national affairs, Washington was puzzled that men he knew to be completely devoted to the republic could be so ideologically divided,” wrote Jefferson scholar Susan Dunn. “He was equally mystified by the absence of tolerance and civility. Washington himself had always shown respect for the opinions of others. Should he ‘set up [his] judgment as the standard of perfection’ he had written in his draft notes for his first inaugural speech. ‘And shall I arrogantly pronounced that whosoever differs from me must discern the subject through a distorting medium, or be influenced by some nefarious design?’ Only through ‘good dispositions and mutual allowances’ was effective government possible. ‘Suspicions unfounded, jealousies too lively’ would produce only evil.”16 Washington was a man who nurtured relationships. All his life, Washington, wrote historian Peter R. Henriques, Washington had “sought mentors, among them William Fairfax, George Mason, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton, although it should be noted that he was always willing to discard them as well.”17 After neighbor George Mason, for example, opposed ratification of the Constitution, he was cut off from Washington’s inner circle. Hamilton was different. Historian John Ferling wrote: “Washington had a habit of turning to Hamilton when he required assistance, and he sought out the young New Yorker – a man thought to have a keen grasp of fiscal matters – to map the fledgling nation’s economic course.”18

Although Jefferson was a fellow Virginian, he and Washington had limited contact prior to 1790. When Jefferson served in the Continental Congress, Washington had already departed to serve as commander of the Continental Army. In the summer of 1776, Jefferson returned home to work in the Virginia legislature. He remained in Virginia where he was elected governor in 1779. When Jefferson left the Virginia governorship in 1781 (several months before the conclusive battle of Yorktown), General Washington wrote him “to express the obligations I am under for the readiness and zeal with which you have always forwarded and supported every measure which I have had occasion to recommend you, and to assure you that I shall esteem myself honored by a continuation of your friendship and correspondence, should your country permit you to remain in a private walk of life.”19 In the 1780s, Washington particularly appreciated Jefferson’s support for his pet project – extending American’s navigable waters to the Appalachians via the Potomac River. However, Jefferson was in Paris and Washington in Virginia so there no chance for personal intimacy. Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson had very different styles as well as very different temperaments – and very different ideologies. They were born to differ. Historian Bowers wrote: “The soft-spoken, mild, and courteous Jefferson, who preferred the ways of conciliation and persuasion, observed the dictatorial airs of his masterful young associate with a surprise that hardened to distaste” in the Washington Administration.20 Historian Louis Hacker wrote: “Hamilton and Jefferson had met briefly in 1783, when both were in Philadelphia sitting in the Continental Congress; and then, the year following, Jefferson had gone to France where he had represented the United States until 1790.”21 Jefferson’s diplomatic service separated him not from Washington but also from American politics and the deteriorating American economy. Historian James Thomas Flexner wrote: “The rivalry that was to arise between them was not only doctrinal and for political power. They competed for the admiration and countenance of Washington. Jefferson’s father had died when he was a child; Hamilton’s father was a ne’er-do-well who had soon drifted away. Both younger men found in the President a substitute father, whom neither was willing, as they came to hate each other, to share.”22 Hamilton however had the advantages. He had worked with Washington for years in the Revolution. Hamilton worked with Washington for five months in 1789 before Jefferson arrived in New York.

Both Jefferson and Hamilton were brilliant. Historian Roger G. Kennedy wrote that Jefferson “possessed the most vigorous intellect among the leaders of his country and had furnished it with encyclopedic knowledge of cultures as ancient as the Medes and Persians, and as exotic as the Incas and Chinese.”23 Historian E. M. Halliday wrote that Jefferson’s “brilliant conversation so dazzled Yale’s distinguished president Ezra Stiles that a year or so later the college honored him in absentia with the degree of doctor of laws.”24 Both Jefferson and Hamilton treated Washington with a certain intellectual condescension. But Hamilton shared with Washington a vision for the country’s growth and development. Historian Edmund S. Morgan observed: “Although Washington was closer to Hamilton than to Jefferson neither of the two men fully grasped the sophistication of their chief’s policy for the nation.”25 Historian Richard Norton Smith wrote: “Had the secretary of state been more open to Washington’s signals, he might have used them to political advantage. At the least, the two men could have enjoyed the unspoken camaraderie that comes from shared enmities. But Jefferson’s hostility toward King George was mild compared with his feelings about the Caribbean upstart who sat across from him at the Cabinet table. Jefferson readily believed a secondhand report that his antagonist was preparing a place of asylum in Britain as a retreat from the pending triumph of republicanism at home. Hamilton, no less inclined to credit the worst about his nemesis and fearing that enemies were on to the scent of his affair with Maria Reynolds, threatened to expose Jefferson’s youthful attempt to throw himself upon the wife of his best friend, until recently a United States senator from Virginia.”26

But in Washington cabinet’s, their brilliance burnt and pained each other. They engaged for a battle for the primacy of their ideas and the primacy of their policies. Jefferson saw himself as the guardian of the principles of the American Revolution. John C. Miller observed that “the conflict between Hamilton and Jefferson was not wholly based upon principle, nor was it always kept upon the lofty plane of ideological differences. The two secretaries were engaged in a struggled for power; and the question who would be the heir apparent of President Washington was never far removed from the forefront of their consciousness.”27 Historian Joyce Appleby wrote: "The aristocratic tone of Washington's administration might have remained just a worrisome tendency to Jefferson had not the fiscal policies of the treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton, given substance to his fears that the new government was intentionally blunting the reforming thrust of the American Revolution."28

In an era where gossip reigned unchecked in political circles, both Hamilton and Jefferson were willing to believe the worst about each other. Historian John C. Miller wrote: “Both men, being absolutely certain that they were right, were prone to regard criticism as evidence of malice as well as of wrong thinking. As a result, they were into battle exposed to the shafts of their adversaries and they rent the air with cries of anguish when the iron went home. “I find the pain of a little censure, even when it is unfounded,’ said Jefferson, ‘is more acute than the pleasure of much praise.’”29 Jefferson and Hamilton seemed to revel in accusing each other of the basest of motives. Hamilton, however, was drawn to open conflict as much as Jefferson was repelled by active engagement – although he relished coaching from the sidelines and pushing others into combat.

Both played the aggrieved victim whose honor had been grievously wounded by the other. In 1792, Hamilton wrote Washington that he was aware “that I have been the object of uniform opposition from Mr. Jefferson....I have long seen a party formed in the legislature under his auspices bent on my subversion...which, in its consequences would subvert the government.”30 Washington, Hamilton and Jefferson were all touchy about their reputations. Historian Garry Wills wrote that Jefferson was “in love with glory and honor.” Wills wrote: “The ideal of earned public honor was posed to all men of the Enlightenment. Jefferson held honor sacred and arranged for the glorification of American heroes, including himself. He made sure that Houdon and Trumbull would make his features imperishable, along with Franklin’s and Washington’s.”31

Part of the cabinet secretaries’ dilemma was that they were never willing to confine themselves to their own departments. Hamilton was arrived in government first – and he had the far bigger operation. He had been thinking about his job for years and was able to put into practice the theories he had been writing about. “Almost from the outset, Hamilton made Jefferson’s job as secretary of state more difficult,” wrote Jefferson biographer Noble E. Cunningham, Jr. “It is essential to an understanding of Jefferson’s tenure as secretary of state to recognize that the secretary of the treasury was intimately involved in matters of foreign affairs, and Hamilton’s view of what the policy of the United States should be was diametrically opposed to that of the secretary of state, to whom the idea of an alliance with England suggested not the opportunity for peaceful growth that Hamilton envisioned but renewed subjugation to a former master.”32 Jefferson also determined to make Hamilton’s job as treasury secretary more difficult. Just as Hamilton interfered in foreign relations, Jefferson acted to undermine Hamilton’s financial authority.

In Federalist No. 70, Alexander Hamilton had written: “The ingredients which constitute energy in the executive are unity; duration; an adequate provision for its support; and competent powers.”33 Hamilton’s belief in a strong executive had led to a wide and growing breach between the two members of George Washington’s first cabinet. As Treasury Secretary, Hamilton again used his pen to fill newspaper columns. Historian John C. Miller wrote: “Under the most disarming of pseudonyms, Hamilton laid down the principle that the Executive clause of the Constitution was a general grant of power which took precedence over the subsequent enumeration of the powers of the President. According to this interpretation, the enumeration simply specified the principal items implied in the larger grant of Executive power. Thus, in effect, the President enjoyed all Executive power not denied him by the Constitution; the provision of the Constitution which made the President the organ of communication with other governments was expanded into a creative control of foreign policy.”34

Because as Miller noted, Hamilton “conducted himself more like a prime minister than as a mere head of a department,” Jefferson was bound to take offense.35 Hamilton wrote volumes and spoke volumes. He did not shirk from battle – either physical or political. Jefferson liked battles in theory, but he was much more reticent in practice. He preferred to wage battles from the shadows. Indeed, he shadowboxed with the demon of monarchy – which he saw lurking behind every Federalist tree. Hamilton lacked Jefferson’s faith in the people – perhaps because he had experienced much more contact with a wide range of Americans. Historian Richard Norton Smith wrote: “As Jefferson’s temperamental and philosophical opposite, Hamilton loved the American union more than the people inhabiting it.36

The differences between them were partly philosophical. Jefferson alleged that Hamilton declared that corruption was indispensable to a working government. In 1802 Jefferson denounced the lingering impact of Hamilton’s system: “When this government was first established, it was possible to have kept it going on true principles, but the contracted, English, half-lettered ideas of Hamilton destroyed that hope in the bud. We can pay off his debt in 15. years; but we can never get rid of his financial system. It mortifies me to be strengthening principles which I deem radically vicious, but this vice is entailed on us by the first error.”37

Hamilton and Washington

A fellow Continental Army officer if Alexander Hamilton recalled: “I well remember the day when Hamilton’s company marched into Princeton [in 1776]. It was a model of discipline; at their head was a boy and I wondered at his youth; but what was my surprise, when struck with his diminutive figure, he was pointed out to me as that Hamilton of whom we had already heard so much.”38 Historian Ron Chernow wrote: “The twenty-one-year-old captain became a popular leader known for sharing hardships with his gunners and bombardiers.”39 Hamilton friend James Kent, the distinguished jurist who served as chancellor of New York State, wrote: “Colonel Hamilton was indisputably pre-eminent [as a lawyer]. This was universally conceded. He rose at once to the loftiest heights of professional eminence by his profound penetration, his power of analysis, the comprehensive grasp and strength of his understanding, and the firmness, frankness, and integrity of his character.”40 John Quincy Adams, whose parents were fervent critics of Hamilton, said that he “had within him to a great degree that which subdues the minds of other men, perhaps the first of all qualities for the commander of an army.”41

Not everyone admired Hamilton. Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Hamilton was, indeed, a singular character. Of acute understanding, disinterested, honest, and honorable in all private transactions, amiable in society, and duly valuing virtue in private life – yet so bewitched and perverted by the British example – as to be under thorough conviction that corruption was essential to the government of a nation.”42 William Pierce, a fellow delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, wrote: “Colo. Hamilton is deservedly celebrated for his talents. He is a practitioner of the Law, and reputed to be a finished Scholar. To a clear and strong judgment he unites the ornaments of fancy, and whilst he is able, convincing, and engaging in his eloquence the Heart and Head sympathize in approving him. Yet there is something too feeble in his voice to be equal to the strains of oratory,— it is my opinion that he is rather a convincing Speaker, than a blazing Orator. Colo. Hamilton requires time to think—he enquires into every part of his subject with the searchings of philosophy, and when he comes forward he comes highly charged with interesting matter, there is no skimming over the surface of a subject with him, he must sink to the bottom to see what foundation it rests on.—His language is not always equal, sometimes didactic like Bolingbroke’s at others light and tripping like Stern’s. His eloquence is not so defusive as to trifle with the senses, but he rambles just enough to strike and keep up the attention. He is about 33 years old, of small stature, and lean. His manners are tinctured with stiffness, and sometimes with a degree of vanity that is highly disagreeable.”43

The French understood that Hamilton, who was fluent in French, did like their government. One French diplomat reported home in 1788 about Hamilton: "Great Orator, intrepid in public debates. Zealous and even exasperated partisan of the new Constitution and declared enemy of Governor Clinton, whom he had the courage to publicly attack in the Gazettes, without any provocation. He is one of these rare men who distinguishes himself equally on the battlefield and at the bar. He owes all to his talents....He has too many pretensions and too little prudence....His eloquence is often out of season in public debates, where one prefers precision and clarity to a brilliant imagination."44 Pennsylvania Senator William Maclay wrote of the Treasury Secretary at the beginning of the Washington administration: “Hamilton has a very boyish, giddy manner, and Scotch-Irish people could well call him a 'skite.'"45 John Adams grew to detest Hamilton, clashed with him when Hamilton became the function head of the American Army in 1798 and again in the 1800 presidential election. Adams wrote after Hamilton’s death: “Hamilton’s talents have been great exaggerated. His knowledge of the great subjects of coin and commerce and their intimate connections with all departments of eery government, especially such as are so elective as ours, was very superficial and imperfect.”46 Two years later, Adams wrote again to Dr. Benjamin Rush: “Hamilton had great disadvantages. His origin was infamous; his place of birth and education were foreign countries; his fortune was poverty itself; the profligacy of his life – his fornications, adulteries, and his incests – were propagated far and wide. Nevertheless, he [flaunted] disinterestedness as boldly as Washington. His myrmidons asserted it with as little shame, thought not a man of them believed it. All the rest of the world ridiculed and despised the pretext. He had not, therefore, the same success. Yet he found means to fascinate some and intimidate others. You and I know him also to have been an intriguer.” A few years later, Adams’ animosity was unabated: “The Truth is, that Hamilton’s soul was corroded by that mordant sublimated Spirit of Ambition, that subjugates every Thing to its own Interest; and considers every Man of superior Age and merit, or who had the reputation of superior merit, as its Enemy.”47 When in 1787-88 Hamilton defended the Constitution, however, he drew admirers such as Samuel Blachley Webb, who watched Hamilton speak at the New York State ratification convention in June 1788: “We have been entertained for upwards of two hours this morning by Colonel Hamilton in one of the most elegant speeches I ever heard. He is indeed one of the most remarkable genius’s of the Age, his Political knowledge exceeds, I believe, any Man in our Country, and his Oratorial abilities has pleased his friends and surprised his Enemies.”48 His Federalist essays drew wide praise and admiration, if not always agreement.

For two decades, Hamilton’s greatest admirer may been George Washington. Hamilton biographer Willard Sterne Randall wrote: “Washington need[ed] an aide with good connections in New York. In January 1777, he invited Hamilton to join his headquarters staff. The appointment carried a promotion from captain to lieutenant colonel. While Hamilton had earlier turned down two appointments as aide-de-camp, this time he did not hesitate. Because he knew what to expect, he would not give up his battle commission to be an aide to anyone less than the commander-in-chief. He had the imagination to see that he would be at the center of a great and dramatic struggle. As he made himself a central figure in planning and executing campaigns, he would also make himself invaluable both as Washington’s assistant and, in designated areas, as his proxy...”49 John C. Miller noted: “”Very early in his relations with Washington, Hamilton learned that the older man could not be bent to any man’s will. As Hamilton said, ‘Washington ‘consulted much, pondered much, resolved slowly, resolved surely.’ But he did not always resolve as Hamilton wished.”50 Hamilton biographer Ron Chernow wrote: “Washington and Hamilton recognized that each had a vital role to play in the war and that this was too important to be threatened by petty annoyances. Despite their often conflicted feelings for each other, Washington remained unwaveringly loyal toward Hamilton, whom he saw as exceptionally able and intelligent, if sometimes errant; one senses a buried affection toward the younger man that he could seldom manifest openly.”51

Hamilton was a romantic warrior – in war and peace. As Hamilton admitted to Henry Knox in March 1799, “my heart has always been the Master of my Judgment.”52 For a man who valued reason, Hamilton could sometimes be surprisingly driven by emotion. Hamilton biographer John C. Miller wrote: “Hamilton too often acted as passion, rather than as reason, dictated. He was too apt to believe that he could overwhelm his enemies with a rhetorical onslaught, forgetting in his anger that it was at least as easy to write himself out of reputation as it was to destroy the good name of his adversary.” Miller observed: “Washington always set great store by the gentlemanly qualities of his officers and he was particularly insistent that his immediate comrades-in-arms – his ‘family’ as he called them – be gentlemen born and bred.” Two of Washington’s closest aides were Hamilton and John Laurens, the son of South Carolina gentry whose father served as president of the Continental Congress. Hamilton was not born a gentleman but he bred himself into one. Miller wrote: “Hamilton and Laurens belonged to a generation of military men that prided itself not upon the hard-boiled avoidance of sentiment but upon the cultivation of the finer feelings. Theirs was the language of the heart, noble, exalted and feelings.”53 Hamilton biographer Willard Sterne Randall wrote: “Hamilton, the impecunious abandoned son, Washington the patriarch without a son, had begun a symbiotic relationship that, except for a few months of misunderstanding, would endure for nearly a quarter century, years corresponding to the birth, adolescence, and coming to maturity of the United States.”54

Over two decades of association, Hamilton’s opinions of Washington were mixed. Hamilton “had no high opinion of Washington’s ability as a general and he had begun to feel something akin to dislike for this slow and methodical country gentleman who insisted upon consulting his general officers before undertaking an important action,” wrote biographer John C. Miller.55 The two men argued at Washington’s headquarters on February 16, 1781. As Hamilton wrote: “Two days ago the General and I passed each other on the stairs. He told me he wanted to speak to me. I answered that I would wait upon him immediately. I went below, and delivered Mr. Tilghman a letter to be sent to the Commissary, containing an order of a pressing and interesting nature. Returning to the General, I was stopped on the way by the Marquis de Lafayette, and we conversed together for about a minute on a matter of business. He can testify how impatient I was to get back, and that I left him in a manner, which, but for an intimacy, would have been more than abrupt. Instead of finding the General, as is usual, in his room, I met him at the head of the stairs, where, accosting me in an angry tone, "Colonel Hamilton," said he, "you have kept me waiting at the head of the stairs these ten minutes. I must tell you, Sir, you treat me with disrespect." I replied without petulancy, but with decision, "I am not conscious of it, Sir; but since you have thought it necessary to tell me so, we part." "Very well, Sir," said he, "if it be your choice," or something to this effect, and we separated. I sincerely believe my absence, which gave so much umbrage, did not last two minutes.”56

Biographer John C. Miller wrote that ”it flattered Hamilton’s ego to suppose that Washington’s apparent eagerness to smooth over the quarrel was owing to his realization that Hamilton was indispensable at headquarters. Pride and vanity could hardly have led Hamilton into a more egregious error.”57 Two days after the incident, Hamilton wrote his future father-in-law: “For three years past, I have felt no friendship for him and have professed none. The truth is our own dispositions are the opposites of each other and the pride of my temper would not suffer me to profess what I did not feel Indeed when advances of this kind [have been made] to me on his part, they were rec[eived in a manner] that showed at least I have no inclination [to court them, and that] I wished to stand rather upon a footing of m[ilitary confidence than] of private attachment. You are too good a judge of human nature not to be sensible how this conduct in me must have operated on a man to whom all the world is offering incense.”58 Washington did admire Hamilton. Historian John Ferling wrote: “Washington was enamored of Hamilton’s dazzling intellect, and he may never have met anyone who combined such extraordinary intelligence with almost superhuman industry and vigor. There was another side to Hamilton, which Washington either overlooked or thought useful. Not a few saw Hamilton as ruthless and dangerous. In time, Jefferson would refer to him as ‘our Buonaparte,’ and Abigail Adams called him ‘a second Buonaparty.’ The first lady, who had been in the company of innumerable powerful men in America and Europe, warned her husband about Hamilton: ‘O I have read his Heart in his wicked eyes many a time, the very devil is in them.’”59 In early 1783 as the war sputtered to a close, Hamilton promoted discontent among officers of the Continental Army and then promoted Washington’s intervention. Washington gave one of his most masterful dramatic performances in putting down the rebellion and rekindling the loyalty of his officer corps.

As a young officer, Hamilton was a romantic – on and off the battlefield. Historian Gordon S. Wood wrote of Washington: “Although the two men had similar realistic assumptions about human nature and shared a common outlook on the future of the United States, it was actually Washington’s sensitive appreciation of his surrogate son’s brilliance together with his careful handling of Hamilton’s extremely high-strung and arrogant nature that ultimately made their very successful collaboration possible.”60
Historian Alf J. Mapp, Jr., wrote of Hamilton: “All his life, he coveted military glory. In the Revolution, he pestered Washington, who found him indispensable at headquarters, until the general in the eleventh hour yielded to his pleas for a field command. This was at Yorktown [in October 1781], and he served with distinction. Though he filled high civil posts, including the office of secretary of the treasury in Washington’s cabinet, he particularly cherished the title of colonel.”61 Still, it was not as a combatant that the martial Hamilton made his primary mark. Historian Claude G. Bowers wrote: “The war was to prove his genius, not as a soldier, but as a writer, and constructive thinker on governmental matters. He was a natural journalist and pamphleteer – one of the fathers of the American editorial. His perspicacity, penetration, powers of condensation, and clarity of expression were those of a premier editorial writer. These same qualities made him a pamphleteer without a peer.”62

Even as he worked to achieve military glory, Hamilton studied national finance. In 1781, hamilton was considered for the position of American superintendent of finance, which eventually was awarded to Pennsylvania financier Robert Morris. In recommendation of Hamilton, Washington wrote in February shortly before their disagreement: “How far Colo. Hamilton, of whom you ask my opinion as a financier, has turned his thoughts to that particular study I am unable to answer because I never entered upon a discussion on this point with him, but this I can venture to advance form a thorough knowledge of him that there are few men to be found of his age who has [sic] a more general knowledge than he possesses, and none whose soul is more firmly engaged in the cause, or who exceeds him in probity and sterling virtue.”63

Less than a decade later, Washington would do the hiring. Historian Ron Chernow wrote: “In Hamilton, Washington found a cabinet secretary of tireless virtuosity who would function as his unofficial prime minister. Taunted as an aspiring upstart by his enemies. Hamilton did not hide his intellectual lights under a bushel. At a time when politicians were supposed to be self-effacing, Hamilton was openly ambitious and, in many respects, the antithesis of his mentor. Where Washington had no compulsion to shine in company, Hamilton, who was charming, urbane and debonair, wanted to be the most brilliant figure in every group, and he usually was.”64 Louis M. Hacker wrote: “Hamilton was always the outsider, perhaps even the arrivist. Hamilton had an understanding of what needed to be done; he was aware of how, to the most minute detail, the program was to be carried out; he was clear and forthright and decisive. Washington was forced to accept Hamilton’s proposals because he had no alternative: for Jefferson knew how to oppose but he did not know how to act. He debated; he hesitated; he temporized.”65

Operationally, Hamilton operated in advance of Washington, but as historian John Ferling observed, “Washington shared Hamilton’s dreams. As a businessman who had struggled unsuccessfully with the Potomac canal and Dismal Swamp projects – owing to a shortage of capital, he believed – Washington welcomed the advent of finance capitalism, which is what Hamilton was seeking to hatch. As a frontier land speculator, Washington saw the growth of national power that Hamilton promised as essential for the rapid pacification of the West.”66
Historian Richard Norton Smith wrote: “Hamilton was the president’s natural partner, for he, too, envisioned the best government as that which harnessed primitive drives to society’s advantage.”67 Historian Woodrow Wilson wrote of George Washington: “No man stood closer to him in his purpose to strengthen and give prestige to the government than Hamilton; and no man was able to discover the means with a surer genius. Hamilton knew who the well-wishers of the new government were, whence its strength was to be drawn, what it must do to approve itself great and permanent, with an insight and thoroughness Washington himself could not match; for Hamilton knew Washington and the seats of his strength in the country as that self-forgetful man himself could not. He knew that it was the commercial classes of the country – such men as he had himself dwelt amongst at the great port at New York – who were bound by self-interest to the new government, which promised them a single policy in trade, in the stead of policies a half-score; and that the men who were standing to its support out of a reasoned prudence, out of a high-minded desire to secure good government and a place fo consideration for their country amongst the nations of the world, were individuals merely, to be found only in small groups here and there, where a special light shone in some minds. He knew that Washington was loved most for his national character and purpose amongst the observant middle classes of substantial people in the richer counties of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and New England, while his neighbors in the South loved him with an individual affection only, and rather as their hero than as their leader in affairs.”68

Washington had not closely studied the political systems of Europe. Jefferson and Hamilton had. “Hamilton preferred an executive branch modeled after that of Great Britain, where the ministers (including heads of departments), acting in the name of the Crown, in fact constituted ‘the Government.’ Such a ministry would not only implement policy, as defined by Congress, but would initiate policy as well, both by exercising an independent administrative power and by drafting legislation and guiding it through Congress. Hamilton’s position ran counter to the ideas of both Washington and Madison, and decisions made before Hamilton took office prevented him from fully implementing his ideas,” wrote historian Forrest McDonald. “The view that prevailed was Washington’s own, that executive authority was solely the president’s, that the Senate had no share in it beyond that of approving or rejecting his appointments and treaties, and that department heads were responsible directly to him.”69 Historian John Ferling wrote: “Hamilton knew that the Treasury Department would be the cockpit of the new national government. The decisions made in that department would determine much about the shape of America, the lives of Americans, and the nature of American politics. By holding the post, moreover, Hamilton would be catapulted to the top rung of power in New York City, which was dominated by financial and mercantile interests. He also expected to have a free hand at Treasury. Washington was not an economist. He had, in fact, recently confessed that he was ‘so little conversent in publick securities of every kind as not to know the use or value of them, and hardly the different of one species from another.”70

Hamilton, however, had a talent for making both friends and enemies. He did not suffer fools gladly. Nor did he suffer opponents with gladitorial response. Indeed, Hamilton had had a formidable talent for making political enemies – which meant that he had difficulty assembling the coalitions necessary to push his programs to implementation in Congress. For example, when Hamilton opposed George Clinton for reelection as governor of New York in 1789, he gained a permanent and powerful enemy in his home state. Hamilton had criticized Clinton as showing “a stronger attachment to his own power, influence and advantage than to the dignity, respectability and prosperity of the people.”71 Clinton would eventually become a Jefferson ally. Hamilton had trouble getting along even with fellow Federalists. Historian David Hackett Fischer noted: “In the considered opinion of a close friend, Gouverneur Morris, Hamilton’s lack of rapport with other Federalists was owing to his origins. ‘From his situation in early life,’ Morris observed, ‘it is not be expected that he should have a fellow-feeling with those who idly supposed themselves to be the natural aristocracy of this country.’”72 On the other hand, Hamilton could attract respect and affection. Hamilton “commanded affection because he was himself affectionate,” according to historian Claude G. Bowers. “His letters to his wife were uniformly tender and playful. He was idolized by his children. His comrades in the army loved him because he not only shared their hardships, but at time helped them to necessities out of his own all but empty pockets.”73

The urban Hamilton and rural Jefferson were fated to come into conflict. “Alexander Hamilton prepared America for an imperial future of wealth and power, mechanized beyond the handicraft stage of his day, and amply provided with credit to that end,” wrote financial historian Bray Hammond. “Thomas Jefferson represented the yeomanry and designed for America a future of competence and simplicity, agrarian, and without the enticing subtleties of credit. Writing in Paris in 1785 to a correspondent in the Netherlands, he said that were he to indulge his own theory, he would wish the United States ‘to practice neither commerce nor navigation but to stand, with respect to Europe, precisely on the footing of China.’”74

Jefferson and Washington

“Jefferson is a slender man,” wrote Pennsylvania Senator William Maclay. “Has rather the air of stiffness in his manner. His clothes seem too small for him. He sits in a lounging manner on one hip commonly and with one of his shoulders elevated much above the other. His face has a scrawny aspect. His whole figure has a loose, shackling air. He had a rambling vacant look and nothing of that firm collected deportment which I expected would dignify the presence of a secretary or a minister. I looked for gravity, but a laxity of manner seemed shed about him. He spoke almost without ceasing, but even his discourse partook of his personal demeanor. It was loose and rambling and yet he scattered information wherever he went, and some even brilliant sentiments sparkled from him.”75 Dr. Benjamin Rush observed: “The whole of Mr. Jefferson’s conversation on all subjects is instructing. He is wise without formality, and maintains a consequence without pomp or distance.”76 Historian Edward Channing described President Jefferson as “tall – six feet, two inches and a half in height – with a red freckled face and a loose, shackling air. He appeared to an English observer to resemble a large-boned farmer rather than the chief magistrate of a great nation. In manner he was shy and stiff, and sat cornerwise on his chair, with one shoulder elevated high above the other.”77

Jefferson admitted that he was a sensitive soul, writing to Abigail Adams in 1785: “I do not love difficulties. I am fond of quiet, willing to do my duty, but irritable by slander and apt to be forced by it to abandon my post.”78 But Jefferson was also an ambitious one. Historian John Ferling wrote that Jefferson “was ambitious and enjoyed standing out. For Jefferson, a man with a vision every bit as palpable as that of Hamilton, the thought of being the great architect constructing the shape of the new United States had to have been intoxicating.”79 Jefferson’s declared preference to retreat from public life was not convincing. Historian Andrew Burstein wrote: “He deliberately built, researched, and wrote for public consumption. He was results-oriented. As the head of a party, he incurred a certain amount of risk in pursuing the moral collapse of his adversaries to realize his vision of how the world should be. His was not a rash kind of courage, such as that a charging trooper exhibited in battle. Perhaps it is best termed ‘craft.’”80

“The two greatest Virginians of their day were clearly Washington and Jefferson,” wrote Historian Garry Wills. “But no contemporaries thought they had even roughly similar stature. Dazzling as was the galaxy of founders and framers, there was no doubt in their midst who was pre-eminent among them. It was impossible to think there could be another man than Washington at the help of the Constitution Convention or of the first administration. Washington was Cincinnatus, the world hero as famous for his surrender of power as for his achievement of it. He took the lead at each crucial moment, in the war, in the framing and passage of the Constitution, in the governing of the country through its precarious first experiments – without Napoleonic excess, yet without weakness or pettiness.”81 Historian Peter R. Henriques wrote: “Both were born into families that were not quite in the first ranks of Virginia society; both lost their fathers as young boys; both had strained relationships with their mothers; both became romantically involved with the wives of close friends (Jefferson with Betsy Walker); both married wealthy widows named Martha and had unusually happy marriage (although Jefferson’s was cut short by the untimely death marriages (although Jefferson’s was cut short by the untimely death of his wife in 1782); both spent a lifetime working on their respective homes which reflected their personalities; both were compulsive record-keepers; both pined (without great success) for the life of an independent planter; and both detested slavery but nevertheless continued to live with it and off it.”82

Jefferson did not learn of his appointment as secretary of State until after he landed in Norfolk, Virginia in November 1789 after a month-long voyage from France. He arrived to office four months after Hamilton and with far fewer resources. He received a letter from President Washington on December 11. Unlike Hamilton Jefferson was reluctant to accept cabinet office. Jefferson biographer Jon Meacham wrote: "One might think that a man who so hated 'criticisms and censures' would indeed withdraw from the scene of affairs and live out his days relatively safe from conversational and political condemnation. Such a withdrawal, however, would have been unnatural for Jefferson -- a denial of his essential character, a character at once human and heroic. He was both an unflinching political warrior and an easily wounded soul. He always would be."83 Still, noted historian Ron Chernow, “the choice of a Virginian signaled that this was a crusade of unified colonies, not some regional squabble.”84

And yet after more than five years abroad and intimate contact with unrest in France, Jefferson may not have understood the game he was entering in New York. Historian Conor Cruise O’Brien wrote: “Jefferson does not appear to have been informed about Washington’s misgivings about the future of the French Revolution, misgivings the president had never made public. Much more important, Jefferson was certainly not informed about the opening of negotiations, through [Robert] Morris, with the British government for an Anglo-American treaty.”85 Hamilton knew that the knew country needed money and that the principle way to raise it was through tariffs on imports – and that the source of most imports was Britain. Drew McCoy wrote: “Hamilton disputed Jefferson’s assumption that commercial retaliation against England would force quick concessions; in fact, he was sure it would provoke England into a commercial war with the United States, which would disrupt Anglo-American trade and therefore jeopardize the stability of his fragile fiscal system. Moreover, close commercial ties to England were necessary to supply the new nation with the credit and capital that would ignite the kind of economic growth Hamilton envisioned. As Jefferson soon realized, in sum, the secretary’s system was predicated on accommodation of Britain and at least temporary acquiescence of her domination of American commerce.”86

With a network of revenue officers, Hamilton simply outmanned Jefferson. With greedy friends in Congress, Hamilton outmanuevered Jefferson. Noble Cunningham wrote: “When he went to his new office, Jefferson found the entire staff of the State Department consisted of two chief clerks, two assistant clerks, and a translater. His total budget, not including the diplomatic establishment abroad, was less than $8,000, of which $3,500 was his own salary.”87 Jefferson scholar Andrew Burstein wrote: “When he accepted Washington’s offer to serve as secretary of state at the beginning of 1790, Jefferson had convinced himself that he would function as an executive, safely above any factional differences that might exist in the national legislature. Within a short time, however, he perceived a powerful body of elected representatives who had (in his mind) abandoned republican virtues in favor of self-aggrandizement and the establishment of an American aristocratic class.”88

“The new Secretary at once plunged into the work of his department,” wrote historian Merrill D. Peterson. “John Jay, newly appointed Chief Justice of the United States, had stayed on for several months as caretaker of the foreign department, but much business had been put aside for Jefferson’s arrival....The mission of the department in foreign affairs was reasonably clear; most of its other duties, as an unglorified ‘home office,’ had yet to be disclosed by Congress. Just before Jefferson came, it was charged with taking the census, a little later with the granting of patents and copyrights, still later with the supervision of the mint. These, together with the keeping of the seal, publication of the laws, law enforcement through district attorneys, pardons, federal relations with state and territorial governments, made a strange medley of responsibilities no minister could comprehend or, with a staff numbered on one hand, adequately attend to. The trifling ones took care of themselves, the other suffered from neglect, as the Secretary necessarily devoted nine-tenths of his time to foreign affairs.”89

A major difficulty was that Jefferson arrived late to the scene of the country’s new government. Historian Woodrow Wilson wrote that upon his arrival in New York, Jefferson “saw Hamilton supreme in the cabinet and in legislation – not because either the President of Congress was weak, but because Hamilton was a master in his new field, and both Congress and the President had accepted his leadership. It chagrined Jefferson deeply to see that he had himself assisted at Hamilton’s triumph, had himself made it complete, indeed. He could not easily brook successful rivalry in leadership; must have expected to find himself, not Hamilton, preferred in the counsels of a Virginian President; was beyond measure dismayed to see the administration already in the hands, as it seemed, of a man just two months turned of thirty-three.”90

The priorities of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were different – as were their experiences. Historian Peter R. Henriques wrote: “At heart, Washington was a friend of Order and Jefferson a friend of Liberty.”91 Historian Andrew S. Trees wrote: “For Jefferson, the Revolution and even politics were matters of the heart, of pulsations of warm blood rather than rational calculation.”92 Washington experienced French politics during the American Revolution; Jefferson had experienced France in the tumultuous days leading up to the French Revolution. Historian Bernard A. Weisberger wrote: “The salient point is that the first decade of France’s transformation from 1789 to 1799 (when Napoleon took over), precisely coincided with the first ten years of American life under the Constitution. These were the ten years that were the keynote-setting precedent for the 1800 election. It took place precisely when, across the Atlantic, established certainties were falling apart and there was no sense of firm ground under society’s feet. That was why feelings ran so high when the issues of democracy were on the table. Anything was possible, a condition that was potentially exhilarating or frightening. Was the unfolding story in France the sign of a new dawn in human affairs or a hint of approaching anarchy and chaos?”93 Historian Jay Winik wrote that “Although he never lived there, Hamilton knew a thing or two about the French: descended from French Huguenots on his mother’s side, he was fluent in French and had served as Washington’s liaison with Lafayette and other French aristocrats who rallied to the American patriots. Even at the outset, Hamilton had a foreboding about the events rocking Paris, writing about the ‘vehement character’ of the French people and the ‘reveries’ of their utopianism that would spell disaster. As the Revolution hurtled forward, and with it, the carnage, any ambivalence he may have had rapidly dissipated.”94

Jefferson “shared with the other major figures, especially Washington, Adams and Hamilton, the fundamental recognition that the chief task facing the young republic was internal and domestic, stabilizing the freshly created political institutions and consolidating control over the North American continent,” wrote historian Joseph J. Ellis. “This meant steering clear of European conflicts at almost any cost and providing time and space for the emergent American nation to develop its still-nascent potential.”95 Washington shared with Jefferson, however, a vision for raritan transportation. Historian Peter R. Henriques wrote: “Both men were extremely interested in opening up the Potomac River and connecting it to the west. It was magnificent obsession with Washington throughout his adult life, and he was flattered that Jefferson, whom he described as a man ‘of discernment and liberality,’ agreed with his views.”96

Historian Joseph Charles wrote: “Hamilton's plan was incompatible with the continued existence of a representative government, he for some years played little if any part in the creation of a popular national party. From the time when he and Hamilton became open antagonists in the spring of 1792 until he left the Cabinet, Jefferson's influence upon the opposition party seems to have been largely a negative one. He endeavored to persuade Washington that the opposition were not anti-Federalists, disorganizers, and Jacobins, as they were usually called; and there are indications that he tried to get the party to avoid giving grounds for such charges. He wrote to Madison of the contested election between Clinton and Jay for the governorship of New York, at the time when the Republicans were considering supporting the former as Vice-President in1792.”97

Thomas Jefferson was a good talker but a bad public speaker. More important, he had a good disposition in company. He was “one of the most amiable, learned, upright and able men who ever existed, and is much beloved in France for his amiable disposition and much respected for his abilities,” wrote the Marquis de Lafayette.98 Historian Harry Ammon wrote: “Jefferson...had a capacity for friendship – a capacity rare in any day, but all the more unusual in the formal world of the late eighteenth century. Ever sympathetic with the aspirations of his younger contemporaries, Jefferson, who had something of the pedagogue in him, was always eager to aid those who seemed to possess extraordinary talents.”99 Jefferson scholar Andrew Burstein wrote: “Friendship and fraternity propelled Jefferson, enabling him gradually to consolidate personal power. But there was also a boundary to the circle of friends, where a quality of comfort, fellowship, and predictability dissolved, where he drew the line between his ‘neighborhood’ and those who, owing to character flaws he perceived, had to be excluded.”100 Although likable, Jefferson did not always like. Historian Gordon S. Wood wrote that Jefferson “disliked personal controversy and was always charming in face-to-face relations with both friends and enemies. But at a distance he could hate, and thus many of his opponents concluded that he was two-faced and duplicitous.”101 Historian Sean Wilentz wrote: “Although he was basically a moderate, in private, particularly in his personal correspondence, and occasionally on public issues, Jefferson’s chronic impulsiveness and his irritated distaste for his stubborn Federalists foes could shatter his measured demeanor.”102

Hamilton fashioned himself as a combatant. Jefferson preferred the role of non-combatant who egged on the combatants. Jefferson created a network of political conspiracy to justify his conduct and his encouragement of conflict. Historian Andrew Burstein wrote: “To accept Jefferson’s reconstruction of the 1790s, from the perspective of 1818 or 1823, one would have to have agreed with five highly ideological statements: (1) that Hamilton was ‘not only a monarchist, but for a monarchy bottomed on corruption’; (2) that Adams was a Republican who came to be fascinated with ‘the glare of royalty and nobility’; (3) that Washington lost his ability to resist the monarchists’ argument shortly after Jefferson resigned from the cabinet in early 1794; (4) that [John] Marshall used Washington’s papers ‘for the suicide of the cause’ of republicans that Washington, in his prime, subscribed to; and (5) that Jefferson himself symbolized ‘the steady and rational character of the American people’ and their just hopes for self-government.”103

Jefferson, Hamilton and the Cabinet

Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton seemed destined to dislike each other. “Although no one had yet recognized the fact, Hamilton and Jefferson were born to hate each other. Alike in having dominant personalities, they were opposite in manners and temperament. A shorter man than Jefferson, Hamilton moved with military crispness; Jefferson slouched. Hamilton dressed meticulously; even Jefferson’s admirers felt he overdid the sloppiness of a philosopher. Hamilton’s mind moved in the straight line of a doer; Jefferson’s with the discursiveness of a thinker,” wrote historian James Thomas Flexner.104 “Two men so ambitious, so intelligent, and so different could not have worked together indefinitely,” wrote Hamilton biographer Richard Brookhiser.”105 Flexner wrote: “The rivalry that was to arise between them was not only doctrinal and for political power. They competed for the admiration and countenance of Washington. Jefferson’s father had died when he was a child; Hamilton’s father was a ne’er-do-well who had soon drifted away. Both younger men found in the President a substitute father, whom neither was willing, as they came to hate each other, to share.”106 Hamilton biographer Richard Brookhiser wrote that “Politics and accident had combined to give Hamilton his most formidable opponent – his colleague, the secretary of state. Hamilton’s relations with Jefferson had been, for over a year, civil. While the capital was in New York, President Washington had taken the two men sailing off Sandy Hook to catch bluefish.”107

Hamilton was direct, Jefferson was indirect. Alexander Hamilton never shrank from conflict, on or off the battlefield. When possible, Jefferson did so. Historian John Ferling wrote that Jefferson “loathed confrontation. His style was to find others to do unpleasant things for him.”108 The animosity between Jefferson and Hamilton revealed itself it their frequent pettiness towards each other. Political scientist Jack Rakove wrote: “Jealousy and betrayal, gossip and honor were all elements of this story. Jefferson’s bitter remarks on his rival seem little less petty than Hamilton’s sniping against Jefferson and Madison. They have a ‘womanish attachment to France,’ he complained to [Edward] Carrington, ‘and a womanish resentment against Great Britain,’ as if the Virginians’ ideas of foreign policy were determined by flighty impulse. So too Hamilton’s condescending jibe at Madison as a man ‘very little Acquainted with the world’ looks less impressive coming from a loving husband and father who was still being blackmailed by the husband of the mistress he could not yet bring himself to abandon.”109

Jefferson’s perspective is better understood today in part because he lived longer and had more time to record his memoirs – to which the deceased Hamilton could not respond. Jefferson took notes on the developments of the Washington administration which he later compiled in The Anas. Jefferson wrote down what others said during the Washington Administration while Hamilton devoted himself to long state papers and newspaper articles and Washington confined himself to letters and short state papers. For much of his presidency, there is no Washington diary and when there is a diary, the notations mention only the weather. Jefferson biographer Kevin J. Hayes wrote: “Jefferson was motivated to create The Anas for much the same reason he was motivated to take detailed notes of the proceedings of the Continental Congress a decade and a half earlier: they were useful at the moment – for recording important political business – but they were also useful in the long run, as a record of the beginnings of American democracy.”110 Hamilton biographer Nathan Schachner wrote: “The worst epithet that [Jefferson] could find for a political adversary was that he was a monocrat, meaning thereby that he advocated a monarchy on British lines. And more and more. Hamilton became to him the chief exemplar of that hated tribe. His Anas jotted comments usually written down long after the event are full of reported conversations of Hamilton and his colleagues tending to prove this thesis.”111 Peter R. Henriques wrote: “Prone to view the world as divided between good and evil, Jefferson soon developed a full-blooded conspiracy theory in which these actions portended, as he warned Washington in 1792, the ‘change from the president republican form of government to that of a monarchy of which the British Constitution is to be the model’ in Anas, a quasi autobiography full of gossip and stories, Jefferson went further. Alexander Hamilton ‘was not only a monarchist but a monarchist bottomed on corruption.’”112 Jefferson had the expertise only to object to Hamilton’s plan on philosophical grounds – not from superior expertise. “Almost from the outset, Hamilton made Jefferson’s job as secretary of state more difficult,” wrote Jefferson biographer Noble E. Cunningham, Jr..113

Hamilton’s language could be intemperate, writing of Jefferson: “How long it is since that gentleman’s real character may have been divined, or whether this is only the first time that the secret has been disclosed, I am not sufficiently acquainted with the history of his political life to determine; but there is always a ‘first time’ when characters studious of artful disguises are unveiled; when the visor of stoicism is plucked from the brow of the epicurean; when the plain garb of Quaker simplicity is stripped from the concealed voluptuary.”114 Jefferson’s and Hamilton’s personalities could not have been more different. “Between Hamilton and Jefferson there was as much difference in outward appearance as there was in the cast of their minds,” wrote Hamilton biographer John C. Miller. “Jefferson – tall, angular, loose-joined, awkward, ill at ease in company and reserved in his manner – was confronted by a small, well-shaped, meticulously dressed young man who exuded energy, youthfulness and high spirits. Despite the fact that Jefferson had spent several years in the most polite circles in Europe, his ill-fitting clothes – they always seemed too small for him – his lounging, careless manner - he sprawled rather than sat in a chair – made him appear rather like a frontiersman playing the Virginia gentleman and who still had a long way to go before he mastered the part. Even some of Jefferson’s friends felt that he abused a philosopher’s privilege of negligence in dress. But Jefferson, the born aristocrat, was sure of himself and of his position in society, whereas Hamilton was a parvenue who could never afford to let down his guard; his family closet contained several skeletons over which he was compelled to mount guard.”

