1013
Alexander Hamilton
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED (“A HAMILTON) TO ELIZABETH SCHUYLER, EXPLAINING THAT HIS MILITARY DUTIES PREVENT HIM FROM VISITING HER
Estimate
10,00015,000
LOT SOLD. 37,500 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT
1013
Alexander Hamilton
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED (“A HAMILTON) TO ELIZABETH SCHUYLER, EXPLAINING THAT HIS MILITARY DUTIES PREVENT HIM FROM VISITING HER
Estimate
10,00015,000
LOT SOLD. 37,500 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Alexander Hamilton: An Important Family Archive of Letters and Manuscripts

|
New York

Alexander Hamilton
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED (“A HAMILTON) TO ELIZABETH SCHUYLER, EXPLAINING THAT HIS MILITARY DUTIES PREVENT HIM FROM VISITING HER
3 1/2 pages (8 7/8 x 7 3/8 in.; 225 x 187 mm) on a bifolium, [Teaneck, New Jersey], 31 August 1780; small hole at lower third of both leaves costing all or part of about 12 words (conjecturally supplied below within brackets), lightly stained, silked. Tipped to a larger sheet.
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Literature

The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Syrett, 2:387–389

Catalogue Note

"Even though my presence shou[ld n]ot be essential here, yet my love I could not with decency or honor leave the army during the campaign."

Hamilton again makes use of Colonel Udny Hay, New York State agent for provisioning the Continental Army, to carry a letter to his beloved at Albany: "I had written the inclosed and left it to be sent by the last post; but by mistake it was not sent. Col [Udny] Hay just calls and asks me for my commands. Do you think I could let him go without charging him with a letter for you?"

Hamilton first challenges Eliza's charge of unkindness if he does not soon visit her, and then explains that his own sense of honor, his public stance on the question of leave in the midst of a campaign, and his devotion to General Washington all conspire to make a visit impossible.

"In yours by your papa, you say you will expect a visit from me before the close of the campaign, and that you will think me unkind if I do not come. How will you have the presumption to think me unkind you saucy little charmer? Self-love will never per[mit] me to be unkind to you; for are not y[ou the dearest] part of myself? Have not [I] greater interest in the visit than you can have? Should I not gain more by it, should I not enjoy more pleasure, feast upon more beauties sweetnesses, and charms? If all these must be answered in the affirmative (and with all your partiality for me, with all your diffidence of yourself you dare not answer otherwise) could I omit flying to your embrace without being more unkind to myself than to you?

"Prithee Miss, no accusations of unkindness. I engage to demonstrate by all the principles of human nature, that they can never justly apply in similar cases, and that I must by every rule, be at all times more anxious to be near you, than you to have me so.

"But now my love to speak of the practicability of complying with both our wishes in this article—There is none, I am obliged to sacrifice my inclination to [my public] ch[aracter.] Even though my presence shou[ld n]ot be essential here, yet my love I could not with decency or honor leave the army during the campaign. This is a military prejudice which while I am in a military station I must comply with. No person has been more severe than I have been in condemning other officers for deviating from it. I have admitted no excuse as sufficient, and I must not now evince to the army, that the moment my circumstances have changed, my maxims have changed also. This would be an inconsistency, and my Betsey would not have me guilty of an inconsistency. Besides this my Betsey, The General is peculiarly averse to the practice in question. If this campaign is to end my military services, ’tis an additional reason for a constant and punctual attendance, if it is not my leaving the army during the campaign would make it less proper to be away all the winter ’till late in the spring. In one case, my honor bids me stay, in the other my love."

Hamilton closes with a series of brief remarks, thanking Elizabeth for her cockade, intended to guard against "the inclemency of the sun" and wondering "how will she manage a matter of this kind without its appearing a little odd at present?"; noting that the American army is "every where in suspense"; and sending a kiss to his "little sister," probably Margarita Schuyler.

Alexander Hamilton: An Important Family Archive of Letters and Manuscripts

|
New York