DescriptionAlexander Hamilton Autograph Letter Signed "A. H." to "Mrs. Hamilton." One page, 7.25" x 9.5", Albany [New York], February 24 . Recently arrived in Albany to attend the New York Court of Errors, Alexander Hamilton sarcastically reports to his wife, Elizabeth, on Aaron Burr's "conversion to Federalism." This letter reads in part as written:
"I wrote to you my beloved from Poughkeepsie by Post and yesterday immediately on my arrival by Mr. Ephraim Hart of the tribe of Benjamin or Judah. This letter enclosed one for Mr. Bayard. I hope it was received & forwarded. Mr. Burr, as a proof of his conversion to Federalism, has within a fortnight taken a very active and officious part against Renssalaer in favour of Clinton. Tell this to Mr. Church. And let me tell you what is of much more importance to you that I am in very good health though not in as good spirits as when I am with my beloved family."
When Alexander Hamilton wrote this letter to his wife, the young American nation had just witnessed a bitter election that many referred to as the Revolution of 1800, in which the Federalist John Adams lost to the Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson. Though successful in the election, the plan that the Democratic-Republicans worked out-electing Jefferson with one more electoral vote than Aaron Burr-failed, resulting in a tie between Jefferson and Burr. The House of Representatives, on the 36th ballot, finally chose Jefferson as president and Burr as vice president.
That Revolution of 1800 impacted the U.S. Constitution (the 12th Amendment, ratified in 1804, offered a new Electoral College procedure) and numerous elections around the nation, including the bitter New York gubernatorial campaign of 1801. When Governor John Jay refused to run for another term, the Democratic-Republicans fielded an old favorite, George Clinton, who had already served his home state as governor for six terms. His competitor was Federalist Stephen Van Rensselaer, Alexander Hamilton's brother-in-law and the lieutenant governor of New York. Even though Aaron Burr, a Democratic-Republican, had flirted with Federalists during the presidential election of 1800, he had not converted, as Hamilton sarcastically points out to Elizabeth in this letter. An influential political figure in his home state of New York, Burr had, instead, begun to actively promote George Clinton over Rensselaer (earlier in 1789, then Governor Clinton had appointed Burr the state's attorney general.) A few months after Hamilton wrote this letter, Clinton won the election.
"Tell this to Mr. Church," Hamilton quips near the end of the letter, referring to John Baker Church, who was married to the sister of Hamilton's wife. Earlier in 1799, Burr had dueled with Church--a result of Church's accusation that Burr had accepted a bribe. The duel was a draw, but this incident, along with the founding of Burr's bank, the Bank of the Manhattan Company, agitated the animosity between Hamilton and Burr, which surfaces in this letter and eventually led to the notorious duel between them.
Interestingly, Hamilton, who does not include the year on this letter, writes the wrong date, "Monday / the 24 Febr." In 1801, February 24 fell on a Tuesday. The letter Hamilton wrote Elizabeth "from Poughkeepsie by Post" was written on Friday, February 20 as Hamilton travelled to Albany (he arrived in Albany on Sunday, February 22). The letter to James Bayard (a member of Congress from Delaware) that Hamilton mentions being enclosed with Elizabeth's letter from "yesterday immediately on my arrival [in Albany]" was written on February 22. Therefore, the correct date on the letter offered here is Monday, February 23. This letter, along with an engraving of Hamilton, is hinged to a mat for an overall size of 18.5" x 15". The letter is toned with smoothed folds.
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