Part 15 out of 17
June 26, 1804.
I have communicated the letter which you did me the honour to write to
me of this date, to General Hamilton. The expectations now disclosed
on the part of Colonel Burr appear to him to have greatly extended the
original ground of inquiry, and, instead of presenting a particular
and definite case for explanation, seem to aim at nothing less than an
inquisition into his most confidential conversations, as well as
others, through the whole period of his acquaintance with Colonel
While he was prepared to meet the particular case fairly and fully, he
thinks it inadmissible that he should be expected to answer at large
as to every thing that he may possibly have said in relation to the
character of Colonel Burr at any time or upon any occasion. Though he
is not conscious that any charges which are in circulation to the
prejudice of Colonel Burr have originated with him, except one which
may have been so considered, and which has long since been fully
explained between Colonel Burr and himself, yet he cannot consent to
be questioned generally as to any rumours which may be afloat
derogatory to the character of Colonel Burr, without specification of
the several rumours, many of them, probably, unknown to him. He does
not, however, mean to authorize any conclusion as to the real nature
of his conduct in relation to Colonel Burr by his declining so loose
and vague a basis of explanation, and he disavows an unwillingness to
come to a satisfactory, provided it be an honourable, accommodation.
His objection is the very indefinite ground which Colonel Burr has
assumed, in which he is sorry to be able to discern nothing short of
predetermined hostility. Presuming, therefore, that it will be adhered
to, he has instructed me to receive the message which you have it in
charge to deliver. For this purpose I shall be at home and at your
command to-morrow morning from eight to ten o'clock.
I have the honour to be, respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
WM. P. VAN NESS, Esq.
I transmitted this to Colonel Burr; and, after a conference with him,
in which I received his further instructions, and that no
misunderstanding might arise from verbal communication, I committed to
writing the remarks contained in No. XII., which follows:
Wednesday morning, June 27, 1804.
The letter which I had the honour to receive from you, under date of
yesterday, states, among other things, that, in General Hamilton's
opinion, Colonel Burr has taken a very indefinite ground, in which he
evinces nothing short of predetermined hostility, and General Hamilton
thinks it inadmissible that the inquiry should extend to his
confidential as well as other conversations. To this Colonel Burr can
only reply, that secret whispers traducing his fame and impeaching his
honour are at least equally injurious with slanders publicly uttered;
that General Hamilton had, at no time and in no place, a right to use
any such injurious expression; and that the partial negative he is
disposed to give, with the reservations he wishes to make, are proofs
that he has done the injury specified.
Colonel Burr's request was, in the first instance, proposed in a form
the most simple, in order that General Hamilton might give to the
affair that course to which he might be induced by his temper and his
knowledge of facts. Colonel Burr trusted with confidence, that, from
the frankness of a soldier and the candour of a gentleman, he might
expect an ingenuous declaration. That if, as he had reason to believe,
General Hamilton had used expressions derogatory to his honour, he
would have had the magnanimity to retract them; and that if, from his
language, injurious inferences had been improperly drawn, he would
have perceived the propriety of correcting errors which might thus
have been widely diffused. With these impressions Colonel Burr was
greatly surprised at receiving a letter which he considered as
evasive, and which, in manner, he deemed not altogether decorous. In
one expectation, however, he was not wholly deceived; for the close of
General Hamilton's letter contained an intimation that, if Colonel
Burr should dislike his refusal to acknowledge or deny, he was ready
to meet the consequences. This Colonel Burr deemed a sort of defiance,
and would have felt justified in making it the basis of an immediate
message; but, as the communication contained something concerning the
indefiniteness of the request; as he believed it rather the offspring
of false pride than of reflection; and as he felt the utmost
reluctance to proceed to extremities while any other hope remained,
his request was repeated in terms more explicit. The replies and
propositions on the part of General Hamilton have, in Colonel Burr's
opinion, been constantly, in substance, the same.
Colonel Burr disavows all motives of predetermined hostility, a charge
by which he thinks insult added to injury. He feels as a gentleman
should when his honour is impeached or assailed; and, without
sensations of hostility or wishes of revenge, he is determined to
vindicate that honour at such hazard as the nature of the case
The length to which this correspondence has extended only tending to
prove that the satisfactory redress, earnestly desired, cannot be
attained, he deems it useless to offer any proposition except the
single message which I shall now have the honour to deliver.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
W. P. VAN NESS.
NATHANIEL PENDLETON, Esq.
I handed this to Mr. Pendleton at twelve o'clock on Wednesday the
27th. After he had perused it, agreeable to my instructions, I
delivered the message which it is unnecessary to repeat. The request
it contained was acceded to. After which Mr. Pendleton remarked that a
court was then sitting in which General Hamilton had much business to
transact, and that he had also some private arrangements to make,
which would render some delay unavoidable. I acceded to his wish, and
Mr. Pendleton said he would call on me again in the course of the day
or the following morning, to confer further relative to time and
Thursday, June 28th, ten o'clock P. M., Mr. Pendleton called on me
with a paper which he said contained some views of General Hamilton,
and which he had received from him. I replied, that if the paper
contained a definite and specific proposition for an accommodation, I
would with pleasure receive it, and submit it to the consideration of
my principal; if not, that I must decline taking it, as Mr. Burr
conceived the correspondence completely terminated by the acceptance
of the invitation contained in the message I had yesterday delivered.
Mr. Pendleton replied that the paper did not contain any proposition
of the kind I alluded to, but remarks on my last letter. I, of course,
declined receiving it. Mr. Pendleton then took leave, and said that he
would call again in a day or two to arrange time and place. Tuesday,
July 3d, I again saw Mr. Pendleton; and, after a few subsequent
interviews, the time when the parties were to meet was ultimately
fixed for the morning of the 11th of July instant. The occurrences of
that interview will appear from the following statement, No. XIII.,
which has been drawn up and mutually agreed to by the seconds of the
Colonel Burr arrived first on the ground, as had been previously
agreed. When General Hamilton arrived, the parties exchanged
salutations, and the seconds proceeded to make their arrangements.
They measured the distance, ten full paces, and cast lots for the
choice of position, as also to determine by whom the word should be
given, both of which fell to the second of General Hamilton. They then
proceeded to load the pistols in each other's presence, after which
the parties took their stations. The gentleman who was to give the
word then explained to the parties the rules which were to govern them
in firing, which were as follows: "The parties being placed at their
stations, the second who gives the word shall ask them whether they
are ready; being answered in the affirmative, he shall say--_present_!
