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little credit is due to any of his statements concerning those who are the subjects of his envy, hatred or revenge.
In Cunningham's letter XXXVII, to Adams, dated May 6, 1809, he states, that Mr. Adams informed him, that the testimony of General Washington in Hamilton's favour was given under a threatening of a public exposure of his mistakes.
“ You, sir, know,” says Cunningham, “ what authority I have for the declara" tion-General Washington was overawed with a me" naçe.” In a note Cunningham adds, “ Mr. Adams is “ my authority for all this, and more.” Every man who knew Washington will pronounce this, whoever might be the author, an atrocious falsehood. In the conscious purity of intention in all his actions, while he entertained a modest opinion of himself, he would not have endured such an insult from any human being; and all who knew Hamilton will pronounce him utterly incapable of offering it.
Here I conclude all that I think proper for me to say respecting Mr. Hamilton, in regard to Mr. Adams's reproaches, in his correspondence with Cunningham. His animadversions on Hamilton, in his letters published in the same year (1809) in the Boston Patriot, which occupy nearly fifty pages in octavo, so far as the same may merit any notice, will have the attention of Hamilton's biographer. That the work is not yet commenced, or in progress, is a subject of deep regret.
But as Hamilton has formerly been accused of cherishing highly aristocratic views of government, and, as a member of the General Convention which formed the Constitution of the United States, would have infused that spirit_ into it, I subjoin his letter to me on that subject. It is an answer to one I wrote to him, stating that it had been asserted, “ that in the General Con“ vention he had proposed, that the President of the “ United States, and the Senators, should be chosen for “ life; and that his accusers alleged that this was in“ tended as an introduction to Monarchy.” On this accusation I made the following remark: “ If the propon
“ sítion was offered in the Convention, your friends will “ know to what motives to ascribe it; and that, what“ever form of government you may have suggested for " consideration, the public welfare, and the permanent
liberty of your country, were not the less objects of pursuit with
than with the other members of the “ Convention.” On this subject I requested information.
Hamilton's answer is too valuable to be lost. By introducing it into this Review, it may be preserved long enough to be used by, his biographer, while in the mean time it will gratify surviving friends who deeply respect his memory. I give it here, verbatim, from the original now before me.
66 New-York, September 16, 1803. & MY DEAR SIRA
6 I will make no apology for my delay in answering your inquiry some time since made, because I could offer none which would satisfy myself. I pray you only to believe that it proceeded from any thing rather than want of respect or regard. I shall now comply with your request.
* The higbest toned propositions, wbich I made in the Convention, were for a President, Senate and Judges during good behavioura House of Representatives for three years. Though I would have enlarged the legislative power of the General Government, yet I never contemplated the abolition of the State Governments ; but, on the contrary, they were, in some particulars, constituent parts of my plan.
“ This plan was in my conception conformable with the strict theory of a government purely republican ; the essential criteria of which are, that the principal organs of the executive and legislative departments be elected by the people, and hold their offices by a responsible and temporary or defeasible tenure.
" A vote was taken on the proposition respecting the Executive. Five States were in favour of it; among these Virginia ; and though from the manner of voting, by delegations, individuals were not distinguished, it was morally certain, from the known situation of the Virginia members (six in number, two of them, Mason and Randolph, professing popular doctrines) that Madison must have concurred in the vote of Virginia. Thus, if I sinned against republicanism, Mr. Madison was not less guilty.
"I may truly then say, that I never proposed either a President, or Senate, for life ;, and that. I peither recommended nor meditated the annihilation of the State Governments.
16+ And I may add, that in the course of the discussions in the Convention, neither the propositions thrown out for debate, nor even
those voted in the earlier stages of deliberation, were considered as evidences of a definitive opinion in the proposer or voter. It appeared to me to be in some sort understood, that with a view to free investigation, experimental propositions might be made, which were to be received merely as suggestions for consideration.
Accordingly it is a fact, that my final opinion was against an Executive during good behaviour, on account of the increased danger to the public tranquillity incident to the election of a Magistrate of this degree of permanency. In the plan of a Constitution, which I drew up while the Convention was sitting, and which I communicated to Mr. Madison about the close of it, perhaps day or two after, the office of President has no greater duration than for three years.
