Hudson: Sampson, Chittenden & Crowwell, August 17, 1802.
8pp. Hamilton's letter appearing on the second page. Quarto. Disbound. Near fine Item #338515
Hamilton's Letter to the Editor – one of very few such newspaper letters which appeared under his own name and not a pseudonym – was first published in the Evening Post, responding to the baseless charges of John Wood in his History of the Administration of John Adams. Wood had revived a falsehood first suggested by William Gordon in his history of the American Revolution, which suggested that Lafayette and Washington had ordered Hamilton to execute captured British soldiers following the surrender at Yorktown. Hamilton writes: "Finding that a story long since propagated under circumstances, which it was expected would soon consign it to oblivion, (and by which I have been complimented at the expence of Generals Washington and La Fayette) has of late been revived and has acquired a degree of importance by being repeated in different publications as well as in Europe as America—it becomes a duty to counteract its currency and influence by an explicit disavowal. The story imports in substance, that General La Fayette, with the approbation or connivance of General Washington, ordered me, as the officer who was to command the attack on a British redoubt, in the course of the siege of York-Town, to put to death all those of the enemy who should happen to be taken in the redoubt; and that through motives of humanity I forbore to execute the order. Positively and unequivocally I declare, that no such nor similar order, nor any intimation nor hint resembling it, was ever by me received or understood to have been given. It is needless to enter into an explanation of some occurrences on the occasion alluded to, which may be conjectured to have given rise to the calumny. It is enough to say that they were entirely unconnected with any act of either of the Generals who have been accused."
This issue of the newspaper also includes a small extract of a letter by Thomas Jefferson regarding Thomas Paine.
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