After this the parties shall present and fire _when they please_. If
one fires before the other, the opposite second shall say _one_,
_two_, _three_, _fire_, and he shall then fire or lose his fire. He
then asked if they were prepared; being answered in the affirmative,
he gave the word _present_, as had been agreed on, and both parties
presented and fired in succession. The intervening time is not
expressed, as the seconds do not precisely agree on that point. The
fire of Colonel Burr took effect, and General Hamilton almost
instantly fell. Colonel Burr advanced towards General Hamilton with a
manner and gesture that appeared to General Hamilton's friend to be
expressive of regret; but, without speaking, turned about and
withdrew, being urged from the field by his friend, as has been
subsequently stated, with a view to prevent his being recognised by
the surgeon and bargemen who were then approaching. No further
communication took place between the principals, and the barge that
carried Colonel Burr immediately returned to the city. We conceive it
proper to add, that the conduct of the parties in this interview was
perfectly proper, as suited the occasion."
In the interviews between Mr. Pendleton and Mr. Van Ness, they were
not able to agree in two important facts that passed on the ground.
"Mr. Pendleton expressed a confident opinion that General Hamilton did
not fire first, and that he did not fire at all at Colonel Burr. Mr.
Van Ness seemed equally confident in opinion that General Hamilton did
fire first; and, of course, that it must have been _at_ his
Such was the statement made by the friend of Colonel Burr. It is now
proposed to insert such explanations of, or remarks on, the
communications between the parties as emanated from the friend of
General Hamilton. None were given previous to document No. III.
Immediately after that letter, dated 21st June, are the following
"On Saturday, the 22d of June, General Hamilton for the first time
called on Mr. Pendleton, and communicated to him the preceding
correspondence. He informed him that, in a conversation with Mr. Van
Ness at the time of receiving the last letter (No. III.), he told Mr.
Van Ness that he considered that letter as rude and offensive, and
that it was not possible for him to give any other answer than that
Mr. Burr must take such steps as he might think proper. He said,
further, that Mr. Van Ness requested him to take time to deliberate,
and then return an answer, when he might possibly entertain a
different opinion, and that he would call on him to receive it. That
his reply to Mr. Van Ness was, that he did not perceive it possible
for him to give any other answer than that he had mentioned, unless
Mr. Burr would take back his last letter, and write one which would
admit of a different reply. He then gave Mr. Pendleton the letter
hereafter mentioned of the 22d of June, to be delivered to Mr. Van
Ness when he should call on Mr. Pendleton for an answer, and went to
his country house."
[After No. V., dated June 23d, is the following:--]
"Mr. Pendleton understood from General Hamilton that he immediately
answered that, if the communication was pressing, he would receive it
at his country house that day; if not, he would be at his house in
town the next morning at nine o'clock. But he did not give Mr.
Pendleton any copy of this note."
[After No. VIII., dated June 22d, is the following:--]
"This letter, although dated on the 22d of June, remained in Mr.
Pendleton's possession until the 25th, within which period he had
several conversations with Mr. Van Ness. In these conversations Mr.
Pendleton endeavoured to illustrate and enforce the propriety of the
ground General Hamilton had taken. Mr. Pendleton mentioned to Mr. Van
Ness as the result, that if Colonel Burr would write a letter,
requesting to know, in substance, whether, in the conversation to
which Dr. Cooper alluded, any particular instance of dishonourable
conduct was imputed to Colonel Burr, or whether there was any
impeachment of his private character, General Hamilton would declare,
to the best of his recollection, what passed in that conversation; and
Mr. Pendleton read to Mr. Van Ness a paper containing the substance of
what General Hamilton would say on that subject, which is as
"General Hamilton says he cannot imagine to what Doctor Cooper may
have alluded, unless it were to a conversation at Mr. Taylor's, in
Albany, last winter (at which he and General Hamilton were present).
General Hamilton cannot recollect distinctly the particulars of that
conversation, so as to undertake to repeat them without running the
risk of varying, or omitting what might be deemed important
circumstances. The expressions are entirely forgotten, and the
specific ideas imperfectly remembered; but, to the best of his
recollection, it consisted of comments on the political principles and
views of Colonel Burr, and the results that might be expected from
them in the event of his election as governor, without reference to
any particular instance of past conduct or to private character."
"After the delivery of the letter of the 22d, as above mentioned, in
another interview with Mr. Van Ness, he desired Mr. Pendleton to give
him, in writing, the substance of what he had proposed on the part of
General Hamilton, which Mr. Pendleton did, in the following words."
[See No. IX] [After No. XII., dated June 27th, is the following:--]
"With this letter a message was received, such as was to be expected,
containing an invitation which was accepted, and Mr. Pendleton
informed Mr. Van Ness he should hear from him the next day as to
"This letter was delivered to General Hamilton on the same evening,
and a very short conversation ensued between him and Mr. Pendleton,
who was to call on him early the next morning for a further
conference. When he did so, General Hamilton said he had not
understood whether the message and answer was definitively concluded,
or whether another meeting was to take place for that purpose between
Mr. Pendleton and Mr. Van Ness. Under the latter impression, and as
the last letter contained matter that naturally led to animadversion,
he gave Mr. Pendleton a paper of remarks in his own handwriting, to be
communicated to Mr. Van Ness, if the state of the affair rendered it
"In an interview with Mr. Van Ness on the same day, after explaining
the causes which had induced General Hamilton to suppose that the
state of the affair did not render it improper, Mr. Pendleton offered
this paper to Mr. Van Ness, but he declined receiving it, alleging
that he considered the correspondence as closed by the acceptance of
the message that he had delivered.
"Mr. Pendleton then informed Mr. Van Ness of the inducements mentioned
by General Hamilton in the paper for at least postponing the meeting
until the close of the circuit; and, as this was uncertain, Mr.
Pendleton was to let him know when it would be convenient."
