1038
Alexander Hamilton
AUTOGRAPH NOTES PREPARED FOR PRESIDENT WASHINGTON'S THIRD ANNUAL MESSAGE TO CONGRESS
Estimate
15,00025,000
LOT SOLD. 62,500 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT
1038
Alexander Hamilton
AUTOGRAPH NOTES PREPARED FOR PRESIDENT WASHINGTON'S THIRD ANNUAL MESSAGE TO CONGRESS
Estimate
15,00025,000
LOT SOLD. 62,500 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Alexander Hamilton: An Important Family Archive of Letters and Manuscripts

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New York

Alexander Hamilton
AUTOGRAPH NOTES PREPARED FOR PRESIDENT WASHINGTON'S THIRD ANNUAL MESSAGE TO CONGRESS
One page on a slip of paper (9 x 3 3/8 in.; 229 x 87 mm), [Philadelphia, October 1795], endorsed on the verso by Hamilton "Heads for the Presidents speech delivd Oct 25th 1791," and in two other hands, "This is, I suspect, a Minute of Topics to be introduced into the Prest. Speech" and "Alexr Hamilton," the former ruled through; torn through near center of the document, without loss.
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Catalogue Note

On 24 October 1791, the first day of the first session of the Second Congress, a joint committee of senators and congressmen called on the president to say that they would be pleased to receive from him any communication he cared to make. Washington suggested the very next day for the address, which he delivered in the Senate Chamber, attended by his cabinet. Precedence dictated that Washington would make such address, and Hamilton's notes make clear that his adminstration was working on the message long before his initial meeting with congressional leaders. 

The Treasury Secretary's notes encompass sixteen points, numbered 1–4 and 1–11, with one unnumbered. Many of Hamilton's suggested topics are to be found in the annual message as delivered (see The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, ed. Mastromarino, 9:110–117, for full text). For instance, Hamilton's first point is "cross Posts officially to some of the important points in Western part of the Union," and Washington's address includes the sentence, "The establishment of additional cross-Posts, especially to some of the important points in the Western and Northern parts of the Union, cannot fail to be of material utility."

Similarly, Hamilton’s second point, “Recom to enable executive to preforce peace with Indians by making it their interest,” appears in Washington’s final text as the sentence-length paragraph, “That the Executive of the United States should be enabled to employ the means to which the Indians have been long accustomed for uniting their immediate interests with the preservation of peace.”

Hamilton recommended as his third point that the address contain “Something complimentary to the Militia,” and the Militia is indeed included by the president as one of several subjects “of which I cannot forbear a more particular mention.” And Hamilton's fourth point—“Completion of subscriptions to Bank”—is expanded in the final speech to “The rapid subscriptions to the Bank of the United States, which completed the sum allowed to be subscribed, in a single day, is among the striking and pleasing evidences which present themselves, not only of confidence in the government, but of resource in the community.”

The reliance of the president’s Message to Congress on Hamilton’s notes clearly demonstrates that Washington was still dependent on the pen of his war-time aide. But not everything that Hamilton suggested was included in the final text. The second series of topics seems to have been omitted entirely, including “1 Consuls”; “2 Estimate of Land”; “6 Schools”; “7 Tour South observation”; and “9 Amendments”—likely a reference to the Bill of Rights, which was ratified less than two months later, 15 December 1791.

However, Hamilton’s final suggested subject, and undoubtedly the one of most personal significance to him, was prominently featured in Washington’s text. At the bottom of his sheet of paper, unnumbered, Hamilton noted “Surplus of Revenue to Debts.” And on 25 October 1791, read these words to the Senate and House: "The subscriptions in the debts of the respective States, as far as the provisions of the law have permitted, may be said to be yet more general. The part of the debt of the United States, which remains unsubscribed, will naturally engage your further deliberations. It is particularly pleasing to me to be able to announce to you, that the revenues which have been established, promise to be adequate to their objects, and may be permitted, if no unforeseen exigency occurs, to supersede, for the present, the necessity of any new burthens upon our Constituents."

These notes are hitherto unknown and unpublished.

Alexander Hamilton: An Important Family Archive of Letters and Manuscripts

|
New York