“Although Hamilton never made the mistake of taking Jefferson to be a kindred spirit, he did not at this time regard him as an enemy. The Virginian’s objections to the Constitution had been largely removed by the Bill of Rights; he held The Federalist in high esteem; he liked to think of commerce as the handmaiden of agriculture; he was a nationalist who favored making the federal judiciary supreme over the state judges; and he was no friend of an ‘elected despotism’ such as had prevailed in some states during the period of the Articles of Confederation. Most important of all, he had not committed himself formally on the issues raised by Hamilton’s report [on public credit].”115

Hamilton biographer Nathan Schachner wrote that “as they first confronted each other in the cabinet, they knew little personally of each other except by rumor and report. Jefferson, the elder by thirteen years, had made his name chiefly before Hamilton had come prominently to the fore, and during the rapid rise of his youthful rival had been across the ocean in France. Thus their natural antagonism, due to diver philosophies of life and of government, had had no opportunity to hone to a razor edge through the grinding friction of personal contact.”116 Their attitudes about political structures – and the attitudes that they attributed to each other – strongly affected their relationship. Jefferson’s political ideas could be simplistic. He hated monarchy. He loved rights. Hamilton’s attitudes were frankly pro-British. Political scientist Jack Rakove wrote: “Hamilton’s unrepublican affection for the unreformed British constitution could shock his fellow Americans, as it did the framers at Philadelphia.’”117 Jefferson wrote of Hamilton: “He was, indeed, a singular character. Of acute understanding, disinterested, honest, and honorable in all private transactions, amiable in society, and duly valuing virtue in private life – yet so bewitched and perverted by the British example – as to be under thorough conviction that corruption was essential to the government of a nation.”118 In The Anas, Jefferson wrote of Hamilton regarding a dinner meeting in April 1791:

Here then was the real ground of the opposition which was made to the course of administration. Its object was to preserve the legislature pure and independent of the executive, to restrain the administration to republican forms and principles, and not permit the constitution to be construed into a monarchy, and to be warped, in practice, into all the principles and pollutions of their favorite English model. Nor was this an opposition to General Washington. He was true to the republican charge confided to him; and has solemnly and repeatedly protested to me, in our conversations, that he would lose the last drop of his blood in support of it; and he did this the oftener and with the more earnestness, because he knew my suspicions of Hamilton's designs against it, and wished to quiet them. For he was not aware of the drift, or of the effect of Hamilton's schemes. Unversed in financial projects and calculations and budgets, his approbation of them was bottomed on his confidence in the man.

But Hamilton was not only a monarchist, but for a monarchy bottomed on corruption. In proof of this, 'I will relate an anecdote, for the truth of which I attest the God who made me. Before the President set out on his southern tour in April, 1791, he addressed a letter of the fourth of that month, from Mount Vernon, to the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and War, desiring that if any serious and important cases should arise during his absence, they would consult and act on them. And he requested that the Vice-President should also be consulted. This was the only occasion on which that officer was ever requested to take part in a cabinet question. Some occasion for consultation arising, I invited those gentlemen (and the Attorney General, as well as I remember,) to dine with me, in order to confer on the subject. After the cloth was removed, and our question agreed and dismissed, conversation began on other matters, and, by some circumstance, was led to the British constitution, on which Mr. Adams observed, 'Purge that constitution of its corruption, and give to its popular branch equality of representation, and it would be the most perfect constitution ever devised by the wit of man.' Hamilton paused and said, ' Purge it of its corruption, and give to its popular branch equality of representation, and it would become an impracticable government: as it stands at present, with all its supposed defects, it is the most perfect government which ever existed.' And this was assuredly the exact line which separated the political creeds of these two gentlemen. The one was for two hereditary branches and an honest elective one: the other, for an hereditary King, with a House of Lords and Commons corrupted to his will, and standing between him and the people. Hamilton was, indeed, a singular character. Of acute understanding, disinterested, honest, and honorable in all private transactions, amiable in society, and duly valuing virtue in private life, yet so bewitched and perverted by the British example, as to be under thorough conviction that corruption was essential to the government of a nation.119

From such interactions, Jefferson built his case against Hamilton – in private and with President Washington. While Jefferson was more theoretical, Washington was more practical. Washington was a prudent man – used to holding councils of war. In 1791-92, noted John E. Ferling, “as soon as the party battles heated up he institute formal cabinet meetings, abandoning his earlier practice of simply conferring in private with each department chief. While such a step amounted to a legitimate endeavor to minimize discord within his administration by means of reaching decisions through consensus, the practice, as with his councils of war, also was a strategem that he adopted to mask disharmony, to reinforce the notion that he listened to and acted on the advice of the majority of his advisors. While collective discussion created the impression of collective responsibility, it always was Washington’s style to have someone walk the point for him, to be in front of the line of fire. From his point of view the tactic had one pronounced virtue. If matters went well, he got most of the credit; if things went awry, someone else bore the opprobrium for having failed.”120 Over time, Jefferson began to feel himself to be the odd man out in the Washington cabinet. Biographer Harrison Clark wrote: “When he joined the administration, he sat with three men, Washington, Knox, and Hamilton, who had fought for freedom side by side at Harlem, White Plains, Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Monmouth, and Yorktown. Jefferson wrote that he soon found himself to be almost the only republican in governing circles. He defined the word as a belief that each state would ‘remain independent as to internal matters, and the whole form a single nation as to what was foreign only.’”121 Biographer Richard Norton Smith wrote: “Striving to remain above partisan politics, Washington was careful to label the new regime ‘national’ rather than ‘federalist.’”122 Historian Harold W. Bradley argued: “The growing breach between Washington and Jefferson, after 1790, apparently developed primarily because Washington was persuaded to place the strengthening of the central government above all other considerations and only incidentally because of differences of opinion as to the wisdom and virtue of the people.”123 The breach also developed because Hamilton and Jefferson had fundamentally different attitudes toward Britain and France – and were willing to breach diplomatic protocol in their relations with foreign representatives on American soil.

The Debt and Assumption

Alexander Hamilton saw debt as a potentially positive factor in providing flexibility for government finances – bringing in resources from Europe for both public and private uses and allowing a mechanism for stabilizing the currency. He wrote that a “national debt if not excessive will be to us a national blessing; it will be a powerful cement of our union.”124 Political scientist Jack Rakove wrote: “A nation with public credit could mount enterprises that would be far more difficult to sustain if it had to rely solely on the forms of onerous taxation that would leave its citizens groaning and grumbling, and its government wary of testing its subjects’ loyalty and support.”125Hamilton also favored retirement of the debt and opposed loose government spending. He recognized that fiscal emergencies would inevitably arise:

When such a necessity does truly exist, the evils of it are only to be palliated by a scrupulous attention, on the part of the government, to carry the violation no further than the necessity absolutely requires, and to manifest, if the nature of the case admit of it, a sincere disposition to make reparation whenever circumstances shall permit. But, with every possible mitigation, credit must suffer, and numerous mischiefs ensue. It is, therefore, highly important, when an appearance of necessity seems to press upon the public councils, that they should examine well its reality, and be perfectly assured that there is no method of escaping from it, before they yield to its suggestions.126

Hamilton in 1789-91 was taking “an extremely big gamble” in his approach to debt, wrote historian Thomas K. McCraw. Hamilton wanted to bundle together all the old national and state debts from the Revolution and develop a plan for the new federal government to pay them. Hamilton saw this process as critical to make a truly national government in which the investment community had a truly national interest. “Both he and the investors who bought the bonds were betting that the American economy, once on sound footing, would prosper sufficiently to increase the government’s income and confirm the soundness of the new securities. Without rapid growth, the Treasury would not receive enough money to pay the interest on the debt, let alone conduct the normal affairs of government.”127 “The belief that the new government would pay the debts of the United States was unquestionably one of the foundations of its support,” wrote historian Merrill D. Peterson. “Hamilton divided the whole debt, principal and accumulated interest, into three parts. First, the foreign debt amounting to approximately $1,7000,000; second, the domestic debt of the Union amounting to $40,4000,000; third, the debts of the several states, estimated at $25,000,000.”128 Fergus M. Bordewich noted that “in order to pay its running expenses, the Continental Congress had borrowed more than $10 million from the French treasury and Dutch bankers, as well as a small amount from the Spanish monarchy. On these debts alone, Americans were now in arrears by $1.6 million on interest payments and another $1.4 million on payments of principal. Nearly $500,000 in new payments to overseas creditors was continuing to fall due annually. In addition to having printed $200 million in unsecured paper money – which was now barely redeemable even at a rate of forty to one – Congress had also raised money by issuing bonds and securities, mainly for paying and supplying the soldiers of the Continental Army.”129

Hamilton was trying to build a financial foundation for the nation – one frankly based on the economic self-interest of the nation and the economic self-interest of bond holders. Historian Darren Staloff wrote: “Hamilton used the financiers every bit as much as he served their interests. Indeed, he served their interests precisely because he knew that that was the only way to secure their financial resources for the benefit of the government. Hamilton sought to use the nation’s small financial community not only to secure public credit but to promote commercial and industrial expansion as well. He was fully aware that market forces on their own were insufficient to achieve these goals. Their fulfillment required the strong hand of an activist government.” Staloff noted: “Hamilton’s financial plan was not quite a Ponzi scheme, though it looked that way to its critics. It was, however, a precarious project that rested on the most slender of supports, namely the public opinion of speculative investors that could create a favorable climate for investment in government securities.”130

In 1789, Hamilton’s erstwhile partner James Madison had turned more Virginian and less nationalist. Madison had been buffeted by antiFederalist sentiment in Virginia that cost him election to the Senate and almost cost him election to the House of Representatives. Instead of becoming Hamilton’s partner, Madison became his opponent. Historian James Thomas Flexner wrote: “Although Madison had been at the Constitutional Convention a passionate advocate of federal power he now shared with Jefferson the belief that the federal government was becoming malign under the control of Hamilton.”131 Hamilton was unrelentingly nationalist. Historian E. James Ferguson wrote: “Hamilton’s proposals were a skillful compromise of varying shades of conservative opinion. The rock upon which he founded his program was specie payment – both interest and principal. Creditors were invited, if they wished, to accept other modes of payment involving western lands, but they were at liberty to demand specie. At one stroke, he repudiated the agrarian and state-oriented methods of the past and committed the new regime to high finance, which, in the minds of all Federalists, was the indispensable basis of public credit and effective government.” Madison was one of the leading objectors to Hamilton’s plan – arguing for a plan under which speculators would get only the market value of the securities they held – with the remainder to be paid to the original holders. Ferguson wrote: “Madison’s sudden turn is better explained as the opening move in a resumption of state-oriented politics. After a long career as a protagonist of central authority, he may have felt it was time he began representing the localist tradition of Virginia.”132 Madison’s objections also mirrored populist and agrarian feelings – especially in the South.

While Hamilton’s nationalist vision was clarifying, Madison’s national instincts were weakening. Jefferson scholar Susan Dunn wrote: “In the first months of Washington’s presidency, Madison, as congressman from Virginia in the House of Representatives, and Hamilton, as secretary of the treasury, had worked well in tandem on a variety of issues, including banking, taxation, and trade. Hamilton was not only brilliant but charming and generous, too, and Madison must have appreciated his lively imagination. But Madison the Virginian quickly grew wary of the New Yorker’s motives, viewing them as antithetical to the interest of ordinary citizens and republican government. The tension between the two men erupted over the issue of certificates of debt in 1789 and early 1790.”133 Historian Gordon S. Wood wrote that by 1790: “Many of his Virginia constituents had heard stories of Northern speculators buying up the government’s old securities at a fraction of their face value. They were angry that under Hamilton’s funding plan the original purchasers of the securities would receive no compensation at all.”134

Hamilton submitted his “First Report on Public Credit” to Congress on January 9, 1790. Historian John Austin Stevens wrote: “The boldness of Hamilton’s plan startled and divided the country. Funding resolutions were introduced into the House. The first, relating to the foreign debt, passed unanimously; the second, providing for the liquidation of the domestic obligations, was sharply debated, but in the end Hamilton’s scheme was adopted. The resolutions providing for the assumption of the state debts, which he embodied in his report, aroused an opposition still more formidable, and it was not until August 4 that by political machinery this part of his plan received the assent of Congress.”135 Hamilton wrote in his report on public credit on January 9, 1790: “But there is a consequence of this, less obvious, though not less true, in which every other citizen is interested. It is a well known fact, that, in countries in which the national debt is properly funded, and an object of established confidence, it answers most of the purposes of money. Transfers of stock or public debt, are there equivalent to payments in specie; or, in other words, stock, in the principal transactions of business, passes current as specie. It ought not, however, to be expected, that the advantages described as likely to result from funding the public debt, would be instantaneous. It might require some time to bring the value of stock to its natural level, and to attach to it that fixed confidence, which is necessary to its quality as money. Yet the late rapid rise of the public securities encourages an expectation that the progress of stock, to the desirable point, will be much more expeditious than could have been foreseen. And as, in the mean time, it will be increasing in value, there is room to conclude that it will, from the outset, answer many of the purposes in contemplation. Particularly, it seems to be probable, that from creditors, who are not themselves necessitous, it will early meet with a ready reception in payment of debts, at its current price.136

“It cannot but merit particular attention, that among ourselves the most enlightened friends of good government are those, whose expectations are the highest,” wrote Hamilton. “To justify and preserve their confidence; to promote the encreasing respectability of the American name; to answer the calls of justice; to restore landed property to its due value; to furnish new resources both to agriculture and commerce; to cement more closely the union of the states; to add to their security against foreign attack; to establish public order on the basis of an upright and liberal policy. These are the great and invaluable ends to be secured, by a proper and adequate provision, at the present period, for the support of public credit.”137 Hamilton wrote in his First Report on Public Credit: “While the observance of that good faith, which is the basis of public credit, is recommended by the strongest inducements of political expedience, it is enforced by considerations of even greater authority. There are arguments for it, which rest on the immutable principles of moral obligation. And in proportion, as the mind is disposed to contemplate, in the order of Providence, an intimate connection between public virtue and public happiness, will be its repugnancy to a violation of these principles.”138

National debts were one thing. State debts were more controversial. Madison biographer Irving Brant argued: “Hamilton’s men of enlightenment -- those who were to bulwark the new government and cement the Union -- had served an ultimatum: No assumption, no funding. They would get their profits, or let the nation go to pieces”139 However, even the holders of public debt were unhappy about Hamilton’s proposal of assumption of state debts. Historian E. James Ferguson wrote: “Except for those already speculating in state debts, the majority of public creditors would doubtless have preferred that the government commit its revenues to the public debt and let the state debts alone – at least until it could be proved that federal revenues were sufficient for both purposes.”140 President Washington wrote to a Virginia friend in June 1790: “The question of Assumption has occupied a great deal of time, and no wonder; for it is certainly a very important one; and, under proper restrictions, and scrutiny into Accounts will be found, I conceive to be just. The Cause in which the expenses of the War was incurred, was a Common cause. The States (in Congress) declared it so at the beginning and pledged themselves to stand by each other. If then, some States were harder pressed than others, or from particular or local circumstances contracted heavier debts, it is but reasonable when this fact is ascertained (though it is a sentiment I have not made known here) that an allowance ought to be made them when due credit is given to others. Had the invaded, and hard pressed States believed the case would have been otherwise; opposition in them would very soon, I believe, have changed to submission; and given a different termination to the War.141 Historian Joanne Freeman wrote; "The Southerners, who had largely extinguished their debts through heavy taxes, resented this seeming reward to laggard Northerners. Others thought that the plan would benefit money men and speculators. In fact, that was part of Hamilton's intent: he wanted to bolster the weak national government with the moral and financial support of the wealthy and powerful. The failure of this fundamental proposal would mean the end of Hamilton's plan, his almost certain resignation, and to many, the collapse of the goverment, so debate was fierce and lengthy."142

Assumption became the political dividing line for the new nation’s government. Madison and Jefferson represented agrarian interests. Hamilton represented commercial interests. Washington biographer Willard Sterne Randall wrote: “At a stroke Hamilton’s plan brought to life a state-rights opposition party in Congress led by that formerly staunch Federalist, James Madison, who joined forces with his old friend Thomas Jefferson.”143 Jefferson scholar Susan Dunn wrote: “Whereas Hamilton wanted to keep capital concentrated in the hands of the small class of men who would develop the American economy and build manufactories, ships and infrastructure, thereby strengthening the nation, Madison, for his part, believed that in a just society the government would aid average citizens, farmers, and small manufacturers, not just large financial interests. Madison, the cultivated member of the landed Virginia gentry, seemed to be temperamentally repelled by urban financial dealings. He and other southerners were convinced that in the cultivation of the land and in the yeoman farmer resided the true moral strength of the nation; they were temperamentally opposed to the expansion of government that Hamilton’s economic programs required.”144 Jefferson agreed.

Madison biographer Irving Brant wrote: “Hamilton correctly realized (as many historians have not) that the cleavage between himself and Madison preceded Jefferson’s return from France; but his conjecture was wrong concerning acceptance, by Madison, of Jefferson’s opinion that no public debt was valid beyond the life of the generation that incurred it.”145 Jefferson had been out of the country for most of the 1780s and divorced from local political opinion so Jefferson necessarily initially took a subordinate leadership position behind Madison, who had been a leader before, during and after the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Madison and Hamilton who previously had acted in concert, were now drifting apart. Of the assumption controversy, Jefferson wrote decades later: “I arrived in the midst of it...But a stranger to the ground, a stranger to the actors on it, so long absent as to have lost all familiarity with the subject, and as yet unsure of its object, I took no concern of it.’146

Many Virginians did not like the assumption plan. Hamilton biographer Nathan Schachner wrote: “Barely had the legislature convened when Patrick Henry introduced a fiery resolution denouncing assumption as ‘repugnant of the constitution of the United States, as it goes to the exercise of a power not expressly granted to the general government.’” Schachner added: “Though John Marshall and other conservative men fought the resolution, it passed by a large majority, and was immediately followed by an even more fiery Protest and Remonstrance which declared flatly that all powers not expressly given in the constitution were reserved to the states, that the Assumption Act was an effort ‘to erect and concentrate and perpetuate a large monied interest in opposition to the lauded interest,’ which would prostrate ‘agriculture at the feet of commerce’ or result in a ‘change in the present form of Federal Government, fatal to the existence of American liberty.’”147 Historian Herbert E. Sloan argued that "the Virginia Republicans with Jefferson in the lead, had valid grounds for worrying about the economic effects of a public debt, the more so because many of them believed that the American debt, on a per capita basis, was much higher than the British debt had led Hume and Smith to their gloomy conclusions. They, too, might well have wondered whether their taxes were being put to good use in paying the interest on the debt, but then they hardly needed to wonder, for they were certain the money was going straight into the pockets of speculators."148

In New York, emotions also ran high. Historian Ron Chernow wrote: “During the spring of 1790, quarrels over assumption and the national capital grew so vitriolic that it didn’t seem far-fetched that the union might break up over the issues. The south increasingly fired at Hamilton the same vituperative rhetoric once directed at the British. In writing to Madison, Henry Lee stated that the battle to stop assumption brought back memories of the Revolution: ‘It seems to me that we southern people must be slaves or cut the Gordian knot at once.’ Jefferson long remembered the sour mood that hung like a miasma over New York that spring: ‘Congress met and adjourned from day to day without doing anything, the parties being too much out of temper to do business together.’”149 Years later, Jefferson gave his account of what happened in the spring of 1790:

This game was over, and another was on the carpet at the moment of my arrival; and to this I was most ignorantly and innocently made to hold the candle. This fiscal maneuvre is well known by the name of the Assumption. Independently of the debts of Congress, the States had during the war contracted separate and heavy debts; and Massachusetts particularly, in an absurd attempt, absurdly conducted, on the British post of Penobscott: and the more debt Hamilton could rake up, the more plunder for his mercenaries. This money, whether wisely or foolishly spent, was pretended to have been spent for general purposes, and ought, therefore, to be paid from the general purse. But it was objected, that nobody knew what these debts were, what their amount, or what their proofs. No matter; we will guess them to be twenty millions. But of these twenty millions, we do not know how much should be reimbursed to one State, or how much to another. No matter; we will guess. And so another scramble was set on foot among the several States, and some got much, some little, some nothing. But the main object was obtained, the phalanx of the Treasury was reinforced by additional recruits. This measure produced the most bitter and angry contest ever known in Congress, before or since the Union of the States. I arrived in the midst of it. But a stranger to the ground, a stranger to the actors on it, so long absent as to have lost all familiarity with the subject, and as yet unaware of its object, I took no concern in it. The great and trying question, however, was lost in the House of Representatives. So high were the feuds excited by this subject, that on its rejection business was suspended. Congress met and adjourned from day to day without doing any thing, the parties being too much out of temper to do business together. The eastern members particularly, who, with Smith from South Carolina, were the principal gamblers in these scenes, threatened a secession and dissolution. Hamilton was in despair. As I was going to the President's one day, I met him in the street. He walked me backwards and forwards before the President's door for half an hour. He painted pathetically the temper into which the legislature had been wrought; the disgust of those who were called the creditor States; the danger of the secession of their members, and the separation of the States. He observed that the members of the administration ought to act in concert; that though this question was not of my department, yet a common duty should make it a common concern; that the President was the centre on which all administrative questions ultimately rested, and that all of us should rally around him, and support, with joint efforts, measures approved by him; and that the question having been lost by a small majority only, it was probable that an appeal from me to the judgment and discretion of some of my friends, might effect a change in the vote, and the machine of government, now suspended, might be again set into motion. I told him that I was really a stranger to the whole subject; that not having yet informed myself of the system of finances adopted, I knew not how far this was a necessary sequence; that undoubtedly, if its rejection endangered a dissolution of our Union at this incipient stage, I should deem that the most unfortunate of all consequences, to avert which all partial and temporary evils should be yielded.150

In the spring of 1790, assumption failed five times to pass the House. Only a few votes were needed to switch in order to win passage. Gordon S. Wood noted: “Although some states were indifferent, several states – Virginia, Maryland, and Georgia – had already paid off a large proportion of their own debt and could hardly welcome paying federal taxes to retire the debts of the other states. Debate went on for six months, with some congressmen threatening that without assumption of the state debts there could be no Union. On June 2, 1790, the House of Representatives accepted a funding bill without assumption. The Senate responded by incorporating the assumption of state debts in the House bill. The Congress was deadlocked.”151 Biographer Forrest McDonald wrote that “there is little doubt that a number of congressmen who supported Hamilton were motivated at least in part by personal interests – probably eight or nine of the sixty-five representatives and four of the twenty-six senators. But the others took their stands on the basis of a mixture of motives that included concern for the interests of their constituents, ideology, regard for public honor, nationalism, and intelligence.”152

Historian John Steele Gordon wrote that Hamilton had an important reason to secure passage of assumption: “The debts, of course, were largely held by the prosperous men of business, commerce, and agriculture – the oligarchs, in other words. These men’s loyalties lay mainly with their respective states and the cozy local societies in which they had grown up. Although they had largely supported the creation of the new Union, Hamilton had every reason to suppose that their support would quickly fade away if their self-interest dictated it.” Gordon added: “Hamilton, therefore, was anxious to make it in the self-interest of these men to continue their support of the Union.”153

Madison took the position that speculators should not receive a reward for speculation and that the original holders of the debt should share in the payoff. Historian Lance Banning wrote: “Madison’s opponents, who were legion on this issue, saw his resolution as a violent breech of governmental contract, certain to destroy the country’s credibility with future lenders. They understood immediately – and threw it in his face – that his proposal would involve as gross a governmental interference with existing private bargains as any of the stay laws, moratoria on taxes, or paper money schemes that he had earlier condemned. Indeed, I think it no exaggeration to suggest that Madison’s discrimination plan was probably the era’s clearest instance of a scheme that would have taken property from some and given it to others on considerations that were plainly redistributive in their intent.”154 Historian Albert S. Bolles wrote: “In Congress and elsewhere there were persons opposed to any plan of funding. They feared that such an adjustment of the debt meant an indefinite prolongation in the payment of it. Had not this been the effect of funding the English debt? they said; and will not a similar effect attend the transplanting of the system to our shore? With every step forward in applying the principle of funding, their opposition increased, reaching its height when the funding of the indebtedness of the States was attempted. Opposition was then so strong as to jeopardize the success of the entire movement. When the smoke of the contest had cleared away, two political parties might be seen, whose opposition, though varying much in conviction, power, and earnestness, has never ceased.

Some persons believed that funding was a great speculation, in which many who favored it expected to win fortunes by the rise in the value of the public debts. Jefferson plainly affirmed that the " greedy members" of Congress who voted for funding acted from self-interest. A large portion of the debt had been sold by the original holders; and every creditor of the government, doubtless, was heartily in favor of funding. Others feared that it would cement the government too strongly and change it into an aristocracy.155

Although Hamilton acknowledged that the national debt should be paid off, he was repeatedly denounced as taking the opposite opinion. Jefferson was one of the confirmed skeptics who wrote to President Washington: “This exactly marks the difference between Colonel Hamilton's views and mine, that I would wish the debt paid to-morrow; he wishes it never to be paid, but always to be a thing wherewith to corrupt and manage the legislature.”156 Hamilton himself complained in 1795 that his views had been distorted despite the fact that his original report “made on the subject of the public debt, in that very debt report which contains the expressions [now] tortured into an advocation [sic] of the doctrine that public debts are public blessings.”157 Hamilton understood that finances were a vital factor in the credibility of the government. “States, like individuals, who observe their engagements are respected and trusted, while the reverse is the fate of those who pursue an opposite conduct.”158 Hamilton understood the uses of public debt as a management tool. The Jeffersonians did not. The elimination of the debt became Jeffersonian gospel. Historian Lance Banning wrote: “The Jeffersonian Republicans despised a public debt, for every year that it existed, they believed, was one more year in which the taxes of productive artisans and farms would fill the purses of the non-productive rich.”159 Decades later, Jefferson wrote that “we must not let our rules load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth.”160

Refinancing the internal and external debt was a large management task. Hamilton biographer Louis M. Hacker wrote:”Hamilton set to work to unravel the tangle of foreign obligations. Congress was not always prompt in voting the revenues he needed; he turned, therefore, to Dutch bankers – in 1790, 1791, and 1792 – for loans to meet outstanding commitments. Interest was promptly paid; a part of the principal due France and all of that due Spain were retired; a portion of the moneys voted to the foreign officers who had joined the Continental army was provided. To the end of 1790, arrears in interest alone on the French and Spanish debt, totaling almost $2 millions, were met. He also began negotiations with France to convert the outstanding French loans into domestic loans; this his successor in the Treasury, Oliver Wolcott, achieved in 1795. Nor was debt redemption forgotten. By 1800, Hamilton and Wolcott had retired $3,215,000 of the old Confederation funded debt.”161

The Capital Dinner Deal

In May 1790, President Washington nearly died of pneumonia. Secretary of State Jefferson was suffering some of his debilitating headaches. Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton was fighting for the life of his financial program. Having failed to win his proposal for discriminating among holders of debt, Madison dug in his heals on the question of assumption Washington biographer Harrison Clark wrote: “Jefferson, arriving in the midst of the discussions, followed them with interest. At this time, he still held on to a certain realistic objectivity and his reporting of events in these months has a degree of reliability. On April 6 he wrote William Short in Paris that Congress had approved a settlement of the foreign debt but the vote of the necessary funds had to await congressional determination of the domestic debt question.162

After Jefferson’s sidewalk encounter with Hamilton outside Washington’s resident In June, Hamilton and Madison were invited to Jefferson’s home for dinner. After eating, they reached an arrangement for a few southern votes to support Hamilton’s debt funding plan in exchange for Hamilton’s support for building the nation’s capital on the banks of the Potomac. The deal was somewhat ironic given Jefferson’s disdain for corrupt legislative bargains. As Jefferson later recalled the dinner that took place the day after he encountered Hamilton on the street:

I proposed to him, however, to dine with me the next day, and I would invite another friend or two, bring them into conference together, and I thought it impossible that reasonable men, consulting together coolly, could fail, by some mutual sacrifices of opinion, to form a compromise which was to save the Union. The discussion took place. I could take no part in it but an exhortatory one, because I was a stranger to the circumstances which should govern it. But it was finally agreed, that whatever importance had been attached to the rejection of this proposition, the preservation of the Union and of concord among the States was more important, and that therefore it would be better that the vote of rejection should be rescinded, to effect which, some members should change their votes. But it was observed that this pill would be peculiarly bitter to the southern States, and that some concomitant measure should be adopted, to sweeten it a little to them. There had before been propositions to fix the seat of government either at Philadelphia, or at Georgetown on the Potomac; and it was thought that by giving it to Philadelphia for ten years, and to Georgetown permanently afterwards, this might, as an anodyne, calm in some degree the ferment which might be excited by the other measure alone. So two of the Potomac members (White and Lee, but White with a revulsion of stomach almost convulsive,) agreed to change their votes, and Hamilton undertook to carry the other point. In doing this, the influence he had established over the eastern members, with the agency of Robert Morris with those of the middle States, effected his side of the engagement; and so the Assumption was passed, and twenty millions of stock divided among favored States, and thrown in as a pabulum to the stockjobbing herd. This added to the number of votaries to the Treasury, and made its chief the master of every vote in the legislature, which might give to the government the direction suited to his political views.163

“Neither Madison nor Hamilton ever described the dinner, and neither had Jefferson’s appetite for hoarding nuggets of anecdote and gossip,” wrote historian Richard Brookhiser. “Jefferson wrote down this little nugget two years after the fact. One detail – Hamilton, the careful parvenu, being badly dressed – seems unlikely, and another – Jefferson, not understand an important question – seems impossible. Washington’s preference for a Potomac site, certain to have been a factor in everyone’s calculations, is concealed. Jefferson also omitted to mention a key side arrangement: Hamilton pledged that Virginia would get a better deal on those of its war debts that were still unpaid.”164 Jefferson’s opposition to Hamilton’s financial policies developed slowly in 1791. Henry Cabot Lodge wrote: “Jefferson saw as plainly as anybody the scope of the financial policy and the intrinsic merit of assumption. He had, moreover, no prejudices at that time against the author of the policy. With no line marked out for his conduct, and ready, until events decided otherwise, to sustain the administration, he fell in easily enough with the schemes of his colleague.”165 Hamilton biographer John C. Miller wrote: “Though Hamilton, no doubt, hoped that the plan of erecting the national capital on a muddy flat near the Potomac would fall through – in 1788, he predicted that ‘place the government once down in Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania will, of course, hold fast’ – he never attempted to go back on his bargain with Jefferson. The government stood committed to the Potomac, mud or no mud; little as Hamilton relished the prospect, he was compelled to honor the terms of his agreement. He could not have escaped had he wished, for President Washington had set his heart upon making that unlikely spot the commercial and political center of the union.”166

The permanent location of the new government was a major subject of concern in 1792. Philadelphia was considered. So was Baltimore. Southern representatives wanted it to be more centrally located. Moving the capital to the Potomac was thought to be sufficiently soothing to attract the needed votes for assumption. The deal makers brought Pennsylvania along by agreeing to let Philadelphia be the interim capital. Brookhiser wrote: “Rufus King, one of New York's senators, wept on the floor of the Senate when the arrangement became public. But Hamilton's defection left the partisans of New York leaderless. Hamilton wrote King that the Potomac site was ‘bad, but it will insure the funding system.’"167 (Letter from Rufus King to Caleb Strong, June 30, 1790). Assumption of state debts was more important that the siting of the capital. “For Hamilton, assumption was his make-or-break issue, and the outlook seemed grim,” wrote biographer Ron Chernow. “The president supported assumption but did not want to be accused of partisanship and so hesitated to express a public opinion.”168 The assumption crisis was passed when Hamilton, Madison and Jefferson worked a compromise to reduce the number of votes against assumption in return for the siting of the new federal capital on the Potomac River. Historian Forrest McDonald observed: “After the meeting, two Virginians in the House, Alexander White and Richard Bland Lee, did change their earlier positions and voted for assumption.” He noted, however, that “the Treasury Department stopped its practice of blocking tenuous and undocumented claims.”169

Historian John E. Ferling wrote: “How successful these bargainers were has been the subject of considerable recent debate among scholars. Yet is clear that while a majority of southern legislators continued to resist Hamilton’s assumption bill, four representatives – two from Virginia and two from Maryland, all four from districts on the Potomac – made an about-face between the April roll call and the final vote in July. Moreover, Massachusetts’s senators suddenly opted not to endeavor to undermine the Philadelphia-Potomac residence proposition. Hamilton also apparently facilitated matters by making some adjustments on the details of his economic package, compromising on the rate of interest carried by the new debt and conceding to some states an increase in the amount of their credit. Virginia and Maryland also offered enticements to facilitate the deal. Each state promised grants of land and cash if Congress voted to locate the new capital on the Potomac. Even Washington, who had remained in the background thus far, pitched in. It is clear that he brought considerable pressure on Robert Morris to accept the bargain, and he probably subtly courted other congressmen.”170 Pennsylvania Senator Morris, like Hamilton, probably hoped the deal on the capital would ultimately fail.

What transpired would be an embarrassment for Jefferson – which he attempted to explain away by claiming naivete. Hamilton biographer Henry Cabot Lodge wrote: “In after times, when Hamilton stood to Jefferson and his party as the representative of all that was bad, the memory of this transaction of 1790, and of a friendly alliance with the great Federalist, became troublesome. Jefferson would fain have erased from history the whole business. He wished the world to believe that the wicked, aristocratic, monarchical Federalists had always been his foes, and had found in him their mightiest opponent. Yet there was the ugly fact that he had himself turned the scale in favor of one of their fundamental measures. His manner of dealing with the problem was characteristic. He did not explain it away in his lifetime, for he might have met with awkward contradiction. But he set it all down for the benefit of posterity.”171 Jefferson biographer Claude G. Bowers wrote: “The attempt of Jefferson in later life to explain his part in the bargain over Assumption, with the assertion that he had been deceived by Hamilton, is in the nature of an alibi created after the crime. He was not a simple-minded rustic, and his correspondence previous to the bargain shows that he had given serious consideration to Assumption.”172 Even at the time, Jefferson was a bit defensive. The secretary of State wrote James Monroe on June 20 “that Congress should always prefer letting the states raise money in their own way where it can be done. But in the present instance, I see the necessity of yielding to the cries of the creditors in certain parts of the Union; for the sake of union, and to save us from the greatest of all calamities, the total extinction of our credit in Europe. On the other hand, it is proposed to pass an act fixing the temporary residence of twelve or fifteen years at Philadelphia, and that at the end of that time, it shall stand ipso facto, and without further declaration transferred to Georgetown. In this way, there will be something to displease and something to soothe every part of the Union but New York, which must be contented with what she has had. If this plan of compromise does not take place, I fear one infinitely worse, an unqualified assumption and the perpetual residence on the Delaware. The Pennsylvania and Virginia delegates have conducted themselves honorably and unexceptionably, on the question of residence. Without descending to talk about bargains, they have seen that their true interests lay in not listening to insidious propositions, made to divide and defect them, and we have seen them at times voting against their respective wishes rather than separate.”173

Bank of the United States

In addition to paying off the nation’s debts, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander “Hamilton was convinced that a national bank would be an important factor in the improvement of national credit,” wrote financial historian Davis Rich Dewey. “Little in the previous experience of the country gave encouragement to such a project. During the Revolutionary period several banking propositions had been discussed, and as a result in the decade 1780-1790 three institutions had been established, — the Bank of North America, originally chartered by Congress in 1781 at the suggestion of Robert Morris; the Bank of New York, organized in 1784; and the Massachusetts Bank. Hamilton had already shown his interest in the subject by co-operating in the founding of the Bank of New York, for which he drafted the articles of association. On December 13, 1790, within a few months of his induction into office, he presented an elaborate document in favor of a federal bank. After rapidly reviewing some precedents in the history of other countries he sums up the advantages which would be derived from such an institution: First, there would be an increase of actual capital by an enlargement of notes in circulation, by providing greater use of individual notes of hand, and by a gathering up of individual deposits; second, the bank would make it easier for the government to obtain loans; and, third, it would make it easier for the individual to pay his taxes to the government, since he would have a greater opportunity to borrow, and there would be an increase and quickening of the circulation of money. Hamilton enumerated and discussed the possible economic disadvantages, such as increase of usury; interference with other kinds of lending; temptation to overtrading; disturbance of the natural course of trade; fictitious credit to bankrupts; and banishment of gold and silver from the country. The report closed with an outline of a constitution of a bank. In the congressional debate which followed, the opposition dwelt less upon the commercial and fiscal merits and demerits of a bank than upon the charges that a bank would be a monopoly inconsistent with a free republic.”174

“Hamilton’s proposal for a national bank was bold and novel. He recommended that Congress grant a twenty-year charter to a corporation to be called the Bank of the United States (BUS),” wrote historian Gordon S. Woods. “This central bank would be capitalized at $10 million, which was far more than all the specie, that is, gold and silver, in the country. One-fifth of the capital was to be provided by the government itself; the rest of the bank’s stock was to be sold to private investors, who could pay for up to three-fourths of the shares with government securities and the remaining one-fourth in gold or silver. This Bank of the United States, like its model the Bank of England, would be the only bank chartered by the national government. For fear of diluting its strength Hamilton actually opposed establishing branches of the Bank in states outside of Pennsylvania, thought by 1805 eight branches had been created.”175 Historian John Steele Gordon noted that in addition to funding the debt, Hamilton had other motives: “Hamilton wanted to use the national debt to create a larger and more flexible money supply. Banks holding government bonds, he argued, could issue bank notes backed by them. He knew also that government bonds could serve as collateral for bank loans, multiplying the available capital, and that they would attract still more capital from Europe.”176

Financial historian Bray Hammond wrote: “Hamilton’s program combined magnitude and comprehensiveness, on the one hand, with, on the other, meticulousness in detail and a thorough understanding of all he was talking about. The reasonable convictions he had had in 1779 respecting the utility of a bank had been confirmed by the experience of the three banks that had been established since. He now wished to have one set up that should directly and adequately serve the needs of the federal government, which was to incorporate it and own a substantial share of its capital.”177 Biographer Forrest McDonald wrote: “The bank was not to be all-powerful: Hamilton proposed a number of restrictions upon it. Its charter would last only twenty years, and though Congress would agree to charter no competing banks during that period, the states could prevent the bank from being a monopoly by chartering as many banks as they saw fit. The Bank of the United States would be prohibited from issuing notes and incurring other obligations in excess of its capitalization; foreign stockholders would be unable to vote; a rotation of directors would be mandatory; the secretary of the treasury would be authorized to remove the government’s deposits, inspect the books, and require statements of the bank’s condition as frequently as once a week.”178 Although the bank legislation easily passed Congress, noted Chernow, “Madison wanted Washington to spike Hamilton’s bank bill and cast the first veto in American history.”179

Historian Forrest McDonald wrote: “When the Senate’s bank bill arrived in the House, it was subjected to two readings, during which time Madison said not a word against the bank. Instead he worked feverishly behind the scenes trying to gain support for limiting the charter to ten years, so that the bank would expire and the capital would be transferred at the same time. As a part of his maneuvering, he warned the Pennsylvanians that if they failed to cooperate, he would attack the bill in the House as unconstitutional. Given Madison’s reputation as an expert on the Constitution, such a threat carried weight.”180 Hamilton biographer John C. Miller wrote: “When Hamilton wrote his Report on the Bank of the United States, he little imagined that the question of its constitutionality would prove decisive. After all, the Bank of North America had been chartered by the Continental Congress, and it would not have been easy to convince Hamilton that the federal government enjoyed less power than did the government of the Articles of confederation. Therefore, he had not related the Bank to any specific, enumerated power of Congress; apparently he was content to rest his case upon the general powers of the national government.”181

Madison and Jefferson sought the lack of a clearly enumerated power as an insuperable objection to the bank. It was new evidence of a Hamilton’s attempt to adopt a British system based on economic and political corruption. Historian Louis Hacker wrote: “By 1791, Jefferson was openly in opposition in the Cabinet. In May of that year he addressed a long letter to Washington in which he filled out in detail his bill of particulars. Hamilton had built up an artificial debt which far exceeded the country’s ability ever to discharge it. An excise tax had been saddled on the country: it was odious. The interest rate being paid by government ‘stock’ was excessive. The paper notes of the bank would drive the meager amount of coins still in circulation out of the country. There was a ‘corrupt squadron’ of speculators and stock jobbers in Congress always ready to carry out Hamilton’s mandates. Hamilton was seeking to establish a monarchy in the United States!”182 Historian John E. Ferling wrote: “Although the bank got through Congress with little difficulty, southerners in that body hoisted a red warning flag that troubled the president. Harboring the eighteenth-century farmer’s inherent antipathy toward banks, and assuming – correctly – that their region would realize few direct benefits from the proposed institution, most southern congressmen had opposed the bill, fighting its passage on the only terrain that might lead to victory. Introducing a whole new element into the simmering national factionalism, Madison raised the question of the scope of Congress’s power. Recanting the position he had taken at the Constitutional Convention, he now contended that the fundamental charter was a ‘grant of particular powers only.’ For Congress to arrogate to itself a power not specifically delegated was not just unconstitutional, he said, but dangerous to the whole precept of limited government. President Washington, he implied, must veto the bill.”183 Historian John Steele Gordon wrote: “Jefferson’s doctrine of strict construction, rigorously applied, would have been a straitjacket, preventing the federal government from adapting to meet both the challenges and the opportunities that were to come in the future.”184 Historian Forrest McDonald wrote that for Madison, the bank issue, “unlike the first [funding] issue, was therefore a matter of principle rather than interest.”185

In the bank issue, Madison and Jefferson switched leadership roles. John Ferling wrote: “Jefferson had deferred to Madison during the funding battle, but now, and for the duration of Washington’s presidency, Jefferson took charge of the opposition to Hamiltonianism. Madison became Jefferson’s satellite, and in the process he recanted the positions he had taken at the Constitutional Convention concerning a strong central government. Early in 1791, Jefferson approached Washington with a lengthy treatise arguing against the constitutionality of the bank. Jefferson appended to his tract a speech that Madison had delivered on the floor of the House, which also questioned the constitutionality of the bank bill.”186 Historian Noble E. Cunningham, Jr. wrote: “Jefferson objected to the creation of a national bank not only on constitutional grounds but also as a matter of public policy. He saw the bank as a tool of special interests and an unhealthy concentration of economic power, part of a design to promote moneyed interests at the expense of farmers. When the bank bill was before Congress, he confided to George Mason that ‘the only corrective of what is amiss in our present government will be the augmentation of the numbers in the lower house, so as to get a more agricultural representation, which may put that interest above that of the stock-jobbers.’ This was an early indication of Jefferson’s recognition of the need to marshal political opposition in Congress against Hamilton’s programs, but he was reluctant to move openly to organize such a movement.”187 In 1818, Jefferson put his ideological spin on the events of 1791-1792 as the bank issue developed:

Hamilton's financial system had then passed. It had two objects: 1st, as a puzzle, to exclude popular understanding and inquiry; '2d, as a machine for the corruption of the Legislature: for he avowed the opinion, that man could be governed by one of two motives only, force or interest: force, he observed, in this country, was out of the question, and the interests, therefore, of the members must be laid hold of, to keep the Legislature in unison with the Executive. And with grief and shame it must be acknowledged that his machine was not without effect; that even in this, the birth of our government, some members were found sordid enough to bend their duty to their interests, and to look after personal rather than public good.