_Remarks on the letter of June 27, 1804, which Mr. Van Ness declined
"Whether the observations on this letter are designed merely to
justify the result which is indicated in the close of the letter, or
may be intended to give an opening for rendering any thing explicit
which may have been deemed vague heretofore, can only be judged of by
the sequel. At any rate, it appears to me necessary not to be
misunderstood. Mr. Pendleton is therefore authorized to say, that in
the course of the present discussion, written or verbal, there has
been no intention to evade, defy, or insult, but a sincere disposition
to avoid extremities, if it could be done with propriety. With this
view General Hamilton has been ready to enter into a frank and free
explanation on any and every object of a specific nature; but not to
answer a general and abstract inquiry, embracing a period too long for
any accurate recollection, and exposing him to unpleasant criticisms
from, or unpleasant discussions with, any and every person who may
have understood him in an unfavourable sense. This (admitting that he
could answer in a manner the most satisfactory to Colonel Burr) he
should deem inadmissible in principle and precedent, and humiliating
in practice. To this, therefore, he can never submit. Frequent
allusion has been made to slanders said to be in circulation. Whether
they are openly or in whispers, they have a form and shape, and might
"If the alternative alluded to in the close of the letter is
definitively tendered, it must be accepted; the time, place, and
manner to be afterward regulated. I should not think it right, in the
midst of a circuit court, to withdraw my services from those who may
have confided important interests to me, and expose them to the
embarrassment of seeking other counsel, who may not have time to be
sufficiently instructed in their causes. I shall also want a little
time to make some arrangements respecting my own affairs."
"On Friday, the 6th of July, the circuit being closed, Mr. Pendleton
informed Mr. Van Ness that General Hamilton would be ready at any time
after the Sunday following. On Monday the particulars were arranged.
On Wednesday the parties met at Weehawk, on the Jersey shore, at seven
o'clock A.M. The particulars of what then took place appear in the
statement, as agreed upon and corrected by the seconds of the
parties." [See No. XIII.]
DOCTOR DAVID HOSACK TO WILLIAM COLEMAN.
August 17, 1804.
To comply with your request is a painful task; but I will repress my
feelings while I endeavour to furnish you with an enumeration of such
particulars relative to the melancholy end of our beloved friend
Hamilton as dwell most forcibly on my recollection.
When called to him upon his receiving the fatal wound, I found him
half sitting on the ground, supported in the arms of Mr. Pendleton.
His countenance of death I shall never forget. He had at that instant
just strength to say, "This is a mortal wound, doctor;" when he sunk
away, and became to all appearance lifeless. I immediately stripped up
his clothes, and soon, alas! ascertained that the direction of the
ball must have been through some vital part. 
His pulses were not to be felt, his respiration was entirely
suspended, and, upon laying my hand on his heart and perceiving no
motion there, I considered him as irrecoverably gone. I, however,
observed to Mr. Pendleton, that the only chance for his reviving was
immediately to get him upon the water. We therefore lifted him up, and
carried him out of the wood to the margin of the bank, where the
bargemen aided us in conveying him into the boat, which immediately
put off. During all this time I could not discover the least symptom
of returning life. I now rubbed his face, lips, and temples with
spirits of hartshorn, applied it to his neck and breast, and to the
wrists and palms of his hands, and endeavoured to pour some into his
mouth. When we had got, as I should judge, about fifty yards from the
shore, some imperfect efforts to breathe were for the first time
manifest; in a few minutes he sighed, and became sensible to the
impression of the hartshorn or the fresh air of the water. He
breathed; his eyes, hardly opened, wandered, without fixing upon any
object; to our great joy, he at length spoke. "My vision is
indistinct," were his first words. His pulse became more perceptible,
his respiration more regular, his sight returned. I then examined the
wound to know if there was any dangerous discharge of blood; upon
slightly pressing his side it gave him pain, on which I desisted. Soon
after recovering his sight, he happened to cast his eye upon the case
of pistols, and observing the one that he had had in his hand lying on
the outside, he said, "Take care of that pistol; it is undischarged,
and still cocked; it may go off and do harm. Pendleton knows"
(attempting to turn his head towards him) "that I did not intend to
fire at him." "Yes," said Mr. Pendleton, understanding his wish, "I
have already made Dr. Hosack acquainted with your determination as to
that." He then closed his eyes and remained calm, without any
disposition to speak; nor did he say much afterward, except in reply
to my questions. He asked me once or twice how I found his pulse; and
he informed me that his lower extremities had lost all feeling,
manifesting to me that he entertained no hopes that he should long
survive. I changed the posture of his limbs, but to no purpose; they
had entirely lost their sensibility. Perceiving that we approached the
shore, he said, "Let Mrs. Hamilton be immediately sent for; let the
event be gradually broken to her, but give her hopes." Looking up we
saw his friend, Mr. Bayard, standing on the wharf in great agitation.
He had been told by his servant that General Hamilton, Mr. Pendleton,
and myself had crossed the river in a boat together, and too well he
conjectured the fatal errand, and foreboded the dreadful result.
Perceiving, as we came nearer, that Mr. Pendleton and myself only sat
up in the stern sheets, he clasped his hands together in the most
violent apprehension; but when I called to him to have a cot prepared,
and he at the same moment saw his poor friend lying in the bottom of
the boat, he threw up his eyes and burst into a flood of tears and
lamentation. Hamilton alone appeared tranquil and composed. We then
conveyed him as tenderly as possible up to the house. The distresses
of this amiable family were such that, till the first shock was
abated, they were scarcely able to summon fortitude enough to yield
sufficient assistance to their dying friend.
Upon our reaching the house he became more languid, occasioned
probably by the agitation of his removal from the boat. I gave him a
little weak wine and water. When he recovered his feelings, he
complained of pain in his back; we immediately undressed him, laid him
in bed, and darkened the room. I then gave him a large anodyne, which
I frequently repeated. During the first day he took upward of an ounce
of laudanum; and tepid anodyne fomentations were also applied to those
parts nearest the seat of his pain. Yet were his sufferings during the
whole of the day almost intolerable. 
I had not the shadow of a hope of his recovery; and Dr. Post, whom I
requested might be sent for immediately on our reaching Mr. Bayard's
house, united with me in this opinion. General Rey, the French consul,
also had the goodness to invite the surgeons of the French frigates in
our harbour, as they had had much experience in gunshot wounds, to
render their assistance. They immediately came; but, to prevent his
being disturbed, I stated to them his situation, described the nature
of his wound, and the direction of the ball, with all the symptoms
that could enable them to form an opinion as to the event. One of the
gentlemen then accompanied me to the bedside. The result was a
confirmation of the opinion that had already been expressed by Dr.
Post and myself.
