Lot 1009
  • 1009

Alexander Hamilton

30,000 - 40,000 USD
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  • Autograph letter signed (“Alex Hamilton”) to Elizabeth Schuyler; an early love letter, regretting their separation and hoping for their reunion
  • Paper, ink
3 pages (9 1/8 x 7 5/8 in.; 232 x 193 mm) on a bifolium, [Preakness (present-day Wayne), New Jersey], 2–4 July [1780]; dampstained, a few repaired fold separations. Tipped to a larger leaf.


The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Syrett, 2:350–352


3 pages (9 1/8 x 7 5/8 in.; 232 x 193 mm) on a bifolium, [Preakness, New Jersey] 2–4 July [1780]; dampstained, a few repaired fold separations. Tipped to a larger leaf.
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Catalogue Note

I love you more and more every hour.” Hamilton takes advantage of correspondence being carried to Colonel Udny Hay at Fishkill to compose and send a love letter to his “Charmer.” Hay had recently been appointed by New York Governor George Clinton as the state’s agent for supplying provisions to the Continental Army, and so he was in a position to forward Hamilton’s letter to Elizabeth Schuyler, who was then at Albany. Hamilton begins by thanking Eliza for her recent letter, regretting their separation, and hoping for their reunion: “Last evening Doctor Cochran delivered me the dear lines you wrote me from Nicholson’s. I shall impatiently long to hear of your arrival at Albany and the state of your health. I am perfectly well, proof against any thing that can assail mine. We have no change in our affairs since you left us. I should regret the time already lost in inactivity if it did not bring us nearer to that sweet reunion for which we so ardently wish. I never look forward to that period without sensations I cannot describe.” Hamilton also mentions an enclosure—no longer present—that “contains ideas that often occur to me.” In his edition of the Hamilton Papers, Harold C. Syrett speculated that the enclosure might have been an undated poem, “Answer to the Inquiry Why I Sighed,” that was printed in Allan McLane Hamilton’s Intimate Life of Alexander Hamilton (1910), p. 126: “Before no mortal ever knew | A love like mine so tender, true, | Completely wretched—you away, | And but half blessed e’en while you stay. || If present love [– –] face | Deny you to my fond embrace | No joy unmixed my bosom warms | But when my angel’s in my arms.” According to Allan McLane Hamilton, in whose possession the poem then was, Eliza wore the poem like an amulet and it "was found in a tiny bag hanging from [her] neck after her death, and which she had evidently always worn."

Hamilton’s letter itself is a sort of prose poem to Eliza: “I love you more and more every hour. The sweet softness and delicacy of your mind and manners, the elevation of your sentiments, the real goodness of your heart, its tenderness to me, the beauties of your face and person, your unpretending good sense and that innocent simplicity and frankness which pervade your actions; all these appear to me with increasing amiableness and place you in my estimation above all the rest of your sex.” And yet, Hamilton cannot resist appending some instruction to his affection: “I entreat you my Charmer, not to neglect the charges I gave you particularly that of taking care of your self, and that of employing all your leisure in reading. Nature has been very kind to you; do not neglect to cultivate her gifts and to enable yourself to make the distinguished figure in all respects to which you are intitled to aspire. You excel most of your sex in all the amiable qualities; endeavour to excel them equally in the splendid ones. You can do it if you please and I shall take pride in it. It will be a fund too, to diversify our enjoyments and amusements and fill all our moments to advantage.”
Hamilton mentions looking forward to a possible meeting with his close friend John Laurens, who had been captured by the British while commanding an infantry regiment in Savannah, Georgia, and who was subsequently confined to Pennsylvania by the terms of his parole: “I have received a letter from my Laurens solicitg an interview on the Pensylvania Boundary. The General has half consented to its taking place. I hope to be permitted to meet him; if so, I will go to Philadelphia and then you may depend, I shall not forget the picture you requested.”

The letter first closed at this point, Hamilton signing himself as “Yrs. my Angel with inviolable Affection,” but after two days had passed without an opportunity of having his letter delivered, he returned to it in order to add a familial postscript: “I open my letter just to tell you your Papa has been unwell with a touch of the Quinsey; but is now almost perfectly recovered. He hoped to be at Hd. Qrs. to day. He is eight miles off. I saw him last evening and heard from him this morning. I mention this lest you should hear of his indisposition through an exaggerated channel and be unnecessarily alarmed. Affectionately present me to yr Mama. Adieu my love.”