It is well known that during the war, the greatest difficulty we encountered, was the want of money or means to pay our soldiers who fought, or our farmers, manufacturers, and merchants, who furnished the necessary supplies of food and clothing for them. After the expedient of paper money had exhausted itself, certificates of debt were given to the individual creditors, with assurance of payment, so soon as the United States should be able. But the distresses of these people often obliged them to part with these for the half, the fifth, and even a tenth of their value; and speculators had made a trade of cozening them from the holders, by the most fraudulent practices, and persuasions that they would never be paid. In the bill for funding and paying these, Hamilton made no difference between the original holders and the fraudulent purchasers of this paper. Great and just repugnance arose at putting these two classes of creditors on the same footing, and great exertions were used to pay the former the full value, and to the latter the price only which they had paid, with interest.' But this would have prevented the game which was to be played, and for which the minds of greedy members were already tutored and prepared. When the trial of strength, on these several efforts, had indicated the form in which the bill would finally pass, this being known within doors sooner than without, and especially, than to those who were in distant parts of the Union, the base scramble began. Couriers and relay horses by land, and swift-sailing pilot boats by sea, were flying in all directions. Active partners and agents were associated and employed in every State, town, and country neighborhood, and this paper was bought up at five shillings, and even as low as two shillings in the pound, before the holder knew that Congress had already provided for its redemption at par. Immense sums wore thus filched from the poor and ignorant, and fortunes accumulated by those who had themselves been poor enough before. Men thus enriched by the dexterity of a leader, would follow of course the chief who was leading them to fortune, and become the zealous instruments of all his enterprises.

Mr. Madison had made an effort to mitigate the injustice of this bill, as between the first holders and the speculating purchasers of the public certificates of debt, by moving an amendment which would have produced a compromise between the interests of the parties. It provided that the present holder should receive the highest cash value that the certificates had borne, and that the residue (up to their par value) should be paid to the original holder. He claimed that inasmuch as the public creditors had suffered solely by the default of the Government, the Government was bound to exercise the highest prerogative of sovereignty to make reparation to them; and he cited cases to show that both the English and French governments had sanctioned departures from the ordinary rules of commercial law, to protect individual rights imperilled by the action of the Government, and that no resulting injury to public credit had ensued. He claimed, what was undoubtedly true, that the United States had already acted on an analogous principle in repudiating and attempting to make compensation otherwise, to the original holders of its paper currency. He thought his proposition a very liberal one to the present holders of certificates, because they had generally purchased them for from a fifth down to a tenth of their nominal value, and the certificates had suddenly risen to half that nominal value on the publication of Hamilton's report to Congress on the subject. His proposition would enable holders still to realize several hundred per centum on the money they had invested.188

“There was a self-serving subtext: the Virginians also feared that the bank would be powerful enough by 1800 to prevent the government’s removal from Philadelphia to the Potomac.” noted Fergus M. Bordewich the opposition of Jefferson, Madison and [Edmund] Randolph to the bank.189 Jefferson biographer Claude G. Bowers wrote: “Having discussed the bill with Jefferson informally, Washington requested written opinions from both Jefferson and Randolph, the Attorney-General. Both were in complete accord with the conclusions of Madison. The opinion of Jefferson, expressed with all his force of reasoning, was a powerful challenge to the doctrine of implied powers.”190 Jefferson favored a limited government. Hamilton favored a strong one. Jefferson came down strongly on the side of a limited construction of constitutional powers. In a memorandum on “Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank,” Jefferson wrote in February 1791, Jefferson denied the “general welfare” clause of the Constitution:

To lay taxes to provide for the general welfare of the United States, that is to say, ‘to lay taxes for the purpose of providing for the general welfare.’ For the laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union. In like manner, they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase, not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please, which might be for the good of the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless.

It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and, as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please.

It is an established rule of construction where a phrase will bear either of two meanings, to give it that which will allow some meaning to the other parts of the instrument, and not that which would render all the others useless. Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It was intended to lace them up straitly within the enumerated powers, and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect. It is known that the very power now proposed as a means was rejected as an end by the Convention which formed the Constitution. A proposition was made to them to authorize Congress to open canals, and an amendatory one to empower them to incorporate. But the whole was rejected, and one of the reasons for rejection urged in debate was, that then they would have a power to erect a bank, which would render the great cities, where there were prejudices and jealousies on the subject, adverse to the reception of the Constitution.191

President Washington wanted to do the right thing. He “understood little and thought even less about the fine points of speculative disputation from which Hamiltonians and Jeffersonians derived justification for their conduct,” argued historian Forrest McDonald. “Moreover, he was a man of unimpeachable honor and integrity who could continue to believe that most other men were, too, because he surrounded himself only with people who could comport themselves in accordance with his own unfeigned standards of honorable conduct.”192 McDonald wrote: “To Washington, who was quite unlearned in the law and hypersensitive regarding questions of constitutionality, all this legal jargon was a bit bewildering.”193 McDonald argued that Washington “regarded the Constitution as a cross between holy writ and a manual of instructions, and he regarded himself as the chief defender of its sanctity. He knew little of legal and constitutional theory but had outsized respect for Madison’s acumen in such matters, and he trusted Madison as both adviser and friend.”194

After receiving Jefferson’s and Randolph’s opposition in writing, Washington requested a contrary opinion from Hamilton. The Treasury secretary had only days to construct his own memorandum. Jefferson biographer Noble E. Cunningham, Jr. wrote: “The reasoning of each officer would have far-reaching influence in American history. Jefferson’s arguments for strict construction laid the foundation for the states’ rights interpretation of the Constitution, while Hamilton’s opinion. served as the model that Chief Justice John Marshall would later follow in giving judicial sanction to he doctrine of implied powers.”195 Washington biographer Willard Sterne Randall wrote: “Hamilton’s brilliant brief of 15,000 words relied on a liberal interpretation of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution that granted Congress the authority ‘to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution all the foregoing powers’ already enumerated in the document.”196 Hamilton patiently refuted Jefferson’s arguments, stating for example:

The Secretary entertains all the doubts which prevail concerning the utility of such companies, but he cannot fashion to his own mind a reason, to induce a doubt, that there is a constitutional authority in the United States to establish them. If such a reason were demanded, none could be given, unless it were this: That Congress cannot erect a corporation. Which would be no better than to say, they cannot do it, because they cannot do it—first presuming an inability, without reason, and then assigning that inability as the cause of itself. Illustrations of this kind might be multiplied without end. They shall, however, be pursued no further.

There is a sort of evidence on this point, arising from an aggregate view of the Constitution, which is of no inconsiderable weight: the very general power of laying and collecting taxes, and appropriating their proceeds—that of borrowing money indefinitely—that of coining money, and regulating foreign coins—that of making all needful rules and regulations respecting the property of the United States. These powers combined, as well as the reason and nature of the thing, speak strongly this language: that it is the manifest design and scope of the Constitution to vest in Congress all the powers requisite to the effectual administration of the finances of the United States. As far as concerns this object, there appears to be no parsimony of power.

To suppose, then, that the government is precluded from the employment of so usual and so important an instrument for the administration of its finances as that of a bank, is to suppose what does not coincide with the general tenor and complexion of the Constitution, and what is not agreeable to impressions that any new spectator would entertain concerning it.197

President Washington “was sufficiently impressed” that he did not send Hamilton’s defense to Jefferson for review, wrote Ron Chernow.198 With Hamilton’s document in hand and his constitutional questions answered, Washington signed the legislation on February 25, 1791. Historian Forrest McDonald wrote that Washington’s approval of the bank bill was influenced by his desire to ratify his choice of the location of the country’s new capital. McDonald wrote: “The law had required the president to appoint a commission to choose among various sites for the capital on the Potomac between two designated points. Instead Washington picked the area himself, three miles further downstream from the southeasternmost designated spot. The choice was nearer to Mount Vernon and increased the value of his holdings, as he admitted. It was generally assumed that whenever a president found it expedient to act contrary to law, he should at the first opportunity ask Congress from indemnification, which Washington proceeded to do. The House promptly passed the measure, but champions of the bank in the Senate held back, using indemnification as insurance against a veto of the bank bill. Thus while Randolph, Jefferson, and Hamilton were giving their solicited opinions on the constitutionality of the bank – the celebrated ‘strict constructionist’ arguments of the first two and the ‘loose constructionist’ argument of the third – the question whether Washington would sign the bank bill hinged on an entirely different pivot. On the tenth day after the bill passed Congress (the constitutionally mandated last day for signing), Washington signed. Immediately the Senate approved the indemnification bill.”199

Historian John Ferling wrote: ”The loss of that battle early in 1791 was a transforming experience that led Jefferson to several important conclusions: Washington could not be trusted to rein in Hamilton; Hamilton had won thus far by capitalizing on the lack of organized opposition; some who were Nationalists were not committed Hamiltonians; some in Congress would have opposed Hamilton in 1790-91 had they better understood the ramifications of his schemes; and many who had been in the Anti-Federalist camp during ratification were eager to resist the further consolidation of power in the national government that was part and parcel of Hamiltonianism.”200 Still, “[t]he fact that Washington accepted Hamilton’s view, did not, however, shake Jefferson’s faith in the President, and in defeat nothing so ill-tempered escaped him as flowed in a stream from the Federalists when threatened with defeat,” wrote Jefferson biographer Claude Bowers. “Within a month after Hamilton had won his fight, Jefferson, in commenting to a friend on what he conceived to be a dangerous trend, wrote that ‘it is fortunate that our first executive magistrate is purely and zealously republican’ – the highest praise he could bestow.”201

In the aftermath of the bank approval, Jefferson and Madison sought to broaden opposition to Hamilton’s policies. Washington biographer wrote: “Before leaving on a spring vacation tour of New York and New England with his friend Madison, Jefferson wrote to his son-in-law, Thomas Mann Randolph, at Monticello and sent him a copy of a Philadelphia newspaper, the National Gazette, which supported Hamilton. Its editorial policy was, Jefferson wrote, pure Tories, disseminating [Hamilton’s] doctrine of monarchy, aristocracy and the exclusion of the people....We have been trying to get another weekly or half-weekly [newspaper] excluding advertisements set up, so that it could go free through the states in the mails and furnish [our] vehicle of intelligence.

Jefferson here was admitting in a private letter what he had been denying in public: that he was involved in a opposition faction within Washington’s government and was seeking to establish his own partisan publicity organ.”202 The most political part of the Madison-Jefferson journey came before they left New York City – where they met with Senator Aaron Burr and Chancellor Robert Livingston. Washington had alienated Livingston by failing to give him an important position in the incoming administration in 1789. Jefferson scholar Susan Dunn wrote: “New York politicians had been intently, narrowly watching the tourists as they journeyed through their state. John Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s son and biographer, later claimed that the trees, lakes, and squirrels of the Northeast were a mere ‘pretext,’ a convenient cover for scouting out the political terrain.”203

Hamilton unwisely unleashed a speculative frenzy and a northern bias. Congress changed Hamilton’s system so a share could be purchased with by paying only $25 for a “scrip” down payment. The subscription was an immediate success. Historian Thomas Fleming wrote: “In less than an hour, the $8 million first issue was oversubscribed by $1.6 million. In five weeks, the value of the scrip soared from $25 to $325. The low opening price enabled almost everyone to get into the game. ‘Scripomania’ swept the nation....Six-percent government bonds also levitated in the bubble, soaring from 75 cents on the dollar to 130. Other bonds, called deferred sixes, because they would not come due for 10 years, went from 40 cents to par.”204 Hhistorian Louis Hacker wrote: “The stock of the Bank of the United States – as it was named – was quickly subscribed, businessmen in every important city in the country participating, so that in December, 1791, the main office opened in Philadelphia. In time, eight branches were set up, in Boston, New York, Baltimore, Washington, Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans. The bank established friendly relations with the state-chartered banks, extending credit to them and handling their notes. Here it played an important and salutary role: it was, in effect, a primitive form of central bank. The bank accepted its public responsibility, as Hamilton had predicted and, as early as the 1790s, was seeking to check the speculative activities of the state banks by restricting the circulation of their notes.”205 Hamilton biographer John C. Miller observed: “Amid all this tumult of buying and selling, it was evident that most of the stock of the Bank of the United States was being snapped up by citizens who resided north of the Potomac. For this ominous turn of events – ominous because it rendered more acute the division in the house of American capitalism – Hamilton disclaimed all responsibility: it had been his wish, he declared, that the bank stock ‘should be generally diffused throughout the States’ in order to give every section a stake in the prosperity and well-being of the bank. His plans had gone awry, he later told some Virginia Federalists, because he had not anticipated the embarrassment of riches that was showered upon the Bank, ‘it not having been foreseen, any where, that so rapid a subscription would take place.’ By underestimating the speculative zeal of his countrymen, he acknowledged, he had unwittingly permitted the concentration of control of the Bank by one section of the union.”206 Thomas Fleming wrote: “On July 4, 1791, the Treasury began selling stock in the new Bank of the United States. Noting that speculation was already brisk in government 6 percents, Hamilton attempted to check a similar fever in the bank’s stock by making it expensive to buy. A $400 share required $100 down, the rest to be paid in four semi-annual installments. (In modern money, this was roughly $6,000 a share and $1,500 down.) Laborers earned about $200 a year in 1792....Hamilton’s goal was still to concentrate stock ownership among ‘the better sort.’”207

On July 10, 1791, Madison wrote Jefferson: “The Bank shares have risen as much in the Market here as at Philadelphia. It seems admitted on all hands now that the plan of the institution gives a moral certainty of gain to the subscribers, with scarce a physical possibility of loss. The subscriptions are consequently a mere scramble for so much public plunder, which will be engrossed by those already loaded with the spoils of individuals. The event shews what would have been the operation of the plan, if, as originally proposed, subscriptions had been limited to the 1st of April, and to the favorite species of stock which the Bank Jobbers had monopolized. It pretty clearly appears, also, in what proportions the public debt lies in the Country, what sort of hands hold it, and by whom the people of the United States are to be governed. Of all the shameful circumstances of this business, it is among the greatest to see the members of the Legislature who were most active in pushing this job openly grasping its emoluments. Schuyler is to be put at the head of the Directors, if the weight of the New York subscribers can effect it. Nothing new is talked of here. In fact, stock-jobbing drowns every other subject. The Coffee House is in an eternal buzz with the Gamblers.”208 On August 4, 1791, Madison again wrote Jefferson: “Stock and scrip continue to be the sole domestic subjects of conversation. The former has mounted in the late sales above par, from which a superficial inference would be drawn that the rate of interest had fallen below 6 per cent. It is a fact, however, which explains the nature of these speculations, that they are carried on with money borrowed at from 2i per cent. a month, to 1 per cent. a week.” Four days later, Madison wrote Jefferson: “The stock-jobbers will become the pretorian band of the Government, at once its tool and its tyrant; bribed by its largesse, and overawing it by clamours and combinations.”209

Hamilton designed the bank structure; he did not control it. Hamilton biographer John C. Miller wrote: “Although Hamilton’s enemies pictured him as the master of the Bank of the United States and the directors as his willing tools, actually the Bank was under the direction of men who followed their own bent even though it ran directly contrary to the Secretary’s most cherished convictions. Brushing aside Hamilton’s objections, they established branches in the important commercial centers of the country, even where a state bank was already doing business.”210 Historian Thomas Fleming wrote: “Hamilton’s attempts to quell the cascading stock market with infusions from his sinking fund were repeatedly overwhelmed by the escalating panic. Even the bears were swallowed in the general collapse. One of their chiefs, Brockholst Livingston, was reported as ‘nearly ruined,’ and his fellows were not in much better shape. The commerce of New York all but stopped functioning. An upriver merchant with several tons of wheat on ships refused to unload them because no one could pay him in specie, and he did not trust the notes of the people who offered to store it.”211 Historian Forrest McDonald wrote: “Among the boldest, greediest, and least scrupulous speculators in the nation was a syndicate, or informal partnership, of four New Yorkers: William Duer, Alexander Macomb, Daniel McCormick, and William Constable.”212

Their speculation and corruption affronted Jefferson. Historian Drew McCoy wrote: “Jefferson was appalled by what he saw to be a corrupted legislature – the supposedly republican Congress of the Untied States – manipulated by Hamilton from his vantage point in the Treasury Department and slavishly beholden to the imperatives of his fiscal system. This system was dangerous and unjust in every respect. It encouraged reckless speculation and an unwholesome spirit of avarice in the society at large; it justified unduly heavy taxation of the republican’s productive citizens for the benefit of scheming stockjobbers; it spawned an unnecessary and wasteful bureaucracy.”213 Historian Gordon S. Wood wrote: “Jefferson believed that Hamilton, like all the eighteenth-century English ministers of the crown, had built support for his program by essentially buying people off – giving them offices or other favors. When Jefferson assumed the presidency in 1801, he was determined to do things differently, to create a republican government that was free of corruption.” Wood wrote: “With the Bank, opposition to the Federalist program assumed a more strident and ideological character. Not only did the provision that the bank was to reside in Philadelphia for its twenty-year life appear to threaten the promised move of the capital to the Potomac in 1800, but, more important, the creation of a national bank seemed to suggest that the United States was becoming a different kind of place from what many Americans wanted.”214

William Duer and Charges of Corruption

William Duer was an English native who served in the British army who moved to the West Indies to take care of his deceased father’s plantations. After he moved to New York in the early 1770s, he set up commercial business. Duer later became secretary of the Board of Treasury under the Articles of Confederation. Alexander Hamilton named him assistant secretary of the Treasury in 1789, but Duer continued to pursue his own commercial interests. Hamilton’s appointment of Duer was a colossal failure of judgment. Duer never differentiated between the public interest and private gain. Miller wrote that “while the Secretary of the Treasury observed the highest standards of probity, the Assistant Secretary had no standards whatever. In consequence, the tone of the administration tended to sink to the level upon which Duer operated.”215 Forrest McDonald: “That aspect of Hamilton’s psychological makeup – projection of self-trust – was a quality that no amount of education or experience could erase, and that was simultaneously noble and dangerous. He repeatedly trusted men who were not to be trusted, and it cost him dearly.”216 Hamilton, who tended to understand the worst in human nature, failed to see the worst in William Duer, whose speculation unleashed the Panic of 1792. After leaving his Treasury post in 1791, Duer started a speculative venture with a wealthy New Yorker, Alexander Macomb. John Steele Gordon wrote: “Duer began buying Bank of New York when rumors were about that it was to be bought by the Bank of the United States and converted into a branch. If that were true, the stock was certain to rise, and Duer and Macomb would make a handsome profit. But Duer, it seems, was player a deeper game. While long in the market with Macomb, he was short Bank of New York in his own account, having sold stock he didn’t own, expecting a fall in price. Thus Duer was betting in public that the Bank of New York would be taken over and in private that it would not be. If the merger failed, Duer and Macomb would lose, while Duer, on his own, would make a fortune. But since his agreement with Macomb called for using Macomb’s money, not his own, all Duer had to lose by double-crossing his partner was honor, a sacrifice he seemed perfectly willing to make.”217

Duer was borrowing heavily to make his speculations. John Steele Gordon noted that in addition to his speculation in the stock of the Bank of New York, “Duer began to buy other bank stocks for future delivery, betting that rising prices would enable him to pay for them when the time came. But among the people Duer had bought bank stock from were several other members of the Livingston clan, who were operating quite independently of their kinsman Walter [from whom Duer had borrowed $203,000.] They had an interest in seeing that prices fell. To ensure this, they began to withdraw gold and silver from their bank deposits, contracting the local money supply, and forcing banks to call in loans. In other words, they instituted a credit squeeze. Interest rates soared to as much as 1 percent a day.”218 When Duer could not meet his obligations, he was thrown into debtors’ prison – where he eventually died.

Hamilton’s Achilles heel was his friendship with Duer, a man without financial or moral principles. “Duer suffered from a severe case of moral myopia and always found rather blurry the line between public service and private gain,” wrote Ron Chernow.219 Upon appointment, Duer immediately began violating Hamilton’s prescriptions for public conduct. Profits from debt speculation were too tempting. Historian Thomas Fleming wrote: “Duer and his friends saw Hamilton’s plan as a way to make a killing. There were still certificates from the speculative cities of New York and Philadelphia waiting for aggressive buyers – especially in state debts, which had seemed even worse bets than the federal notes. Duer leaked word that Hamilton intended to consolidate these debts with the federal debt to strengthen the people’s attachment to the new government. Pennsylvania’s Senator Robert Morris, former superintendent of finance during the Revolution and considered the nation’s wealthiest man, sent agents galloping into the western reaches of New York, Pennsylvania, and other states to buy up state paper at a few cents on the dollar....Duer, ignoring a law that forbade Treasury employees from speculating in government securities, was another major player in this greedy game.”220 Historian Gordon S. Wood wrote that “Duer epitomized the kind of gambling ‘stock-jobber’ that Jefferson and Madison so feared....Duer borrowed from a wide variety of people, promising them ever increasing returns. When the speculative bubble finally burst in March 1792, investors big and small were badly hurt.”221 When Duer defaulted on several loans, his creditors circled and the price of 6 percent bonds fell sharply. Duer went to the city jail on March 23 to avoid physical attacks by some of his many creditors. Such speculation threatened to derail Alexander Hamilton’s plan. Biographer Nathan Schachner wrote that William Duer”s “involvement in speculations and in the tangled affairs of the Scioto Company, his direct use of his office for purposes of private gain, had become matters of public report and criticism. He became a drag upon Hamilton at a most critical stage in the congressional struggle, and it was doubtless at Hamilton’s suggestion that he resigned.”222

In early April 1792, Hamilton wrote: “I observe that certain characters continue to sport with Market & with the distresses of their fellow Citizens. ‘Tis time there should be a line of separation between honest Men & knaves, between respectable Stockholders and dealers in the funds, and mere unprincipled Gamblers.”223 Hamilton’s association with Duer gave credence to Jefferson’s Madison’s attacks on government. The speculations of like Duer and Morris gave credence to the cjarge that Hamilton’s system was based on greed. Still, Hamilton was compassionate. In August, 1792, Hamilton wrote one of Duer’s creditors: “Poor Duer has now had a long and severe confinement, such as would be adequate punishment for no trifling crime. I am well aware of all the blame to which he is liable and do not mean to be his apologist, though I believe he has been as much the dupe of his own imagination as others have been the victims of his projects. But what then? He is a man —he is a man with whom we have both been in habits of friendly intimacy. He is a man who, with a great deal of good zeal, has in critical times rendered valuable services to the country. He is a husband who has a most worthy and amiable wife perishing with chagrin at his situation; your relation by blood, mine by marriage. He is a father who has a number of fine children destitute of the means of education and support, every way in need of his future exertion”224

Fortunately, other Treasury employees acted more responsibly. Historian Thomas Fleming wrote: “Oliver Wolcott Jr. of Connecticut, the meticulous comptroller of the treasury, had been toiling over the books Duer left behind. He had found a shortfall of $239,000 from that resourceful fellow’s tenure on the old Treasury Board. Duer had long acknowledged the deficiency but ignored Wolcott’s demands that he make it good. Rumors of his financial overextension reached Wolcott, who called upon the U.S. attorney in New York, Richard Harrison, to sue Duer.” Fleming wrote: “Some 78 New Yorkers, many of them friends or partners of the assistant secretary, bought $2,717, 754 of southern state certificates, with eight accounting for more than $1,500,000 of this potential bonanza. Add to this the $4,949,253 in the federal debt held by New Yorkers, and it is clear why New York’s well-to-do had a feverish interest in Congress’s approval of Hamilton’s funding system.”225 Historian Fergus M. Bordewich wrote that in 1792, “New York’s unregulated financial market was in the throes of what contemporaries called ‘bancomania,’ a hurricane of speculation in government bonds that had prompted the instantaneous birth of a brood of flimsily financed banks. This bubble, Alexander Hamilton later reported, ‘was in fact artificial and violent such as no discreet calculation of probabilities could have supposed.’” Fleming added: In March 1792 the market finally collapsed....Many of the city’s biggest money men went bankrupt, including Duer, who was almost lynched. The collapse shocked financial markets, scaring away those investors who survived.”226

“Hamilton moved to make sure that the panic did not bring down basically sound institutions,” wrote John Steele Gordon. “He ordered the Treasury to purchase several hundred thousand dollar’s worth of federal securities to support the market and urged banks not to call in loans. Further, to ease the money shortage, he allowed merchants to pay import duties – usually payable only in gold or Bank of the United States banknotes – at the customs house with notes payable in forty-give days. Speaking of the Treasury and the banks, Hamilton wrote that ‘no calamity truly public can happen, while these institutions remain sound.’”227

Naturally, the resulting scandal fed Jefferson’s skepticism of Hamilton’s bank plans. "The relationship between government and businessmen was not changed by Duer and his panic. The aid he received, the special favors expected by businessmen allied with the party in power, and the mixing of business and public service by officeholders remained common,” wrote Duer biographer Robert Jones. “Duer's career simply furnished the most spectacular example of the use of public office for private profit during the Confederation and early national periods of our history."228 Hamilton biographer Willard Sterne Randall wrote: “On March 8, in the midst of the crisis, Madison attempted to strip Hamilton of his treasury post. Hamilton was accountable to Congress, Madison argued, because his job and his achievements all flowed from the Act of Congress of 1789 that had coined the Treasury Department and that required Hamilton to report to Congress. Madison attempted to use Hamilton’s brilliant reports as a weapon against him. Hamilton wrote afterward that his ‘overthrow was anticipated as certain and Mr. Madison, laying aside his wonted caution, boldly led his troops as he imagined to a certain victory.’ Hamilton’s rallied and thwarted Madison’s forces, but only by a four-vote margin..”229

William Duer and Charges of Corruption

Jeffersonians were convinced that Hamilton led a anglophile, crypto monarchist movement. Joseph T. Ellis wrote: “The notion that a diabolical conspiracy of moneymen and monarchists had seized control of the federal government under Washington’s very nose was so widespread within Virginia’s political elite that they had lost all perspective on how conspiratorial their own words sounded to those denied the vision.”230 Jeffersonians had determined the facts and the motivation of Hamilton. They were undeterred by political defeat or contrary evidence. John C. Miller wrote: “Time after time, assuming that Hamilton’s political goose was surely cooked, the Republicans...prepared to carve it up – only to find that the elusive bird had taken wing, leaving the hungry crowd below. Chagrined as they were by these repeated disappointments, the Republicans’ conviction that Hamilton was guilty as charged was not affected in the slightest.”231

Thomas Jefferson hated debt. Therefore, he hated Hamilton. But as was often the case with Jefferson, he said some things, said he believed some things, but did others. Jefferson’s dislike of debt reflected his dislike of the British economic system. Before leaving Paris for the Untied States, Jefferson wrote James Madison on September 6, 1789 a long and oft-quoted letter of his political philosophy in which he argued that the earth belonged to the living and that the debts of one generation should not be passed on to the next:

The question Whether one generation of men has a right to bind another, seems never to have been started either on this or our side of the water. Yet it is a question of such consequences as not only to merit decision, but place also, among the fundamental principles of every government. The course of reflection in which we are immersed here on the elementary principles of society has presented this question to my mind; and that no such obligation can be transmitted I think very capable of proof. I set out on this ground which I suppose to be self evident, "that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living;" that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it. The portion occupied by an individual ceases to be his when himself ceases to be, and reverts to the society. If the society has formed no rules for the appropriation of its lands in severalty, it will be taken by the first occupants. These will generally be the wife and children of the decedent. If they have formed rules of appropriation, those rules may give it to the wife and children, or to some one of them, or to the legatee of the deceased. So they may give it to his creditor. But the child, the legatee or creditor takes it, not by any natural right, but by a law of the society of which they are members, and to which they are subject. Then no man can by natural right oblige the lands he occupied, or the persons who succeed him in that occupation, to the paiment of debts contracted by him. For if he could, he might during his own life, eat up the usufruct of the lands for several generations to come, and then the lands would belong to the dead, and not to the living, which would be reverse of our principle. What is true of every member of the society individually, is true of them all collectively, since the rights of the whole can be no more than the sum of the rights of individuals. To keep our ideas clear when applying them to a multitude, let us suppose a whole generation of men to be born on the same day, to attain mature age on the same day, and to die on the same day, leaving a succeeding generation in the moment of attaining their mature age all together. Let the ripe age be supposed of 21. years, and their period of life 34. years more, that being the average term given by the bills of mortality to persons who have already attained 21. years of age. Each successive generation would, in this way, come on and go off the stage at a fixed moment, as individuals do now. Then I say the earth belongs to each of these generations during it's course, fully, and in their own right. The 2d. generation receives it clear of the debts and incumbrances of the 1st., the 3d. of the 2d. and so on. For if the 1st. could charge it with a debt, then the earth would belong to the dead and not the living generation. Then no generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during the course of it's own existence. At 21. years of age they may bind themselves and their lands for 34. years to come: at 22. for 33: at 23 for 32. and at 54 for one year only; because these are the terms of life which remain to them at those respective epochs. But a material difference must be noted between the succession of an individual and that of a whole generation. Individuals are parts only of a society, subject to the laws of a whole. These laws may appropriate the portion of land occupied by a decedent to his creditor rather than to any other, or to his child, on condition he satisfies his creditor. But when a whole generation, that is, the whole society dies, as in the case we have supposed, and another generation or society succeeds, this forms a whole, and there is no superior who can give their territory to a third society, who may have lent money to their predecessors beyond their faculty of paying.

What is true of a generation all arriving to self-government on the same day, and dying all on the same day, is true of those on a constant course of decay and renewal, with this only difference. A generation coming in and going out entire, as in the first case, would have a right in the 1st year of their self dominion to contract a debt for 33. years, in the 10th. for 24. in the 20th. for 14. in the 30th. for 4. whereas generations changing daily, by daily deaths and births, have one constant term beginning at the date of their contract, and ending when a majority of those of full age at that date shall be dead. The length of that term may be estimated from the tables of mortality, corrected by the circumstances of climate, occupation &c. peculiar to the country of the contractors. Take, for instance, the table of M. de Buffon wherein he states that 23,994 deaths, and the ages at which they happened. Suppose a society in which 23,994 persons are born every year and live to the ages stated in this table. The conditions of that society will be as follows. 1st. it will consist constantly of 617,703 persons of all ages. 2dly. of those living at any one instant of time, one half will be dead in 24. years 8. months. 3dly. 10,675 will arrive every year at the age of 21. years complete. 4thly. it will constantly have 348,417 persons of all ages above 21. years. 5ly. and the half of those of 21. years and upwards living at any one instant of time will be dead in 18. years 8. months, or say 19. years as the nearest integral number. Then 19. years is the term beyond which neither the representatives of a nation, nor even the whole nation itself assembled, can validly extend a debt....

I suppose that the received opinion, that the public debts of one generation devolve on the next, has been suggested by our seeing habitually in private life that he who succeeds to lands is required to pay the debts of his ancestor or testator, without considering that this requisition is municipal only, not moral, flowing from the will of the society which has found it convenient to appropriate the lands become vacant by the death of their occupant on the condition of a paiment of his debts; but that between society and society, or generation and generation there is no municipal obligation, no umpire but the law of nature. We seem not to have perceived that, by the law of nature, one generation is to another as one independant nation to another."

The interest of the national debt of France being in fact but a two thousandth part of it's rent-roll, the paiment of it is practicable enough; and so becomes a question merely of honor or expediency. But with respect to future debts; would it not be wise and just for that nation to declare in the constitution they are forming that neither the legislature, nor the nation itself can validly contract more debt, than they may pay within their own age, or within the term of 19. years? And that all future contracts shall be deemed void as to what shall remain unpaid at the end of 19. years from their date? This would put the lenders, and the borrowers also, on their guard. By reducing too the faculty of borrowing within its natural limits, it would bridle the spirit of war, to which too free a course has been procured by the inattention of money lenders to this law of nature, that succeeding generations are not responsible for the preceding.

On similar ground it may be proved that no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. They may manage it then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. They are masters too of their own persons, and consequently may govern them as they please. But persons and property make the sum of the objects of government. The constitution and the laws of their predecessors extinguished them, in their natural course, with those whose will gave them being. This could preserve that being till it ceased to be itself, and no longer. Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19. years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force and not of right.

It may be said that the succeeding generation exercising in fact the power of repeal, this leaves them as free as if the constitution or law had been expressly limited to 19 years only. In the first place, this objection admits the right, in proposing an equivalent. But the power of repeal is not an equivalent. It might be indeed if every form of government were so perfectly contrived that the will of the majority could always be obtained fairly and without impediment. But this is true of no form. The people cannot assemble themselves; their representation is unequal and vicious. Various checks are opposed to every legislative proposition. Factions get possession of the public councils. Bribery corrupts them. Personal interests lead them astray from the general interests of their constituents; and other impediments arise so as to prove to every practical man that a law of limited duration is much more manageable than one which needs a repeal.