During the night he had some imperfect sleep, but the succeeding
morning his symptoms were aggravated, attended, however, with a
diminution of pain. His mind retained all its usual strength and
composure. The great source of his anxiety seemed to be in his
sympathy with his half-distracted--wife and children. He spoke to me
frequently of them--"My beloved wife and children" were always his
expressions. But his fortitude triumphed over his situation, dreadful
as it was; once, indeed, at the sight of his children, brought to the
bedside together, seven in number, his utterance forsook him; he
opened his eyes, gave them one look, and closed them again till they
were taken away. As a proof of his extraordinary composure of mind,
let me add, that he alone could calm the frantic grief of their
mother. _"Remember, my Eliza, you are a Christian,"_ were the
expressions with which he frequently, with a firm voice, but, in a
pathetic and impressive manner, addressed her. His words, and the tone
in which they were uttered, will never be effaced from my memory.
About two o'clock, as the public well know, he expired--
"Incorrupta fides--nudaque veritas
Quando ullum invenient parem?
Multis ille quidem flebilis occidit."
Your friend and humble servant,
"After his death, a note, which had been written the evening before
the interview, was found addressed to the gentleman who accompanied
him to the field; thanking him with tenderness for his friendship to
him, and informing him where would be found the keys of certain
drawers in his desk, in which he had deposited such papers as he had
thought proper to leave behind him, together with his last will."
Among these papers was the following.
On my expected interview with Colonel Burr, I think it proper to make
some remarks explanatory of my conduct, motives, and views.
I was certainly desirous of avoiding this interview for the most
1. My religious and moral principles are strongly opposed to the
practice of duelling, and it would ever give me pain to be obliged to
shed the blood of a fellow-creature in a private combat forbidden by
2. My wife and children are extremely dear to me, and my life is of
the utmost importance to them in various views.
3. I feel a sense of obligation towards my creditors; who, in case of
accident to me, by the forced sale of my property, may be in some
degree sufferers. I did not think myself at liberty, as a man of
probity, lightly to expose them to this hazard.
4. I am conscious of no _ill will_ to Colonel Burr distinct from
political opposition, which, as I trust, has proceeded from pure and
Lastly, I shall hazard much, and can possibly gain nothing by the
issue of the interview.
But it was, as I conceive, impossible for me to avoid it. There were
_intrinsic_ difficulties in the thing, and _artificial_ embarrassments
from the manner of proceeding on the part of Colonel Burr.
_Intrinsic_, because it is not to be denied that my animadversions on
the political principles, character, and views of Colonel Burr have
been extremely severe; and, on different occasions, I, in common with
many others, have made very unfavourable criticisms on particular
instances of the private conduct of this gentleman.
In proportion as these impressions were entertained with sincerity,
and uttered with motives and for purposes which might appear to me
commendable, would be the difficulty (until they could be removed by
evidence of their being erroneous) of explanation or apology. _The
disavowal required of me by Colonel Burr, in a general and definite
form, was out of my power_, if it had really been proper for me to
submit to be so questioned; but I was sincerely of the opinion that
this could not be; and in this opinion I was confirmed by that of a
very moderate and judicious friend whom I consulted. Besides that,
Colonel Burr appeared to me to assume, in the first instance, a tone
unnecessarily peremptory and menacing, and, in the second, positively
offensive. Yet I wished, as far as might be practicable, to leave a
door open for accommodation. This, I think, will be inferred from the
written communications made by me and by my direction, and would be
confirmed by the conversations between Mr. Van Ness and myself which
arose out of the subject.
I am not sure whether, under all the circumstances, I did not go
further in the attempt to accommodate than a punctilious delicacy will
justify. If so, I hope the motives I have stated will excuse me.
It is not my design, by what I have said, to affix any odium on the
character of Colonel Burr in this case. _He doubtless has heard of
animadversions of mine which bore very hard upon him_; and it is
probable that, as usual, they were accompanied with some falsehoods.
He may have supposed himself under a necessity of acting as he has
done. I hope the grounds of his proceeding have been such as ought to
satisfy his own conscience.
I trust, at the same time, that the world will do me the justice to
believe _that I have not censured him on light grounds_ nor from
unworthy inducements. _I certainly have had strong reasons for what I
have said, though it is possible that in some particulars I have been
influenced by misconstruction or misinformation_. It is also my ardent
_wish that I may have been more mistaken than I think I_ have been,
and that he, by his future conduct, may show himself worthy of all
confidence and esteem, and prove an ornament and blessing to the
As well, because it is possible that I may have injured Colonel Burr,
however convinced myself that my opinions and declarations have been
well founded, as from my general principles and temper in relation to
similar affairs, I have resolved, if our interview is conducted in the
usual manner, and it pleases God to give me the opportunity, to
reserve and throw away my first fire, and I have thoughts even of
reserving my second fire, and thus giving a double opportunity to
Colonel Burr to pause and to reflect.
It is not, however, my intention to enter into any explanations on the
ground--apology from principle, I hope, rather than pride, is out of
To those who, with me, abhorring the practice of duelling, may think
that I ought on no account to add to the number of bad examples, I
answer, that my _relative_ situation, as well in public as private,
enforcing all the considerations which men of the world denominate
honour, imposed on me (as I thought) a peculiar necessity not to
decline the call. The ability to be in future useful, whether in
resisting mischief or effecting good, in those crises of our public
affairs which seem likely to happen, would probably be inseparable
from a conformity with prejudice in this particular.
The impression which the death of General Hamilton made on every class
of people in the city of New-York is best described by simply
remarking, that all party distinction was lost in the general
sentiment of respect expressed for the illustrious dead. On Wednesday
morning, the 11th of July, 1804, the parties met; on Thursday, the
12th, General Hamilton died; and on Saturday, the 14th, he was
interred, with military honours, "the Society of the Cincinnati being
charged with the direction of the funeral ceremonies of its
president-general." About noon, the different bodies forming the
procession took their respective places. The body was conducted from
the house of his brother-in-law, John B. Church, Esq., to Trinity
Church, where an appropriate oration was delivered by the Hon.
New-York, July 10, 1804.
Having lately written my will, and given my private letters and papers
in charge to you, I have no other direction to give you on the subject
but to request you to burn all such as, if by accident made public,
would injure any person. This is more particularly applicable to the
letters of my female correspondents. All my letters, and copies of
letters, of which I have retained copies, are in the six blue boxes.
If your husband or any one else (no one, however, could do it so well
as he) should think it worth while to write a sketch of my life, some
materials will be found among these letters.
Tell my dear Natalie that I have not left her any thing, for the very
good reason that I had nothing to leave to any one. My estate will
just about pay my debts and no more--I mean, if I should die this
year. If I live a few years, it is probable things may be better. Give
Natalie one of the pictures of me. There are three in this house; that
of Stewart, and two by Vanderlyn. Give her any other little tokens she
may desire. One of those pictures, also, I pray you to give to Doctor
Eustis. To Bartow something--what you please.
