1015
Alexander Hamilton
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED (“A HAMILTON) TO ELIZABETH HAMILTON, JOKING THAT SHE HAS SO MONOPOLIZED HIS ATTENTION THAT HE IS "LOST TO ALL THE PUBLIC AND SPLENDID PASSIONS"
Estimate
10,00015,000
LOT SOLD. 27,500 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT
1015
Alexander Hamilton
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED (“A HAMILTON) TO ELIZABETH HAMILTON, JOKING THAT SHE HAS SO MONOPOLIZED HIS ATTENTION THAT HE IS "LOST TO ALL THE PUBLIC AND SPLENDID PASSIONS"
Estimate
10,00015,000
LOT SOLD. 27,500 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 HAMILTON, JOKING THAT SHE HAS SO MONOPOLIZED HIS ATTENTION THAT HE IS "LOST TO ALL THE PUBLIC AND SPLENDID PASSIONS"
2 1/2 pages (8 7/8 x 7 3/8 in.; 223 x 188 mm) on a bifolium, [Dobbs Ferry, New York], 13 July [1781], autograph address (“Mrs. Hamilton”) on verso of second leaf; large seal repair just touching bottom of signature, small hole in second leaf costing 3 or 4 letters, lightly stained, silked. Tipped to a larger sheet.
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Literature

The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Syrett, 2:652–654

Catalogue Note

"nature has given you a right to be esteemed to be cherished, to be beloved; but she has given you no right to monopolize a man, whom, to you I may say, she has endowed with qualities to be extensively useful to society." Hamilton had resigned his position on Washington's staff in February 1871, and during the several month's lull while he awaited a field command, he wrote this jocular letter complaining that thoughts of Elizabeth were so monopolizing his attention that he was neglecting "the cause of country humanity, and of glory."

"I have received my angel two letters from you since my arrival in Camp with a packet of papers, and I have written to you twice since I saw you. I acquainted you with the assurances that had been given me with respect to command, and bad you dismiss all apprehensions for my safety on account of the little prospect of activity.

"With no object of sufficient importance to occupy my attention here I am left to feel all the weight of our separation. I pass a great part of my time in company but my dissipations are a very imperfect suspension of my uneasiness. I was cherishing the melancholy pleasure of thinking of the sweets I had left behind and was so long to be deprived of, when a servant from Head Quarters presented me with your letters. I feasted for some time on the sweet effusions of tenderness they contained, and my heart returned every sensation of yours. Alas my Betsey you have divested it of every other pretender and placed your image there as the sole proprietor. I struggle with an excess which I cannot but deem a weakness and endeavour to bring myself back to reason and duty. I remonstrate with my heart on the impropriety of suffering itself to be engrossed by an individual of the human race when so many millions ought to participate in its affections and in its cares. But it constantly presents you under such amiable forms as seem too well to justify its meditated desertion of the cause of country humanity, and of glory I would say, if there were not something in the sound insipid and ridiculous when compared with the sacrifices by which it is to be attained."

Even in a lighthearted love letter, though, Hamilton's ambition shines through, as he deems himself someone who could be "extensively useful" to the greater public: "Indeed Betsey, I am intirely changed—changed for the worse I confess—lost to all the public and splendid passions and absorbed in you. Amiable woman! nature has given you a right to be esteemed to be cherished, to be beloved; but she has given you no right to monopolize a man, whom, to you I may say, she has endowed with qualities to be extensively useful to society. …"

Hamilton closes on a pragmatic note, informing Elizabeth that "Mr. Totten [of the Philadelphia merchant firm of Stewart and Totten] promises me shortly a supply of money of which I shall s[end] you a part. I am glad you have disposed of the Bill." He closes with love to his in-laws and wife ("Love me and let your happiness always consist in loving A Hamilton") and adds in postscript that he also encloses letters (now lost) to his sisters-in-law Angelica and Margarita.

Shortly after this letter, Hamilton achieved his goal of obtaining a field command, and he led three battalions in the decisive engagement with the British at Yorktown that October. 

Alexander Hamilton: An Important Family Archive of Letters and Manuscripts

|
New York