This principle that the earth belongs to the living and not to the dead is of very extensive application and consequences in every country, and most especially in France. It enters into the resolution of the questions Whether the nation may change the descent of lands holden in tail? Whether they may change the appropriation of lands given antiently to the church, to hospitals, colleges, orders of chivalry, and otherwise in perpetuity? whether they may abolish the charges and privileges attached on lands, including the whole catalogue ecclesiastical and feudal? it goes to hereditary offices, authorities and jurisdictions; to hereditary orders, distinctions and appellations; to perpetual monopolies in commerce, the arts or sciences; with a long train of et ceteras: and it renders the question of reimbursement a question of generosity and not of right. In all these cases the legislature of the day could authorize such appropriations and establishments for their own time, but no longer; and the present holders, even where they or their ancestors have purchased, are in the case of bona fide purchasers of what the seller had no right to convey.232

Jefferson, who lived on personal debt and credit and died bankrupt, carried his hatred of public debt into the Washington administration. Historian Herbert E. Sloan noted: "Jefferson's letter of 6 September 1789 is a remarkable statement of his conviction that debt is an evil to be avoided when at all possible and in no case to be allowed to burden the future. Written at a time when he was especially conscious of the role of debt in his own life, when his country was about to address the problem of its Revolutionary debt, and when France was in the opening states of a revolution brought on by the inability of its government class to deal with the debts piled up by the ancien régime, the letter expresses thoughts long maturing.”233 Historian Walter A. McDougall observed: “The priggish Jefferson despised [the speculation]. Of course, he finagled his own finances by using his slaves as collateral, but this bank fostered British-style corruption, city corruption. He called it public plunder and was not surprised when Scottish and English merchants appeared in New York ‘to dabble in federal filth.’”234

But despite the speculation, a small economic miracle had taken place in America. Financial historian Richard Sylla wrote of the impact of Hamilton's work: "Forty-four new business corporations...received charters in 1790 to 1792: more in three years than the total of seven in the entire colonial era and the total of twenty-four in the 1780s. Securities markets in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston priced every business day the $63 million of restructured domestic U.S. debt that began to appear in late 1790, as well as the $10 million in stock of the Bank of the United States and the stock of state banks and nonbanking corporations. These markets had even survived their first bubbles, panics, and crashes in 1791 and 1792. Finally, by 1793 the United States looked surprisingly modern. In 1789 it was decidedly premodern."235 Historian Darren Staloff wrote: “The brilliance of Hamilton’s plan was that it turned an immense liability – the public debt – into an equally large boon. It did so because, if properly funded and transformed into ‘an object of established confidence,’ the public debt could serve as capital, the one element the resource-rich nation sorely lacked. Once public credit had been established by creating investor confidence, government securities would be treated as legal tender and thus ‘transfers of stock of public debt’ would become ‘equivalent to payments in specie.’ And once government debt was sufficiently creditworthy that it ‘passes current as specie,’ the nation would enjoy a dramatic increase in its money supply.”236

Failing to make headway against Hamilton in the Cabinet, Jefferson decided to move against Hamilton in the Congress. Jefferson wanted a public challenge of Hamilton, but could not do it himself. Jefferson biographer Christopher Hitchens wrote that Jefferson “began to employ a protégé of Madison’s named William Branch Giles, a Virginia congressman with a slashing parliamentary manner, as a cat’s-paw. Giles proposed a number of resolutions requiring Hamilton to produce vast amounts of Treasury data at the shortest possible notice. It was believed by the Virginians that Hamilton’s rapid transfers of money and accounts must conceal something disgraceful, but in all cases the Treasury secretary outclassed his critics by furnished true statements in conformity with near impossible deadlines.”237 Richard Norton Smith, wrote: “Jefferson was masterminding the most serious campaign yet to drive Hamilton from office....Through superhuman exertions, Hamilton succeeded in burying his accusers in a mass of unassailable fiscal detail.”238 Hamilton biographer John C. Miller wrote: “Giles was a planter-politician notable for his loathing of Hamilton, his fondness for descanting upon ‘canvas-back ducks, ham and chickens, old Madeira, the glories of the Ancient Dominion,’ and for his drinking habits – ‘wine or cherry bounce from twelve o’clock to night every day.’ It would have better for the Republicans, however, if Giles had devoted more time to the study of finance and less to conviviality.”239 Jefferson’s “Virginia friends in Congress, led by Representative William Branch Giles, pressed an investigation into the Treasury Department that seemed aimed at driving Hamilton from his post,” wrote Noble Cunningham. “Jefferson’s role in this is not clear, but a draft in Jefferson’s handwriting of Gile’s resolutions censuring the conduct of the secretary of the treasury suggests that Jefferson was a party to the business and that he was not so aloof from the proceedings of Congress as he claimed to be.”240

In 1793, Jefferson apparently wrote out resolutions for Virginia Congressman Giles to offer in Congress. Historian Nathan Schachner wrote that Jefferson and Madison “were co-partners in the entire proceedings now admits of no further doubt. The documentary evidence is overwhelming. There is in existence a draft of the resolutions moved by Giles in Jefferson’s own handwriting, which to a large extent parallels word for word those which appeared in Congress, except for one significant omission by Giles.”241 Schachner wrote: “The resolutions, nine in number, minced no words. They charged Hamilton with specific violation of an Act of Congress, dated August 4, 1790, in applying portions of appropriated funds to purposes not authorized by law. They charged Hamilton with deliberately deviating from the instructions of the President of the United States in the transfer of moneys raised by loans in Europe to the United States, and in failing to provide congress with official information of his acts in connection therewith...”242 Historian John C. Miller wrote: “The eighth and last resolution introduced by Giles was to the effect that copy of the resolutions be transmitted to the President – a clear directive to remove the offending Secretary from office. Obviously, the Republicans’ strategy was to arraign Hamilton for various crimes and misdemeanors and then to ring the changes until doubts of probity had been thoroughly inculcated in the public mind. For this reason, they had postponed Giles’s formal indictment of the Secretary until the closing days of the session.” Giles’ resolutions failed miserably. Miller wrote: “Only five members of the House voted for all nine resolutions; among them was James Madison.”243 Hamilton biographer Nathan Schachner wrote: “Hamilton had won a tremendous victory. Jefferson sought to minimize its importance with the comment that Giles had failed only because the House was composed of bank directors, holders of bank stock, stock-jobbers, blind devotees, ignorant people and those who were either too lazy or too good-humored.” Historian Nathan Schachner wrote: “The upshot of the abortive Republican campaign was an almost total vindication of Hamilton....At worst, Hamilton was found guilty of excessive discretion in shifting money among accounts to insure that the government did not miss interest payments. He also was not always meticulous in matching specific loans to the laws authorizing them, but nobody ever proved that Alexander Hamilton had diverted public money for personal profit.”244

Jefferson’s prevarications were matched by his insouciance. Hamilton biographer Nathan Schachner wrote that “when Hamilton demanded of him a statement concerning the cabinet discussion back in 1790 on the question of allocating the European loans, which made up the great part of the resolutions of censure, Jefferson replied blandly that the matter had gone ‘out of the my mind altogether, till the late enquiries brought it forward again.’ Nevertheless he felt that the President’s instructions had given no sanction to Hamilton’s course, and ended with the astounding assertion that ‘I did not take up then as a Volunteer, nor should now have taken the trouble of recurring to it, but at your request, as it is one in which I am not particularly concerned, which I never had either the time or inclination to investigate, & on which my opinion is of no importance.’ This from the man who had drafted the resolutions of Mr. Giles!”245

The Jeffersonians had fired their volley. When it failed to hit its mark, they retreated. John C. Miller wrote: “Congress adjourned shortly after the defeat of the Giles resolutions, the Republicans bitterly lamenting that just had miscarried again. It was not to be doubted,’ said John Marshall, ‘that their utmost efforts would be exerted, to communicate to their constituents the ill humor.’ But when Giles reached Virginia, he had not a word to say about Hamilton: he was, it was remarked, ‘as mute as a fish’ and about as happy as one out of water.” Republicans were nevertheless persistent in their efforts to discredit Hamilton and drive him from office. Although they failed in the Reynolds affair to prove Hamilton’s political corruption, they remained convinced it existed. Miller wrote that “the Republicans were seldom without an informer or two who was ready to swear that he could put Hamilton behind bars.”246 Gossip ruled in the nation’s capital. A former Treasury Clerk, Andrew G. Frances tried to blackmail Hamilton and failing that published an “Appeal against the Conduct of the Secretary of the Treasury. Miller wrote: “The former Treasury clerk destroyed his own credibility as a witness by his admission that he himself was a speculator who, having bought securities at a depreciated price, had turned against Hamilton when the Secretary refused to accept them at the Treasury, thus depriving Fraunces of his anticipated profit. As a result, Hamilton emerged with his reputation for probity enhanced: he had refused to connive with a speculator and he had rigidly observed the letter of the law.”247

Foreign Policy Disputes

Much of the 1790s concerned U.S. efforts to stay out of war with either Britain or France. President Washington was determined to maintain American independence from European conflicts. Historian Richard Norton Smith noted that “that what Washington did as president was hardly more important than what he did not do. He did not take sides in the continental wars that swept Europe as a result of France’s revolutionary experiment, buying precious time for the United States to evolve a sense of nationhood. He did not organize a king’s party, nor regard himself as a democratically chosen monarch (the Aurora’s assertions to the contrary), nor designate his vice president to serve as a kind of prime minister, nor turn the secretary of the treasury into an American chancellor of the exchequer, all of which he might easily have done. Most important of all, by voluntarily relinquishing office at the end of two terms, Washington forced a world more accustomed to Caesars than Cincinnatus to revise its definition of greatness.”248 Historian Edmund S. Morgan wrote: “Although Washington was convinced, like many men of his time, that the interests of different countries need not conflict, he was certain that no country would or ought to act against its own perceived interests. To expect any country to do so was folly, and it was criminal folly for any man charged with his country’s interests to trust another country with them, as for example Congress had done instructing its envoys to be directed by the French court in the peace negotiations with England.”249

In 1778, seeking French help in winning the American Revolution. Americans signed a treaty of Alliance with France along with a Treaty of Amity and Commerce. After of the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War, Americans differed on whether the Franco-American alliance remained in effect, especially after the French Revolution of 1789. Hamilton biographer John C. Miller wrote: “Hamilton urged that the administration adopt a policy of nonrecognition toward the French Republic and declare the treaties suspended. No other government had extended recognition to the men who had presided over the execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and Hamilton was unwilling that the United States should be the first to grasp the bloodstained hands. As for the treaties, he would have preferred to declare them null and void, but, finding no warrant in the law of nations for such action, he fell back upon the policy of pronouncing them suspended until a stable government has been established in France. But here Jefferson vehemently disagreed: the French minister, he insisted, must be received and nothing must be done to impair the Franco-American treaties. Jefferson’s counsel prevailed with President Washington: he declared that he would receive Citizen Edmond Genêt as the envoy of the French Republic and that the Franco-American treaties were binding upon both parties.”250

Historian Drew McCoy wrote: “During the early 1790s Jefferson’s commercial strategy became something it had not formerly been: the linchpin of an alternative system of political economy that was steadily pushed to the fringes of national policy. When he joined President George Washington’s cabinet, he was optimistic that conditions favored more than ever the fulfillment of his aims. In theory, France’s more liberal government should be ideologically receptive to the logic of commercial freedom, and the United States now had a federal government capable of coordinating and implementing a serious assault on British mercantilism.”251
Politics intervened in the form of the French Revolution and the expanding conflict between French and British shipping on the Atlantic Ocean. Conflict arose in early 1792 over how to handle the French-American treaty of 1778 as a new French ambassador with ambitious goals landed on American soil. Jeffersonians supported the French Revolution and the French treaty. Hamilton was appalled by the revolution’s excesses and argued that the treaty was contrary to American “Reaching Philadelphia on April 17, Washington plunged into the work of evaluating the effect of the war on American policy. As he did so, he discovered that his secretary of state had only a few general thoughts on a proper policy for a neutral country,” wrote historian Robert E. Jones. “Quite the contrary with Hamilton, who presented the president with a list of questions regarding American conduct toward France and the validity of the 1778 treaties with that country. Lacking any other advice, Washington used the list almost verbatim as an agenda for a cabinet meeting on the morning of April 19.

Although Jefferson resented his colleague’s role, he had only himself to blame; the secretary of the treasury had done his homework, the secretary of state had not.”252 Historian John E. Ferling wrote: “Three long, acrimonious meetings were required to iron out a policy, sessions in which the extent of the raw-edged differences that separated Hamilton and Jefferson became clear to Washington. At the final meeting, conducted early the following week something that resembled a compromise was reached. Washington agreed to a Proclamation of Neutrality, a document couched in carefully contrived language so as to suggest that its purpose merely was to warn the American citizenry against acting in a partisan manner toward any belligerent nation. In fact, Hamilton pretty much got what he wished, for it now was clear that the administration would not honor its alliance with France, and that the issue had been the real key to the quarrel.”253 Biographer Forrest McDonald wrote: “Backing the loser would ensure that the are would be administered unfavorably to the United States, whereas remaining strictly neutral would leave open the possibility of favorable negotiations with the victor.”254

“It remained for Randolph to choose the words of the neutrality proclamation; the President had confidence that he could phrase a declaration moderate enough for Jefferson and forceful enough for Hamilton,” wrote historian Douglas Southall Freeman. “When the Cabinet convened on April 22 the Attorney General displayed the draft of his handiwork. Approval was unanimous and Washington ordered a finished copy drawn up for signature and seal.”255 Writing to defend the Proclamation of Neutrality Hamilton contended: “Self-preservation is the first duty of a nation; and though in the performances of stipulations relating to war, good faith requires that its ordinary hazards should be fairly met, because they are directly contemplated by such stipulations, yet it does not require that extraordinary and extreme hazards should be run....”256 It was Jefferson and Madison, neither of whom had any real combat experiences, who were effectively war mongers in the confrontation with Britain. Though they objected to military expenditures, they had a persistent desire to punish Britain for its commercial sins. Biographer Forrest McDonald wrote: “As Hamilton said, had Jefferson and Madison had their way a war with Britain would have been provoked within six months.”257

Washington had to arbitrate between not only two powerful European governments, but between members of his ow government. “Few realize how well educated Washington was in dealing with the foreign events of his day,” observed historian Garry Wills. “He had served with the officers of both ‘superpowers’ of his time.”258 Historian Edmund S. Morgan wrote: “Although Washington anticipated commercial benefits from this policy of neutrality, he did not think it wise in negotiating treaties to take undue advantage of the bargaining position offered to the United States by the distresses of other countries. In his view, since he believed nations acted always according to their interest, a treaty was useful only so long as its provisions coincided with the interests of both countries.”259 Transatlantic diplomacy was never easy – especially in the 19th century. Historian Bernard A. Weisberger wrote: “The president issued an official Proclamation of Neutrality on April 19, and Hamilton, who freely leaked the substance of cabinet meetings to British minister George Hammond, assured him that Washington intended to observe it strictly.”260 Historian Thomas K. McCraw noted that Hamilton understood the relationship between foreign policy and finance better than Jefferson. He understood: “War with Britain would not only expose the United States to mortal danger, but would also cut off its major source of revenue: tariffs on imported British goods.”261

While Hamilton’s relations with British diplomats were improperly close, Jefferson’s relations with the new French diplomat became improperly close as well. Hamilton biographer John C. Miller wrote: “While Republicans talked peace, they advocated increasingly severe reprisals against Great Britain. Before Madison’s proposals could be acted upon, a new plan was broached in Congress – the sequestration of debts owing by Americans to British subjects.” This proposal was popular among southern planters, wrote Miller: “And yet from Hamilton’s point of view the sequestration of debts was more indefensible and more likely to provoke war with Great Britain than were Madison’s proposals. ‘No powers of language at my command,’ he exclaimed, ‘can express the abhorrence I feel at the idea of violating of property of individuals...on account of controversies between nation and nation.’ If the United States stooped to such perfidy, he said, it would sacrifice its last shred of honor; the courage of its citizens would be frozen ‘by the cowardly declaration that we have no recourse but in fraud’; and the expunging of all debts, foreign and domestic, would almost certainly follow. Since 1783, he had been preaching to his countrymen that debts were sacred and must be paid in full regardless of wars and revolutions; any other course, he had repeatedly said, was certain to destroy private and public credit, with fatal consequences to the American government and economy. With the adoption of the Constitution and the opening of the federal courts to British and Loyalist creditors, Hamilton had supposed that the victory had been won, but it now appeared that the decisive battle was yet to be fought.”262 Economics and foreign policy were thus ineluctably intertwined. Foreign policy always affected Hamilton’s thinking about development. In the 1790s, Federalists looked to England as the key to economic growth. Jeffersonians looked to France. Despite the French role in the American Revolution, Hamilton argued no special was owed the French government, especially when that government had changed dramatically. Biographer Forrest McDonald wrote: “Gratitude, said Hamilton was no sound basis for relations among nations; the only sound bases were mutual interest and reciprocal advantage, guided by the ‘sacred and unequivocal principles of faith and justice.”263

Jeffersonians wanted stiff actions taken against Britain. Hamilton’s differences with Jefferson centered on their different perceptions of Britain and France. Hamilton biographer Nathan Schachner wrote: “To Hamilton such a war [with England] meant the ruin of everything he had laboriously built. Under the stress of hostilities with the powerful British fleet all his financial structure must go toppling, and with it, the prosperity and future of the country.”264 Ron Chernow wrote: “Hamilton thought it better for America to operate temporarily as a junior partner in Britain’s global trading system than to try to undercut Britain and align itself with France.”265 Historians Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick wrote: “British success in the American market had been and would continue to be the product of a series of advantages that were irresistible. They included a detailed knowledge of that market based on long experience; a close network of trading relationships; and a generous reservoir of credit, for which those very elements of knowledge and experience gave the security.”266 Jefferson wanted to keep Americans down on the farm, but he worried about American dependence on English imports. Manufacturing in post-Revolution America, moreover, was a rural phenomenon. Wood wrote that Jefferson “had to concede ‘that manufactures are now as necessary to our independence as to our comfort.’ He vowed he would in the future purchase homemade goods and thereby ‘wrest that weapon of distress from the hand which has wielded it.’ Still, he hoped that Americans would manufacture only enough goods to meet their domestic demand and would not end up, like England, creating urban factories into which their surplus labor would be drawn.”267 Jefferson thought that America’s surplus land should soak its population instead.

“Roughly 900 percent of America’s taxable imports arrived from Great Britain,” wrote historian John Ferling. “War with Britain would, at the very least, shatter the mending American economy.”268 Thus, Hamilton pushed for neutrality in the conflict between France and England and negotiation to solve American problems with England. Historian Thomas K. McCraw wrote: “The phenomenon of Anglophobia ran deep in most parts of the United States, and remained a strong element in arguments over the nation’s foreign policy for at least two generations after 1776. Many Americans believed that Britain was intent on recolonizing the United States.”269 Hamilton biographer John C. Miller wrote: “Nothing could be more ill-timed, Hamilton’s estimation, than a trade war with Great Britain while the republic was struggling to get on its feet. Without a continuation of peaceful commercial relations with Great Britain, Hamilton saw no hope of attaining financial solvency: only from import and tonnage duties – largely paid by British merchandise and ships – could the United States draw sufficient revenue to pay the national debt.” Madison sought, noted Miller, “to effect a fundamental shift in American trade from Great Britain to France by imposing discriminatory duties upon British ships, merchandise and raw materials. His purpose, he made clear, was to install France in the position occupied by Great Britain as the principal market and source of supply of the United States.”270

Hamilton unquestionably worked to undermine Secretary of State Jefferson. Historian John C. Miller wrote: “Hamilton helped to establish the conviction in the minds of British officials that Jefferson was their enemy and that the States Department ought to be by-passed when negotiations were undertaken with the United States.”271 Historian Edmund S. Morgan wrote that “Although it has been demonstrated that Jefferson’s suspicions of Hamilton’s connivance with the British were only too well founded, Jefferson’s views of both Hamilton and the British did sometimes verge on the paranoid. He filled his notebooks and autobiography with every rumor peddled to him about Hamilton as a king lover, a monarchist, a Tory.”272 Of Britain, Jefferson wrote: “That nation hates us, their ministers hate us, and their king more than all other men.”273 Britain indeed tried America’s patience with a series of policies. Historians Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick wrote: “The gross fact upon which everything had to turn was the virtual monopoly of American trade possessed by Great Britain. Meanwhile, within this orbit of trading relationships, many limits had now been placed upon the American freedom of action by England’s reimposition of the old navigation system....Basically Americans were not interested in French goods”274

Having generaled American though a seven year war, George Washington was averse to another such military conflict. The United States had to abiding concerns – protection of its Atlantic trade and shipping from European interference and cementing the loyalty of pioneer Americans living on the western side of the Appalachian mountains. For that, America needed commercial access to the Mississippi River through Spanish-held New Orleans. Historian John E. Ferling wrote: “Two things about the changing situation in Europe struck the president. Should Spain be caught up in the maelstrom, the United States might face both opportunities and dangers. A beleaguered Madrid might be more willing to concede America’s navigation rights on the Mississippi, and it also might surrender its claims to the disputed territory it occupied in the Southwest. On the other hand, Spain might tie these concessions to an agreement by the United States to help defend its New World colonies against French attack. The latter option was something Washington would not countenance, and he directed Jefferson to instruct the two United States commissioners in Madrid – a team appointed late in 1791 to pen discussions with the Spanish government – not to consent to any such bargain.”275 Control of the Mississippi River was deemed particularly important to Jefferson, Madison and their friend James Monroe. Many Virginians had migrated to Kentucky and needed the Mississippi to bring their goods to

Just as Jefferson interfered in the conduct of America’s financial policies during George Washington’s first term, so did Thomas Jefferson interfere in the operations of America’s diplomacy. Historian Noble E. Cunningham, Jr. wrote: “It is essential to an understanding of Jefferson’s tenure as secretary of state to recognize that the secretary of the treasury was intimately involved in matters of foreign affairs, and Hamilton’s view of what the policy of the United States should be was diametrically opposed to that of the secretary of state, to whom the idea of an alliance with England suggested not the opportunity for peaceful growth that Hamilton envisioned but renewed subjugation to a former master.276 Norman Schachner wrote that neither Jefferson nor Hamilton “it must be stated emphatically, on the fact of neutrality. Here the two antagonists were wholly in agreement. Neither one relished the idea of throwing the United States into a war from which only the most fatal consequences could ensue for the still weak and semi-formed nation on this side of the Atlantic. But on the details of neutrality, on the infinite complexity of questions that followed inevitably in its train, there was not merely no agreement but wide divergencies.”277 The overriding question was whether the Washington Administration would favor France or England in its foreign and trade policies. Because British trade was far larger than trade with France, Hamilton emphasized good relations with France. Because he was politically closer to the goals of the French Revolution, Jefferson emphasized good relations with the new French regime. “Jefferson was in some ways as nationalist as Hamilton,” wrote historian Garry Wills. “He wanted an American ethos protected from European ways. It was he, not Hamilton (as Woodrow Wilson and others have said), who warned against entangling alliances.’ Many of his finer schemes would have called for extensive states powers he was unwilling to envisage – e.g., the effort to secure control of the whole continent for America, from Cuba to Canada; his plan for allowing free acreage to citizens; his slave-deportation scheme. Hamilton is vulnerable to ‘idealistic’ criticism because he realistically saw what was necessary when vague schemes and ideals were discussed.”278

Politics and diplomacy were intertwined. “Abroad, it was necessary to strike a balance between the three competing powers and to try to profit from any conflict between them,” wrote Jefferson biographer Christopher Hitchens. “At home, it was necessary to avoid the predominance of any one faction that was too much aligned with any foreign power. And on the frontier, watch had to be kept for any opportunity to secure the Mississippi, without the possession of which, with its access to the vast interior, the ‘United States’ could only hope to be a littoral power. Jefferson handled this three-sided dilemma in the following way. He encouraged any symptoms of jostling or jealousy between Britain, France, and Spain, while privately maintaining a strong prejudice in favor of the French. He identified the British interest, and its domestic conservative counterpart, with those like Hamilton who promoted a stern fiscal orthodoxy..”279 Internal conflicts that hampered Jefferson’s efforts. Historian ichard North Smith wrote: “Frantically trying to avoid conflict in Europe, Washington’s administration was at war with itself. Hamilton decried Jefferson’s ‘womanish’ attachment to France and supplied Cabinet secrets on a regular basis to George Hammond. Jefferson thought Henry Knox ‘a fool’ and Attorney General Edmund Randolph, the legal Hamlet on whom Washington increasingly relied, ‘the poorest chameleon I ever saw, having no color of his own and reflecting that nearest him. When he is with me, he is a whig. When with Hamilton he is a tory. When with the President, he is that [which] he thinks will please him.”280

France was becoming increasingly annoyed with its American “allies.” Historian Samuel Flagg Bemis wrote: “President Washington’s proclamation of neutrality and the refusal of his government to lend itself to Genêt’s projects soon showed France that her ally did not intend to involve itself in the European war by becoming such a base of belligerent naval and military operations. France perforce acquiesced in that decision, being still unwilling to invoke the letter of the alliance. This was because the actual belligerency of the United States which had no navy was worth nothing in itself and the really great disadvantage of making American shipping immediately liable to capture and confiscation as enemy property. The neutrality of the United States, even though it could not serve as a base for such projects as Genêt attempted, was far more serviceable than American military assistance. The principal object of France was to secure from neutral America provisions for her beleaguered homeland and colonies, imported in American ships under protection of the principles of the commercial treaty of 1778: free ships free goods; provisions and naval stores not contraband; neutral right to trade in non-contraband goods to and between unblockaded enemy ports.”281

Jefferson biographer Willard Sterne Randall wrote: “Already alarmed at Hamilton’s meddling, Jefferson nevertheless cooly urged President Washington to use his contact with the spy Beckwith and inform the British through him that the United States, while still remaining a treaty ally of France, favored a commercial treaty with ‘perfect reciprocity’ with England, something Jefferson had been seeking since his visit to England in 1786. In case of war, he advised being ‘strictly neutral’ with England and Spain, but he urged speedy secret negotiations with Spain to urge her to grant independence to Louisiana and Florida. But Washington overruled Jefferson, instead instructing Hamilton to meet privately with Beckwith and attempt to extract as much information as possible from the British agent without committing the United States.”282

Jefferson wrote President Washington in September 1792: “In the case of two nations with which we have the most intimate connections, France and England, my system was to give some satisfactory distinctions to the former, of little cost to us, in return for the solid advantages yielded us by them, and to have met the English with some restrictions which might induce them to abate their severities against our commerce. Yet the secretary of the Treasury, by his cabals with members of the legislature and by high-toned declamation on other occasions, has forced his own system, which was exactly the reverse.”283

American Neutrality and Citizen Genêt

In 1792-1793, events in France played a determinative role in American domestic politics. Historian Joyce Appleby wrote: "To appeal to voters outside of elections was to give them a political role they had never had before. In looking outside the capital for those who shared his anxiety, Jefferson got a boost from events in the French Revolution. In January 1793, it took a violent turn with the execution of Louis XVI. The American public took notice: their old ally, France, had declared itself a republic. As unexpected as the news from France, a fresh group of American radicals appeared on the political scene. These new political participants rallied to the Gallic call for 'liberty, equality, and fraternity' while stunned Federalists denounced the French Republic as the work of dangerous zealots. With Madison as his principal ally, Jefferson tapped into this exuberance, mounting a campaign to change the direction of the government by cultivating a critical stance toward the Federalists, in preparation for voting them out of office."284 Edmund Charles Genet was appointed as the French minister to the United States in order to obtain American support in its war with France under the Franco-American Treaty of 1778. He wanted to get private military assistance in the form of privateers as well as official aid. His actions in recruiting a militia to fight the Spanish on land in the west and recruiting privateers to fight the English on the seat threatened to jeopardize America’s neutrality in the European conflict.

Jefferson held faith in the French Revolution and could not appreciate the doubts of colleagues like Washington and Hamilton who were horrified by the violence and disorder. The new French envoy to the United States would prove the wisdom of Washington’s and Hamilton’s doubts. Indeed, Edmond-Charles-Edouard Genet would singlehandedly undermine Jefferson’s political plans. Historian Norman Schachner wrote: “Citizen Genêt was the worst possible representative that France could have sent over. Bumptious, domineering, vain, flighty, filled with a sense of his own importance, he started on a career of blundering diplomacy that instead of cementing closer the ties of gratitude between the old allies, nearly brought them to the verge of war.”285 Curiously, Genet landed in Charleston, South Carolina, on April 8 and made his way north – stirring up the citizenry and attracting allies for France. Historian John E. Ferling wrote: “Before leaving Charleston, Citizen Genêt not only recruited Americans to serve on French privateers, he equipped several marauding vessels and even authorized French consuls in the United States to serve as judges of prize courts. Clearly such actions transgressed the bounds of legality, but it was not until his privateers began to seize British ships that more serious matters arose. Things came to a head in June when the Little Sarah, a merchant vessel sailing under the Union Jack, fell to the frigate L’Embuscade. The Washington administration discovered that the prize had been brought into the port of Philadelphia where, under the very nose of the United States government, it was being outfitted as a French privateer, a craft that Genêt himself rechristened the Petite Démocrate. The neutrality of the United States was compromised.”286 Meanwhile, the Washington cabinet debated how to handle the situation with Genet and with France. First, the Cabinet had to deal with the nation’s status regarding the Franco-American Alliance of 1778 which it did by the end of April.

Next came the question of Genêt’s status. Jefferson biographer Noble Cunningham wrote: “The cabinet next took up the question of receiving a minister from the Republic of France. It was unanimously agreed that Genêt should be received, but Jefferson recorded that Hamilton did so reluctantly, expressing great regret that any incident had obliged the United States to recognize the new French government.”287 Hamilton biographer Nathan Schachner wrote: “Hamilton would have very much preferred to have cut the Gordian knot by not receiving Genêt at all. But this could not be done without abandoning that very point of friendly impartiality announced in the proclamation. The next best course, according to him, was to tell Genêt plainly on his arrival that the United States reserved ‘to future consideration and discussion the question – whether the operation of the treaties...ought not to be deemed temporarily and provisionally suspended.’”288 Cunningham wrote: “Jefferson could be glad that there was no rush by the cabinet to embrace Genêt, for it would be only a matter of weeks before Jefferson himself was becoming disillusioned with the ebullient French minister. He had been overly generous in his initial reaction fo Gent’s mission but he was not long misled.”289 Historian Nathan Schachner wrote: “On May 17, 1793, Genêt finally presented his credentials to Washington, five and a half weeks after his landing in the United States. Puffed up with all the adulation he had received he expected no less a reception from the President. But Washington received him with a chilly politeness and a frigid exterior. Taken aback, he attributed the manner of his reception to jealousy. ‘Old man Washington is jealous of my success, and of the enthusiasm with which the whole town flocks to my house,’ he wrote home petulantly.”290

Genet’s behavior sharply exacerbated the crisis over the next two months. America was divided between black cockades and tricolor ones. Historian John C. Miller wrote: “The Frenchman’s suspicions were confirmed by Hamilton’s refusal to permit him to get his hand into the United States Treasury. Pleading the extreme financial necessities of France, Genêt demanded an advance upon the installments that the United States government had pledged itself to pay France. Well aware that Genêt intended to use this money to finance an attack from United States territory upon Spanish Louisiana and Florida...Hamilton refused to give him a dollar; whereupon Genêt swore that the Secretary of the Treasury was hand in glove with ‘the infernal system of the King of England, of the other kings his accomplices, to destroy by famine, the French Republicans and liberty.’ He carried his grievances to Jefferson, where he found a willing and credulous listener.”291 Jefferson was increasingly caught in the middle. Richard Brookhiser wrote: “Dealing with Genet as secretary of state, Jefferson simultaneously did his duty – telling him America lacked the money for an early payoff – and led him on - suggesting that, though there were Anglophiles close to the president (Hamilton), the people were ‘for us.” Genet was so popular, it seemed that Jefferson might be right.”292 James Thomas Flexner wrote: “Jefferson was coming to realize that by his early confidences to Genêt he had encouraged a menace to American peace and a wild force who might by extreme behavior damage in American public opinion the French cause.”293

Jefferson was caught in the middle – he had come to understand Genêt’s deficiencies but he did not want to lose the political advantages that Genêt broad to Jeffersonians. Schachner wrote: “On July 8th the cabinet met in the President’s absence to consider the situation. Hamilton, Jefferson and Knox were present; Randolph was in Virginia. Hamilton, Knox concurring, insisted on a firm, decisive stand. Just below the point at which the Little Sarah had dropped anchor was an island called Mud Island. The pair demanded that a battery of guns be at once in position on the island to make certain that the ship did not sneak out to sea. Jefferson, relying on what he held to be Genêt’s promise, dissented and insisted that no action be taken until Washington’s return. Faced with his dissent, and in the President’s absence, Hamilton could only fume and compose a written opinion setting forth his stand.”294

The crisis boiled over in July. John C. Miller wrote: “If the Petit Democrate were to be prevented from putting to sea, quick action on the part of the government was essential: the ship was almost ready to sail and Genêt had left no doubt that she would hoist anchor when she had been made seaworthy. Fortunately for the French Minister, the government was unable to act with celerity: while the heads of the departments were in Philadelphia, President Washington, in whose hands the final decision lay, was at Mount Vernon. This situation worked in Genêt’s favor, but, even so, he would never have gotten the Petit Democrate out of port had not Jefferson unwittingly come to his aid.”295 Jefferson was effectively hoodwinked by Genêt despite the warnings of Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Mifflin that military precautions needed to be taken to keep the ship in port. Historian John Bach McMaster wrote:

In the belief that the vessel would not depart for some days the Secretary was much mistaken. On the Saturday before the merchants assembled, the Warden of the port of informed the Governor that the brig Little Sarah, afterward named the Petit Democrat, was fast becoming a privateer. She had, he said, once been a merchantman of two guns. She now mounted fourteen iron guns and six swivels, and had on board a crew, all told, men and boys, of one hundred and twenty. Mifflin in alarm sent Dallas, his secretary, at mid' night, to beg Genet to keep the vessel in port, for it went hard with him to think of having to use force. But Genet flew into a passion, flatly refused to detain the vessel one hour, complained that he had been ill-treated by the Government, said he would appeal from the President to the people, and that if an attempt were made to take the brig by force, it should be resisted. Dallas carried back the message, and Mifflin ordered out one hundred and twenty militiamen. When Jefferson heard what had been said to Dallas he was much excited, and went the next day, which was Sunday, to persuade Genet to detain the Petit Democrat till Wednesday. Genet would give no promise, but said that the brig would probably not be ready for sea before the morning of that day. Jefferson supposed this to be the language of diplomacy, and that what the Minister really meant was that the vessel should not sail. He made himself easy therefore, got Mifflin to dismiss the soldiers, and the Petit Democrat, unmolested, dropped down to Chester and went out to sea.296

When he learned of the escape, President Washington was naturally furious.

“Washington returned to Philadelphia on the eleventh, and received some papers, concerning the events we have just described, from Mr. Jefferson, with an intimation that they required "instant attention." They aroused the president's indignation,” wrote historian Bernard Lossing. Washington wrote Jefferson: "What is to be done in the case of the Little Sarah [the original name of the Petite Democrat] now at Chester, Is the minister of the French republic to set the acts of this government at defiance with impunity, and then threaten the executive with an appeal to the people? What must the world think of such conduct, and of the government of the United States in submitting to it? These are serious questions. Circumstances press for a decision, and, as you have had time to consider them (upon me they come unexpectedly), I wish to know your opinion upon them, even before to-morrow, for the vessel may then be gone."297

Jefferson was a man of contradictions. He liked openness – except when it was contrary to his own political interests. James Thomas Flexner wrote of the controversy over Citizen Genêt’s outfitting of a French privateer in Philadelphia: “Jefferson wanted the request to be as between friends, and, in opposing disclosure, he found himself arguing against his professed principles. He believed in obeisance to the legislature, but he knew that informing Congress would be to inform the people. One of his favorite contentions was that the people should be completed trusted, yet he feared that, if Genêt’s desire to interfere in the American government were known, ‘universal indignation’ would wound pro-French sentiment and the emerging Republican party.”298

In a number of ways, the summer of 1793 was not Jefferson’s finest hour. James Thomas Flexner wrote: “Under Genêt ’s spell, Jefferson committed his greatest indiscretion while in the cabinet. To officials in Kentucky he backed, subtly but yet clearly, Genêt ’s scheme for raising an army of American citizens that would liberate Louisiana from Spain, and create an independent nation under the French Aegis. Jefferson must have known that this was exactly opposite to the policies of his President.” Flexner wrote: “As Genêt ’s reports to his government reveal, Jefferson disassociated himself to the French Minister, as he was in the habit of doing to his Virginia supporters, from acts which at cabinet meetings he had in fact approved. In officially communicating cabinet decisions in his role as Secretary of State, Jefferson would explain that he was acting only as ‘the passive instrument of the President.’ Jefferson, Genêt wrote, ‘did not conceal from me that Senator [Robert] Morris and Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton, attached to the British interest, exerted the greatest influence on the mind of the President, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that he counteracted their efforts.’”299

It was Jefferson whose rash actions threatened America’s security, according to Washington biographer John Marshall, Jefferson’s disaffected cousin. Biographer Forrest McDonald wrote: “Jefferson persisted in abetting Genet’s designs. As late as July 6, for instance, the secretary of state facilitated Genet’s efforts to recruit Americans for an attack upon Spanish Louisiana, contrary to the neutrality proclamation, the law of nations, and administration policy.”300 It was on July 6 that Genet met with Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Mifflin and told Mifflin that if the Washington Administration did not agree to his demands, Genet would go around Washington to the American people. This story was repeated to members of Secretary of War Hamilton and Secretary of War Henry Knox who then told Washington. Washington biographer Paul Johnson wrote: “Enraged beyond endurance, Washington ordered Jefferson, as secretary of state, to discipline ‘the French monkey’ – Genêt was about half the president’s height, with dark, dirty red hair, ‘coarse features,’ and a huge mouth. Jefferson took to his bed in a fit of cowardice, pleading migraine.”301

In the midst of the Genêt controversy, Hamilton took to the newspapers. James Thomas Flexner wrote that Hamilton argued that “Genêt was attempting to subvert the government in order to drag the United States, a French prisoner, into war with England.”302 Hamilton biographer John C. Miller wrote: “Rebuffed in his efforts to induce the government to identify Genêt with his government, Hamilton published in the newspapers, beginning in July, 1793, a series of articles under the signature ‘No Jacobin.’ Here he set forth a full and damning account of Genêt’s activities. As the Secretary of the Treasury pictured it, Genêt’s purpose was ‘to drag us into the war, with the humiliation of being plunged into it without even being consulted, and without any volition of our own....It is impossible,’ he continued, ‘for a conduct less friendly or less respectful than this to have been observed....It is a novelty reserve for the present day, to display the height of arrogance on one side and the depth of humiliation on the other.’ The point Hamilton labored to drive home was that Genêt was at all times acting under orders from his superiors at home. In this irrepressible democrat, Hamilton invited Americans to behold the incarnation of revolutionary France, the wild-eyed radical who mistook liberty for license and who sought to uproot order and stability wherever he found them.”303

Now, it was Jefferson’s policies which needed to be defended. On several occasions in the middle of the Neutrality and Citizen Genêt controversies, Jefferson complained to Madison about the articles that Hamilton was writing under the pen name “Pacificus.” Jefferson first wrote: “You will readily know the pen. I know it the more readily, because it is an amplification only of the topics urged in discussing the question when first proposed — the right of the Executive to declare, that we are not bound to execute the guarantee was then advanced by him and denied by me. No other opinion expressed on it. In this paper he repeats it, & even considers the proclamation as such a declaration, but if any body intended it as such (except himself) they did not then say so. — The passage beginning with the words 'the answer to this is' &c. is precisely the answer he gave at the time to my objection that the Executive had no authority to issue a declaration of neutrality, nor to do more than declare the actual state of things to be that of peace. — 'for until the new government is acknoleged the treaties &c. are of course suspended.'"304

Hamilton had seen the advantage of undermining Jeffersonians by leaking news of Genêt’s insult to President Washington. Historian James Schouler wrote: “Hamilton and Knox, having failed in their effort to procure Washington's sanction to a full publication of the Genêt correspondence, for the purpose of vindicating the administration before the people, did not fail to let the minister's boastful threat leak out; and, a report accordingly gaining circulation that Genêt had declared he would appeal to the people from certain decisions of the President, a newspaper card appeared over the signatures of John Jay and Rufus King which vouched for its authenticity. Genêt, now put upon his defence, appeared at a constant disadvantage, which was increased by his ridiculous strut, in the manifest effort to produce popular effect. He first wrote to the President, asking him to disavow that he had ever threatened such an appeal; but to this he received, through Jefferson, a frigid reminder that the established channel for diplomatic correspondence was through the Secretary of State. Demanding next a prosecution of Jay and King for libel, which the Attorney-General refused, Genêt threatened to institute legal proceedings on his own behalf; whereupon Jay and King issued another public statement, giving the source of their information, .and recounting the interviews held with Genêt over "The Little Sarah" at greater length.”305

Jefferson saw that Genêt was on a suicide mission but did not want to disown or denounce him completely. Historian Joanne T. Freeman wrote: “Jefferson was caught in an uncomfortable situation. He knew that Genêt had indeed threatened to appeal to the people. ‘You will see much said & gainsaid about G[enet]’s threat to appeal to the people,’ he wrote to Madison. ‘I can assure you it is a fact.’ Trying to quash Federalist rumors without lying outright, Jefferson side-stepped the issue by manipulating Genêt’s words: Genêt’s appeal to the ‘people’ was actually an attempt to appeal to Congress, he argued.” James Thomas Flexner wrote: “Madison, and to a greater extent Monroe, expressed unwillingness to abandon Genêt. In separate letters, they urged Jefferson not to resign. Their arguments were based on their acceptance of Jefferson’s statements that he alone in the executive was unsympathetic to monarchy and not pro-British.”306

By August, Jefferson saw the danger that Genêt presented for the country. Jefferson biographer Kevin J. Hayes wrote: “When he outfitted a captured British ship as a privateer to sail against the British in July, Genêt went too far. Washington asked Jefferson to draft a letter to Gouverneur Morris, the current American to France, asking for Genêt’s recall.”307 Hamilton biographer Nathan Schachner wrote: “Pale with fury, Hamilton moved in cabinet meeting to notify France that Genêt must be recalled. Knox added that in the meantime he be considered suspended from his functions. Jefferson, though taken aback at the turn of events, merely proposed that the matter, and Genêt ‘s abusive correspondence, be communicated to France ‘with friendly observations.’ Jefferson noted that Washington remained silent while his cabinet heads debated. Hamilton returned again and again to the attack until, on August 1st, it was agreed to demand Genêt’s recall, though Jefferson and Randolph did so with the greatest reluctance.”308

There was a strong political subtext to what Jefferson did during this period. As he wrote James Madison concerning Genêt in mid-August: “I adhered to him as long as I could have a hope of getting him right, because I knew what weight we should derive to our scale by keeping in it the love of the people for the French cause and nation, and how important it was to ward off from that cause and nation any just grounds of alienation. Finding at length that the man was absolutely incorrigible, I saw th necessity of quitting a wreck which could not but sink all who should cling to it.”309 In response to Hamilton’s “Pacificus” newspaper assaults, Jefferson wrote Madison: ”For god's sake, my dear Sir, take up your pen, select the most striking heresies, and cut him [Hamilton] to pieces [sic] in the face of the public. There is nobody else who can & will enter the lists with him.--Never in my opinion, was so calamitous an appointment made, as that of the present Minister of F. here. Hot headed, all imagination, no judgment, passionate, disrespectful & even indecent toward the P. in his written as well as verbal communications, talking of appeals from to Congress, from them to the people, urging the most unreasonable & groundless propositions, & in the most dictatorial style.....If ever it should be necessary to lay his communications before Congress or the public, they will excite universal indignation. He renders my position immensely difficult." ”310 Madison replied then: “I will feel my own pulse and if nothing appears, may possibly try to supply the omission.” Jefferson biographer Willard Sterne Randall wrote: “adding to [Jefferson’s] burden was renewed party strife over the declaration of neutrality. Jeffersonians found neutrality pro-British because it disregarded American treaty obligations to France. Madison went so far as to call it unconstitutional ‘by making the Executive,’ not Congress, ‘the organ of the nation in relation to war and peace.’ But Jefferson, caught between his own followers and Washington, upheld the administration because h believed it necessary to maintain ‘even a sneaking neutrality.’”311 Genet’s actions had undermined their arguments.

The Washington cabinet assembled on August 20 to discuss a request for the recall of Genêt. Washington proved to the stabilizing force between Washington and Jefferson in the construction of instructions. As Jefferson biographer Kevin J. Hayes wrote: “Washington’s positive attitude and his level-headedness allow him to effectively mediate between Jefferson and Hamilton.”312 Jefferson wrote:

“We met at the President's to examine by paragraphs the draught of a letter I had prepared to Gouverneur Morris on the conduct of Mr. Genêt. There was no difference of opinion on any part of it, except on this expression, "An attempt to embroil both, to add still another nation to the enemies of his country, and to draw on both a reproach which it is hoped will never stain the history of either, that of liberty warring on herself." Hamilton moved to strike out these words, "that of liberty warring on herself." He urged generally that it would give offence to the combined powers; that it amounted to a declaration that they were warring on liberty; that we were not called on to declare that the cause of France was that of liberty; that he had at first been with them with all his heart, but that he had long since left them, and was not for encouraging the idea here, that the cause of France was the cause of liberty in general, or could have either connection or influence in our affairs. Knox, according to custom, jumped plump into all his opinions. The President, with a good deal of positiveness, declared in favor of the expression; that he considered the pursuit of France to be that of liberty, however they might sometimes fail of the best means of obtaining it; that he had never at any time entertained a doubt of their ultimate success, if they hung well together; and that as to their dissensions, there were such contradictory accounts given, that no one could tell what to believe. I observed that it had been supposed among us all along that the present letter might become public; that we had therefore three parties to attend to,—1st, France; 2d, her enemies; 3d, the people of the United States; that as to the enemies of France, it ought not to offend them, because the passage objected to, only spoke of an attempt to make the United States, a. free nation, war on France, a free nation, which would be liberty warring against liberty; that as to France, we were taking so harsh a measure (desiring her to recall her minister) that a precedent for it could scarcely be found; that we knew that minister would represent to his government that our executive was hostile to liberty, leaning to monarchy, and would endeavor to parry the charges on himself, by rendering suspicions the source from which they flowed; that, therefore, it was essential to satisfy France, not only of our friendship to her, but our attachment to the general cause of liberty, and to hers in particular; that as to the people of the United States, we knew there were suspicions abroad that the executive, in some of its parts, was tainted with a hankering after monarchy, an indisposition towards liberty, and towards the French cause; and that it was important, by an explicit declaration, to remove these suspicions, and restore the confidence of the people in their government. Randolph opposed the passage on nearly the same ground with Hamilton. He added, that he thought it had been agreed that this correspondence should contain no expressions which could give offence to either party. I replied that it had been my opinion in the beginning of the correspondence, that while we were censuring the conduct of the French minister, we should make the most cordial declarations of friendship to them; that in the first letter or two of the correspondence, I had inserted expressions of that kind, but that himself and the other two gentlemen had struck them out; that I thereupon conformed to their opinions in my subsequent letters, and had carefully avoided the insertion of a single term of friendship to the French nation, and the letters were as dry and husky as if written between the generals of two enemy nations; that on the present occasion, however, it had been agreed that such expressions ought to be inserted in the letter now under consideration, and I had accordingly charged it pretty well with them; that I had further thought it essential to satisfy the French and our own citizens of the light in which we viewed their cause, and of our fellow feeling for the general cause of liberty, and had ventured only four words on the subject; that there was not from beginning to end of the letter one other expression or word in favor of liberty, and I should think it singular, at least, if the single passage of that character should be struck out.