I pray you and your husband to convey to Peggy the small lot, not
numbered, which is the fourth article mentioned in my list of
property. It is worth about two hundred and fifty dollars. Give her
also fifty dollars in cash as a reward for her fidelity. Dispose of
Nancy as you please. She is honest, robust, and good-tempered. Peter
is the most intelligent and best-disposed black I have ever known. (I
mean the black boy I bought last fall from Mr. Turnbull.) I advise
you, by all means, to keep him as the valet of your son. Persuade
Peggy to live with you if you can.
I have desired that my wearing apparel be given to Frederic. Give him
also a sword or pair of pistols.
Burn immediately a small bundle, tied with a red string, which you
will find in the little flat writing-case--that which we used with the
curricle. The bundle is marked _"Put."_
The letters of _Clara_ (the greater part of them) are tied up in a
white handkerchief, which you will find in the blue box No. 5. You may
hand them to Mari, if you please. My letters to Clara are in the same
bundle. You, and by-and-by Aaron Burr Alston, may laugh at _gamp_ when
you look over this nonsense.
Many of the letters of _Clara_ will be found among my ordinary
letters, filed and marked, sometimes _"Clara"_, sometimes "L."
I am indebted to you, my dearest Theodosia, for a very great portion
of the happiness which I have enjoyed in this life. You have
completely satisfied all that my heart and affections had hoped or
even wished. With a little more perseverance, determination, and
industry, you will obtain all that my ambition or vanity had fondly
imagined. Let your son have occasion to be proud that he had a mother.
I have directed that the flat writing-case and the blue box No. 5,
both in the library, be opened only by you. There are six of these
blue boxes, which contain my letters and copies of letters, except
those two clumsy quarto volumes, in which letter-press copies are
pasted. They are somewhere in the library. The keys of the other five
boxes are in No. 5.
It just now occurs to me to give poor dear Frederic my watch. I have
already directed my executors here to give him my wearing apparel.
When you come hither you must send for Frederic, and open your whole
heart to him. He loves _me_ almost as much as Theodosia does; and he
does love _you_ to adoration.
I have just now found four packets of letters between _Clara and
Mentor_ besides those in the handkerchief. I have thrown them loose
into box No. 5. What a medley you will find in that box!
The seal of the late General Washington, which you will find in the
blue box No. 5, was given to me by Mr. and Mrs. Law. You may keep it
for your son, or give it to whom you please.
Assure Mrs. Law of my latest recollection. Adieu. Adieu.
TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
New-York, July 10, 1804.
MY DEAR SIR,
You will find enclosed a statement of my affairs. Swartwout and Van
Ness are joint executors with you and Theodosia. It was indispensable
that there should be an executor on the spot. I have directed them to
sell immediately my horses, and to sell nothing else until your
pleasure shall be known. I pray that Theodosia may be consulted and
gratified in this particular.
Explanations of every concern of my property is given in two sheets of
paper which accompany my will. The enclosed is an abstract.
It would have been a great satisfaction to me to have had your
assurance that you would assume my debts, and take and dispose of the
property at discretion. It may be done in a way which you would find a
convenience. My creditors would take your assumption at such time as
you might judge convenient. The property will, undoubtedly, produce
more than the amount of my debts. What you may not incline to keep may
be forthwith turned into cash.
The library, maps, pictures, and wine are articles which you will
need, and which you cannot procure without great trouble and more
money. I think, too, you would do well to retain Richmond Hill, as a
more convenient residence than Montalto, particularly as no expense
will be necessary for buildings or improvements.
My private letters I have directed to be put in the hands of
Theodosia, that she may select from them her own, those of her mother,
and some others. Among them and my copies you will find much of
trifling, something of amusement, and a little of interest.
Get from Mr. Taylor (the younger), of Columbia or Camden, my letters
to his brother-in-law, the late J.E. Hunt, who was one of your
Messrs. R. Bunner, William Duer, John Duer, and J.W. Smith, of this
city, and John Van Ness Yates, of Albany, all lawyers and young men of
talents, have manifested great and disinterested zeal in my favour on
some recent occasions. 
I pray you to take some notice of them, and give to each of them, and
to William T. Broome, now in Paris, some small token of remembrance of
me. William T. Broome, with great defects of temper, unites very
considerable literary talents and acquirements. A little attention
would attach them all to you.
My very worthy friend, Charles Biddle, of Philadelphia, has six or
seven sons--three of them grown up. With different characters and
various degrees of intelligence, they will all be men of eminence and
of influence. Call to see the father when you pass through
Philadelphia, and receive the sons kindly.
I have taught my friends in every quarter to look to you as my
representative. There are many of them, your discernment will
distinguish which, on whose loyalty and firmness you may rely through
I have called out General Hamilton, and we meet tomorrow morning. Van
Ness will give you the particulars. The preceding has been written in
contemplation of this event. If it should be my lot to fall, * * * * *
* * * yet I shall live in you and your son. I commit to you all that
is most dear to me--my reputation and my daughter. Your talents and
your attachment will be the guardian of the one--your kindness and
your generosity of the other. Let me entreat you to stimulate and aid
Theodosia in the cultivation of her mind. It is indispensable to her
happiness and essential to yours. It is also of the utmost importance
to your son. She would presently acquire a critical knowledge of
Latin, English, and all branches of natural philosophy. All this would
be poured into your son. If you should differ with me as to the
importance of this measure, suffer me to ask it of you as a last
favour. She will richly compensate your trouble.
Most affectionately adieu,
The elder Prevost,  Augustine James Frederic Prevost, is a most
amiable and honourable man. Under the garb of coarse rusticity you
will find, if you know him, refinement, wit, a delicate sense of
propriety, the most inflexible intrepidity, incorruptible integrity,
and disinterestedness. I wish you could know him; but it would be
difficult, by reason of his diffidence and great reluctance to mingle
with the world. It has been a source of extreme regret and
mortification to me that he should be lost to society and to his
friends. The case seems almost remediless, for, alas! _he is married!_
If you can pardon and indulge a folly, I would suggest that Madame
Sansay, too well known under the name of Leonora, has claims on my
recollection. She is now with her husband at St. Jago of Cuba.