“ This plan was predicated upon these bases. 1. That the political principles of the people of this country would endure nothing but republican governments. 2. That, in the actual situation of the country, it was in itself right and proper that the republican theory should have a fair and full trial. 3. That to such a trial it was essential that the government should be so constructed as to give it all the energy and stability reconcileable with the principles of that theory. These were the genuine sentiments of my heart, and upon them I acted.
“I sincerely hope, that it may not hereafter be discovered, that through want of sufficient attention to the last idea, the experiment of Republican Government, even in this country, has not been as complete, as satisfactory and as decisive as could be wished.
" Very truly, dear sir, your friend and servant, 6 TIMOTHY PICKERING, Esq.”
In this review of Mr. Adams's Correspondence with Cunningham-passing by many things of minor consequence—I have noticed nearly, all of his principal reproaches; and shown, I trust satisfactorily, that they are calumnies, and calumnies of the most disgraceful kind; that, in his laboured attempts to justify some important acts of his administration, he has manifested as little regard to truth as to consistency; and that those acts, which he solemnly avers were dictated solely by a sincere and virtuous regard to the public welfare,
originated in his unrestrained ambition. There remain to be noticed two accusations in his letter, No. XVII, Nov. 25, 1808, to Cunningham, where, referring to me, he says, “ No man I ever knew had so deep a contempt “ for Washington. I have had numerous proofs of it “ from his own lips; yet he appears to the world a de“vout adorer of him." — This charge, in every part, I deny. From Mr. Adams's character, as portrayed in this Review, every impartial reader will see that his accusations can derive no credit from his assertions ; that he is capable of making the grossest misrepresentations; and from detached facts, and often from bare suspicions, of drawing unwarrantable inferences, if suited to his purposes at the moment. Some such facts, relating to Washington, he may have heard me mention, though I have no recollection of it; for those, to which I here refer, were such as entered into occasional conversations between myself and my friends. But whatever they were, the inference of contempt” is all his own; and perfectly natural, because corres-, ponding with own feelings; as in the instance of which his friend Cunningham, reminds him, in his letter. No. LX, January 15, 1810, saying, “In the letter, from “ which I have extracted, you observed, that the por“trait of Washington ought not to shove aside the
portraits of John Hancock and Samuel Adams, in Fa“ nueil Hall. Now, to say nothing of Samuel Adams, 6 what was John Hancock ? I will tell
you “yourself once said of him. In the afternoon of a day " in the summer of 1791, some conversation respecting 6 him led Mrs. Adams to remark, that he was born
near your residence--you turned yourself towards your front door, and pointing to a spot in view, you
laughingly exclaimed, 'Yes! there's the place where “ the great Governor Hancock was born.' Then, com
posing your countenance, and rolling your eye, you went on with these exclamations- John Hancock!
a man without head and without heart-the mere “ shadow of a man, and yet a Governor of old Massa6 chusetts !"--In his answer to this letter, the next day,
without questioning the truth of Cunningham's statement, Mr. Adams says, “ The correspondence and consa versations which have passed between us have been 6 under the confidential seal of secrecy and friendship.
Any violation of it will be a breach of honour and of
plighted faith.” Other like instances of Mr. Adams's expressed opinion of Washington have come to my knowledge. Yet in official acts, speeches, messages and letters, he was willing to derive to himself some credit as his eulogist.
The “facts” to which I have alluded were military occurrences in the revolutionary war, which fell under my own observation, and which produced an opinion, on some points of his character, in coincidence with what I know, from their own observations to me, were the opinions of General Greene and Baron Steuben; with what I have indubitable reason to know was the opinion of Hamilton ; and also of Colonel Reed, adjutant general in 1776, and afterwards President of Pennsylvania. To some of these facts and opinions I have occasionally adverted, when I have heard every military enterprise of moment, during the revolutionary war, ascribed exclusively to Washington; and when the salvation of our country and the establishment of its independence have been attributed to him alone. In these unlimited views concerning Washington I have not concurred. I never believed that the effectual defence of our country, and the final achievement of its independence, rested on any one man. . Had this been the case, resistance to the mother country would have been madness. Yet I have always thought, and said, that, as the chief command of our armies should be entrusted only to a native citizen, Washington, above all others, was entitled to the preference.
There had been no military school in the Colonies, where natives might learn the art of war; nor any occasion or opportunity for colonists to acquire a practical knowledge of it, excepting in the French or Seven Years' war, which was declared in 1756, and ended in 1763. In that war, numerous Provincial forces were