The President again spoke. He came into the idea that attention was due to the two parties who had been mentioned, France and the United States; that as to the former, thinking it certain their affairs would issue in a government of some sort— of considerable freedom—it was the only nation with whom our relations could be counted on; that as to the United States, there could be no doubt of their universal attachment to the cause of France, and of the solidity of their republicanism. He declared his strong attachment to the expression, but finally left it to us to accommodate. It was struck out, of course, and the expressions of affection in the context were a good deal taken down.

August the 23d, 1793. In consequence of my note of yesterday to the President, a meeting was called this day at his house to determine what should be done with the proposition of France to treat. The importance of the matter was admitted; and being of so old a date as May 22d, we might be accused of neglecting the interests of the United States, to have left it so long unanswered, and it could not be doubted Mr. Genêt would avail himself of this inattention. The President declared it had not been inattention, that it had been the subject of conversation often at our meetings. and the delay had proceeded from the difficulty of the thing. If the struggles of France should end in the old despotism, the formation of such a treaty with the present government would be a matter of offence; if it should end in any kind of free government, he should be very unwilling, by inattention to their advances, to give offence, and lose the opportunity of procuring terms so advantageous to our country. He was, therefore, for writing to Mr. Morris to get the powers of Mr. Genet renewed to his successor. [As he had expressed this opinion to me the afternoon before, I had prepared the draught of a letter accordingly.] But how to explain the delay? The Secretary of the Treasury observed on the letter of the National Convention, that as it did not seem to require an answer, and the matters it contained would occasion embarrassment if answered, he should be against answering it; that he should be for writing to Mr. Morris, mentioning our readiness to treat with them, and suggesting a renewal of Mr. Genet's powers to his successor, but not in as strong terms as I had done in my draught of the letter —not as a thing anxiously wished for by us, lest it should suggest to them the asking a price; and he was for my writing to Mr. Genet now, an answer to his letter of May 22d, referring to the meeting of the Senate the entering on the treaty. Knox concurred with him, the Attorney General also,—except that he was against suggesting the renewal of Mr. Genet's powers, because that would amount to a declaration that we would treat with that government, would commit us to lay the subject before the Senate, and his principle had ever been to do no act, not unavoidably necessary, which, in the event of a counter revolution, might offend the future governing powers of that country. I stated to them that having observed from our conversations that the propositions to treat might not be acceded to immediately, I had endeavored to prepare Mr. Genet for it, by taking occasion in conversations to apprize him of the control over treaties which our constitution had given to the Senate; that though this was indirectly done, (because not having been authorized to say anything official on the subject, I did not venture to commit myself directly,) yet, on some subsequent conversation, I found it had struck him exactly as I had wished; for, speaking on some other matter, he mentioned incidentally his propositions to treat, and said, however, as I know now that you cannot take up that subject till the meeting of the Senate, I shall say no more about it now, and so proceeded with his other subject, which I do not now recollect. I said I thought it possible by recalling the substance of these conversations to Mr, Genet, in a letter to be written now, I might add that the Executive had at length come to a conclusion, that on account of the importance of the matter, they would await the meeting of the Senate; but I pressed strongly the urging Mr. Morris to procure a renewal of Genet's powers, that we might not lose the chance of obtaining so advantageous a treaty. Edmund Randolph had argued against our acceding to it, because it was too advantageous; so much so that they would certainly break it, and it might become the cause of war. I answered that it would be easy, in the course of the negociation, to cure it of its inequality by giving some compensation; but I had no fear of their revoking it, that the islanders themselves were too much interested in the concessions ever to suffer them to be revoked; that the best thinkers in France had long been of opinion that it would be for the interest of the mother country to let the colonies obtain subsistence wherever they could cheapest; that I was confident the present struggles in France would end in a free government of some sort, and that such a government would consider itself as growing out of the present one, and respect its treaties. The President recurred to the awkwardness of writing a letter now to Mr. Genet, in answer to his of May 22d; that it would certainly be construed as merely done with a design of exculpation of ourselves, and he would thence inculpate us. The more we reflected on this, the more the justice of the observation struck us. Hamilton and myself came into it—Knox still for the letter—Randolph half for it, half against it, according to custom. It was at length agreed I should state the substance of my verbal observations to Mr. Genet, in a letter to Mr. Morris, and let them be considered as the answer intended; for being from the Secretary of State, they might be considered as official, though not in writing.

It is evident that taking this ground for their future justification to France and to the United States, they were sensible they had censurably neglected these overtures of treaty; for not only what 1 had said to Mr. Genet was without authority from them, but was never communicated to them till this day. To rest the justification of delay on answers given, it is true in time; but of which they had no knowledge till now, is an ostensible justification only.

Washington’s fury over Genet boiled over onto domestic politics. Historian John E. Ferling wrote: “Genêt also was blamed for something for which he was not entirely responsible. During 1793 democratic-republican societies sprang up throughout American, organizations given life as a result of the euphoria that accompanied the republicanization of revolutionary France. The societies openly were pro-French and anti-British, prorepublican and antimonarchial, and they encouraged the United States’ adherence to the French alliance. By the end of the year eleven such societies existed; twenty-four others were created in 1794. Philadelphia was home to the first club, and there can be little doubt that Genêt played a key role in its founding. But he did not, as if by magic, launch the movement.”313 The anger that had been directed against Washington for the Cincinnatus Society in the 1780s now was directed by Washington against these societies. David Hackett Fischer noted: “Of all the political innovations which were exploited by the Jeffersonians, none was as loathsome to Federalists of the old school as semisecret fraternal organizations. Friends of order fear these “Democratic’ or ‘Republican’ societies as ‘the pioneers or revolution.’” Fischer noted that a second wave of societies developed in the late 1790s – including the Tammany societies in New York and elsewhere.”314 The development was ironic the Cincinnatus Society, organized by Revolutionary War officers, had drawn criticism as anti-democratic.

The Washington administration was effectively. Jeffersonians were becoming a true opposition. Conflicts with Britain continued which Jeffersonians sought to aggravate. Some were difficulties left over from the Treaty of Paris of 1783. Some of them concerned interference with trade and shipping. Here, Hamilton’s interference with foreign policy through secret meetings with British Major George Beckwith and British Minister George Hammond and proved as unhelpful as had Jefferson’s association with Genet. Historian Norman Schachner wrote that “backed by Hamilton, Hammond paid little attention to Jefferson’s protests against the long series of discriminations by England against American commerce. Finally, on December 16, 1793, two weeks before he resigned from office, Jefferson submitted to congress a report on the nature and extent of foreign interferences with American trade. The emphasis was all on the British. On January 3, 1794, Madison reintroduced in the House his famous Resolutions of 1791 calling for retaliation on England. The resolutions would levy additional duties on all imports and shipping coming from countries with whom the United States had no commercial treaties. This was aimed specifically against England.”315

Hamilton was trying to preserve peace with Britain but in so doing he was undermining whatever leverage the American government had. Norman Schachner wrote that “ as they were, the Federalists desired above all to avoid war with England. To Hamilton such a war meant the ruin of everything he had laboriously built. Under the stress of hostilities with the powerful British fleet all his financial structure must go toppling, and with it, the prosperity and future of the country. His friends agreed with him.”316 Hamilton was worried about commerce and the government revenue that came from commerce. Therefore he worried about British trade. Washington biographer James Thomas Flexner wrote: “He believed that upsetting the existing pattern of commerce – the lion’s share was with Britain – would damage American prosperity, and also bankrupt the federal government, whose customs revenues depended on a flourishing trade. In a manner which would have horrified Washington (had he known of it) Hamilton conferred secretly with an undercover British representative in Philadelphia. He warned George Beckwith that the situation was dangerous, but added that it could be handled if the British soothed public opinion by finally opening formal diplomatic relations. A British announcement that they would send a minister worked as Hamilton had foreseen. Despite Washington and Jefferson, Congress defeated trade retaliation.”317

But some action needed to be taken and it was decided that a special representative needed to be sent to London to negotiate with the British. Hamilton wanted to go, but realized that his appointment would be rejected by the Senate. Instead, Hamilton urged the appointment of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay. Jay embarked in mid-1794 with instructions effectively written by Hamilton, but Hamilton had effectively undermined Jay by promising the British that Americans were not take strong, retaliative action. The “Jay Treaty” was not strong enough for most Americans and invited strong criticism from Jeffersonians, but it did prevent a war for which American was not prepared. Historian Dixon Wecter wrote: “Washington, the supreme military hero, achieved probably the great moral victory of his career in 1795 in resisting the foolish war with Britain for which so many Americans were clamoring. He knew how disastrous another war and a military dictatorship would be to the fledgling nation.”318 Biographer James Thomas Flexner wrote, however, “Washington agreed with Jefferson and Hamilton that there was a point beyond which a nation cannot with safety and honor accept being pushed.”319 Jefferson wrote of the Jay Treaty: “A bolder party-stroke was never struck. For it is certainly an attempt of a party which finds they have lost their majority on one branch of the legislature to make a law by aid of the other branch, and of the, and of the executive, under color of a treaty, which shall bind up the hands of the adverse branch from ever restraining the commerce of their patron-nation.”320

Once again, Hamilton had not write a series of newspaper columns – this time in defense of American foreign policy. Hamilton was urged by Washington himself to defend the Jay Treaty. Hamilton did so with his usual energy and prolificness under the pen name “Camillus.” His efforts drew damning praise from his old adversary. Jefferson was moved to write James Madison: “Hamilton is really a colossus to the antirepublican party. Without numbers, he is an host within himself. They have got themselves into a defile, where they might be finished; but too much security on the Republican part, will give time to his talents & indefatigableness to extricate them. We have had only middling performances to oppose him. In truth, when he comes forward, there is nobody but yourself who can meet him. His adversaries having begun the attack, he has the advantage of answering them, & remains unanswered himself...For god’s sake take up your pen, and give a fundamental reply to Curtius & Camillus.”321 Two years earlier, Jefferson had sent a very similar letter to Madison in the middle of the Citizen Genet controversy:

Press Battles

Thomas Jefferson was ambivalent about the press. He wrote in 1786: "Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle."322 In 1788, Jefferson wrote: “Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights."323 He also understood that the best of motives can be misconstrued, writing in 1814, "...there is no act, however virtuous, for which ingenuity may not find some bad motive."324 Jefferson wrote to John Adams in 1812: “I have given up newspapers in exchange for Tacitus and Thucydides, for Newton and Euclid, and I find myself much happier.”325 Jefferson of course had done much to encourage the newspaper wars that he now renounced.

In 1813, former President Jefferson wrote a French friend: “I deplore, with you, the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed, and the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them; and I enclose you a recent sample, the production of a New England judge, as a proof of the abyss of degradation into which we are fallen. These ordures are rapidly depraving the public taste, and lessening its relish for sound food. As vehicles of information, and a curb on our functionaries, they have rendered themselves useless, by forfeiting all title to belief. That this has, in a great degree, been produced by the violence and malignity of party spirit, I agree with you; and I have read with great pleasure the paper you enclosed me on that subject, which I now return. It is at the same time a perfect model of the style of discussion which candor and decency should observe, of the tone which renders difference of opinion even amiable, and a succinct, correct, and dispassionate history of the origin and progress of party among us.”326

Alexander Hamilton was less ambivalent – and less idealistic where the press was concerned. The press was a weapon to use his ongoing political battles. Historian Jerry W. Knudson wrote of Hamilton: “From his early youth he had been intimately associated with journalism....Hamilton’s national reputation was established by his brilliant contributions to The Federalist series published in the New York Independent Journal in 1787-88 to drum up support for the new federal Constitution.”327 Historian E. M. Halliday wrote: “Hamilton, who never could resist the temptation to write another pamphlet or article, was himself the author, under a series of pseudonyms, of most of the Federalist pieces, while Jefferson preferred to exercise remote control – partly so that he could tell Washington without blushing that he had not published a word against Hamilton.”328 Hamilton understood that if you wanted something done, it was best to do it oneself. Jefferson thought it best to have someone else do it.

“In the early 1790s, the United States had about a hundred newspapers,” wrote Jefferson scholar Susan Dunn. “Most of them, two to four pages long, were weeklies, but there were a few dailies. One page at a time, on a block of type, printers cranked them out, on rough, gravyish or bluish paper. They were ‘not much to look at,’ commented historian James MacGregor Burns, and yet they added tremendous vitality to the public arena. Along with advertisements, arrival and departure schedules of sailing vessels, and notices of runaway slaves, the papers covered international as well as national news, often quoting from congressional debates.”329 Newspaper wars helped divide the country. Historian James R. Gaines noted that during 1792, “the conflict’s terms of art had begun to invoke issues and forces at play in the French Revolution, casting ‘Anglo-men’ and ‘monocrats’ who worshipped at the altar of Mammon and King George against ‘Gallo-men’ and ‘Jacobins’ who would turn loose a wanton popular against property rights and the forces for social cohesion.”330 330 Historian John C. Miller wrote: “Of the twelve newspapers published in Philadelphia in 1791, the most important was the Gazette off the United States, edited by John Fenno. Established in 1798 in order ‘to endear the General Government to the people,’ this sheet enjoyed the largest national circulation of any newspaper of the day. The Gazette off the United States, was not wholly dependent upon its circulation or advertising revenues: Fenno received printing contracts from the Treasury Department, and on several occasions Hamilton loaned him money.”331

The Jeffersonians wanted a counterweight to Fenno’s Gazette and they were just as willing to unite press and state in order to achieve the desire result. Philip Freneau, a poet more than a journalist, first resisted Jefferson's offer to start a Jeffersonian newspaper, but Jefferson and Madison persisted. Eric Burns wrote that Congressman Madison "kept after him, promising Freneau that if he would edit the National Gazette, Madison would write for him, and, true to this word, his first offering was a series of eighteen articles, a pamphlet's worth and then some. Published anonymously, the pieces criticized the Washington administration in virtually all of its endeavors. Those who supported the president, Madison implied, and thus opposed Jeffersonian views were 'stupid, suspicious, licentious....[They] look at the surface only, where errors float, instead of fathoming the depths where truth lies hid.'"332 Madison biographer Kevin R. Gutzman noted: “Between November 19, 1791 and December 20, 1792, Madison wrote eighteen anonymous essays for the National Gazette. The essays’ topics included consolidation, which Madison called ‘the high road to monarchy’; parties in which he dropped the conventional opposition to the existence of parties that had marked his thought as recently as Federalist No. 10; and the French Constitution of 1791, which the Republicans strenuously defended. Each of these essays took a nakedly partisan position, opposed to Hamilton and, through Hamilton, to the Washington Administration.”333

“The rival newspapers went at it hammer and tongs. Whatever one asserted was promptly attacked in the other,” wrote Nathan Schachner. “Whatever Hamilton did was upheld by Fenno and simultaneously excoriated by Freneau. Hamilton was described as Sir Galahad and as Sir Devil. Since Freneau was the more trenchant writer, and the more adept at scathing diatribes, Hamilton himself was stung into coming to the aid of his plodding supporter.”334 John C. Miller wrote: “Freneau’s barbs stung Hamilton the more cruelly because they were always accompanied by the most honeyed praise of Thomas Jefferson. If the National Gazette ran short of adjectives in describing Hamilton’s crimes against republicanism, it experienced similar difficulty in finding words to convey a proper sense of the transcendent virtues of the Secretary of States. Jefferson was hailed as ‘that illustrious Patriot, Statesman and Philosopher,’ ‘the Colossus of Liberty’ who singlehanded prevented monarchy and aristocracy from overwhelming the land. These effusions afforded the Secretary of the Treasury food for thought; and when he discovered that Freneau was employed in Jefferson’s department as a translator, the Secretary of the Treasury drew the conclusion that he was being made the victim of a hired character assassin.”335 Washington Irving, biographer of George Washington, wrote: “Hamilton, aggrieved by the attacks made in Freneau's paper under his fund and banking system, his duty on homemade spirits, and other points of his financial policy, and upon himself, by holding him up as a monarchist at heart, and considering these attacks as originating in the hostility of Freneau's patron, Mr. Jefferson, addressed a note signed T.L to the editor of the Gazette of the United States”:336 The editor of the National Gazette receives a salary from government. Quere. – Whether this salary is paid him for translation, or for publications, the design of which is to vilify those to whom the voice of the people has committed the administration of our public affairs....In common life it is thought ungrateful for a man to bite the hand that puts bread in his mouth; but if the man is hired to do it, the case is altered.337

“In a series of essays published during the last half of 1792 and under several different pseudonyms, Hamilton vented his fury,” wrote historian James Roger Sharp. “Beyond the obvious differences over policy between Jefferson and himself, Hamilton was enraged over what he regarded as Jefferson’s self-serving hypocrisy and general untrustworthiness. Hamilton questioned the propriety of the connection between Freneau and Jefferson, maintaining that Jefferson’s patronage, with government funds of the most outspokenly critical newspaper in the country was both highly irregular and corrupt.”338 Historian John C. Miller wrote: ““In this dispute Hamilton was careful to point out that the issue was not freedom of the press but the freedom of a member of the Cabinet to use public funds to set up a newspaper to attack the measures agreed upon by the Cabinet, the Congress and the President. Hamilton never denied Freneau’s right to criticize the administration, but he did deny Jefferson’s right to put a journalist unfriendly to the administration on the public payroll. Had the National Gazette supported the government, Hamilton presumably would have raised no objections to the arrangements entered into by Jefferson and Freneau. A close connection existed between Hamilton and Fenno, the editor of the Gazette of the United States; but Hamilton always insisted that there was a world of difference between his support of a newspaper dedicated to promote administration policies and Jefferson’s patronage of a newspaper that conducted a smear campaign against one of the highest officers of the government.”339

Sure in his own rightness and rectitude, Hamilton never thought criticism should go unanswered. While Hamilton wrote his own articles and was prepared to speak when necessary, Jefferson preferred writing to orating. But when it came to newspapers, Jefferson preferred other people writing to writing himself. Jefferson scholar Julian P. Boyd wrote: “The contributions made by Jefferson to the National Gazette, despite the solemn assurance given to the President that he had never written or procured a single sentence for it, were more varied and extensive than those of Madison.”340 By unleashing Freneau to attack Hamilton, Jefferson effectively unleashed Hamilton to attack Jefferson in retaliation. Historian Bernard A. Weisberger wrote: “The journalistic style of the 1790s made no bows to objectivity and allowed editors room for personal attacks, which readers apparently enjoyed. Freneau and Fenno were soon in a risky slanderous cockfight. But Hamilton, who was pulling Fenno’s strings, was after bigger game than Freneau. His sense of persecution required a more sinister villain: Thomas Jefferson.”341 Historian Forrest McDonald wrote: “The destructiveness inherent in Jefferson’s personal attack on Hamilton, through Freneau, was made worse by certain flaws in Hamilton’s character. Out of his deep-seated insecurity deriving from his illegitimacy, Hamilton had developed an exaggerated concern for his reputation as a man of honor and integrity, especially among those he regarded as persons of eminence.”342 Jefferson also had a sense of honor, but unlike Hamilton he was not willing to duel to defend it. As Jefferson defended his actions in a letter to President Washington on September 9, 1792:

While the government was at New York I was applied to on behalf of Freneau to know if there was any place within my department to which he could be appointed. I answered there were but four clerkships, all of which I found full, and continued without any change. When we removed to Philadelphia, Mr. Pintard the translating clerk, did not chuse to remove with us. His office then became vacant. I was again applied to there for Freneau, & had no hesitation to promise the clerkship for him. I cannot recollect whether it was at the same time, or afterwards, that I was told he had a thought of setting up a newspaper there. But whether then, or afterwards, I considered it as a circumstance of some value, as it might enable me to do, what I had long wished to have done, that is, to have the material parts of the Leyden gazette brought under your eye & that of the public, in order to possess yourself & them of a juster view of the affairs of Europe than could be obtained from any other public source. This I had ineffectually attempted through the press of Mr. Fenno while in New York, selecting & translating passages myself at first then having it done by Mr. Pintard the translating clerk, but they found their way too slowly into Mr. Fenno's papers. Mr. Bache essayed it for me in Philadelphia, but his being a daily paper, did not circulate sufficiently in the other states. He even tried, at my request, the plan of a weekly paper of recapitulation from his daily paper, in hopes that that might go into the other states, but in this too we failed. Freneau, as translating clerk, & the printer of a periodical paper likely to circulate thro' the states (uniting in one person the parts of Pintard & Fenno) revived my hopes that the thing could at length be effected. On the establishment of his paper therefore, I furnished him with the Leyden gazettes, with an expression of my wish that he could always translate & publish the material intelligence they contained; & have continued to furnish them from time to time, as regularly as I received them. But as to any other direction or indication of my wish how his press should be conducted, what sort of intelligence he should give, what essays encourage, I can protest in the presence of heaven, that I never did by myself or any other, directly or indirectly, say a syllable, nor attempt any kind of influence. I can further protest, in the same awful presence, that I never did by myself or any other, directly or indirectly, write, dictate or procure any one sentence or sentiment to be inserted _in his, or any other gazette_, to which my name was not affixed or that of my office. -- I surely need not except here a thing so foreign to the present subject as a little paragraph about our Algerine captives, which I put once into Fenno's paper. -- Freneau's proposition to publish a paper, having been about the time that the writings of Publicola, & the discourses on Davila had a good deal excited the public attention, I took for granted from Freneau's character, which had been marked as that of a good whig, that he would give free place to pieces written against the aristocratical & monarchical principles these papers had inculcated. This having been in my mind, it is likely enough I may have expressed it in conversation with others; tho' I do not recollect that I did. To Freneau I think I could not, because I had still seen him but once, & that was at a public table, at breakfast, at Mrs. Elsworth's, as I passed thro' New York the last year. And I can safely declare that my expectations looked only to the chastisement of the aristocratical & monarchical writers, & not to any criticisms on the proceedings of government: Colo Hamilton can see no motive for any appointment but that of making a convenient partizan. But you Sir, who have received from me recommendations of a Rittenhouse, Barlow, Paine, will believe that talents & science are sufficient motives with me in appointments to which they are fitted: & that Freneau, as a man of genius, might find a preference in my eye to be a translating clerk, & make good title to the little aids I could give him as the editor of a gazette, by procuring subscriptions to his paper, as I did some, before it appeared, & as I have with pleasure done for the labours of other men of genius. I hold it to be one of the distinguishing excellencies of elective over hereditary succesions, that the talents, which nature has provided in sufficient proportion, should be selected by the society for the government of their affairs, rather than that this should be transmitted through the loins of knaves & fools passing from the debauches of the table to those of the bed. Colo Hamilton, alias "Plain facts," says that Freneau's salary began before he resided in Philadelphia. I do not know what quibble he may have in reserve on the word "residence." He may mean to include under that idea the removal of his family; for I believe he removed, himself, before his family did, to Philadelphia. But no act of mine gave commencement to his salary before he so far took up his abode in Philadelphia as to be sufficiently in readiness for the duties of the office. As to the merits or demerits of his paper, they certainly concern me not. He & Fenno are rivals for the public favor. The one courts them by flattery, the other by censure, & I believe it will be admitted that the one has been as servile, as the other severe. But is not the dignity, & even decency of government committed, when one of it's principal ministers enlists himself as an anonymous writer or paragraphist for either the one or the other of them? -- No government ought to be without censors: & where the press is free, no one ever will. If virtuous, it need not fear the fair operation of attack & defence. Nature has given to man no other means of sifting out the truth either in religion, law, or politics. I think it as honorable to the government neither to know, nor notice, it's sycophants or censors, as it would be undignified & criminal to pamper the former & persecute the latter.343

Such a family squabble conducted in public view in the newspapers was unnerving to President Washington. Historian Ron Chernow wrote: “With heroic fortitude, Washington had tried to remain evenhanded with Hamilton and Jefferson, but he could no longer tolerate this dissension in his cabinet. A sensitive man of pent-up passion, he also could not endure the vicious abuse he had taken in Freneau’s National Gazette. In May, Washington had asked Jefferson to fire Freneau from his State Department job after the editor wrote that Washington had signed the Neutrality Proclamation because the ‘Anglomen’ threatened to cut off his head. Convinced that the National Gazette had saved the country from monarchy, Jefferson refused to comply with Washington’s request.”344

After a meeting with President Washington on May 23, Jefferson wrote: “I had sent to the President yesterday, draughts of a letter from him to the Provisory Executive Council of France, and of one from myself to Mr. Ternant, both on the occasion of his recall. I called on him to day. He said there was an expression in one of them, which he had never before seen in any of our public communications, to wit, 'our republic' The letter prepared for him to the Council, began thus: 'The Citizen Ternant has delivered to me the letter wherein you inform me, that yielding &c. you had determined to recall him from his mission, as your Minister Plenipotentiary to our republic. He had underscored the words, our republic. He said that certainly ours was a republican government, but yet we had not used that style in this way; that if any body wanted to change its form into a monarchy, he was sure it was only a few individuals, and that no man in the United States would set his face against it more than himself: but that this was not what he was afraid of; his fears were from another quarter; that there was more danger of anarchy being introduced. He adverted to a piece in Freneau's paper of yesterday; he said he despised all their attacks on him personally, but that there never had been an act of the government, not meaning in the executive line only, but in any line, which that paper had not abused. He had also marked the word republic thus where it was applied to the French republic. (See the original paper.) He was evidently sore and warm, and I took his intention to be, that I should interpose in some way with Freneau, perhaps withdraw his appointment of translating clerk to my office. But I will not do it. His paper has saved our constitution, which was galloping fast into monarchy, and has been checked by no one means so powerfully as by that paper. It is well and universally known, that it has been that paper which has checked the career of the monocrats; and the President, not sensible of the designs of the party, has not with his usual good sense and sangfroid, looked on the efforts and effects of this free press, and seen that, though some bad things have passed through it to the public, yet the good have preponderated immensely.”345

Jefferson’s explanation of Washington’s conduct is almost condescending. In June 1793 Jefferson wrote his friend Madison “The President is not well. Little lingering fevers have been hanging about him for a week or ten days and have affected his looks most remarkably. He is also extremely affected by the attacks made and kept on him in the public papers. I think he feels those things more than any person I ever yet met with. I am extremely sorry to see them. Naked, he would have been sanctimoniously reverenced, but enveloped in the rags of royalty, they can hardly be torn off without laceration.”346 Historians Nancy Isenberg and Andrew Burstein argued: "If one accepts Jefferson's view, the president's so-called supporters were hampering hm by elevating him. Jefferson recalled Madison saying to him sometime before that 'satellites and sycophants' pushing the ceremonial trappings of the presidency could not but have ill effect. Jefferson was now suggested to Madison that Washington might be trapped in those trappings."347

At one Cabinet session in August 1793, mention of an article entitled “A Funeral Dirge for George Washington” from the National Gazette triggered an emotional explosion from Washington. Jefferson wrote: “The President was much inflamed; got into one of those passions when he cannot command himself; ran on much on the personal abuse which has been bestowed on him; defied any man on earth to produce one single act of his since he had been in the government which was not done on the purest motives; [said] that he had never repented but once the having slipped the moment of resigning his office and that was every moment since; that by God he had rather be in his grave than in his present situation; that he had rather be on his farm than to be made emperor of the world; and yet they were charging him with wanting to be a king. That rascal Freneau sent him three of his papers every day, as if he thought he would become the distributor of his papers; that he could see in this nothing but an impudent design to insult him. He ended in this high tone. There was a pause. Some difficulty in resuming our question; it was, however, after a little while, presented again, and he said there seemed to be no necessity for deciding it now; the propositions before agreed on might be put into a train of execution, and perhaps events would shew whether the appeal would be necessary or not. He desired we would meet at my office the next day, to consider what should be done with the vessels armed in our ports by Mr. Genet, and their prizes..”348 Madison biographer Richard Brookhiser noted: “Freneau did not need Washington to become a distributor of his papers; Jefferson and Madison were already doing that.”349

Federalists were perceived to be monarchists in part because they did not see the wisdom of the French Revolution. French sympathy in the U.S. was undermined by Citizen Genêt of 1793 and the XYZ affair of 1797. Historian John Ferling wrote that Hamilton “knew who was ramrodding the emerging resistance, and he coolly recognized that Madison was the ‘General’ while Jefferson was the ‘Generalissimo’ of the enemy camp.”350 Still, Hamilton’s attacks on Jefferson were counterproductive, according to Hamilton biographer John C. Miller: “[T]he venture could be accounted a success only if hit had been Hamilton’s objective to increase Jefferson’s stature among Republicans. Thanks to the publicity he received from Hamilton, he now stood forth as the leading figure of the opposition; henceforth, even James Madison was cast into the shade. And whatever the merits of the controversy between Hamilton and Jefferson, it signally failed to injure Jefferson in the opinion of the voters of the country. The congressional elections of 1792 went against the Hamiltonians: even Fisher Ames, one of Hamilton’s chief spokesmen in Congress, was hard pressed in Massachusetts by his Republican rival.”351

Retreat was not in Hamilton’s makeup. “Hamilton kept up the attack in the press,” wrote Willard Sterne Randall. “Jefferson’s friends anonymously took up the cudgels against him.... Under the pseudonym Catullus, Hamilton kept up the attack through six other articles. Madison and Monroe openly defended Jefferson in a series of six essays in Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser, Monroe doing the bulk of the writing.”352 Writing as Catullus in the Gazette of the United States at the end of September 1792, Hamilton effectively declared war: “Mr. Jefferson has hitherto been distinguished as the quiet, modest, retiring philosopher; as the plain, simple, unambitious republican. He shall not now, for the first time, be regarded as the intriguing incendiary, the aspiring turbulent competitor. How long it is since that gentleman’s real character may have been divined, or whether this is only the first time that the secret has been disclosed, I am not sufficiently acquainted with the history of his political life to determine; but there is always a “first time” when characters studious of artful disguises are unveiled; when the visor of stoicism is plucked from the brow of the epicurean; when the plain garb of Quaker simplicity is stripped from the concealed voluptuary; when Cæsar coyly refusing the proffered diadem, is seen to be Cæsar rejecting the trappings, but tenaciously grasping the substance of imperial domination.353

This reference may have particularly infuriated the secretary of state, observed Jefferson biographer Fawn M. Brodie. “On September 29, 1792, writing under the pseudonym Catullus, Hamilton accused Jefferson of being ‘a concealed voluptuary,’ hiding under ‘the plain garb of Quaker simplicity.’ He could not know at the time that Hamilton was referring only to his ancient affair – or attempted affair – with Betsey Walker; this he would learn in the open quarreling with Hamilton in 1796. But the fear that his relations with [slave] Sally Hemmings had already become public knowledge, and could serve as an extra humiliation for his daughters as well as a political liability, must have been with Jefferson from 1792 forward.”354 Both men were prepared to do battle with personal as well as political weapons.

After the XYZ affair poisoned relations with the French government, there was renewed anti-French sentiment. The Sedition Law of 1798 was designed to counteract criticism of the government. Among those arrested under the Sedition Law was Benjamin Franklin Bache, the grandson of Benjamin Franklin who was editor of the Philadelphia Aurora. Also arrested was Scottish-born journalist James T. Callender, whose work was financially supported by Jefferson. In 1797, Callender had published a History of the United States for 1796, which detailed Alexander Hamilton’s 1792 affair Maria Reynolds while secretary of Treasury. “Callender was a bitter drunkard who left his family in miserable poverty in Scotland when he fled to America to escape imprisonment,” wrote scandal historian Gail Collins. “He lived in the States only ten years before he drowned in three feet of water during a drinking spree in 1803. But in that time he made quite an impact, and was the source of much of the most sensational gossip we know about the Founding Fathers.”355 Gossip, such as Callender used, played important part in the politics of the Founding era, noted historian Joanne B. Freeman. “Those who gossiped shared an understanding of hidden meanings. They spoke of common enemies violating a recognized moral standard and exchanged hostile stories to expose the transgressors,” wrote Freeman. “This shared understanding was an underwritten code that enabled like-minded men to decipher gossip and appreciate its significance. Hamilton’s praise of the British constitution, for example, was noteworthy only when one ‘knew’ that Hamilton was a secret monarchist. Jefferson’s ‘Anas’ exemplifies the consistent worldview fostered by a community of gossip.” Much of what it is “known” about the Washington administration comes from the Anas in which Jefferson codified his preferred gossip from the era. “Indeed, the gossip in the ‘Anas’ can be traced from friend to friend, reconstructing the formation of a national alliance.” She noted that “Friendship spread gossip, and gossip spread friendship, reinforcing a network of friends – a community of gossip – people who shared the same worldview and trusted one another with valuable anecdotes about common foes. Friends who gossiped saw themselves engaged in important private conversations.”356 But as Jefferson discovered, gossip repeated in letters could come back to haunt the gossiper.

A key source of much gossip was House Clerk John J. Beckley of Pennsylvania, who knew about Reynolds affair and may have leaked details to Callender. Beckley was a key friend and political lieutenant to Jefferson, Madison and James Monroe. To the chagrin of his friends, Hamilton insisted on publishing a detailed history of the Reynolds affair to protect his public honor. “The reaction of Hamilton’s enemies was predictable,” noted Gail Collins. “John Adams attributed Hamilton’s over-arching political ambition to ‘a super-abundance of secretions which he could not find whores enough to draw off.’ Less creative opponents never missed an opportunity from then on to refer to Hamilton as ‘Mrs. Reynolds’s lover.’ Even Hamilton’s friends believed he must have been in one of his not-infrequent states of hysteria when he decided to embarrass himself and his wife in such a dramatic way. But they understood his preference to be thought guilty of breaking his marriage vows rather than his public trust.”357 Honor played a strong role in politics and Hamilton had a stronger sense of honor than Jefferson and was more willing to publicly and personally defend his honor. Hamilton was willing to be thought an adulterer, but not a cheat. Historian Andrew S. Trees noted: “Honor was inherently elitist. Its ability to establish a man’s character depended upon the acceptance of common standards of behavior by a fairly circumscribed, self-selecting group. If believed, accusations by men he thought were beneath him, such as James Reynolds, threatened this world, and he complained in pamphlet: ‘For fail indeed will be the tenure by which the most blameless man will hold his reputation, if the afflictions of three of the most abandoned characters in the community...are sufficient to blast it. Hamilton envisioned a polity that excluded such men from an active role in political life.’ Jefferson’s optimism allowed him to imagine a nation in which all free men, regardless of class, were given equal place as friends.”358

"There is no reason to think that Jefferson was tolerant of Callender's writings about the private sexual lives of his victims, but he was tolerant of other outrageous attacks on Federalist foes,” argued Jefferson biographer Alf J. Mapp. “In this respect, Jefferson was like many politicians and all too many true statesmen, who, even though a man is doing a work which they themselves would not stoop to, believe that nevertheless it is a work that needs to be done."359 In June 1800, Callender was prosecuted, fined and jailed for in retaliation for publication of The Prospect Before Us, a pamphlet denouncing alleged Federalist corruption. Pardoned by Jefferson in 1801, Callender sought a patronage appointment and when he did not receive it, Callender assumed the position of editor of the Richmond Recorder, where he continued his campaign against corruption but targeted Jefferson. Jefferson’s past support of Callender came back to haunt him. Jefferson claimed it had been an act of charity, but wrote Virginia Governor James Monroe: “I am really mortified at the base ingratitude of Callender. It presents human nature in a hideous form.”360 Callender biographer Michael Durey wrote of Callender: "His treatment by the Jeffersonians had confirmed his long-held conviction that political power always was used despotically. Filled with hatred, Callender systematically set out to pull down the pillars of society."361

Callender eventually published allegations that Jefferson had fathered children with Sally Hemmings, the young slave girl who had accompanied Jefferson to Paris. Callender followed up with allegations that as a young man of 25, Jefferson had tried to seduce the Elizabeth Walker, the wife of a neighbor. Durey noted: "Callender justified the publication of the Walker story on his usual grounds -- that the public had a right to know the character of candidates holding or standing for public office."362 Jefferson himself admitted: "I plead guilty to one of their charges, that when young and single I offered love to a handsome lady. I acknowledge its incorrectness. It is the only one founded on truth among all their allegations against me."363 As both Hamilton and Jefferson came to understand, there were few things more dangerous than a journalist scorned – especially if the journalist liked scandal.

The presidential election of 1800 reinvigorated the press war between Federalists and Jeffersonians. Jefferson scholar Susan Dunn wrote: “For months during the spring and summer of 1800, Federalist editors throughout the country had been fulminating against the Virginian, smearing him for being an atheist, a dreamer, a coward, a man entirely lacking in conscience, religion, and charity. ‘Do you believe in the strangest of all paradoxes,’ demanded on of the Jefferson’s foes in the New York Commercial Advertiser, ‘that a spendthrift, a libertine, or an atheist is qualified to make your laws and govern you and your posterity?’ Writers denounced him for seeking to poison the minds and destroy the morals of the people while spreading the seeds of confusion, anarchy, and slavery throughout the United States. And not only morality, but economic prosperity too, they concluded, would suffer. Commerce would be plundered, farmers impoverished, and merchants ruined.”364 In the aftermath of the Federalist defeat in 1800, Hamilton decided he needed his own newspaper outlet in his home town. Hamilton biographer Willard Sterne Randall wrote: “To give himself a base to continue his political attacks, Hamilton founded the New York Post and used it to hurl invectives at the Jefferson-Burr-administration.”365

Neither Hamilton nor Jefferson were always consistent. Neither man was really tolerant of criticism with which they disapproved. Historian Paul Starr noted: “In his first inaugural address, Jefferson famously declared: "If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is let free to combat it.' Privately, however, he encouraged 'a few prosecutions' of Federalist editors by state governments controlled by his own party.....Far from disappearing, the law of seditious libel became firmly established in nineteenth-century states courts. In 1804, defending a Federalist editor named Harry Croswell, proposed that liberty of the press was 'the right to publish, with impunity, truth, with good motives, for justifiable ends though reflecting [adversely] on government magistracy, or individuals.'"366 Indeed in the Croswell case, Hamilton wanted to bring James Callender to New York so that he could testify about Jefferson’s support of his writing.

Jeffersonians, however, “understood, far better than the Federalists did, the necessary techniques of popular politics.”367 Historian Forrest McDonald wrote: “In their hearts, for all their philosophical distrust of ‘the people,’ the Hamiltonians believed that it was enough to govern well, and they trusted that the voters would recognize their services and respond accordingly. And thus, far from being the hard-boiled realists they fancied themselves as being, the Hamiltonians did not even understand the first maxim of popular politics; that the object of the game is to win.”368

Reelection in 1792 and Attempted Rapprochement

Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson agreed on very few things, but as Cokie Roberts observed: “The one thing Jefferson and Hamilton could agree on was that the country needed Washington, that without him the Union might disintegrate.”369 They pushed for him to remain in office even as they threatened their own resignations in the summer of 1792. Historian Fawn M. Brodie wrote that “each of the young princes preferred to see Washington live through a second term rather than to have the office captured by someone other than himself. They looked upon the old warrior as a rock, an elemental force, solid as Peter the Apostle. By the autumn of 1792 the snarling among the potential heirs had become so public that Washington himself came to fear that to relinquish the presidency to their internecine warfare might shake the foundations of the young government.”370 James Flexner observed: “Washington confidently believed that he himself withdrew, Jefferson and Hamilton would go on hand in hand. He did not recognize the depth of the disagreement between his two most important ministers.”371 Washington had other, less formal and more realistic advisors who pushed him to accept reelection. Prominent Philadelphian Eliza Powell wrote the President: “Be assured that a great deal of the well-earned popularity that you are now in possession of will be torn from you by the envious and malignant should you follow the bent of your inclinations.”372 Washington biographer Paul Johnson wrote: “He was talked into continuing by the ladies. Like many strongly masculine men of action... Washington preferred feminine to masculine company.”373

Meanwhile, Hamilton and Jefferson watched each other warily – and sought political advantage even as they speculated on the other’s motives and manipulations. John C. Miller wrote: “By 1792, Hamilton was certain that when Madison’s hand appeared, it was guided by Thomas Jefferson. He ascribed Madison’s apostasy to the ‘French principles’ dispensed by Jefferson: here, he exclaimed, was a frightening instance of the results of entertaining ‘an exalted opinion of the talents, knowledge and virtues of Mr. Jefferson.’ Hamilton’s sense of grievance against Jefferson was stronger than against Madison because he believed that the older man was actuated by personal rancor. Until he had been provoked by the National Gazette, Hamilton had never held Jefferson up to contempt, nor had he descended to air their differences in the newspapers.” In October 1792, Hamilton wrote to lament the possibility that Jefferson might defeat Adams for vice president in a second Washington administration: “That Gentleman whom I once very much esteemed, but who does not permit me to retain that sentiment for him, is certainly a man of sublimated and paradoxical imagination – entertaining & propagating notions inconsistent with dignified and orderly Government.”374

From an early age, Washington tried to exemplify the Stoic philosophy exemplified in Joseph Addison’s play Cato, according to Samuel Eliot Morrison. The historian wrote that “when perplexed and wearied by the political squabbles of his Presidency and longing to retire to Mount Vernon, Washington quoted the last lines of Cato’s advice to Portius...
Let me advise thee to retreat betimes
To thy paternal seat, the Sabine field,
Where the great Censor toil’d with his own hands,
And all our frugal Ancestors were blest
In humble virtues, and a rural life.
There live retired, pray for the peace of Rome:
Content thy self to be obscurely good.
When prevails, and impious men bear sway,
The post of honour is a private station. 375

Washington tried to stay true to that vision. During 1792 and 1793, Washington repeatedly tried to delay the departure of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton from his cabinet. On February 29, 1792, Jefferson threatened to resign and told President Washington that the “single source of these discontents” in the Cabinet was the Treasury Department. Historian Nathan Schachner wrote: “To this unexpected explosion Washington could only interpose soothing words which, however, finally had their effect and Jefferson consented to remain in office.”376 Jefferson wrote in The Anas about a wide-ranging discussion he had with President Washington regarding their retirements and their roles:

February the 28th, 1792. I was to have been with him long enough before three o'clock, (which was the hour and day he received visits,) to have opened to him a proposition for doubling the velocity of the post riders, who now travel about fifty miles a day, and might, without difficulty, go one hundred, and for taking measures (by way bills) to know where the delay is, when there is any. I was delayed by business, so as to have scarcely time to give him the outlines. I ran over them rapidly, and observed afterwards, that I had hitherto never spoken to him on the subject of the post office, not knowing whether it was considered as a revenue law, or a law for the general accommodation of the citizens: that the law just passed seemed to have removed the doubt, by declaring that the whole profits of the office should be applied to extending the posts, and that even the past profits should be refunded by the treasury for the same purpose: that I therefore conceive it was now in the department of the Secretary of State: that I thought it would be advantageous so to declare it for another reason, to wit: that the department of the Treasury possessed already such an influence as to swallow up the whole executive powers, and that even the future Presidents (not supported by the weight of character which himself possessed,) would not be able to make head against this department. That in urging this measure I had certainly no personal interest, since, if I was supposed to have any appetite for power, yet as my career would certainly be exactly as short as his own, the intervening time was too short to be an object. My real wish was to avail the public of every occasion, during the residue of the President's period, to place things on a safe footing. He was now called on to attend his company, and he desired me to come and breakfast with him the next morning.