1. Colonel Burr then resided at Richmond Hill.
2. For the satisfaction of some of General Hamilton's friends, I
examined his body after death, in presence of Dr. Post and two other
gentlemen. I discovered that the ball struck the second or third false
rib, and fractured it about in the middle; it then passed through the
liver and diaphragm, and, as far as we could ascertain without a
minute examination, lodged in the first or second lumbar vertebra. The
vertebra in which it was lodged was considerably splintered, so that
the spiculae were distinctly perceptible to the finger. About a pint
of clotted blood was found in the cavity of the belly, which had
probably been effused from the divided vessels of the liver.
3. As his habit was delicate, and had been lately rendered more feeble
by ill health, particularly by a disorder of the stomach and bowels, I
carefully avoided all those remedies which are usually indicated on
4. They supported Colonel Burr for the office of governor in
opposition to Morgan Lewis.
5. Mrs. Burr's son by her first husband, Colonel Prevost, of the
TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
New-York, July 13, 1804.
GENERAL HAMILTON died yesterday. The malignant federalists or tories,
and the imbittered Clintonians, unite in endeavouring to excite public
sympathy in his favour and indignation against his antagonist.
Thousands of absurd falsehoods are circulated with industry. The most
illiberal means are practised in order to produce excitement, and, for
the moment, with effect.
I propose leaving town for a few days, and meditate also a journey for
some weeks, but whither is not resolved. Perhaps to Statesburgh. You
will hear from me again in about eight days.
TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
July 18, 1804.
The event of which you have been advised has driven me into a sort of
exile, and may terminate in an actual and permanent ostracism. Our
most unprincipled Jacobins are the loudest in their lamentations for
the death of General Hamilton, whom, for many years, they have
uniformly represented as the most detestable and unprincipled of
men--the motives are obvious. Every sort of persecution is to be
exercised against me. A coroner's jury will sit this evening, being
the _fourth_ time. The object of this unexampled measure is to obtain
an inquest of murder. Upon this a warrant will issue to apprehend me,
and, if I should be taken, no bail would probably be allowed. You know
enough of the temper and principles of the generality of the officers
of our state government to form a judgment of my position.
The statement  in the Morning Chronicle was not submitted to my
perusal, I being absent at the time of the publication. Several
circumstances not very favourable to the deceased are suppressed; I
presume, from holy reverence for the dead. I am waiting the report of
this jury; when that is known, you shall be advised of my movements.
At present I have decided on nothing. Write under cover to Charles
July 20, 1804.
La G. has, on a recent occasion, manifested a degree of sensibility
and attachment which have their influence on _gamp_. Her conduct is
also highly honourable to the independence of her mind, for all her
associations and connexions would lead to a different result. An
interview is expected this evening, which, if it take place, will
terminate in something definitive.
It was, indeed, a pretty ludicrous description which you received. On
the other side you may add, real good-temper and cheerfulness; a good
education, according to the estimation of the world. I shall journey
somewhere within a few days, but whither is not yet decided. My heart
will travel southward, and repose on the hills of Santee.
Adieu, my dear child.
TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
Philadelphia, July 29, 1804.
The coroner's jury continued to the 26th (my last New-York date) to
sit and adjourn. Upon suspicion that my friends had some knowledge of
the subject, derived either from Van Ness or me, _warrants_ have
issued to bring them in to testify. Matthew L. Davis was apprehended,
and, refusing to answer, was committed to prison, where he now lies;
probably Colonel Willett is now also in jail on the same account.
Swartwout, Van Ness, and others are secreted. How long this sort of
persecution may endure cannot be conjectured.
The ferment, which was with so much industry excited, has subsided,
and public opinion begins to take its proper course.
FROM JOHN SWARTWOUT.
New-York, August 2, 1804.
I was interrupted in my letter yesterday. The jury agreed to their
verdict this morning at _two_ o'clock, _viz_., wilful murder by the
hand of A. B. William P. Van Ness and Nathaniel Pendleton accessories
before the fact. The only evidence, Bishop Moore. Edward Ferris, James
Ferris, and a Mr. Milne dissented, and contemplate a protest against
the illegal conduct of the coroner. Their counsel is James Woods. At
four o'clock this morning I despatched an express to Van Ness. The
printers, you perceive, continue their malevolence through the vilest
motives; notwithstanding all this, there is a considerable reaction.
The public palate has become satiated. The Nicholsons, the Gelstons,
the Mills's, and may other demo's are rapidly travelling back to 1800.
Mr. P. called and begged that the Chronicle might still be kept
silent. He observed, that he mixed with these people, and found it to
be the true policy. Although this is not my opinion, yet we must be
governed by the advice of the majority.
The oration (by Gouverneur Morris) has displeased many republicans of
the first water. Governor Morgan Lewis speaks of the proceedings
openly as disgraceful, illiberal, and ungentlemanly. In short, a
little more noise on their side, and a little further magnanimity on
ours, is all that is necessary. In all this bustle, judicious men see
nothing but the workings of the meanest passions. The Salem Gazette
and the Boston Chronicle seem to take the most correct ground.
TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
Philadelphia, August 3, 1804.
The preceding is a summary of the intelligence by this day's mail. The
purport of the inquest is confirmed by a letter from J.B.P. I am
further advised that an application has been made to Governor Lewis,
of New-York, requiring him to demand me of the governor of this state,
with which Lewis will most probably be obliged to comply. I shall,
nevertheless, remain here some days (from 8 to 20), that I may the
better know the measures of the enemy. _Have no anxiety about the
issue of this business._
Philadelphia, August 2, 1804.
Your letters of the 8th and 18th of July are received; the latter
yesterday. You must not complain or find fault if I omit to answer, or
even to write. Don't let me have the idea that you are dissatisfied
with me a moment. I can't just now endure it. At another time you may
play the Juno if you please. Your letters amuse and console me.
Continue to write with this reliance, and without the expectation of
pay in kind. I owe you no thanks for a letter if you demand prompt
payment to the full amount.
All you write of the boy represents him such as I would have him. His
refusal of the peaches reminded me of his mother. Just so she has done
fifty times, and just so I kissed her; but then I did not give her
Nothing can be done with Celeste. There is a strange indecision and
timidity which I cannot fathom. The thing, however, is abandoned; and,
for a few months, I believe, all such things.
I shall be here for some days. How many cannot now be resolved. I am
very well, and not without occupation or amusement. Nothing would give
me so much pleasure as to hear that your time, or any part of it, is
Philadelphia, August 3, 1804.
You will have learned, through Mr. Alston, of certain measures
pursuing against me in New-York. I absent myself from home merely to
give a little time for passions to subside, not from any apprehension
of the final effects of proceedings in courts of law. They can, by no
possibility, eventually affect my person. You will find the papers
filled with all manner of nonsense and lies. Among other things,
accounts of attempts to assassinate me. These, I assure you, are mere
fables. Those who wish me dead prefer to keep at a very respectful
distance. No such attempt has been made nor will be made. I walk and
ride about here as usual.
Philadelphia, August 11, 1804.
Your letter of the 25th July finds me in a moment of great occupation,
being on the point of embarking for St. Simons. Write to me on receipt
of this, and enclose to the postmaster at Darien, Georgia. The letter
to me to be addressed to A. B., at Hampton, St. Simons; and pray write
over again all you have written since the 25th, for the letters now on
the way will not be received for some time. I shall lay a plan for
meeting you somewhere, but whether I may have it in my power to visit
the high hills of Santee is doubtful; I fear improbable. They say
there is no going through the flat country at this season without
hazard of life. Consult your husband about this, and write me as above
directed. You shall hear from me the moment of my arrival anywhere;
that is, I shall write, and you may read as soon as you can get the
If any male friend of yours should be dying of ennui, recommend to him
to engage in a duel and a courtship at the same time--prob. est.
Celeste seems more pliant. I do believe that eight days would have
produced some grave event; but, alas! those eight days, and perhaps
eight days more, are to be passed on the ocean.
My love to Natalie; to her girl and your boy. I have received a very
charming letter from her, which shall be noticed when I get the other
side of you. Adieu.
TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
Philadelphia, August 11, 1804.
Your letters of the 21st and 25th July are just now received, and I
have barely time to read them and transmit your orders to New-York
My plan is to visit the Floridas for five or six weeks. I have desired
Theodosia to consult you whether there be any healthy point within a
hundred miles or so of St. Simons at which we might meet. Might I
safely travel through your low country at this season?
Theodosia fat and the boy pale are bad omens. For God's sake, or
rather for theirs, your own, and mine, hurry them off to the
mountains. I could, perhaps, as easily find you there as elsewhere.
Warrants have been issued in New-York against all those charged with
an agency in the death of General Hamilton, but no requisition or
demand has been made by the governor of that state on this or any
other, nor does it seem very probable that such demand will be
I am negotiating to get an assurance from authority that I shall be
bailed, on receipt of which I shall surrender.
The eastern republicans take part against the calumniators in
New-York. Swartwout is now here. He thinks the tide has already turned
in New-York. You had better open a correspondence with him.
Hampton, St. Simon's, August 28, 1804.
We arrived on Saturday evening, all well. The mail, which arrives but
once a week, had just gone. An accidental opportunity enables me to
forward this to Savannah.
I am at the house of Major Butler, comfortably settled. A very
agreeable family within half a mile. My project is to go next week to
Florida, which may take up a fortnight or ten days, and soon after my
return to go northward, by Augusta and Columbia, if I can find ways
and means to get on; but I have no horse, nor does this country
furnish one. In my letter to your husband, written at the moment of
leaving Philadelphia, I desired him to name some place (healthy place)
at which he could meet me. Enclose to "Mr. R. King, Hampton, St.
St. Simon's, August 31, 1804.
I am now quite settled. My establishment consists of a housekeeper,
cook, and chambermaid, seamstress, and two footmen. There are,
besides, two fishermen and four bargemen always at command. The
department of laundress is done abroad. The plantation affords plenty
of milk, cream, and butter; turkeys, fowls, kids, pigs, geese, and
mutton; fish, of course, in abundance. Of figs, peaches, and melons
there are yet a few. Oranges and pomegranates just begin to be
eatable. The house affords Madeira wine, brandy, and porter. Yesterday
my neighbour, Mr. Couper, sent me an assortment of French wines,
consisting of Claret, Sauterne, and Champagne, all excellent; and at
least a twelve months' supply of orange shrub, which makes a most
delicious punch. Madame Couper added sweetmeats and pickles. The
plantations of Butler and Couper are divided by a small creek, and the
houses within one quarter of a mile of each other; accessible,
however, only by water. We have not a fly, moscheto, or bug. I can sit
a whole evening, with open windows and lighted candles, without the
least annoyance from insects; a circumstance which I have never beheld
in any other place. I have not even seen a cockroach.
At Mr. Couper's, besides his family, there are three young ladies,
visitors. One of them arrived about three months ago from France, to
join a brother who had been shipwrecked on this coast, liked the
country so much that he resolved to settle here, and sent for this
sister and a younger brother. About the time of their arrival, the
elder brother was accidentally drowned; the younger went with views to
make an establishment some miles inland, where he now lies dangerously
ill. Both circumstances are concealed from the knowledge of
Mademoiselle Nicholson. In any event, she will find refuge and
protection in the benevolent house of Mr. Couper.
The cotton in this neighbourhood, on the coast southward to the
extremity of Florida, and northward as far as we have heard, has been
totally destroyed. The crop of Mr. C. was supposed to be worth one
hundred thousand dollars, and not an extravagant estimate, for he has
eight hundred slaves. He will not get enough to pay half the expenses
of the plantation. Yet he laughs about it with good humour and without
affectation. Butler suffers about half this loss. Part of his force
had been turned to rice. My travelling companion, secretary, and
aid-de-camp is Samuel Swartwout, the youngest brother of John, a very
amiable young man of twenty or twenty-one.
Now, verily, were it not for the intervention of one hundred miles of
low, swampy, pestiferous country, I would insist on your coming to see
me, all, all! Little _gamp_, and Mademoiselle Sum_tare_, and their
appendages; for they are the principals.
I still propose to visit Florida. To set off in three or four days,
and to return hither about the 16th of September; beyond this I have
at present no plan. It is my wish, God knows how ardently I wish, to
return by land, and pass a week with you; but, being without horses,
and there being no possibility of hiring or buying, the thing seems
scarcely practicable. Two modes only offer themselves--either to
embark in the kind of mail stage which goes from Darien through
Savannah, Augusta, and Columbia, to Camden, or to take a water passage
either to Charleston or Georgetown. Either of these being
accomplished, new difficulties will occur in getting from Statesburgh
northward. I must be at New-York the first week in November. Consult
your husband, and write me of these matters. Enclose to Mr. Roswell
King, which I repeat, lest my former letters should not have been
received. Our mail has just arrived, but has brought me no letter.