February the 29th. I did so; and after breakfast we retired to his room, and I unfolded my plan for the post office, and after such an approbation of it as he usually permitted himself on the first presentment of any idea, and desiring me to commit it to writing, he, during that pause of conversation which follows a business closed, said in an affectionate tone, that he had felt much concern at an expression which dropped from me yesterday, and which marked my intention of retiring when he should. That as to himself, many motives obliged him to it. He had, through the whole course of the war, and most particularly at the close of it, uniformly declared his resolution to retire from public affairs, and never to act in any public office; that he had retired under that firm resolution: that the government, however, which had been formed, being found evidently too inefficacious, and it being supposed that his aid was of some consequence towards bringing the people to consent to one of sufficient efficacy for their own good, he consented to come into the convention, and on the same motive, after much pressing, to take a part in the new government, and get it under way. That were he to continue longer, it might give room to say, that having tasted the sweets of office, he could not do without them: that he really felt himself growing old, his bodily health less firm, his memory, always bad, becoming worse, and perhaps the other faculties of his mind showing a decay to others of which he was insensible himself; that this apprehension particularly oppressed him: that he found, moreover, his activity lessened, business therefore more irksome, and tranquillity and retirement become an irresistible passion. That however he felt himself obliged, for these reasons, to retire from the government, yet he should consider it as unfortunate, if that should bring on the retirement of the great officers of the government, and that this might produce a shock on the public mind of dangerous consequence.

I told him that no man had ever had less desire of entering into public offices than myself; that the circumstance of a perilous war, which brought every thing into danger, and called for ell the services which every citizen could render, had induced me to undertake the administration of the government of Virginia; that I had both before and after refused repeated appointments of Congress to go abroad in that sort of office, which, if I had consulted my own gratification, would almost have been the most agreeable to me; that at the end of two years, I resigned the government of Virginia, and retired with a firm resolution never more to appear in public life; that a domestic loss, however, happened, and made me fancy that absence and a change of scene for a time might be expedient for me; that I therefore accepted a foreign appointment, limited to two years; that at the close of that, Doctor Franklin having left France, I was appointed to supply his place, which I had accepted, and though I continued in it three or four years, it was under the constant idea of remaining only a year or two longer; that the revolution in France corning on, I had so interested myself in the event of that, that when obliged to bring my family home, I had still an idea of returning and awaiting the close of that, to fix the era of my final retirement; that on my arrival here I found he had appointed me to my present office; that he knew I had not come into it without some reluctance; that it was, on my part, a sacrifice of inclination to the opinion that I might be more serviceable here than in France, and with a firm resolution in my mind, to indulge my constant wish for retirement at no very distant day; that when, therefore, I had received his letter, written from Mount Vernon, on his way to Carolina and Georgia, (April the 1st, 1791) and discovered, from an expression in that, that he meant to retire from the government ere long, and as to the precise epoch there could be no doubt, my mind was immediately made up, to make that the epoch of my own retirement from those labors of which I was heartily tired. That, however, I did not believe there was any idea in any of my brethren in the administration of retiring; that on the contrary, I had perceived at a late meeting of the trustees of the sinking fund, that the Secretary of the Treasury had developed the plan he intended to pursue, and that it embraced years in its view.

He said, that he considered the Treasury department as a much more limited one, going only to the single object of revenue, while that of the Secretary of State, embracing nearly all the objects of administration, was much more important, and the retirement of the officer therefore, would be more noticed: that though the government had set out with a pretty general good will of the public, yet that symptoms of dissatisfaction had lately shown themselves far beyond what he could have expected, and to what height these might arise, in case of too great a change in the administration, could not be foreseen. I told him, that in my opinion, there was only a single source of these discontents. Though they had indeed appeared to spread themselves over the War department also, yet I considered that as an overflowing only from their real channel, which would never have taken place, if they had not first been generated in another department, to wit, that of the Treasury. That a system had there been contrived, for deluging the States with paper money instead of gold and silver, for withdrawing our citizens from the pursuits of commerce, manufactures, buildings, and other branches of useful industry, to occupy themselves and their capitals in a species of gambling, destructive of morality, and which had introduced its poison into the government itself. That it was a fact, as certainly known as that he and I were then conversing, that particular members of the legislature, while those laws were on the carpet, had feathered their nests with paper, had then voted for the laws, and constantly since lent all the energy of their talents, and instrumentality of their offices, to the establishment and enlargement of this system; that they had chained it about our necks for a great length of time, and in order to keep the game in their hands had, from time to time, aided in making such legislative constructions of the constitution, as made it a very different thing from what the people thought they had submitted to; that they had now brought forward a proposition far beyond any one ever yet advanced, and to which the eyes of many were turned, as the decision which was to let us know, whether we live under a limited or an unlimited government. He asked me to what proposition I alluded? I answered, to that in the report on manufactures, which, under color of giving bounties for the encouragement of particular manufactures, meant to establish the doctrine, that the power given by the constitution to collect taxes to provide for the general welfare of the United States, permitted Congress to take everything under their management which they should deem for the public welfare, and which is susceptible of the application of money; consequently, that the subsequent enumeration of their powers was not the description to which resort must be had, and did not at all constitute the limits of their authority; that this was a very different question from that of the bank, which was thought an incident to an enumerated power; that, therefore, this decision was expected with great anxiety; that, indeed, I hoped the proposition would be rejected, believing there was a majority in both Houses against it, and that if it should be, it would be considered as a proof that things were returning into their true channel; and that, at any rate, I looked forward to the broad representation which would shortly take place, for keeping the general constitution on its true ground; and that this would remove a great deal of the discontent which had shown itself. The conversation ended with this last topic. It is here stated nearly as much at length as it really was; the expressions preserved where I could recollect them, and their substance always faithfully stated. March 1, 1792.

Retirements of Jefferson and Hamilton

As foreign policy and economics heated up, Jefferson’s alienation from Hamilton increased. Jefferson laid his case against Hamilton in a May 1792 letter to President Washington:

I have determined to make the subject of a letter, what for some time past, has been a subject of inquietude to my mind without having found a good occasion of disburthening itself to you in conversation, during the busy scenes which occupied you here. Perhaps too you may be able, in your present situation, or on the road, to give it more time & reflection than you could do here at any moment.

When you first mentioned to me your purpose of retiring from the government, tho' I felt all the magnitude of the event, I was in a considerable degree silent. I knew that, to such a mind as yours, persuasion was idle & impertinent: that before forming your decision, you had weighed all the reasons for & against the measure, had made up your mind on full view of them, & that there could be little hope of changing the result. Pursuing my reflections too I knew we were some day to try to walk alone; and if the essay should be made while you should be alive & looking on, we should derive confidence from that circumstance, & resource if it failed. The public mind too was calm & confident, and therefore in a favorable state for making the experiment. Had no change of circumstances intervened, I should not, with any hope of success, have now ventured to propose to you a change of purpose. But the public mind is no longer confident and serene; and that from causes in which you are in no ways personally mixed. Tho these causes have been hackneyed in the public papers in detail, it may not be amiss, in order to calculate the effect they are capable of producing, to take a view of them in the mass, giving to each the form, real or imaginary, under which they have been presented.

It has been urged then that a public debt, greater than we can possibly pay before other causes of adding new debt to it will occur, has been artificially created, by adding together the whole amount of the debtor & creditor sides of accounts, instead of taking only their balances, which could have been paid off in a short time: That this accumulation of debt has taken for ever out of our power those easy sources of revenue, which, applied to the ordinary necessities and exigencies of government, would have answered them habitually, and covered us from habitual murmurings against taxes & tax-gatherers, reserving extraordinary calls, for those extraordinary occasions which would animate the people to meet them: That though the calls for money have been no greater than we must generally expect, for the same or equivalent exigencies, yet we are already obliged to strain the impost till it produces clamour, and will produce evasion, & war on our own citizens to collect it: and even to resort to an Excise law, of odious character with the people, partial in it's operation, unproductive unless enforced by arbitrary & vexatious means, and committing the authority of the government in parts where resistance is most probable, & coercion least practicable. They cite propositions in Congress and suspect other projects on foot still to increase the mass of debt. They say that by borrowing at 2/3 of the interest, we might have paid off the principal in 2/3 of the time: but that from this we are precluded by it's being made irredeemable but in small portions & long terms: That this irredeemable quality was given it for the avowed purpose of inviting it's transfer to foreign countries. They predict that this transfer of the principal, when compleated, will occasion an exportation of 3. millions of dollars annually for the interest, a drain of coin, of which as there has been no example, no calculation can be made of it's consequences: That the banishment of our coin will be compleated by the creation of 10. millions of paper money, in the form of bank bills, now issuing into circulation. They think the 10. or 12. percent annual profit paid to the lenders of this paper medium taken out of the pockets of the people, who would have had without interest the coin it is banishing: That all the capital employed in paper speculation is barren & useless, producing, like that on a gaming table, no accession to itself, and is withdrawn from commerce & agriculture where it would have produced addition to the common mass: That it nourishes in our citizens habits of vice and idleness instead of industry & morality: That it has furnished effectual means of corrupting such a portion of the legislature, as turns the balance between the honest voters which ever way it is directed: That this corrupt squadron, deciding the voice of the legislature, have manifested their dispositions to get rid of the limitations imposed by the constitution on the general legislature, limitations, on the faith of which, the states acceded to that instrument: That the ultimate object of all this is to prepare the way for a change, from the present republican form of government, to that of a monarchy, of which the English constitution is to be the model. That this was contemplated in the Convention is no secret, because it's partisans have made none of it. To effect it then was impracticable, but they are still eager after their object, and are predisposing every thing for it's ultimate attainment. So many of them have got into the legislature, that, aided by the corrupt squadron of paper dealers, who are at their devotion, they make a majority in both houses. The republican party, who wish to preserve the government in it's present form, are fewer in number. They are fewer even when joined by the two, three, or half dozen anti-federalists, who, tho they dare not avow it, are still opposed to any general government: but being less so to a republican than a monarchical one, they naturally join those whom they think pursuing the lesser evil.

Of all the mischiefs objected to the system of measures before mentioned, none is so afflicting, and fatal to every honest hope, as the corruption of the legislature. As it was the earliest of these measures, it became the instrument for producing the rest, & will be the instrument for producing in future a king, lords & commons, or whatever else those who direct it may chuse. Withdrawn such a distance from the eye of their constituents, and these so dispersed as to be inaccessible to public information, & particularly to that of the conduct of their own representatives, they will form the most corrupt government on earth, if the means of their corruption be not prevented. The only hope of safety hangs now on the numerous representation which is to come forward the ensuing year. Some of the new members will probably be either in principle or interest, with the present majority, but it is expected that the great mass will form an accession to the republican party. They will not be able to undo all which the two preceding legislatures, & especially the first, have done. Public faith & right will oppose this. But some parts of the system may be rightfully reformed; a liberation from the rest unremittingly pursued as fast as right will permit, & the door shut in future against similar commitments of the nation. Should the next legislature take this course, it will draw upon them the whole monarchical & paper interest. But the latter I think will not go all lengths with the former, because creditors will never, of their own accord, fly off entirely from their debtors. Therefore this is the alternative least likely to produce convulsion. But should the majority of the new members be still in the same principles with the present, & shew that we have nothing to expect but a continuance of the same practices, it is not easy to conjecture what would be the result, nor what means would be resorted to for correction of the evil. True wisdom would direct that they should be temperate & peaceable, but the division of sentiment & interest happens unfortunately to be so geographical, that no mortal can say that what is most wise & temperate would prevail against what is most easy & obvious? I can scarcely contemplate a more incalculable evil than the breaking of the union into two or more parts. Yet when we review the mass which opposed the original coalescence, when we consider that it lay chiefly in the Southern quarter, that the legislature have availed themselves of no occasion of allaying it, but on the contrary whenever Northern & Southern prejudices have come into conflict, the latter have been sacrificed & the former soothed; that the owners of the debt are in the Southern & the holders of it in the Northern division; that the Anti-federal champions are now strengthened in argument by the fulfilment of their predictions; that this has been brought about by the Monarchical federalists themselves, who, having been for the new government merely as a stepping stone to monarchy, have themselves adopted the very constructions of the constitution, of which, when advocating it's acceptance before the tribunal of the people, they declared it insusceptible; that the republican federalists, who espoused the same government for it's intrinsic merits, are disarmed of their weapons, that which they denied as prophecy being now become true history: who can be sure that these things may not proselyte the small number Which was wanting to place the majority on the other side? And this is the event at which I tremble, & to prevent which I consider your continuance at the head of affairs as of the last importance. The confidence of the whole union is centred in you. Your being at the helm, will be more than an answer to every argument which can be used to alarm & lead the people in any quarter into violence or secession. North & South will hang together, if they have you to hang on; and, if the first correction of a numerous representation should fail in it's effect, your presence will give time for trying others not inconsistent with the union & peace of the states.

I am perfectly aware of the oppression under which your present office lays your mind, & of the ardor with which you pant for retirement to domestic life. But there is sometimes an eminence of character on which society have such peculiar claims as to controul the predelection of the individual for a particular walk of happiness, & restrain him to that alone arising from the present & future benedictions of mankind. This seems to be your condition, & the law imposed on you by providence in forming your character, & fashioning the events on which it was to operate; and it is to motives like these, & not to personal anxieties of mine or others who have no right to call on you for sacrifices, that I appeal from your former determination & urge a revisal of it, on the ground of change in the aspect of things. Should an honest majority result from the new & enlarged representation; should those acquiesce whose principles or interest they may controul, your wishes for retirement would be gratified with less danger, as soon as that shall be manifest, without awaiting the completion of the second period of four years. One or two sessions will determine the crisis; and I cannot but hope that you can resolve to add one or two more to the many years you have already sacrificed to the good of mankind.

The fear of suspicion that any selfish motive of continuance in office may enter into this sollicitation on my part obliges me to declare that no such motive exists. It is a thing of mere indifference to the public whether I retain or relinquish my purpose of closing my tour with the first periodical renovation of the government. I know my own measure too well to suppose that my services contribute any thing to the public confidence, or the public utility. Multitudes can fill the office in which you have been pleased to place me, as much to their advantage & satisfaction. I therefore have no motive to consult but my own inclination, which is bent irresistibly on the tranquil enjoyment of my family, my farm, & my books. I should repose among them it is true, in far greater security, if I were to know that you remained at the watch, and I hope it will be so. To the inducements urged from a view of our domestic affairs, I will add a bare mention, of what indeed need only be mentioned, that weighty motives for your continuance are to be found in our foreign affairs. I think it probable that both the Spanish & English negotiations, if not completed before your purpose is known, will be suspended from the moment it is known; & that the latter nation will then use double diligence in fomenting the Indian war.--With my wishes for the future, I shall at the same time express my gratitude for the past, at least my portion in it; & beg permission to follow you whether in public or private life with those sentiments of sincere attachment & respect...377

Hamilton “viewed Jefferson’s actions in much the same way,” wrote Noble Cunningham.378 Later in May 1792, Hamilton wrote that Jefferson and Madison had “a womanish attachment to France and a womanish resentment against Great Britain. He wrote that Jefferson in France “saw government only on the side of its abuses. He drank deeply of the French Philosophy, in Religion, in Science, in politics. He came from France in the moment of a fermentation which he had a share in exciting.....He came here [from France to New York as secretary of state] probably with a too partial idea of his own powers, and with the expectation of a greater share in the direction of our councils than he has in reality enjoyed.”379 Three days after Jefferson had written Washington, Hamilton wrote Edward Carrington, a Virginian with whom Hamilton had served in the Army and Congress, about the causes of the division within Washington’s administration:

It was not till the last session [of Congress] that I became unequivocally convinced of the following truth -- "That Mr. Madison, cooperating with Mr. Jefferson, is at the head of a faction decidedly hostile to me and my administration, and actuated by views, in my judgment subversive of the principles of good government and dangerous to the union, peace, and happiness of the Country."...

Mr. Jefferson...manifests his dislike of the funding system generally, calling in question the expediency of funding a debt at all.…In the question concerning the Bank [of the United States] he not only delivered an opinion in writing against its constitutionality and expediency, but he did it in a style and manner which I felt as partaking of asperity and ill humor towards me.…

In respect to foreign politics, the views of these gentlemen [Jefferson and Madison] are in my judgment equally unsound and dangerous. They have a womanish attachment to France and a womanish resentment against Great Britain. They would draw us into the closest embrace of the former and involve us in all the consequences of her politics, and they would risk the peace of the country in their endeavors to keep us at the greatest possible distance from the latter.…The Neutral and Pacific Policy appear to me to mark the true path to the United States.…

I am told serious apprehensions are disseminated in your state as to the existence of a Monarchical party meditating the destruction of State and Republican Government.…I assure you,…there is not in my judgment a shadow of foundation of it.…As to my own political Creed,…I am affectionately attached to the Republican theory. I desire above all things to see the equality of political rights exclusive of all hereditary distinction firmly established by a practical demonstration of its being consistent with the order and happiness of society.…I acknowledge the most serious apprehensions that the Government of the United States will not be able to maintain itself against their [the states'] influence.…Hence, a disposition on my part towards a liberal construction of the powers of the National Government.…As to any combination to prostrate the State Governments I disavow and deny it.…

On the whole, the only enemy which Republicanism has to fear in this Country is the spirit of faction and anarchy. If this will not permit the ends of Government to be attained under it -- if it engenders disorders in the community, all regular and orderly minds will wish for a change, and the demagogues who have produced the disorder will make it for their own aggrandizement. This is the old Story.380

Problems between Hamilton and Jefferson worsened in the summer of 1792 along with relations with France. Washington tried to get them to patch up their differences and stop berating each other through newspaper columns in the middle of the Citizen Genet controversy. Hamilton admitted authoring his essays, but Jefferson denied taking that role and attempted to defend his honor while as he often did, skirting the truth. Jefferson offered Hamilton no quarter in a blistering letter to President Washington on September: “I will not suffer my retirement to be clouded by the slanders of a man whose history, from the moment at which history can stoop to notice him, is a tissue of machinations against the liberty of the country which has not only received and given him bread, but heaped its honors on his head.”381 For both men, their honor and their legacies were at stake – as well as the future of the country. John Miller wrote that “the President’s plea for harmony had a sobering effect. Hamilton admitted that there was a reciprocal duty on the part of Cabinet officers to cultivate good understanding, and that unless the quarrel between himself and Jefferson were settled it would ‘destroy the energy of government, which will be little enough with the strictest union.’ While Hamilton was too deeply engaged emotionally to take a wholly objective point of view, on at least one occasion he revealed that he was capable of detaching himself from the quarrel. ‘One side,’ he remarked, ‘appears to believe that there is a serious plot to overturn the general government, and elevate the separate power of the States upon its ruins. Both sides may be equally wrong....’ In the same spirit, Jefferson remarked that reason was too fallible to make differences of opinion the decisive line between the honest and the dishonest part of the community: ‘Integrity of views,’ he said, ‘more than their soundness, is the basis of esteem.’”382

Hamilton’s success with his economic program and his deflection of Citizen Genet “only enraged the Virginians all the more,” noted Thomas K. McCraw. Hamilton himself wrote: “This current of success on one side & defeat on the other have rendered the Opposition furious, & have produced a disposition to subvert their Competitors at the expence of the Government.”383 Washington tried to cool Hamilton down. Washington wrote Hamilton in late August: “Differences in political opinions are as unavoidable, as, to a certain point, they may perhaps be necessary; but it is exceedingly to be regretted, that subjects cannot be discussed with temper on the one hand, or decisions submitted to without having the motives, which led to them, improperly implicated on the other; and this regret borders on chagrin, when we find that men of abilities, zealous patriots, having the same general objects in view, and the same upright intentions to prosecute them, will not exercise more charity in deciding on the opinions and actions of one another.”384

Hamilton’s conception of the government and the president’s role was closer to Washington’s than was Jefferson’s. In 1792, a mini-Whiskey rebellion had frightened the federal government. Hamilton wrote President Washington on August 10 to commend the president that he had decided “to enforce the law; in case a refractory spirit should continue to render the ordinary & more desirable means ineffectual.”385 President Washington tried to united his Cabinet behind a Proclamation regarding the rebellion but before that could happen, the rebellion effectively collapsed. Historian James Roger Sharp noted: “After the passage of the excise law, it quickly became apparent that the tax would be fiercely resisted. Almost immediately tax collectors were tarred, feathered, and terrorized with threats of greater physical abuse. Even citizens who were sympathetic with or merely only in favor of complying with the law were sometimes treated to coats of tar and feathers. In a few cases barns were burned and houses pulled down.”386 All this was unacceptable to both Washington and Hamilton.

“This schism in the cabinet was a subject of extreme mortification to the President,” wrote Chief Justice John Marshall in his biography of President Washington. “Entertaining a high respect for the talents, and a real esteem for the characters, of both gentlemen, he was unwilling to part with either; and exerted all the influence he possessed to effect a reconciliation between them."387 Washington wrote Jefferson on August 23, 1792 as he tried to patch up his cabinet: “How unfortunate and how much is it to be regretted then, that, while we are encompassed on all sides with avowed enemies, and insidious friends, internal dissensions should be harassing and tearing our vitals. The last, to me, is the most serious, the most alarming, and the most afflicting of the two; and, without more charity for the opinions of one another in governmental matters, or some more infallible criterion by which the truth of speculative opinions, before they have undergone the test of experience, are to be forejudged, than has yet fallen to the lot of fallibility, I believe it will be difficult, if not impracticable, to manage he reins of government, or to keep the parts of it together: for, if, instead of laying our shoulders to the machine, after measures are decided on, one pulls this way, and another that, before the utility of the thing is fairly tried, it must inevitably be torn asunder; and, in my opinion, the fairest prospect of happiness and prosperity that ever was presented to man will be lost, perhaps, for ever."

My earnest wish and my fondest hope therefore is, that instead of wounding suspicions, and irritating charges, there may be liberal allowances, mutual forbearances, and temporizing yielding on all sides. Under the exercise of these, matters will go on smoothly; and if possible, more prosperously. Without them, every thing must rub; the wheels of government will clog; our enemies will triumph; and, by throwing their weight into the disaffected scale, may accomplish the ruin of the goodly fabric we have been erecting."

I do not mean to apply this advice, or these observations, to any particular person or character. I have given them in the same general terms to other officers* of the government, because the disagreements which have arisen from difference of opinions, and the attacks which have been made upon almost all the measures of government, and most of its executive officers, have for a long time past filled me with painful sensations, and can not fail, I think, of producing unhappy consequences, at home and abroad."388

Jefferson complained to Washington in his letter of September 9: “I will not suffer my retirement to be clouded by the slanders of a man whose history, from the moment at which history can stoop to notice him, is a tissue of machinations against the liberty of the country which has not only received and given him bread, but heaped its honors on his head.”389 Historian John E. Ferling wrote: “Madison sought to dissuade him from retirement. The divisions would only grow in his absence, the younger man argued. Moreover, there was no heir apparent. Jefferson had little following in the North. Adams and Jay were too widely suspected of pro-monarchical inclinations to have broad support. Hamilton was out of the question. The new nation needed Washington’s service for four more years, or it might not survive. If Washington was moved, he did not change his mind. He asked ht young Virginian to prepare a draft of a formal farewell address.”390

Biographer Harrison Clark wrote: “In May 9 of 1792 Jefferson wrote to the president, expostulating against his wish to retire at the end of his first term. Jefferson’s plea that he continue in office probably arose from his fear that a successor would be much less ‘republican.’ He added a fervent though polite attack on the principle measures of the administration which, he said, were causing great public distress and worry. He implied that the President had nothing to do with the financial measures adopted by the government nor did he know of the stockjobbing and bribery in Congress, the split between North and South, and the move within the government to monarchy.”391

“Long after most men would have tolerated the public bickering of Hamilton and Jefferson (not to mention their journalistic mouthpieces), Washington pretended obliviousness. By treating the feud as strictly a clash of principles, he hoped to preserve at least a semblance of official dignity – essential to the new republic’s credibility – even as the combatants themselves sank to the level of street brawlers,” wrote historian Richard Norton Smith. In August 1792, George Washington launched a major peace initiative within his Cabinet. Washington directed his displeasure at both princes. He was beholden to no one. “In truth, the president did his own thinking, displaying the same firmness and energy, in running a government as in commanding an army or managing a plantation,” wrote Smith.392 Problems between Hamilton and Jefferson came to a head in the summer of 1792 when Washington tried to get them to patch up their differences and stop berating each other through newspaper columns. Hamilton admitted authoring his essays, but Jefferson denied taking that role. Jefferson offered Hamilton no quarter in a blistering letter to President Washington: “I will not suffer my retirement to be clouded by the slanders of a man whose history, from the moment at which history can stoop to notice him, is a tissue of machinations against the liberty of the country which has not only received and given him bread, but heaped its honors on his head.”393

Historian Richard Norton Smith wrote: “Caught in the escalating crossfire, late in August Washington sent virtually identical peace feelers to each combatant. He opened his letter to Jefferson with an ominous account of the dangers in foreign policy...How regrettable, he told Jefferson, ‘whilst we are encompassed on all sides with avowed enemies and insidious friends that internal dissensions should be harrowing and tearing our vitals.’ Washington’s most earnest wish was that instead of ‘wounding suspicions and irritable charges, there may be liberal allowances, mutual forbearances, and temporizing yieldings on all sides.’”

Three days later, Washington put pen to paper a second time, ostensibly to thank Hamilton for his exhaustive vindication of his treasury stewardship. Although political differences were unavoidable, said the president, they should not be allowed to damage public administration or poison personal relations. He found it appalling that ‘men of abilities, zealous patriots, having the same general objects in view and the same upright intentions to prosecute them,’ should imagine the worst of their fellow officials. ‘How unfortunate it would be if a fabric so goodly, erected under so many providential circumstances...should from diversity of sentiments...(for I cannot prevail on myself to believe that these measures are as yet the deliberate acts of a determined party)’ be wracked by controversy and brought to the edge of collapse. ‘Melancholy thought!’”394

On August 23, 1792, Washington wrote Jefferson: “How unfortunate, and how much is it to be regretted then, that whilst we are encompassed on all sides with avowed enemies and insidious friends, that internal dissensions should be harrowing and tearing our vitals. The last, to me, is the most serious, the most alarming, and the most afflicting of the two. And without more charity for the opinions and acts of one another in Governmental matters, or some more infalible criterion by which the truth of speculative opinions, before they have undergone the test of experience, are to be forejudged than has yet fallen to the lot of fallibility, I believe it will be difficult, if not impracticable, to manage the Reins of Government or to keep the parts of it together: for if, instead of laying our shoulders to the machine after measures are decided on, one pulls this way and another that, before the utility of the thing is fairly tried, it must, inevitably, be torn asunder. And, in my opinion the fairest prospect of happiness and prosperity that ever was presented to man, will be lost, perhaps for ever!

My earnest wish, and my fondest hope therefore is, that instead of wounding suspicions, and irritable charges, there may be liberal allowances, mutual forbearances, and temporising yieldings on all sides. Under the exercise of these, matters will go on smoothly, and, if possible, more prosperously. Without them every thing must rub; the Wheels of Government will clog; our enemies will triumph, and by throwing their weight into the disaffected Scale, may accomplish the ruin of the goodly fabric we have been erecting.

I do not mean to apply these observations, or this advice to any particular person, or character. I have given them in the same general terms to other Officers of the Government; because the disagreements which have arisen from difference of opinions, and the Attacks wch. have been made upon almost all the measures of government, and most of its Executive Officers, have, for a long time past, filled me with painful sensations; and cannot fail I think, of producing unhappy consequences at home and abroad.

The nature of Mr. Seagroves communications was such, and the evidence in support of them so strongly corroborative, that I gave it as my sentiment to Genl. Knox that the Commissioners of Spain ought to have the matter brought before them again in the manner it was before, but in stronger (though not in committing) language; as the Government was embarrassed, and its Citizens in the Southern States made uneasy by such proceedings, however unauthorized they might be by their Court. I pray you to note down, or rather to frame into paragraphs or sections such matters as may occur to you as fit and proper for general communication at the opening of the next Session of Congress, not only in the department of State, but on any other subject applicable to the occasion, that I may, in due time, have every thing before me. With sincere esteem and friendship I am &c. 395

Jefferson biographer Claude Bowers wrote of President Washington “On August 26th he tried his art of conciliation, appealing to both Hamilton and Jefferson, albeit, as he knew, the latter had not written a line.”396 In a letter to Hamilton on August 26, Washington wrote: “Differences in political opinions are as unavoidable as, to a certain point, they may, perhaps, be necessary; but it is exceedingly to be regretted that subjects cannot be discussed with temper on the one hand, or decisions submitted to without having the motives which led to them improperly implicated on the other: and this regret borders on chagrin when we find that men of abilities, zealous patriots, having the same general objects in view, and the same upright intentions to prosecute them, will not exercise more charity in deciding on the opinions and actions of one another. When matters get to such lengths, the natural inference is, that both sides have strained the Cords beyond their bearing, and, that a middle course would be found the best, until experience shall have decided on the right way, or, which is not to be expected, because it is denied to mortals, there shall be some infallible rule by which we could fore-judge events.

Having premised these things, I would fain hope that liberal allowances will be made for the political opinions of each other; and instead of those wounding suspicions, and irritating charges, with which some of our Gazettes are so strongly impregnated, and cannot fail if persevered in, of pushing matters to extremity, and thereby to tare the Machine asunder, that there might be mutual forbearances and temporizing yieldings on all sides. Without these I do not see how the Reins of government are to be managed, or how the Union of the States can be much longer preserved.

How unfortunate would it be if a fabric so goodly, erected under so many Providential circumstances, and in its first stages, having acquired such respectability, should from diversity of sentiments or internal obstructions to some of the acts of Government (for I cannot prevail on myself to believe that these measures are as yet the deliberate acts of a determined party) should be harrowing our vitals in such a manner as to have brought us to the verge of dissolution. Melancholy thought! But one at the same time that it shows the consequences of diversified opinions, when pushed with too much tenacity, it exhibits evidence also of the necessity of accommodation, and of the propriety of adopting such healing measures as may restore harmony to the discordant members of the Union, and the Governing powers of it. I do not mean to apply this advice to any measures which are passed or to any particular character; I have given it in the same general terms to other Officers of the Government. My earnest wish is, that balsam may be poured into all the wounds which have been given, to prevent them from gangrening and from those fatal consequences which the community may sustain if it is with held. The friends of the Union must wish this; those who are not, but wish to see it rended, will be disappointed, and all things I hope will go well.”397

Jefferson biographer Willard Sterne Randall wrote: “On July 31, he had informed Washington he would retire September 30. When Washington once again pleaded with him to stay on, Jefferson assured him that the Republicans would support him through the remainder of his presidency. He also said he was tired of a post that forced him ‘to move exactly in the circle which I know to bear me peculiar hatred, that is to say the wealthy aristocrats, the merchants connected closely with England, the new created paper fortunes.’ Finally Jefferson agreed to stay on until the end of 1793, close to the time when Hamilton announced he would resign.”398 Historian James Schouler wrote: “Before the recall of Genet had been determined upon, Washington held in his hands the proffered resignations of his two chief secretaries. His peace of mind, and the harmony of the administration councils, required that one or both should be promptly accepted. Jefferson had proposed resigning in September, but the President induced him to remain until the end of the year, when Congress would be assembled. It was Hamilton's wish that his own retirement should take effect not sooner than the close of the coming session; his department plans were to be brought forward in Congress, and he wished an opportunity for resuming that investigation into his official conduct which neither he nor the President thought concluded.”

Hamilton appears to have had no stronger motive for resigning than the sensitiveness he felt over his treasury projects, and a conviction that Washington was wary about committing himself to them, as though personally distrusting his good faith. But with Jefferson, it was a feeling of profound disgust concerning his present position in the government, liable as it was so constantly to misconception. He had held over a few months, only to find that on the new foreign issues, which most affected his own department, he was far from being in accord with the President. The newspaper which was looked upon as Jefferson's pet organ denounced the President constantly in words which wounded the latter to the quick. Madison and the new opposition party looked to him constantly for direction. The ultra French partisans thought him pusillanimous, or rather, as Genet tartly insinuated in his correspondence, a Secretary of State who had "an official language and a language confidential." His position grew more intolerable every day. Scarcely a phase of the belligerent troubles had come up for cabinet discussion which did not find Jefferson advocating one course and Hamilton another; the latter always carrying Knox with him, while the former found but slippery support from Randolph, whose mind ran to cobweb distinctions, and who, as Jefferson used to say, would give the shells to him and the oyster to Hamilton.399

Jefferson scholar Susan Dunn wrote that “there was nothing conciliatory in Jefferson’s reply to the president. Days after receiving Washington’s letter, he responded with a lengthy detailed catalogue of his grievances against Hamilton. As for Hamilton’s allies, they were ‘deserters from the rights & interests of the people,’ men who had ‘nothing in view but to enrich themselves.’”400 Jefferson wrote President Washington on September 9, 1792 a letter of wounded defense:

“When I embarked in the government, it was with a determination to intermeddle not at all with the legislature, & as little as possible with my co-departments. The first and only instance of variance from the former part of my resolution, I was duped into by the Secretary of the Treasury and made a tool for forwarding his schemes, not then sufficiently understood by me; and of all the errors of my political life, this has occasioned me the deepest regret. It has ever been my purpose to explain this to you, when, from being actors on the scene, we shall have become uninterested spectators only. The second part of my resolution has been religiously observed with the war department; as to that of the Treasury, has never been farther swerved from than by the mere enunciation of my sentiments in conversation, and chiefly among those who, expressing the same sentiments, drew mine from me. If it has been supposed that I have ever intrigued among the members of the legislatures to defeat the plans of the Secretary of the Treasury, it is contrary to all truth. As I never had the desire to influence the members, so neither had I any other means than my friendships, which I valued too highly to risk by usurpations on their freedom of judgment, & the conscientious pursuit of their own sense of duty. That I have utterly, in my private conversations, disapproved of the system of the Secretary of the treasury, I acknolege & avow; and this was not merely a speculative difference. His system flowed from principles adverse to liberty, & was calculated to undermine and demolish the republic, by creating an influence of his department over the members of the legislature. I saw this influence actually produced, & it’s first fruits to be the establishment of the great outlines of his project by the votes of the very persons who, having swallowed his bait were laying themselves out to profit by his plans: & that had these persons withdrawn, as laying themselves out to profit by his plans: & that had these persons withdrawn, as those interested in a question every should, the vote of the disinterested majority was clearly the reverse of what they made it. These were no longer the votes then of the representatives of the people, but of deserters from the rights & interests of the people: & it was impossible to consider their decisions, which had nothing in view but to enrich themselves, as the measures of the fair majority, which ought always to be respected. – If what was actually doing begat uneasiness in those who wished for virtuous government, what was further proposed was not less threatening to the friends of the Constitution. For, in a Report on the subject of manufactures (still to be acted on) it was expressly assumed that the general government has a right to exercise all powers which may for the general welfare, that is to say, all the legitimate powers of government: since no government has a legitimate right to do what is not for the welfare of the governed. There was indeed a sham-limitation of the universality of this power to the cases where money is to be employed. But about what is it that money cannot be employed? Thus the object of these plans taken together is to draw all the powers of government into the hands of the general legislature, to establish means for corrupting a sufficient corps in that legislature to divide the honest votes& preponderate, by their own, the scale which suited, & to have that corps under the command of the Secretary of the Treasury for the purpose of subverting step by step the principles of the constitution, which he has so often declared to be a thing of nothing which must be change. Such views might have justified something more than mere expressions of dissent, beyond which, nevertheless, I never went. – Has abstinence from the department committed to me been equally observed by him? To say nothing of other interferences equally known, in the case of the two nations with which we have the most intimate connections, France & England, my system was to give some satisfactory distinctions to the former, of little cost to us, in return for the solid advantages yielded us by them; and to have met the english with some restrictions which might induce them to abate their severities against our commerce. I have always supposed this coincided with your sentiments. Yet the Secretary of the treasury, by his cabals with members of the legislature, & by high-toned declamation on other occasions, has forced down his won system, which was exactly the reverse. He undertook, of his own authority, the conferences with the ministers of those two nations, & was, on every consultation, provided with some report of a conversation with the one or the other of them, adapted to his views. These views, thus made to prevail, their execution fell of course to me; & I can safely appeal to you, who have seen all my letters& proceedings, whether I have not carried them into execution as sincerely as if they had been my own, tho’ I ever considered them as inconsistent with the honor & interest of our country.”401

On September 9th, 1792. Jefferson wrote President Washington: “I have the pleasure of your private letter of the 26th of August. The feelings and views which are manifested in that letter, are such as I expected would exist. And I most sincerely regret the causes of the uneasy sensations you experience. It is my most anxious wish, as far as may depend upon me, to smooth the path of your administration, and to render it prosperous and happy. And if any prospect shall be open of healing or terminating the differences which exist, I shall most cheerfully embrace it; though I consider myself as the deeply injured party. The recommendation of such a spirit is worthy of the moderation and wisdom which dictated it. And if your endeavors should prove unsuccessful, I do not hesitate to say, that in my opinion the period is not remote, when the public good will require substitutes for the differing members of your administration. The continuance of a division there must destroy the energy of government, which will be little enough with the strictest union. On my part there will be a most cheerful acquiescence in such a result.

I trust, sir, that the greatest frankness has always marked, and will always mark, every step of my conduct towards you. In this disposition I cannot conceal from you, that I have had some instrumentality of late in the retaliations, which have fallen upon certain public characters, and that I find myself placed in a situation not to be able to recede for the present.

I considered myself as compelled to this conduct by reasons public as well as personal, of the most cogent nature. I know that I have been an object of uniform opposition from Mr. Jefferson, from the moment of his coming to the city of New-York to enter upon his present office. I know from the most authentic sources, that I have been the frequent subject of the most unkind whispers and insinuations from the same quarter. I have long seen a formed party in the legislature under his auspices, bent upon my subversion. I cannot doubt from the evidence I possess, that the National Gazette was instituted by him for political purposes, and that one leading object of it has been to render me, and all the measures connected with my department, as odious as possible. Nevertheless, I can truly say, that, except explanations to confidential friends, I never directly or indirectly retaliated or countenanced retaliation till very lately. I can even assure you, that I was instrumental in preventing a very severe and systematic attack upon Mr. Jefferson by an association of two or three individuals, in consequence of the persecution which he brought upon the Vice-President, by his indiscreet and light letter to the printer, transmitting Paine's pamphlet.

As long as I saw no danger to the government from the machinations which were going on, I resolved to be a silent sufferer of the injuries which were done me. I determined to avoid giving occasion to any thing, which could manifest to the world dissentions among the principal characters of the government; a thing which can never happen without weakening its hands, and in some degree throwing a stigma upon it.

But when I no longer doubted that there was a formed party deliberately bent upon the subversion of measures, which in its consequences would subvert the government; when I saw that the undoing of the funding system in particular, (which, whatever may be the original merits of that system, would prostrate the credit and the honor of the nation, and bring the government into contempt with that description of men, who are in every society the only firm supporters of government,) was an avowed object of the party; and that all possible pains were taking to produce that effect, by rendering it odious to the body of the people, I considered it as a duty to endeavor to resist the torrent, and, as an effectual means to this end, to draw aside the veil from the principal actors. To this strong impulse, to this decided conviction, I have yielded. And I think events will prove that I have judged rightly.

Nevertheless, I pledge my honor to you, sir, that if you shall hereafter form a plan to re-unite the members of your administration upon some steady principle of co-operation, I will faithfully conquer in executing it during my continuance in office; and I will not directly or indirectly say or do a thing that shall endanger a feud.

I have had it very much at heart to make an excursion to Mount Vernon, by way of the federal city, in the course of this month, and have been more than once on the point of asking your permission for it. But I now despair of being able to effect it. I am, nevertheless, equally obliged by your kind invitation. The subject mentioned in the postscript of your letter shall, with great pleasure, be carefully attended to. With the most faithful and affectionate attachment, I have the honor to remain, sir, yours, &c.

Hamilton kept us his campaign against Jefferson. He issued repeated demands that Jefferson quit the Cabinet. In October, he pushed an article signed Metellus. “Let him not cling to the honor or emolument of an office, whichever it may be that attracts him, and content himself with defending the injured rights of the people by obscure or indirect means.”402 Hamilton argued that Jefferson had not been loyal to administration policy: “The true line of propriety appears to me to be the following: A member of the administration, in one department, ought only to aid those measures of anothenwhich he approves—where he disapproves, if called upon to act officially, he ought to manifest his disapprobation, and avow his opposition, but out of an official line he ought not to interfere as long as he thinks fit to continue a part of the administration. When the measure in question has become a law of the land, especially with a direct sanction of the chief magistrate, it is peculiarly his duty to acquiesce. A contrary conduct is inconsistent with his relations as an officer of the government, and with a due respect as such for the decisions of the legislature, and of the head of the Executive Department. The line here delineated, is drawn from obvious and very important considerations. The success of every government—its capacity to combine the exertion of public strength with the preservation of personal right and private security, qualities which define the perfection of a government, must always naturally depend on the energy of the Executive Department. This energy again must materially depend on the union and mutual deference which subsist between the members of that department, and the conformity of their conduct with the views of the executive chief.”403

Fawn M. Brodie wrote: “Before going out of office Jefferson did make one desperate effort to get Hamilton out of the cabinet, which he thought, briefly, in the early months of 1793, might succeed. On Frebruary7 he told the recently reelected President he would stay on until summer, perhaps until autumn. Washington, greatly pleased, expressed his hope that he would make his peace with Hamilton. In replying Jefferson was honest, up to a point. Conciliation with Hamilton, he said, was impossible.”404 Richard Norton Smith wrote: “While providing these reassurances, however, Jefferson was masterminding the most serious campaign yet to drive Hamilton from office. Taking advantage of the congressional calendar, the secretary of state’s fiery protégé William Branch Giles rose on the floor of the House to demand an official probe into allegations of treasury mismanagement and corruption. Through superhuman exertions, Hamilton succeeded in burying his accusers in a mass of unassailable fiscal detail.”405 Nathan Schachner wrote “The great irony was that the man who repeatedly accused Hamilton of meddling with Congress and violating the separation of powers was now secretly scrawling congressional resolutions directed against a member of his own administration.”406

“The discussion of the domestic political situation by these two men amounted to mutual reassurance. Jefferson was confident that the Republicans were loyal to the government and that they would abandon Gent as soon as they learned of his conduct,” wrote Jefferson biographer Dumas Malone. “Washington in turn reasserted his own opposition to monarchy, which Jefferson had never doubted, and declared that if there were those who wanted to abandon republicanism they were insane, since the public would never support them. The President thought that his Secretary of State exaggerated monarchical dangers, while Jefferson thought that Washington exaggerated those of public criticism, but their relations were grounded on mutual respect and understanding.”407

In October, Washington wrote Hamilton and Jefferson about renewed cooperation: "A measure of this sort would produce harmony and consequent good in our public councils; and the contrary will inevitably produce confusion and serious mischiefs—and for what? because mankind can not think alike, but would adopt different means to attain the same end. For I will frankly and solemnly declare that I believe the views of both to be pure and well meant, and that experience only will decide with respect to the salubrity of the measures which are the subjects of this dispute.

Why then, when some of the best citizens of the United States—men of discernment—uniform and tried patriots—who have no sinister views to promote, but are chaste in their ways of thinking and acting, are to be found some on one side, and some on the other of the questions which have caused these agitations—why should either of you be so tenacious of your opinions as to make no allowance for those of the other? I could, and indeed was about to add more on this interesting subject, but will forbear, at least for the present, after expressing a wish that the cup which has been presented to us may not be snatched from our lips by a discordance of action, when I am persuaded there is no discordance in your views. I have a great, a sincere esteem and regard for you both; and ardently wish that some line could be marked out by which both of you could walk.408

Relations worsened in 1793 as Jefferson pressed the Giles resolutions in an effort to force Hamilton out of the cabinet. In July 1793, Jefferson laid out to Madison a plan of attack, according to Washington biographer James Thomas Flexner,: “Hamilton’s power should be undermined by breaking the Treasury Department in half. There should be two Secretaries: one to collect customs and the other, internal taxes. The House should declare the bank unconstitutional, which would have a popular impact even if the Senate were too ‘unsound’ to concur. Then Jefferson, who had condoned, if regretfully, the attacks on Washington, urged that they be stilled.”409 Madison observed that Hamilton knew “the business will not be terminated by a single fire, and of course that I must return to the charge in order to prevent a triumph without a victory.” Madison added: I can only account for it by supposing the public sentiment to have been collected from tainted sources, which ought to have suggested to a cautious and unbiassed mind the danger of confiding in them. The body of the people are unquestionably attached to the Union, and friendly to the Constitution; but that they have no dissatisfaction at the measures and spirit of the Government, I consider as notoriously untrue.”410

Jefferson wrote Madison in May 1793: “There has been a time when perhaps the esteem of the world was of higher value in my eyes than everything in it. But age, experience and reflection, preserving to that its only due value, have set a higher on tranquillity. The motion of my blood no longer keeps time with the tumult of the world. It leads me to seek for happiness in the lap and love of my family, in the society of my neighbors and my books, in the wholesome occupations of my farm and my affairs, in an interest or affection in every bud that opens, in every breath that blows around me, in an entire freedom of rest or motion, of thought or incogitancy, owing account to myself alone of my hours and actions. What must be the principle of that calculation which should balance against these the circumstances of my present existence! Worn down with labors from morning to night and day to day; knowing them as fruitless to others as they are vexatious to myself, committed singly in desperate and eternal contest against a host who are systematically undermining the public liberty and prosperity, cut off from my family and friends, my affairs abandoned to chaos and derangement; in short, giving everything I love in exchange for everything I hate, and all this without a single gratification in possession or prospect, in present enjoyment or future wish.411

That summer, Jefferson renewed his intention to resign as secretary of state. He wrote in his diary on August 6, 1793: “The President calls on me at my house in the country, and introduces my letter of July the 31st, announcing that I should resign at the close of the next~month. He again expressed his repentance at not having resigned himself, and how much it was increased by seeing that he was to be deserted by those on whose aid he had counted: that he did not know where he should look to find characters to fill up the offices; that mere talents did not suffice for the department of State, but it required a person conversant in foreign affairs, perhaps acquainted with foreign courts; that without this, the best talents would be awkward and at a loss. He told me that Colonel Hamilton had three or four weeks ago written to him, informing him that private as well as public reasons had brought him to the determination to retire, and that he should do it towards the close of the next session. He said he had often before intimated dispositions to resign, but never as decisively before; that he supposed he had fixed on the latter part of next session, to give an opportunity to Congress to examine into his conduct: that our going out at times so different, increased his difficulty; for if he had both places to fill at once, he might consult both the particular talents and geographical situation of our successors. He expressed great apprehensions at the fermentation which seemed to be working in the mind of the public; that many descriptions of persons, actuated by different causes, appeared to be uniting; what it would end in he knew not; a new Congress was to assemble, more numerous, perhaps of a different spirit; the first expressions of their sentiments would be important; if I would only stay to the end of that, it would relieve him considerably.”

I expressed to him my excessive repugnance to public life, the particular uneasiness of my situation in this place, where the laws of society oblige me always to move exactly in the circle which I know to bear me peculiar hatred; that is to say, the wealthy aristocrats, the merchants connected closely with England, the new created paper fortunes; that thus surrounded, my words were caught, multiplied, misconstrued, and even fabricated and spread abroad to my injury; that he saw also, that there was such an opposition of views between myself and another part of the administration, as to render it peculiarly unpleasing, and to destroy the necessary harmony. Without knowing the views of what is called the republican party here, or having any communication with them, I could undertake to assure him, from my intimacy with that party in the late Congress, that there was not a view in the republican party as spread over the United States, which went to the frame of the government; that 1 believed the next Congress would attempt nothing material, but to render their own body independent; that that party were firm in their dispositions to support the government; that the maneuvres of Mr. Genet might produce some little embarassment, but that he would be abandoned by the republicans the moment they knew the nature of his conduct; and on the whole, no crisis existed which threatened any thing.

He said, he believed the views of the republican party were perfectly pure, but when men put a machine into motion, it is impossible for them to stop it exactly where they would choose, or to say where it will stop. That the constitution we have is an excellent one, if we can keep it where it is; that it was, indeed, supposed there was a party disposed to change it into a monarchical form, but that he could conscientiously declare there was not a man in the United States who would set his face more decidedly against it than himself. Here I interrupted him, by saying, 'no rational man in the United States suspects you of any other disposition; but there does not pass a week, in which we cannot prove declarations dropping from the monarchical party, that our government is good for nothing, is a milk and water thing which cannot support itself, we must knock it down, and set up something of more energy. He said, if that was the case, he thought it a proof of their insanity, for that the republican spirit of the Union was so manifest and so solid, that it was astonishing how any one could expect to move it.

He returned to the difficulty of naming my successor; he said Mr. Madison would be his first choice, but that he had always expressed to him such a decision against public office, that he could not expect he would undertake it. Mr. Jay would prefer his present office. He said that Mr. Jay had a great opinion of the talents of Mr. King; that there was also Mr. Smith of South Carolina, and E. Rutledge: but he observed, that name whom he would, some objections would be made, some would be called speculators, some one thing, some another; and he asked me to mention any characters occurring to me. I asked him if Governor Johnson of Maryland had occurred to him? He said he had; that he was a man of great good sense, an honest man, and he believed, clear of speculations: but this, says he, in an instance of what I was observing; with all these qualifications, Governor Johnson, from a want of familiarity with foreign affairs, would be in them like a fish out of water; every thing would be new to him, and he awkward in every thing. I confessed to him that I had considered Johnson rather as fit for the Treasury department. Yes, says he, for that he would be the fittest appointment that could be made; he is a man acquainted with figures, and having as good a knowledge of the resources of this country as any man. I asked him if Chancellor Livingston had occurred to him? He said yes; but he was from New York, and to appoint him while Hamilton was in, and before it should be known he was going out, would excite a newspaper conflagration, as the ultimate arrangement would not be known. He said McLurg had occurred to him as a man of first rate abilities, but it is said that he is a speculator. He asked me what sort of a man Wolcot was. 1 told him I knew nothing of him myself; I had heard him characterised as a cunning man. I asked him whether some person could not take my office par interim, till he should make an appointment; as Mr. Randolph, for instance. Yes, says he, but there you would raise the expectation of keeping it, and I do not know that he is fit for it, nor what is thought of Mr. Randolph. I avoided noticing the last observation, and he put the question to me directly. I then told him, I went into society so little as to be unable to answer it: I knew that the embarrassments in hisprivate affairs had obliged him to use expedients, which had injured him with the merchants and shop keepers, and affected his character of independence; that these embarrassments were serious, and not likely to cease soon. He said, if I would only stay in till the end of another quarter (the last of December) it would get us through the difficulties of this year, and he was satisfied that the affairs of Europe would be settled with this campaign; for that either France would be overwhelmed by it, or the confederacy would give up the contest. By that time too, Congress will have manifested its character and views. I told him that I had set my private affairs in motion in a line which had powerfully called for my presence the last spring, and that they had suffered immensely from my not going home; that I had now calculated them to my return in the fall, and to fail in going then, would be the loss of another year, and prejudicial beyond measure. I asked him whether he could not name Governor Johnson to my office, under an express arrangement that at the close of the session he should take that of the Treasury. He said that men never chose to descend; that being once in a higher department, he would not like to go into a lower one. He asked me whether I could not arrange my affairs by going home. I told him I did not think the public business would admit of it; that there never was a day now, in which the absence of the Secretary of State would not be inconvenient to the public. And he concluded by desiring that I would take two or three days to consider whether I could not stay in till the end of another quarter, for that like a man going to the gallows, he was willing to put it off as long as he could; but if I persisted, he must then look about him and make up his mind to do the best he could: and so he took leave.

Hamilton and Jefferson had one thing in common. Both had been bewitched by Angelica Church, the sister of Hamilton’s wife. Hamilton came to know Mrs. Church through marriage. Jefferson came to know her when both lived in Paris in the late 1780s. “Angelica Church had the merit of inducing two of the smartest men in America to behave foolishly,” wrote Richard Brookhiser.412 In November 1793, Jefferson wrote Angelica of his approaching retirement: “In the meantime, I am going to Virginia. I have at length become able to fix that to the beginning of the New Year. I am then to be liberated from the hated occupations of politics, and to remain in the bosom of my family, my farm and my books. I have my house to build, my fields to farm, and to watch for the happiness of those who labor for mine. I have one daughter married to a man of science, sense, virtue and competence.413 On December 26, 1793, John Adams wrote his wife: “I am told Mr. Jefferson is to resign tomorrow. I have so long been in the habit of thinking well of his Abilities and general good dispositions, that I cannot but feel some regret at this Event: but his want of Candour, his obstinate Prejudices both of Aversion and Attachment his real Partiality in Spite of all his Pretensions and his low notions about many things have so nearly reconciled me to it, that I will not weep.“414 On January 6, 1794, Adams wrote again: “Jefferson went off Yesterday, and a good riddance of bad ware. I hope his Temper will be more cool and his Principles more reasonable in Retirement than they have been in office. I am almost tempted to wish he may be chosen Vice President at the next Election for there if he could do no good, he could do no harm. He has Talents I know, and Integrity I believe: but his mind is now poisoned with Passion Prejudice and Faction.”415 With his retirement to Monticello, Jefferson left James Madison as the leader of the Jeffersonian opposition in Philadelphia. Upon Madison’s retirement in March 1797, leadership of Jeffersonians in the House fell to Pennsylvania Congressman Albert Gallatin, the financial expert to was to become secretary of the Treasury under President Jefferson. As vice president from 1797 to 1801, Jefferson took personal leadership of the opposition to the Federalists and President John Adams. His pen was busy – but despite precautions, it sometimes caused him political embarrassment.

“Jefferson’s retirement was undoubtedly the greatest catastrophe Washington suffered during his Presidency,” wrote James Thomas Flexner. “It was not only that the powerful political leader, now no longer held down by an executive responsibility, went over completely into the opposition. The very essence of Washington’s decision-making process was set awry. Since he endeavored, before he reached a conclusion, to balance all points of view, he found it immensely valuable to have laid before him the arguments of the ablest members of both principal factions. How, when Hamilton spoke, there was no equally strong voice to answer.”416

Hamilton delayed his resignation longer – in part to protect his good name. Hamilton biographer Nathan Schachner wrote: “On June 21, 1793, he had informed Washington of his determination to resign after the next session of congress, explaining that he was postponing his withdrawal until then to give that body a chance to bring its investigation of his official conduct to a complete close,” wrote Nathan Schachner. “Hamilton determined to force the issue the moment he came back to Philadelphia. He wrote a formal letter to the House of Representatives requesting ‘that a new inquiry may without delay be instituted in some mode, the most effectual for an accurate and thorough investigation; and I will add, that the more comprehensive it is, the more agreeable will it be me.’”417 Biographer Harrison Clark wrote: “The Syrett edition of Hamilton’s letters contains an undated, unaddressed note written by Hamilton in 1794, to someone in Europe, conceivably his sister-in-law, Angelica Church, saying that he was ‘heartily tired’ of his situation in the cabinet and that he intended to resign.”418 Washington wrote to Hamilton in response to his resignation, that took effect on January 31, 1795: “After so long an experience of your public services, I am naturally led, at this moment of your departure from office – which it has always been my wish to present – to review them.

In every relation which you have borne to me, I have found that my confidence in your talents, exertions, and integrity has been well placed. I the more freely render this testimony of my approbation, because I speak from opportunities of information w[hi]ch cannot deceive me and which furnish satisfactory proof of your title to public regard.
My most earnest wishes for your happiness will attend you in your retirement.”419

“There is no doubt that Hamilton left the treasury early in 1795 in order to return to Wall Street and earn some money for his family,” wrote historian Gordon S. Wood. “Since he was out of office and short of funds, his close friend Robert Troup pleaded with him to get involved in business, especially in speculative land schemes. Everyone else was doing it, said Troup. ‘Why should you object to making a little money in a way that cannot be reproachful? Is it not time for you to think of putting yourself in a state of independence?’ Troup even joked to Hamilton that such money-making schemes might be ‘instrumental in making a man of fortune – I may say – a gentleman of you. For such is the present insolence of the World that hardly a man is treated like a gentleman unless his fortune enables him to live at his ease.’”420 Biographer Nathan Schachner wrote that it was “certain that Hamilton did not own or deal in a single share of the public debt, and that when he left the Treasury he was poorer than when he entered it.”421 Jefferson himself wrote in 1793: “When I first entered on the stage of public life (now twenty-four years, ago), I came to a resolution never to engage while in public office in any kind of enterprise for the improvement of my fortune, nor to wear any other character than of a farmer. I Have never departed from it in a single instance; and I have in multiplied instance found myself happy in being able to decide and to act as a public servant, clear of all interest, in the multiform questions that have arisen, wherein I have seen others embarrassed and biased by having got themselves into a more interested situation. Thus I have thought myself richer in contentment than I should have been with any increase of fortune.”422

Historian Gordon S. Wood noted that “both Knox and Hamilton did have trouble maintaining a genteel standard of living on their government salaries.”423 Knox, however, was concerned with his family’s massive real estate holdings in Maine. Although Hamilton had a rich father-in-law, he had to earn his own way for his growing family. Historian Alf J. Mapp, Jr., wrote: “The contrast between Hamilton’s success in public finance and near failure in private was noted by the diplomat Talleyrand who, during his service in America, often saw a laboring Hamilton framed by one of the few lighted windows on his street. The Frenchman wrote, ‘I have seen a man who made the fortune of a nation, laboring all night to support his family.”424 Wood wrote of Hamilton: “Although he knew that many Federalists were using their governmental connections to get rich, Hamilton did not want to be one of them. ‘Saints,’ he told Troup, might get away with such profit-making, but he knew he would be denounced by his Republican opponents as just another one of those ‘speculators’ and ‘peculators.’ He had to refuse ‘because,’ as he sardonically put it, ‘there must be some public fools who sacrifice private to public interest at the certainty of ingratitude and obloquy – because my vanity whispers I ought to be one of those fools and ought to keep myself in a situation the best calculated to render service.”425

Philip Mazzei Letter

George Washington liked order – so the disorder in his cabinet must have been particularly painful to him. After leaving office, Washington wrote that “whenever I order a thing to be done, it must be done...having been accustomed all my life to more regularity and punctuality, [I] know that system and method is required to accomplish all reasonable requests.”426 That personality attribute, of course, had led to a split with Hamilton in early 1781. Washington directed his displeasure at both princes. He was beholden to no one. Walter A. McDougall wrote: “In truth, the president did his own thinking, displaying the same firmness and energy, in running a government as in commanding an army or managing a plantation.”427 Disloyalty from a long-time associate must have stung him.

“Washington had known as early as June 1796 that Jefferson had been speaking ill of him,” wrote Joel Achenbach. “That month, the Philadelphia Aurora published an attack on Washington that exploited a confidential document shared by Washington with his Cabinet in 1793, during a debate on how to deal with France. Jefferson, seeing the report, knew that he would be presumed to have leaked the information. Jefferson quickly wrote to Washington to disavow being the source, though at the same time admitting that it was possible that he had read the document to Madison. Jefferson’s assurance of his probity then turned into a kind of confession, for he said he’d never concealed his political sentiments during private conversations. As we read this letter today, we can almost see Jefferson squirming in his chair as he pens the words. Finally, Jefferson himself could stand it no more, and changed subjects: ‘I put away this disgusting dish of old fragments, and talk to you of my peas and clover.’”428 Washington was very sensitive to his reputation. Historian Peter R. Henriques wrote that “it was the manner of the opposition and Jefferson’s attacks on him that were the key ingredient in embittering Washington.....One of Washington’s central character traits was a very strong need for approval...and as a consequence, he was very sensitive to criticism, especially criticism about his intentions. He could not tolerate outside criticism in addition to his own fierce inner criticized. It was not only important for Washington to act honorably, but it was also equally important that he be recognized for doing so.”429

The cause of the final split between Washington and Jefferson came from Europe. Philip Mazzei was a physician, vineyard cultivator and erstwhile neighbor of Jefferson who had moved back to Europe after helping supply weapons to Virginia during the Revolutionary War. Mazzei was one of Jefferson’s many correspondents to whom he wrote his views about American politics with the expectation that they would be held confidential. A letter which Jefferson wrote Mazzei on April 24,1796 contained opinions about “apostates” to the ideals of the American Revolution. By 1797, the letter was public knowledge in America. Historian Andrew S. Trees wrote that “Jefferson made some strong remarks, including what many viewed as a thinly veiled attack on George Washington. Mazzei translated the letter into Italian and indiscreetly gave it to a Florentine paper. A Parisian newspaper then translated it into French and printed it. And finally, over a year after Jefferson had written the letter, it was retranslated into English and printed in a New York paper. The letter created a storm of controversy, furthering Federalist suspicions that Jefferson’s sympathy for France made his patriotism suspects. Jefferson never acknowledged authorship of the letter and refused to enter the public debate over it.”430 Jefferson wrote Mazzei:

The aspect of our politics has wonderfully changed since you left us. In place of that noble love of liberty and republican government which carried us triumphantly thro' the war, an Anglican, monarchical and aristocratical party has sprung up, whose avowed object is to draw over us the substance as they have already done the forms of the British government. The main body of our citizens however remain true to their republican principles, the whole landed interest is with them,Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. and so is a great mass of talents. Against us are the Executive, the Judiciary, two out of three branches of the legislature, all of the officers of the government, all who want to be officers, all timid men who prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty, British merchants and Americans trading on British capitals, speculators and holders in the banks and public funds a contrivance invented for the purposes of corruption and for assimilating us in all things, to the rotten as well as the sound parts of the British model. It would give you a fever were I to name to you the apostates who have gone over to these heresies, men who were Samsons in the field and Solomons in the council, but who have had their heads shorn by the harlot England. In short we are likely to preserve the liberty we have obtained only by unremitting labors and perils. But we shall preserve them, and our mass of weight and wealth on the good side is so great as to leave no danger that force will ever be attempted against us. We have only to awake and snap the Lilliputian cords with which they have been entangling us during the first sleep which succeeded our labors.—431

“Since most people assumed that Jefferson was defaming Washington, America’s great hero,” wrote historian Gordon S. Wood, “the Federalists were delighted with the letter and missed no opportunity to publicize it, even having it read in the House of Representatives. ‘Nothing but treason and insurrection would be the consequence of such opinions,’ declared one Federalist congressman.’” Wood wrote: “Jefferson was deeply embarrassed by the revelation of the letter. At first the vice-president thought that in defense of his reputation he must ‘take the field of the public papers’; but he soon realized, as he explained to Madison, that any response would involve him in endless explanations and would bring on ‘a personal difference between Genl. Washington and myself,’ not to mention embroiling him ‘with all those with whom his character is still popular, that is to say, nine tenths of the people of the U.S.’”432

Publication of the Mazzei letter placed Jefferson in a very awkward situation. The editors of Jefferson’s papers have written: “Jefferson learned of the letter's publication on 9 May 1797 at Bladensburg, Maryland, where he breakfasted on his way to Philadelphia to attend the special session of Congress recently summoned by Adams. Jefferson's extant correspondence, however, contains no mention of the affair until the summer, when in a letter of 12 July James Monroe urged him to acknowledge authorship (James Monroe to TJ 12 Jul. 1797), declaring that as a free man he was entitled to express his sentiments in a private letter, which had been made public without his knowledge or consent. Jefferson may have consulted with Monroe in Philadelphia, where the two attended a dinner party on 1 July, shortly after the American minister's return from France. When Jefferson conveyed Monroe's opinion to Madison in early August (TJ to James Madison, 3 Aug. 1797), Madison counseled just the reverse (James Madison to TJ, 5 Aug. 1797), although he said he would “converse with Col. Monroe” on the subject. Madison reasoned that it might be “ticklish” to “say publickly yes or no to the interrogatories of party spirit” and that an open avowal would force him into “disagreeable explanations, or tacit confessions.” John Page later echoed Madison's sentiments (John Page to TJ, 26 Apr. 1798), suggesting that if Jefferson “were the Author of the Letter to Mazzei” the language and “strong metaphorical Expressions” were suited to the “Taste and disposition” of the correspondent, and “not intended for public view.”433

The publication Mazzei letter was followed by the XYZ conspiracy which further undermined Jeffersonians. The editors of the Jefferson papers have written: “In a highly charged and partisan atmosphere, Vice President Jefferson became an easy target for Federalist criticism. His letter was used to justify the claim of President Adams and the Federalists that the Republicans were more loyal to France than they were to America, even ‘treasonable’ and ‘traiterous’ as Webster suggested. Jefferson was portrayed as the leader of a dangerous faction, the head of a French party.” 434 Historian Joseph Ellis wrote: “In Jefferson’s new version of the Federalist conspiracy, Washington was an unknowing and somewhat pathetic accomplice, like an overaged ‘captain in his cabin’ who was sound asleep while ‘a rogue of a pilot [presumably Hamilton] has run them into an enemy’s port.’ Washington was certainly the grand old man of the American Revolution, but his grandeur had now been eclipsed by his age, providing the Hamiltonians with ‘the sanction of a name which has done too much good not to be sufficient to cover harm also.’ Washington simply did not have control of the government and was inadvertently lending credibility to the treacheries being hatched all around him. Washington, in effect, was senile.” Ellis wrote: “While hardly true, this explanation had the demonstrable advantage of permitting Jefferson’s vision of a Federalist conspiracy to congeal in a plausible pattern that formed around Washington without touching him directly.”435

Jefferson understood his image had been hurt. Scholar Susan Dunn wrote: “In later years, Jefferson credited Washington with avoiding deadlock and inaction in his cabinet, even though its ‘monarchists’ and ‘republicans’ could not have been more divided. Washington’s strategy was to listen to his cabinet members, hear their opinions and reasons, and then decide the course to be pursued and keep ‘the government steadily in it, unaffected by the agitation.”436 Fourteen years after Washington’s death, Jefferson remembered Washington in a letter of January 2, 1814, to Dr. Walter Jones:

"...I think I knew General Washington intimately and thoroughly; and were I called on to delineate his character, it should be in terms like these. "His mind was great and powerful, without being of the very first order; his penetration strong, though, not so acute as that of a Newton, Bacon, or Locke; and as far as he saw, no judgment was ever sounder. It was slow in operation, being little aided by invention or imagination, but sure in conclusion. Hence the common remark of his officers, of the advantage he derived from councils of war, where hearing all suggestions, he selected whatever was best; and certainly no General ever planned his battles more judiciously. But if deranged during the course of the action, if any member of his plan was dislocated by sudden circumstance, he was slow in re-adjustment. The consequence was, that he often failed in the field, and rarely against an enemy in station, as at Boston and York. He was incapable of fear, meeting personal dangers with the calmest unconcern. Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration, was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, but, when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed. His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was, indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man. His temper was naturally high toned; but reflection and resolution had obtained a firm and habitual ascendancy over it. If ever, however, it broke its bonds, he was most tremendous in his wrath. In his expenses he was honorable, but exact; liberal in contributions to whatever promised utility; but frowning and unyielding on all visionary projects and all unworthy calls on his charity. His heart was not warm in its affections; but he exactly calculated every man’s value, and gave him a solid esteem proportioned to it. His person, you know, was fine, his stature exactly what one would wish, his deportment easy, erect and noble; the best horseman of his age, and the most graceful figure that could be seen on horseback....

"On the whole, his character was, in its mass, perfect, in nothing bad, in few points indifferent; and it may truly be said, that never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man great, and to place him in the same constellation with whatever worthies have merited from man an everlasting remembrance. For his was the singular destiny and merit, of leading the armies of his country successfully through an arduous war, for the establishment of its independence; of conducting its councils through the birth of a government, new in its forms and principles, until it had settled down into a quiet and orderly train; and of scrupulously obeying the laws through the whole of his career, civil and military, of which the history of the world furnishes no other example....

These are my opinions of General Washington, which I would vouch at the judgment seat of God, having been formed on an acquaintance of thirty years... I felt on his death, with my countrymen, that ‘verily a great man hath fallen this day in Israel.’

After publication of the Mazzei letter, Washington never spoke to Jefferson again. He had been severely disappointed by the opposition of the three Shenandoah valley friends – Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Senator Monroe had been appointed as the American ambassador to France in 1794, but his opposition to the Jay Treaty in 1795 had been so open that Washington had fired him. Monroe’s writing had subsequently been intemperate. Peter R. Henriques wrote of Washington and Jefferson: “”Martha Washington’s response to Jefferson’s election as president in 1800 the year after her husband’s death. She believed it was the greatest misfortune the country had ever experienced, and she explained why. Jefferson was ‘one of the most detestable of mankind.’ In a later conversation, she apparently declared that the worst day of her life was when her husband died, and the second worst day was when President Jefferson visited Mount Vernon to pay his respects.”437 After Washington’s death did Hamilton write his widow: “I have been much indebted to the kindness of the General, and he was an Aegis very essential to me.”438

Another event, the so-called “Langhorne Affair” appeared to link Jefferson to a trap to criticize the Adams administration Peter R. Henriques wrote: “First the Mazzei letter, then support for Monroe’s bitter diatribe, and now involvement in a secret plot to attempt to embarrass Washington. The important point is not that Jefferson was engaged in the Langhorne affair. The important point is that George Washington believed him to be capable of such a dirty and shabby trick.”439 Washington’s friends were more than willing to bring him other reports of Jefferson’s criticism. Historian Alf J. Mapp, Jr., wrote: “Jefferson himself had criticized Washington in private correspondence when Hamilton had the first President’s ear and Jefferson thought that the great man was squinting toward monarchy. Tattlers were all too willing to carry the former Secretary of State’s words to his old chief and give them the worst possible interpretation. Partly because of his own indiscretion, but largely because of the chicanery of others, Jefferson had lost the trust of the man who had been to him a father figure. When Washington died on December 14, 1799, there had been no reconciliation.”440


Washington loved his Mount Vernon home too much to want to be president. His last eight-year absence from the plantation during the Revolutionary War had been devastating to him economically. “When the debility of our federal system had become manifest, and the bonds which connected the parts of this vast continent were dissolving, we have seen him the chief of those patrons who formed for us a constitution, which, by preserving the union, will, I trust, substantiate and perpetuate those blessings our revolution had promised to bestow,” said Congressman John Marshall after Washington’s death in December 1799. “In obedience to the general voice of his country, calling on him to preside over a great people, we have seen him once more quit the retirement he loved, and in a season more stormy and tempestuous than war itself, with calm and wise determination, pursue the true interests of the nation, and contribute more than any other could contribute, to the establishment of that system of policy, which will, I trust, yet preserve our peace, our honor and our independence.”441

“When he had contemplated the Presidency, Washington had visualized the American economy as a giant hobbled by unnecessary shackles,” wrote historian James Flexner. “The need, he then believed, was only to cut those bonds away. Now, Hamilton tried again and again to induce him publicly to credit the rising prosperity to the Treasury’s financial policies. Washington was never willing to do so. He attributed the growing strength of the United States to the freedoms established by the republican government, to the virtues of the citizenry, to the benign isolation and inherent wealth of the American continent, and to the smiles of a beneficent Providence.”442 The Washington Administration did much right – not the least was keeping out of war with either Britain and France and putting the country’s finances in order. Hamilton biographer Ron Chernow wrote: “In most policy disputes, Washington had sided with Hamilton simply because his policies had worked, as Washington once reminded Jefferson pointedly. Another president might have conducted a purge to foster greater cohesion among his colleagues. But Washington clung to his idealist vision of tolerance and became the binding agent of a divided country.”443

Historian Gordon S. Wood wrote: “Although he surrounded himself with brilliant advisors, including Hamilton as secretary of the treasury and Jefferson as secretary of state, he was always his own man and was determined that the government would speak with a single voice. He gave a great deal of authority to his cabinet ministers but always remained in control.”444 There were important philosophical differences between Madison and Jefferson just as there were important differences in their approaches to political communication and organization. Moreover, there was a breakdown in trust in the 1790s to which Hamilton and Jefferson both contributed. Gossip contributed to that breakdown, noted historian Joanne T. Freedman: “Jefferson fumed against Hamilton’s slanders. Hamilton raged against Jefferson’s whisper, and Washington pleaded for an end to it all.”445 Both Hamilton and Jefferson frequently perceived conspiracies – and just as frequently engaged in conspiracies. Biographer Harrison Clark wrote: “Jefferson saw conspiracy and intrigue in many government actions which were entirely well intended. Even as an old man he would repeat charges that von Steuben and Knox had conspired to set up a monarchy, that the Cincinnati [Society] was part of the plot, and that he alone had saved the republic. Washington suffered Jefferson during his four years in the cabinet with endless courtesy and patience although the secretary of state, orally and by letter, traduced his policies and vilified his motives. Along the way Jefferson was joined by James Madison, who had done so much to build the national government, as well as by James Monroe.”446

“The conflict between Jefferson and Hamilton was real, almost as much a matter of personality as of principle,” wrote historian Garry Wills. “Jefferson, a gentleman farmer, disliked the professional politician, the man without independent land to stand on, one who must live by serving a constituency. Neither position is, in itself, ‘democratic.’ It is said that Hamilton loved power, and he certainly admired efficiency – a spirit that was necessary to the Revolution, and one that always needs watching. Jefferson’s own dreams would have come to nought if Washington had been forced to depend on soldiering no more efficient than his fellow Virginian’s. Hamilton fought the revolution that Jefferson, as war governor, could barely bring himself to attend. In the first administration, Hamilton’s kind of efficiency, expertly used by Washington, helped stave off that chaos from which dictatorships are bred. The highest aims can lead to disaster if one is unwilling to adopt the necessary means for their attainment. Jefferson could not even run his own plantation profitably – which meant, among other things, that he could not free his slaves, nor escape the necessity of selling some of them at times, which broke up families. Washington could free his own slaves because he made Mount Vernon pay.”447

Political scientist Lance Banning distinguished "four stages in the party struggle....From 1790 to 1793, party controversy centered on Hamilton's economic program. In 1793, the issue of neutrality pushed to the front, and between 1794 and 1798, national attention focused on Jay's Treaty and America's course in a world at war. The decade ended with the great argument over the crisis powers assumed by the Federalist government in the emergency of 1798 and 1799."448 At each stage of the struggle, Washington sided with Hamilton rather than Jefferson. Of the president’s two key associates, there is little question that George Washington needed – and valued – Alexander Hamilton more. Historian Walter A. McDougall wrote: “Hamilton had indeed sinned, but his sin was truth-telling about the way all governments work Jefferson was no less a hustler for power, but he scorned such straight talk and told people what they wanted to hear. He also hated Hamilton as much as he feared him. Jefferson, after all, was twelve years older, author of the great Declaration, and secretary of State. Yet Hamilton functioned as Washington’s prime minister, oversaw the largest department, controlled the purse, and even trespassed in foreign affairs. Jefferson was a fellow Virginian, yet Washington seemed to prefer the New Yorker who had served by his side in the war (while Jefferson had skulked in the Piedmont). Lastly, where Hamilton was a dynamo the secretary of State was lazy. Six months to a year sometimes passed without a U.S. envoy overseas receiving a missive from Jefferson. He had plenty of time as well as resentment to pour into politics.”449

Washington’s understated loyalty to Hamilton was never more evident than after news of his affair with Maria Reynolds became public in 1797. Washington sent a small gift to Hamilton: “Not for any intrinsic value the thing possesses, but as a token of my sincere regard and friendship for you and as a remembrance of me, I pray you to accept a wine cooler for four bottles....I pray you to present my best wishes, in which Mrs. Washington joins me, to Mrs. Hamilton and the family, and that you would be persuaded that with every sentiment of the highest regard, I remain your sincere friend and affectionate honorable servant.”450 In 1798, Washington wrote President Adams to insist that Hamilton be named his top deputy as the American army remobilized for a possible war with France. Washington wrote that Hamilton’s ‘having served with usefulness in the old Congress, in the General Convention, and having filled one of the most important departments of government with acknowledged abilities and integrity, have placed him on high ground; and made him a conspicuous character in the United States, and even in Europe. To these, as a matter of no small consideration, may be added, that as a lucrative practice in the line of his profession is his most certain dependence, the inducement to relinquish it must in some degree be commensurate. By some he is considered as an ambitious man, and therefore a dangerous one. That he is ambitious I shall readily grant, but it is of that laudable kind, which prompts a man to excel in whatever he takes in hand.” Washington added: “He is enterprising, quick in his perceptions, and his judgment intuitively great: qualities essential to a great military character; and therefore I repeat, that his loss will be irreparable.”451

In different ways, Jefferson and Hamilton were among the country’s most forward thinking individuals. Both were strong proponents of higher education. As secretary of state, Jefferson saw his responsibilities to include scientific investigation. Jefferson himself created reports, the most important of which was the “Report of the Secretary of State on the Subject of Establishing a Uniformity in the Weights, Measures and Coins” in 1790. On January 28, 1791, Hamilton himself issued “Report on the Establishment of a Mint: Communicated to the House of Representatives.” Louis M. Hacker wrote of Hamilton and Jefferson: “These two great men, who contributed so much to the shaping of the American tradition, should have complemented each other. It is true that their intellectual habits, temperaments, and interests were diametrically opposed. But they were both devoted to a free and prosperous America. Yet they clashed; and the bitterness of their strife gave that peculiar flavor of partisanship and irresponsibility to American party politics that has always been one of its weaknesses. The opposition in the United States – unlike its position under parliamentary government – will use every device to undermine the authority of the Administration; it will openly exacerbate class suspicions; it will make disingenuous and impossible promises of reform; it will talk of the personal corruption and even treason of its opponents. And then, as like as not, once itself installed in office, it will calmly continue the policies it has inherited.”452

Hamilton and Jefferson had very different conceptions of the country’s future. Hamilton saw a mixed economy. Jefferson saw an agrarian one. Historian James Roger Sharp wrote: “Hamilton’s financial program contained within it a vision of an America with a strong national government protecting and stimulating commerce and industry and fostering close ties between the government and men of affairs and influence. This vision of a commercialized society was an anathema to Thomas Jefferson as well as to many Americans.”453 Historian Bernard Bailyn wrote that Jefferson “struggled to square his evolving economic views with the original principles of the Revolution that continued to dominate his thought. So he accepted manufactures; they had become necessary – but let it be household manufactures, he said, to keep the units small.” Bailyn observed: “A highly pragmatic, tough-minded, and successful politician, Jefferson never abandoned the ideals he had so brilliantly expressed in the years before independence, and he struggled endlessly with the ambiguities they posed. Testing, probing constantly, he sought in every way he could to contain the real world in the embrace of his utopian ideals.”454

Jefferson’s emphasis was very different from Hamilton. Historian Broadus Mitchell wrote: “Jefferson’s background was rural, where dwelt rights. Hamilton’s was urban, lively with interests, Hamilton was a man of [the] industrial revolution which was emerging, not of the agricultural revolution which had preceded. He was bourgeois, not a country gentleman.”455 Jefferson’s view were stuck in agrarian America. Jefferson once wrote a friend: “Have you ever become a farmer? Is it not pleasanter than to be shut up within four walls and delving eternally with the pen? I am become the most ardent farmer in the state. I live on my horse from morning to night almost....I rarely look into a book, and more rarely take up a pen. I have proscribed newspapers, not taking a single one, nor scarcely ever looking into one. My next reformation will be to allow neither pen, ink, nor paper to be kept on the farm. When I have accomplished this, I shall be in a fair way of indemnifying myself for the drudgery in which I have passed my life. If you are half as much delighted with the farm as I am, you bless your stars as your riddance from public cares.”456 Historian Bernard Bailyn wrote: “Jefferson’s fear of northern economic power which propelled this strange reversal flowed from his undiminished commitment to the ideology of the Revolution in its original, pristine form. He had no need to calculate the precise political and social costs and benefits of Hamilton’s financial program. He understood the threatening implications immediately; they squared perfectly with his historical memory and his political beliefs and fears.”457

“Whenever the primacy of agriculture in the American economy was endangered, Jefferson revealed himself to be a true conservative,” wrote historian John C. Miller. “Whereas Hamilton embraced the nascent Industrial Revolution, Jefferson recoiled from it. To preserve the old American dedicated to agriculture and the way of life it entailed was Jefferson’s fondest hope. And yet he recognized that the people must be left free to find their own salvation: if they chose the way of manufactures and commerce, Jefferson would have acquiesced, albeit reluctantly and with many misgivings, in their decision.”458 Historian Drew R. McCoy wrote: “Within the Jeffersonian framework of assumptions and beliefs, three essential conditions were necessary to create and sustain such a republican political economy: a national government free from any taint of corruption, an unobstructed access to an amply supply of open land, and a relatively liberal international commercial order that would offer adequate foreign markets for America’s flourishing agricultural surplus.”459

Seeking to avert the election of Aaron Burr as president in early 1801, Hamilton came obliquely to Jefferson’s defence: “Nor is it true that Jefferson is zealot enough to do anything in pursuance of his principles which will contravene his popularity, or his interest. He is as likely as any man I know to temporize-to calculate what will be likely to promote his own reputation and advantage; and the probable result of such a temper is the preservation of systems, though originally opposed, which being once established, could not be overturned without danger to the person who did it. To my mind a true estimate of Mr. J's. character warrants the expectation of a temporizing rather than a violent system. That Jefferson has manifested a culpable predilection for France is certainly true; but I think it a question whether it did not proceed quite as much from her popularity among us, as from sentiment, and in proportion as that popularity is diminished his zeal will cool. Add to this that there is no fair reason to suppose him capable of being corrupted, which is a security that he will not go beyond certain limits.”460

Historian John Ferling wrote: “Jefferson never wavered in his judgment of Hamiltonianism. The conclusions that he reached in 1790 presaged the decade of fiery partisanship that lay ahead, for Jefferson saw his disagreement with Hamilton not merely as a difference between men or a clash over policy but as a deep ideological rift. This was a view with which Hamilton concurred. Indeed, it was this sense of a titanic struggle between rival ideologies that in large measure brought to the politics of the 1790s a passion only occasionally equaled in America’s political history. What loomed, virtually all activists understood, was a political war to shape the American future, possibly for all time, as it was widely presumed that what was put in place in the first day so the new Republic would not be easily changed by subsequent generations.”461

Hamilton was a child of the Enlightenment. Historian Darren Staloff wrote that “unlike subsequent boosters of American business, Hamilton was no fan of laissez-faire. Commercial expansion and rapid industrialization were vital American goals, and Hamilton sought to achieve them through a powerful, activist federal government. Hamilton practiced the American variant of what the scholar Barrington Moore referred to as ‘the Prussian road to modernity.’ Commercial and industrial development would be imposed from above by a strong centralized state. Two features distinguished the Hamiltonian vision from that of the conservative leaders of Prussia and Germany. First, its Constitution was committed to a popular and pluralist republican form of government rather than an absolutist monarchy. Second, the republic would be led, in part at least, by enlightened philosophes rather than hereditary monarchs and landed Junker aristocrats....Hamilton was a child of the Enlightenment, not of European reaction. His vision of America represented the achievement of its central goals.”462

Hamilton proved the more reliable partner for President Washington. Historian Ron Chernow wrote: “As the contrasting behavior of Hamilton and Knox during the Whiskey Rebellion made clear, Washington warmed to Hamilton because the latter never let him down, never disappointed him, and always delivered in an emergency. Washington had allowed no Republican diatribes against Hamilton to weaken his opinion of a supremely gifted, if sometimes flawed, public servant.”463 The men available to serve in Washington’s second administration were decidedly second-rate. Biographer Forrest McDonald wrote that “Public life had grown so vile that no decent man now wanted any part of it.”464 When Hamilton was felled by the yellow fever epidemic that ravaged Philadelphia in 1793, Jefferson wrote: “A man as timid as he is on the water, as timid on horseback, as timid in sickness, would be a phenomenon if courage of which he has the reputation in military occasions were genuine.”465 The conflict over the Jay Treaty helped blow apart what remained of political comity. Even Attorney General Edmund Randolph, a longtime colleague of President Washington, was driven from the cabinet.

By the end of the 1790s, Washington was working actively against Jeffersonians. There was no pretense of neutrality – especially in the congressional elections of 1798 in which Washington recruited John Marshall to run for Congress as a Federalist. Historian Andrew Burstein wrote: “Jefferson’s explanation for the incontrovertible fact that Washington in the end had grown personally to despise him was that Washington was senile, or, as Jefferson put it, he had lost ‘the firm tone of mind for which he had been remarkable.’ Jefferson used the word firm to praise Republicans for their fortitude, just as he associated with the qualitative opposite, ‘languid fibres.’ Thus, when his mind ‘was beginning to relax,’ President Washington allowed the High Federalists to manipulate him. As their tool, he abandoned his firm republicanism, but only half-consciously. His heart had remain uncorrupted. The last sentence of Jefferson’s introduction to the Anas mourns Washington’s ‘mortal decay.’”466

“Both Hamilton and Jefferson came to see each other as hypocritical libertines, and this fed a mutual cynicism,” wrote Ron Chernow. “Hamilton offered testimony of his own inexcusable lapses in this area, while the sphinx-life Jefferson was a man of such unshakable reticence that it took two centuries of sedulous detective work to provide partial corroboration of the story of his sexual liaison with Sally Hemings.”467 Historian Dixon Wecter wrote of Washington: “With more tact than might have been anticipated, he maintained for several years the equilibrium of two brilliant but mutually hostile personalities in his Cabinet, Jefferson and Hamilton. Later the teetering balance was lost. Jefferson secretly egged on Freneau and other journalists to attack the President, who in Jefferson s opinion was growing rigidly conservative, yielding with age to a kind of spiritual arteriosclerosis. In consequence, Washington began to lean heavily upon Hamilton as the staff of his weary steps. He accepted Hamilton’s financial views, and ultimately submitted the draft of his Farewell Address to Hamilton’s editorship.”468

A better politician than Hamilton might have done a better job mobilizing support for his programs. Hamilton was a great polemicist and government organizer. He was not a great political organizer. Historian Joanne T. Freeman noted: “Hamilton’s political style restricted the scope of national Federalist activity to the limits of his energies and interests. Commanded rather than persuaded, some supporters felt disconnected, unimportant, or unappreciated, leading them to ignore his advice and act independently, making it difficult for Federalists to spread a unified message. Equally problematic, Hamilton’s national network was inner directed, focused on collecting and relaying information but rarely addressing the body politic.”469 Jefferson was the better politician. Even Hamilton friend Gouverneur Morris wrote in 1805: “Our poor friend Hamilton bestrode his hobby to the great annoyance of his friends and not without injury to himself. More a theoretic than a practical man, he was not sufficiently convinced that a system may be good in itself and bad in relation to particular circumstances. He well knew that his favorite form was inadmissible, unless as the result of civil war, and I suspect that his belief in that which he called an approaching crisis arose from a conviction that the kind of government most suitable, in his opinion, to this extensive country, could be established in no other way.”470

Hamilton made his missteps – such as his overreaction to the Whiskey Rebellion in the summer of 1794. Historian James Roger Sharp wrote: “Hamilton’s enthusiasm for the coercive action was scarcely contained. The show of strength and will by the federal government, he believed, would ultimately mean ‘that the insurrection will do us a great deal of good and add to the solidity of every thing in this country.”471 John C. Miller wrote: “To such lengths was political partisanship carried that Hamilton was accused of having deliberately stirred up the Whisky Rebellion in order to furnish a pretext for increasing the national debt and saddling the country with a standing army. Having failed to cement the union with money, he now sought, it was said, to solidify it with blood: stock and bonds were to be replaced by bullets and bayonets.”472

When Jefferson faced off for the presidency against Aaron Burr in the House of Representatives in February 1801, Hamilton attempted to come to his rescue – determined to prevent the unscrupulous Burr from ascending to the Presidency. Hamilton admitted that ‘if there be a man in the world I ought to hate, it is Jefferson.”473 Hamilton tried to convince Jefferson’s cousin, Secretary of State John Marshall, but the future chief of justice of the Supreme Court was unmoved: “To Mr. Jefferson whose political character is better known than that of Mr. Burr, I have felt almost insuperable objections. His foreign prejudices seem to me totally to unfit him for the chief magistracy of a nation which cannot indulge those prejudices without sustaining debt & permanent injury. I addition to this solid & immovable objection Mr. Jefferson appears to me to be a man who will embody himself with the house of representatives. By weakening the office of President he will increase his personal power. He will diminish his responsibility, sap the fundamental principles of the government & become the leader of that party which is about to constitute the majority of the legislature. The morals of the Author of the letter to Mazzei cannot be pure.” After Jefferson delivered his inaugural speech on March 4, 1801, Hamilton was sufficiently impressed by Jefferson’s speech that he called it “virtually a candid retraction of past misapprehensions, and a pledge to the community, that the new President will not lend himself to dangerous innovations, but in essential points will tread in the steps of his predecessors.”474

After Aaron Burr shot Hamilton in a duel on July 11, 1804, Jefferson said nor wrote anything about the incident. Jefferson did, however, make sure that Burr’s political career was over. Hamilton’s mouth had once again gotten him into trouble; Burr had demanded a disavowal that Hamilton had expressed a “despicable opinion” of Burr. Hamilton refused to go into detail at the duel went forward resulting in Hamilton’s death and the end of Burr’s career more assuredly than anything that Jefferson might have done. The conflicts among Hamilton, Jefferson and Washington continue to play out after Washington died in 1799 and Hamilton was killed in 1804. Washington had been wise enough to make sure that a complete record of his writings had been carefully preserved for history. Hamilton had died too young at 47 to prepare for posterity. But Jefferson was ready to protect his reputation – though unwilling to undertake the task himself. The initial combatants were Chief Justice John Marshall, who wrote a five-volume biography of Washington and Jefferson, who wrote no history but encouraged others to do so. Jefferson wrote that Marshall’s biography had been prepared “principally with a view to electioneering purposes.”475 Marshall biographer Jean Edward Smith wrote:"Jefferson's hostility reflected sharp political differences. Unlike Marshall, Jefferson found it difficult to maintain cordial relations with his opponents, and of those opponents Marshall was often the most formidable. The depth of Jefferson's feeling is best revealed in a letter to Pennsylvania's Albert Gallatin, in which he wrote that Marshall's “inveteracy is profound, and his mind of that gloomy malignity which will never let him forego the opportunity of satiating it on a victim.'"476 Marshall, it must be said, had the common touch that Jefferson lacked.

Jefferson was particularly concerned with his reputation as governor of Virginia and the courage he did or did not display in that role. The memoirs of General Henry Lee – a Federalist, Washington admirer, and supporter of Aaron Burr in 1801 – hurt Jefferson’s reputation. Lee cast aspersions on his performance as governor when Virginia was invaded. Jefferson wrote out copious notes in defense of his behavior during the 1781 invasion. Jefferson wrote that it is “proper to notice the parody of these transactions which Genl Lee has given as their history. He was in a distant state at the time, and seems to have made up a random account from the rumors which were afloat where he then was. It is a tissue of errors from beginning to end.”477

One thing that annoyed Jefferson was the way that Washington’s friends managed to frame Washington’s presidency. Jefferson desperately wanted his own version of history prepared by a reliable historian. As was usually the case, he wanted someone else to defend him. Andrew Burstein wrote: “The unanswered work of history that confounded Jefferson most was that which painted him as peevish, misguided, and disloyal. It was proudly authored by no less a personage than the sitting chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Marshall....The thorn Jefferson needed to remove from the historical record, that which truly demeaned his ‘Revolution of 1800,’ was Washington’s personal enmity....Jefferson needed to reclaim Washington, without whom political legitimacy would be hard to argue.” Burstein wrote: “John Marshall symbolized ‘perversion’ to Jefferson. First, Hamilton had been ‘perverted by the British example,’ until Burr’s well-aimed pistol removed him as a threat; then Burr had been a ‘perverted machine,’ until Jefferson pronounced him a traitor, and he became a political pariah. Now Marshall had perverted history.” Burstein wrote: “In Jefferson’s view of the 1790s, because Washington was duped, perversity reigned. The ‘Revolution of 1800' had reinvigorated the republic, yet Marshall’s version of events still prevailed. After the death of Joel Barlow in 1812, Jefferson began to drop hints when trustworthy Republicans wrote supportively, that is, when old allies held out the prospect of assisting in translating Jefferson’s memoranda into a volume that would supplant Marshall’s. John Adams, too, shook his head in disbelief at Marshall’s effort to confer sainthood on Washington, whom he knew to be a man with as many mediocre as impressive qualities. But for Jefferson, of course, recasting Marshall’s history meant far more.”478

Although he lived two decades after Hamilton’s death, Jefferson was never able to do that during his lifetime. Just after Jefferson’s death on July 4, 1826, James Madison wrote: “Long as this has been spared to his country and to those who loved him, a few years more were to have been desired for the sake of both. But we are more than consoled for the loss by the gain to him, and by the assurance that he lives and will live in the memory and gratitude of the wise and good, as a luminary of science, as a votary of liberty, as a model of patriotism, and as a benefactor of the human kind. In these characters I have known him, and not less in the virtues and charms of social life, for a period of fifty years, during which there was not an interruption or diminution of mutual confidence and cordial friendship for a single moment in a single instance. What I feel, therefore, now need not, I should say can not, be expressed. If there be any possible way in which I can usefully give evidence of it, do not fail to afford me the opportunity. I indulge a hope that the unforeseen event will not be permitted to impair any of the beneficial measures which were in progress, or in prospect. It can not be unknown that the anxieties of the deceased were for others, not for himself.”479

  1. (Letter from George Washington to Charles Pettit, August 16, 1788).
  2. (Letter from George Washington, March 21, 1789).
  3. (Fisher Ames’ Eulogy of Washington, February 8, 1800).
  4. (Letter from Abigail Adams to Mary Cranch, January 5, 1790).
  5. Gordon S. Wood, “George Washington and the Presidency,” New-York Journal of American History, Volume 66, p. 15.
  6. (George Washington, Fragments of the Discarded First Inaugural Address, April 1789).
  7. (George Washington, First Inaugural Address).
  8. Forrest McDonald Alexander Hamilton: A Biography, p. 127.
  9. Glenn A. Phelps, George Washington & American Constitutionalism, pp. 183.
  10. Jay Winik, The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800, p. 155.
  11. James Morton Smith, Washington: A Profile, pp. 146-147 (Harold W. Bradley, “The Political Thinking of George Washington”).
  12. John Marshall, The Life of George Washington, Volume V, p. 440.
  13. Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 290.
  14. Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson, p. 137.
  15. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 266.
  16. Susan Dunn, Jefferson’s Second Revolution: The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism, p. 43.
  17. Peter R. Henriques, Realistic Visionary: A Portrait of George Washington, p. 105.
  18. John Ferling, John Adams: A Life, p. 300.
  19. (Letter from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, June 8, 1781).
  20. Claude G. Bowers, Jefferson and Hamilton: The Struggle for Democracy in America, p. 69.
  21. Louis M. Hacker, Alexander Hamilton in the American Tradition, p. 199.
  22. James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man, p. 232.
  23. Roger G. Kennedy, Mr. Jefferson’s Lost Cause: Land, Farmers, Slavery, and the Louisiana Purchase, p. 124.
  24. E.M. Halliday, Understanding Thomas Jefferson, p. 55.
  25. Edmund S. Morgan,. The Genius of George Washington, p. 23.
  26. Richard Norton Smith, Patrician, p. 137.
  27. John C. Miller, The Federalist Era, p. 97.
  28. Joyce Appleby: Thomas Jefferson: The American Presidents Series; The 3rd President, 1801-1809, p. 19.
  29. John C. Miller, The Federalist Era, p. 89.
  30. (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to George Washington, September 9th, 1792).
  31. Garry Wills, Inventing America, p. 361.
  32. Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson, p. 145, 142.
  33. (Alexander Hamilton, Publius, Federalist No. 70).
  34. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 370.
  35. John C. Miller, The Federalist Era, p. 84.
  36. Richard Norton Smith, Patriarch, p. 51.
  37. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to P. S. Dupont de Nemours, January 18, 1802).
  38. John Church Hamilton, The Life of Alexander Hamilton, Volume 1, p. 57.
  39. Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 73.
  40. James Kent, Memoirs and Letters of James Kent, p. 32.
  41. Dumas Malone, Jefferson the President: First Term, 1801-1805, p. 419.
  42. (Thomas Jefferson, The Anas, 1791-1806).
  43. William Pierce, Character Sketches of Delegates to the Federal Convention.
  44. Joseph C. Morton, Shapers of the Great Debate at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, p. 133
  45. William Maclay, Journal of William Maclay, p. 310.
  46. (Letter from John Adams to Benjamin Rush, August 23, 1805).
  47. (Letter from John Adams to printers of the Boston Patriot, June 1812).
  48. (Letter from Samuel Blachley Webb to Catherine Hogeboom, June 27, 1788).
  49. Willard Sterne Randall, Alexander Hamilton, p. 120.
  50. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 264.
  51. Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 153.
  52. (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Henry Knox, March 14, 1799).
  53. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, pp. 352, 21-22.
  54. Willard Sterne Randall, Alexander Hamilton, pp. 121-122.
  55. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 67.
  56. (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Philip Schuyler, February 18, 1781).
  57. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 73.
  58. (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Philip Schuyler, February 18, 1781).
  59. John Ferling, The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon, p. 357.
  60. Gordon S. Wood, Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different, p. 127.
  61. Alf J. Mapp, Jr., The Faiths of Our Fathers: What America’s Founders Really Believed, p. 99.
  62. Claude G. Bowers, Jefferson and Hamilton: The Struggle for Democracy in Americ, p. 25.
  63. (Letter from George Washington to John Sullivan, February 4, 1781).
  64. Ron Chernow, George Washington: A Life, p. 598.
  65. Louis M. Hacker, Alexander Hamilton in the American Tradition, p. 201.
  66. John Ferling, The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon, p. 292.
  67. Richard Norton Smith, Patriarch, p. 280.
  68. Woodrow Wilson, George Washington, pp. 282-283.
  69. Forrest McDonald, The Presidency of George Washington, p. 39.
  70. John Ferling, The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon, p. 283.
  71. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 234.
  72. David Hackett Fischer, The Revolution of American Conservatism, p. 20.
  73. Claude G. Bowers, Jefferson and Hamilton: The Struggle for Democracy in America, p. 38.
  74. Bray Hammond, Banks and Politics in America, p. 121.
  75. Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life, p. 497.
  76. (Benjamin Rush, Commonplace Book, ca August 22, 1793).
  77. Edward Channing, The Jeffersonian System, p. 4.
  78. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, September 25, 1785).
  79. John Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, p. 56.
  80. Andrew Burstein, Jefferson’s Secrets: Death and Desire at Monticello, p. 228.
  81. Garry Wills, Inventing America, p. 360.
  82. Peter R. Henriques, Realistic Visionary: A Portrait of George Washington, p. 107.
  83. Jon Meacham, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, p. 232.
  84. Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 65.
  85. Conor Cruise O’Brien, First in Peace: How George Washington Set the Course for America, p. 24.
  86. Merrill D. Peterson, editor, Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography, p. 111 (Drew R. McCoy, “Political Economy”).
  87. Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson, p. 137.
  88. Andrew Burstein, The Inner Jefferson, Portrait of a Grieving Optimist, p. 196.
  89. Merrill D. Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation, p. 395.
  90. Woodrow Wilson, George Washington, p. 287.
  91. Peter R. Henriques, Realistic Visionary: A Portrait of George Washington, p. 110.
  92. Andrew S. Trees, The Founding Fathers: The Politics of Character, p. 5.
  93. Bernard A. Weisberger, America Afire: Jefferson, Adams, and the Revolutionary Election of 1800, p. 129.
  94. Jay Winik, The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800, p. 480.
  95. Joseph J. Ellis, American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, p. 124.
  96. Peter R. Henriques, Realistic Visionary: A Portrait of George Washington, p. 108.
  97. Joseph Charles, “The Jay Treaty: The Origins of the American Party System,” The William and Mary Quarterly, October, 1955, p. 587.
  98. Fawn M. Brodie, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History, p. 193.
  99. Harry Ammon, James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity, p. 30.
  100. Andrew Burstein, The Inner Jefferson, Portrait of a Grieving Optimist, p. 196.
  101. Gordon S. Wood, Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different, p. 100.
  102. Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, p. 107.
  103. Andrew Burstein, Jefferson’s Secrets: Death and Desire at Monticello, p. 218.
  104. James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man, pp. 231-232.
  105. Richard Brookhiser, Alexander Hamilton: American, p. 106.
  106. James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man, p. 232.
  107. Richard Brookhiser, Alexander Hamilton: American, p. 104.
  108. John Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, p. 54.
  109. Jack Rakove, Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America, p. 440.
  110. Kevin J. Hayes, The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson, p. 404.
  111. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 295.
  112. Peter R. Henriques, Realistic Visionary: A Portrait of George Washington, p. 112.
  113. Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson, p. 145.
  114. James Truslow Adams, The Living Jefferson, p. 242 Hamilton, Works, Volume VI, p. 354.
  115. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 249.
  116. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 293.
  117. Jack Rakove, Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America, p. 399.
  118. Fawn M. Brodie, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History, p. 318.
  119. (Thomas Jefferson, The Anas).
  120. John E. Ferling, The First of Men: A Life of George Washington, p. 416.
  121. Harrison Clark, All Cloudless Glory: The Life of George Washington, Volume II, p. 232.
  122. Richard Norton Smith, Patriarch, p. 29.
  123. James Morton Smith, Washington: A Profile, p. 161 (Harold W. Bradley, “The Political Thinking of George Washington”).
  124. (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Robert Morris, April 30, 1781).
  125. Jack Rakove, Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America, p. 400.
  126. (Alexander Hamilton, Report on Public Credit, January 9, 1790).
  127. Thomas K. McCraw, The Founders and Finance, p. 99.
  128. Merrill D. Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation, p. 409.
  129. Fergus M. Bordewich,Washington: The Making of the American Capital, p. 33.
  130. Darren Staloff, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, pp. 89-93.
  131. James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man, p. 259.
  132. E. James Ferguson, The Power of the Purse: A History of American Public Finance, 1776-1790, pp. 293, 298.
  133. Susan Dunn, Jefferson’s Second Revolution: The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism, pp. 43-44.
  134. Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty, p. 141.
  135. John Austin Stevens, Albert Gallatin, p. 174.
  136. (Alexander Hamilton, Report on Public Credit, January 9, 1790).
  137. (Alexander Hamilton, Report on Public Credit, January 9, 1790).
  138. (Alexander Hamilton, Report on Public Credit, January 9, 1790).
  139. George Rogers Taylor, Hamilton and the National Debt, p. ii.
  140. E. James Ferguson, The Power of the Purse: A History of American Public Finance, 1776-1790, p. 304.
  141. (Letter from George Washington to David Stuart, June 15, 1790).
  142. Julian E. Zelizer, editor, The American Congress: The Building of Democracy, p. 35 (Joanne Barrie Freeman, “Opening Congress” ).
  143. Willard Sterne Randall, George Washington: A Life, p. 463.
  144. Susan Dunn, Jefferson’s Second Revolution: The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism, p. 45.
  145. Irving Brant, The Fourth President: A Life of James Madison, p. 259.
  146. Merrill D. Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation, pp. 411-412. (Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography).
  147. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 263.
  148. Herbert E. Sloan, Principle and Interest: Thomas Jefferson and the Problem of Debt, p. 119.
  149. Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 326.
  150. (Thomas Jefferson, The Anas).
  151. Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, p. 141.
  152. Forrest McDonald Alexander Hamilton: A Biography, p. 177.
  153. John Steele Gordon, Hamilton’s Blessing: The Extraordinary Life and Times of our National Debt, pp. 29-30.
  154. Lance Banning, Jefferson & Madison: Three Conversations from the Founding, p. 42.
  155. Albert S. Bolles, Financial History of the United States, Volume II, pp. 32-33.
  156. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, September 9, 1792).
  157. Alexander Hamilton, Fact No. II, National Gazette, October 16, 1792).
  158. (Alexander Hamilton, First Report on Public Credit, January 9, 1790).
  159. Lance Banning, Jefferson & Madison: Three Conversations from the Founding, p. 46.
  160. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, June 12, 1816).
  161. Louis M. Hacker, Alexander Hamilton in the American Tradition, p. 145.
  162. Harrison Clark, All Cloudless Glory: The Life of George Washington, Volume II, p. 164.
  163. Thomas Jefferson, The Anas).
  164. Richard Brookhiser, James Madison, p. 91.
  165. Henry Cabot Lodge, Alexander Hamilton, p. 124.
  166. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 252.
  167. Richard Brookhiser, “Washington’s New York,” City Journal, Spring 1994, Vol. 4, No. 2.
  168. Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 323.
  169. Forrest McDonald, The Presidency of George Washington, pp. 74-75.
  170. John E. Ferling, The First of Men: A Life of George Washington, pp. 391-392.
  171. Henry Cabot Lodge, Alexander Hamilton, p. 125.
  172. Claude G. Bowers, Jefferson and Hamilton: The Struggle for Democracy in America, p. 67.
  173. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, June 20, 1790).
  174. Davis Rich Dewey, Financial History of the United States, p.98.
  175. Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, p. 98.
  176. John Steele Gordon, Hamilton’s Blessing: The Extraordinary Life and Times of our National Debt, p. 27.
  177. Bray Hammond, Banks and Politics in America, p. 114.
  178. Forrest McDonald Alexander Hamilton: A Biography, p. 195.
  179. Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 351.
  180. Forrest McDonald Alexander Hamilton: A Biography, p. 200.
  181. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 263.
  182. Louis M. Hacker, Alexander Hamilton in the American Tradition p. 203.
  183. John E. Ferling, The First of Men: A Life of George Washington, p. 395.
  184. John Steele Gordon, Hamilton’s Blessing: The Extraordinary Life and Times of our National Debt, p. 38.
  185. Forrest McDonald, The Presidency of George Washington, p. 76.
  186. John Ferling, The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon, p. 298.
  187. Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson, p. 167.
  188. (Thomas Jefferson, The Anas).
  189. Fergus M. Bordewich, Washington: The Making of the American Capital p. 65.
  190. Claude G. Bowers, Jefferson and Hamilton: The Struggle for Democracy in America, p. 77.
  191. (Thomas Jefferson, “Opinion on the Constitutional of a National Bank, February 15, 1791).
  192. Forrest McDonald, The Presidency of George Washington, p. 96.
  193. Forrest McDonald, The Presidency of George Washington, p. 77.
  194. Forrest McDonald Alexander Hamilton: A Biography, p. 292.
  195. Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson, p. 164.
  196. Willard Sterne Randall, George Washington: A Life, p. 469.
  197. Alexander Hamilton, Opinion on the Constitutional of an Act to Establish a Bank, February 23, 1791.
  198. Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 354.
  199. Forrest McDonald, The American Presidency: An Intellectual History, p. 232.
  200. John Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, p. 53.
  201. Claude G. Bowers, Jefferson and Hamilton: The Struggle for Democracy in America, p. 78.
  202. Willard Sterne Randall, George Washington: A Life, p. 470.
  203. Susan Dunn, Jefferson’s Second Revolution: The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism, p. 49.
  204. Thomas Fleming, “Wall Street’s First Collapse, American Heritage, Winter 2009, p. 57.
  205. Louis M. Hacker, Alexander Hamilton in the American Tradition, p. 159.
  206. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 269.
  207. Thomas Fleming, “Wall Street’s First Collapse, American Heritage, Winter 2009, p. 57.
  208. (Letter from James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, July 10, 1791).
  209. (Letter from James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, August 4, 1791 and August 8, 1791).
  210. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 275.
  211. Thomas Fleming, “Wall Street’s First Collapse, American Heritage, Winter 2009, p. 60.
  212. Forrest McDonald, The Presidency of George Washington, pp. 82-83.
  213. Merrill D. Peterson, editor, Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography, p. 112 (Drew R. McCoy, “Political Economy”).
  214. Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, pp. 299, 144.
  215. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 246.
  216. Forrest McDonald Alexander Hamilton: A Biography, p. 112.
  217. John Steele Gordon, Business and Government, p. 171.
  218. John Steele Gordon, Business and Government, p. 172.
  219. Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p 293.
  220. Thomas Fleming, “Wall Street’s First Collapse, American Heritage, Winter 2009, pp. 56-57.
  221. Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty, pp. 152-153.
  222. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 258.
  223. (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Philip Livingston, April 2, 1792).
  224. (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to one of William Duer’s creditors, August 1893).
  225. Thomas Fleming, “Wall Street’s First Collapse, American Heritage, Winter 2009, p. 57.
  226. Fergus M. Bordewich, Washington: The Making of the American Capital, p. 96.
  227. John Steele Gordon, Business and Government, p. 172.
  228. Robert Francis Jones, "The King of the Alley,” pp. 209-210.
  229. Willard Sterne Randall, Alexander Hamilton, p. 411.
  230. Joseph T. Ellis, Founding Brothers, p. 147.
  231. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 341.
  232. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, September 6, 1789).
  233. Herbert E. Sloan, Principle and Interest: Thomas Jefferson and the Problem of Debt, p. 85.
  234. Walter A. McDougall, Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History, 1585-1828, p. 345.
  235. Douglas A. Irwin and Richard Scylla, editors, Founding Choices: American Economic Policy in the 1790s, p. 60.
  236. Darren Staloff, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, p. 93.
  237. Christopher Hitchens, Thomas Jefferson: Author of America, p. 88.
  238. Richard Norton Smith, Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation, p. 157.
  239. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 329.
  240. Noble Cunningham, in Pursuit of Reason: the Life of Thomas Jefferson, p. 173.
  241. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 312.
  242. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 310.
  243. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, pp. 331-332.
  244. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 427.
  245. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 314.
  246. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, pp. 332, 340.
  247. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 341.
  248. Richard Norton Smith, Patriarch, p. 358.
  249. Edmund S. Morgan,. The Meaning of Independence: John Adams, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson, pp. 46-47.
  250. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 369.
  251. Merrill D. Peterson, editor, Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography, p. 110 (Drew R. McCoy, “Political Economy”).
  252. Robert E. Jones, George Washington: Ordinary Man, Extraordinary Leader, p.140.
  253. John E. Ferling, The First of Men: A Life of George Washington, p. 431.
  254. Forrest McDonald Alexander Hamilton: A Biography, p. 267.
  255. Douglas Southall Freeman, Washington, p. 622.
  256. Louis M. Hacker, Alexander Hamilton in the American Tradition, p. 198.
  257. Forrest McDonald Alexander Hamilton: A Biography, p. 278.
  258. Garry Wills, Cincinnatus: George Washington and the Enlightenment, p. 91.
  259. Edmund S. Morgan,. The Meaning of Independence: John Adams, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson, p. 49.
  260. Bernard A. Weisberger, America Afire: Jefferson, Adams, and the Revolutionary Election of 1800, p. 133.
  261. Thomas K. McCraw, The Founders and Finance: How Hamilton, Gallatin and Other Immigrants Forged a New Economy, p. 149.
  262. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 391.
  263. Forrest McDonald Alexander Hamilton: A Biography, p. 278.
  264. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 328.
  265. Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 393.
  266. Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800, pp. 70-71.
  267. Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, p. 705.
  268. John Ferling, The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon, p. 311.
  269. Thomas K. McCraw, The Founders and Finance: How Hamilton, Gallatin and Other Immigrants Forged a New Economy, p. 146.
  270. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 222-223.
  271. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 368.
  272. Edmund S. Morgan,. The Meaning of Independence: John Adams, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson, p. 59.
  273. Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 392.
  274. Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800, p. 69.
  275. John E. Ferling, The First of Men: A Life of George Washington, p. 429.
  276. Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson, p. 142.
  277. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 316.
  278. Garry Wills, Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, p. 359.
  279. Christopher Hitchens, Thomas Jefferson: Author of America, pp. 77-78.
  280. Richard Norton Smith, Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation, p. 173.
  281. Samuel Flagg Bemis, “Washington’s Farewell Address: A Foreign Policy of Independence,” The American Historical Review, January 1934, p. 251.
  282. Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life, p. 499.
  283. Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life, p. 505.
  284. Joyce Appleby: Thomas Jefferson: The American Presidents Series; The 3rd President, 1801-1809, p. 20.
  285. Norman Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 319.
  286. John E. Ferling, The First of Men: A Life of George Washington, p. 433.
  287. Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson, pp. 182,184.
  288. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 318.
  289. Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson, p.184.
  290. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 320.
  291. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 373.
  292. Richard Brookhiser, James Madison, p. 114.
  293. James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man, p. 290.
  294. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 320.
  295. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 375.
  296. John Bach McMaster, A History of the People of the United States from the Revolution to the Civil War, Volume II, p. 112-113.
  297. Benson J. Lossing, Washington and the American Republic, p. 266-267.
  298. James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man, p. 294.
  299. James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man, p. 287.
  300. Forrest McDonald Alexander Hamilton: A Biography, p. 278.
  301. Paul Johnson, George Washington: The Founding Father, p. 110.
  302. James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man, p. 295.
  303. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 377.
  304. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, June 30, 1793).
  305. James Schouler, History of the United States of America under the Constitution, Volume I, p. 272.
  306. James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man, p. 297.
  307. Kevin J. Hayes, The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson, p. 415.
  308. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 322.
  309. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, August 11, 1793).
  310. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, July 7, 1793).
  311. Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life, p. 515.
  312. Kevin J. Hayes, The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson, p. 417.
  313. John E. Ferling, The First of Men: A Life of George Washington, p. 43.
  314. David Hackett Fischer, The Revolution of American Conservatism, p. 110.
  315. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 327.
  316. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 328.
  317. James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man, p. 252.
  318. James Morton Smith, Washington: A Profile, p. 28.
  319. James Thomas Flexner, George Washington: Anguish and Farewell (1793-1799), p. 468.
  320. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, September 21, 1795).
  321. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, September 21, 1795).
  322. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Dr. James Currie, January 28, 1786).
  323. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Alexander Donald, February 7, 1788).
  324. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Miles King, September 26, 1814).
  325. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, January 21, 1812).
  326. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Madame de Tesse December 8, 1813).
  327. Jerry W. Knudson, Jefferson and the Press, p. 30.
  328. E.M. Halliday, Understanding Thomas Jefferson, p. 136.
  329. Susan Dunn, Jefferson’s Second Revolution: The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism, p. 51.
  330. James R. Gaines, For Liberty and Glory: Washington, Lafayette, and Their Revolutions, p. 339.
  331. John C. Miller, The Federalist Era, p. 89.
  332. Eric Burns, Infamous Scribblers: the Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism, p. 281.
  333. Kevin R. Gutzman, James Madison and the Making of America, p. 262.
  334. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, pp. 300-301.
  335. John C. Miller, The Federalist Era, p. 91.
  336. Washington Irving, The Life of George Washington, Volume 4, p. 200.
  337. (Alexander Hamilton, Gazette of the United States, July 25, 1792).
  338. James Roger Sharp, American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis, pp. 48-49.
  339. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, pp. 349-350.
  340. Conor Cruise O'Brien, The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution, 1785-1800, p. 121.
  341. Bernard A. Weisberger, America Afire: Jefferson, Adams, and the Revolutionary Election of 1800, p. 73.
  342. Forrest McDonald, The Presidency of George Washington, p. 93.
  343. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, September 9, 1792).
  344. Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 445.
  345. (Thomas Jefferson, The Anas, May 23, 1793).
  346. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, June 9, 1793).
  347. Nancy Isenberg and Andrew Burstein, Madison and Jefferson, p. 266.
  348. (Thomas Jefferson, Anas, August 3, 1793).
  349. Richard Brookhiser, James Madison, p. 115.
  350. John Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, p. 55.
  351. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 352.
  352. Willard Sterne Randall, George Washington: A Life, p. 482.
  353. (Alexander Hamilton, Gazette of the United States, September 29, 1792).
  354. Fawn M. Brodie, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate Biography, p. 270.
  355. Gail Collins, Scorpion Tongues: Gossip, Celebrity and American Politics, p. 28.
  356. Joanne B. Freeman, Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic, pp. 74-76.
  357. Gail Collins, Scorpion Tongues: Gossip, Celebrity and American Politics, p. 27.
  358. Andrew S. Trees, The Founding Fathers: The Politics of America, p. 49.
  359. Alf J. Mapp, Thomas Jefferson: Passionate Pilgrim, p. 32.
  360. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, July 15, 1802).
  361. Michael Durey, With the Hammer of Truth: James Thomas Callender and America's Early National Heroes, p. 151.
  362. Michael Durey, With the Hammer of Truth: James Thomas Callender and America's Early National Heroes, p. 162.
  363. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Robert Smith, July 1, 1805).
  364. Susan Dunn, Jefferson’s Second Revolution: The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism, p. 2.
  365. Willard Sterne Randall, Alexander Hamilton, p. 423.
  366. Paul Starr, The Creation Of The Media: Political Origins Of Modern Communications, p. 81.
  367. Forrest McDonald, The Presidency of George Washington, p. 105.
  368. Forrest McDonald, The Presidency of George Washington, p. 106.
  369. Cokie Roberts, Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation, p.261.
  370. Fawn M. Brodie, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History, p. 260.
  371. James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man, p. 263.
  372. Richard Norton Smith, Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation, p. 150.
  373. Paul Johnson, George Washington: The Founding Father, p. 107.
  374. (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, October 10, 1792).
  375. James Morton Smith, Washington: A Profile, pp. 47-48 (Samuel Eliot Morrison, “The Young Man Washington”).
  376. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 298. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, February 29, 1792).
  377. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, May 23, 1792).
  378. Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson, pp. 172-173.
  379. (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Edward Carrington, May 26, 1792).
  380. (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Edward Carrington, May 26, 1792).
  381. Dumas Malone, Jefferson the President: First Term, 1801-1805, pp. 428-429.
  382. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 351.
  383. (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Edward Carrington, May 26, 1862).
  384. (Letter from George Washington to Alexander, August 26, 1792).
  385. (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to George Washington, August 10, 1792).
  386. James Roger Sharp, American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis, p. 94.
  387. John Marshall, The Life of George Washington, Volume 2, p. 233.Washington.
  388. (Letter from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, August 23, 1792).
  389. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, September 9, 1792).
  390. John E. Ferling, The First of Men: A Life of George Washington, p. 421.
  391. Harrison Clark, All Cloudless Glory: The Life of George Washington, Volume II, p. 233.
  392. Richard Norton Smith, Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation, pp. 133, 83.
  393. Dumas Malone, Jefferson the President: First Term, 1801-1805, pp. 428-429.
  394. Richard Norton Smith, Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation, pp. 142-143.
  395. (Letter from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, August 23, 1792).
  396. Claude G. Bowers, Jefferson and Hamilton: The Struggle for Democracy in America, p. 171.
  397. (Letter from George Washington to Alexander Hamilton, July 29, 1792).
  398. Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life, p. 516-517.
  399. James Schouler, History of the United States of America under the Constitution, Volume 1, p. 274-275.
  400. Susan Dunn, Jefferson’s Second Revolution: The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism, p. 42.
  401. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, September 9, 1792).
  402. Claude G. Bowers, Jefferson and Hamilton: The Struggle for Democracy in America, p. 173.
  403. Alexander Hamilton
  404. Fawn M. Brodie, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate Biography, p. 270.
  405. Richard Norton Smith, Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation, p. 157.
  406. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 426.
  407. Dumas Malone, Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty, p. 133.
  408. (Letter from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, October 18, 1792).
  409. James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man, p. 297.
  410. (Letter from James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, July 30, 1793).
  411. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, May 19, 1793).
  412. Richard Brookhiser, Alexander Hamilton: American, p. 78.
  413. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Angelica Church, November 27,1793).
  414. (Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, December 26, 1793).
  415. (Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, January 6, 1794).
  416. James Thomas Flexner,Washington: The Indispensable Man, p. 303.
  417. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 325.
  418. Harrison Clark, All Cloudless Glory: The Life of George Washington, Volume II, p. 291.
  419. (Letter from George Washington to Alexander Hamilton, January 31, 1795).
  420. Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, p. 232.
  421. Nathan Schachner, Alexander Hamilton, p. 250.
  422. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to unknown, March 18, 1793).
  423. Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, p. 232.
  424. Alf J. Mapp, Jr.,The Faiths of Our Fathers: What America's Founders Really Believed, p. 98
  425. Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, p. 232
  426. Richard Norton Smith, Patriarch, p. 351.
  427. Walter A. McDougall, Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History, 1585-1828, p. 304.
  428. Joel Achenbach, The Grand Idea: George Washington’s Potomac and the Race to the West, p. 203.
  429. Peter R. Henriques, Realistic Visionary: A Portrait of George Washington, p. 119.
  430. Andrew S. Trees, The Founding Fathers: The Politics of Character, p. 17.
  431. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Phillip Mazzei, on April 24,1796).
  432. Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, pp. 235-236.
  433. http://www.princeton.edu/~tjpapers/mazzei/index.html.
  434. http://www.princeton.edu/~tjpapers/mazzei/index.html.
  435. Joseph T. Ellis, Founding Brothers, p. 141.
  436. Susan Dunn, Jefferson’s Second Revolution: The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism, p. 41.
  437. Peter R. Henriques, Realistic Visionary: A Portrait of George Washington, p. 122.
  438. Richard Norton Smith, Patriarch, p. 359.
  439. Peter R. Henriques, Realistic Visionary: A Portrait of George Washington, p. 122.
  440. Alf J. Mapp, Jr., Thomas Jefferson: Passionate Pilgrim, p. 240.
  441. (John Marshall. Speech, U.S. House of Representatives, December 19, 1799).
  442. James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man, p. 247.
  443. Ron Chernow, “Leader of a Nation, Not a Party,” New York Times, February 22, 2004.
  444. Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty, p. 86.
  445. Joanne B. Freeman, Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic, p. 66.
  446. Harrison Clark, All Cloudless Glory: The Life of George Washington, Volume II, p. 233.
  447. Garry Wills, Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, pp. 358-359.
  448. Lance Banning The Jeffersonian Persuasion: Evolution of a Party Ideology, p. 246.
  449. Walter A. McDougall, Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History, 1585-1828, p. 304.
  450. Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 537.
  451. (Letter from George Washington to John Adams, September 25, 1798).
  452. Louis M. Hacker, Alexander Hamilton in the American Tradition, p. 200.
  453. James Roger Sharp, American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis, p. 40.
  454. Bernard Bailyn, To Begin the World Anew, p. 52.
  455. Broadus Mitchell, Heritage from Hamilton, p. 58.
  456. (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Henry Knox, Monticello, June 1, 1795).
  457. Bernard Bailyn, To Begin the World Anew, p. 40.
  458. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 313.
  459. Drew R. McCoy, The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America, p. 186.
  460. (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to James A. Bayard, January 16, 1801).
  461. John Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, p. 52.
  462. Darren Staloff, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, p. 89.
  463. Ron Chernow, George Washington: A Life, p. 727.
  464. Forrest McDonald Alexander Hamilton: A Biography, p. 319
  465. Richard Norton Smith, Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation, p. 180.
  466. Andrew Burstein, Jefferson’s Secrets: Death and Desire at Monticello, p. 218.
  467. Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 316.
  468. James Morton Smith, Washington: A Profile, p. 27.
  469. Joanne B. Freeman, Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic, p. 88.
  470. (Letter from Gouverneur Morris to Aaron Ogden, December 28, 1805).
  471. James Roger Sharp, American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis, p. 97.
  472. John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 412.
  473. Gordon S. Wood, Revolutionary Characters, p. 241.
  474. (Address by Alexander Hamilton to the Electors of the State of New York).
  475. François Furstenberg, In the Name of the Father: Washington’s Legacy, Slavery, and the Making of a Nation, p. 140.
  476. Jean Edward Smith, John Marshall: Definer of a Nation, p. 12.
  477. Andrew Burstein, Jefferson’s Secrets: Death and Desire at Monticello, p. 226.
  478. Andrew Burstein, efferson’s Secrets: Death and Desire at Monticello, pp. 211-212, 221.
  479. (Letter from James Madison to Nicholas P. Trist, July 6, 1820).
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