I erred a little in my history of the family of Mademoiselle N. There
are still two brothers here. One a man d'une certaine age. Though not
wealthy, they are not destitute of property.
Mr. C. has just now gone with his boat for the dashers who live about
thirty miles southwest on the main. He has requested me to escort
Madame C. on Sunday to his plantation on the south end of this island,
where we are to meet him and his party on Monday, and bring them home
in our coach. Madame C. is still young, tall, comely, and well bred.
I have been studying all the maps and gazetteers to discover the best
access to Statesburgh. Georgetown seems to be the nearest port; but
whether there be thence a direct road, I cannot discover. Does our
friend Doctor Blythe still reside at Georgetown? If so, I should
repose on him for the means of transportation. Desire Mari to write to
him to aid me in case I should take that route. If I should go to
Charleston, meaning to Sullivan's Island, for Charleston I shall at
this season most certainly avoid, I should put myself on General
M'Pherson, who, I hear, is now living there with his family; thence up
the Cooper river, about four miles above the town, is a ferryhouse and
tavern on the north side, and thence by Strawberry, where is the best
tavern in the state, is a very direct and beautiful road, and thence,
according to the maps, a very straight road to the high hills of
Santee. But how to get from that ferryhouse is a question I cannot
resolve. All these circumstances are mentioned that I may have your
advice, meaning that of your husband. And, after all, it is possible
that I may not be able to find a passage either to Charleston or
Georgetown, and so be obliged to sail for New-York. Will close this
letter, for to-morrow it must go to the postoffice at Darien, which is
only about twenty-two miles distant.
In one of Mr. Alston's letters he spoke of taking you and A. B. A. to
the mountains; and, in a letter which I wrote him from Philadelphia, I
proposed to meet you in the mountains. Now, for aught which I as yet
know, it will be as easy for me to get to the mountains, or to the
Alps, or the Andes, as to Statesburgh, and therefore, as before, I
Do yon recollect the second daughter of Mr. Barclay, of Philadelphia,
the sister of Nelly? She has grown up the very image of her sister. I
saw her very often while I was last in Philadelphia. She talked
perpetually of you, and made me promise that I would tell you so.
Adieu, my dear Theodosia. Remember that I have not received a letter
from you since that of the 22d or 25th of July. I forget which was the
date. I have no faith in the climate of your high hills, surrounded as
they are by noxious swamps. God bless and preserve thee.
St. Simon's, September 3, 1804.
You see me returned from Gaston's Bluff, now called _Hamilton's
Bluff_, a London merchant, partner of Mr. Couper. We were four in the
carriage; the three ladies and myself.
Mr. Morse informs you that this island is forty-five miles long, and
that it lies north of the mouth Altamaha, commonly spelled Alatamaha.
It is, in fact, twelve and a half miles in length, and lies southeast
of that river. Its width is about two and a half miles. There are now
residing on the island about twenty-five white families. Frederica,
now known only by the name of _Old Town_, is on the west side of the
island, and about midway between its northern and southern
extremities. It was first settled by Governor Oglethorpe, and was,
about fifty years ago, a very gay place, consisting of perhaps
twenty-five or thirty houses. The walls of several of them still
remain. Three or four families only now reside here. In the vicinity
of the town several ruins were pointed out to me, as having been,
formerly, country seats of the governor, and officers of the garrison,
and gentlemen of the town. At present, nothing can be more gloomy than
what was once called Frederica. The few families now remaining, or
rather residing there, for they are all new-comers, have a sickly,
melancholy appearance, well assorted with the ruins which surround
them. The southern part of this island abounds with fetid swamps,
which must render it very unhealthy. On the northern half I have seen
no stagnant water.
Mr. Couper, with his escort of ladies, was to have met us this
afternoon, but he has sent us word that he is taken ill on the way;
that, owing to illness in the family of the ladies who were to have
accompanied him, they have been obliged to renounce the visit. We
therefore returned as we went. At Frederica and Gaston's Bluff we were
convinced that insects can subsist on this island. Moschetoes, flies,
and cockroaches abounded.
Thursday, September 6, 1804
Just returned from Darien. And what took you to Darien? To see the
plantation of Mr. Butler on an island opposite that town, and to meet
a day sooner the letters which I expected from you. In the last object
I have been again disappointed, which I ascribe wholly to the
irregularity of the mails. It is most mortifying and vexatious to be
seven weeks without hearing of you or from you, and now a whole week
must elapse before I can expect it.
You are probably ignorant that Darien is a settlement (called a town)
on the north bank of the Alatamaha, about eight miles from its mouth.
Major Butler's Island in this river is one mile below the town. It
must become a fine rice country, for the water is fresh four miles
below Major Butler's, and the tide rises from four to five feet, and
the flats or swamps are from five to seven miles in width for a
considerable distance up the river. The country, of course, presents
no scenes for a painter. I visited Little St. Simon's and several
other islands; frightened the crocodiles, shot some rice-birds, and
caught some trout. Honey of fine flavour is found in great abundance
in the woods about the mouth of the river, and, for aught I know, in
every part of the country. You perceive that I am constantly
discovering new luxuries for my table. Not having been able to kill a
crocodile (alligator), I have offered a reward for one, which I mean
to eat, dressed in soup, fricassees, and steaks. Oh! how you long to
partake of this repast.
Wednesday, September 12, 1804.
On Friday last, hearing that Mr. Couper had returned and was very
seriously ill, I took a small canoe with two boys, and went to see
him. He lay in a high fever. When about to return in the evening, the
wind had risen so that, after an ineffectual attempt, I was obliged to
give it up, and remain at Mr. C.'s. In the morning the wind was still
higher. It continued to rise, and by noon blew a gale from the north,
which, together with the swelling of the water, became alarming. From
twelve to three, several of the out-houses had been destroyed; most of
the trees about the house were blown down. The house in which we were
shook and rocked so much that Mr. C. began to express his
apprehensions for our safety. Before three, part of the piazza was
carried away; two or three of the windows bursted in. The house was
inundated with water, and presently one of the chimneys fell. Mr. C.
then commanded a retreat to a storehouse about fifty yards off, and we
decamped, men, women, and children. You may imagine, in this scene of
confusion and dismay, a good many incidents to amuse one if one had
dared to be amused in a moment of much anxiety. The house, however,
did not blow down. The storm continued till four, and then very
suddenly abated, and in ten minutes it was almost a calm. I seized the
moment to return home. Before I had got quite over, the gale rose from
the southeast and threatened new destruction. It lasted great part of
the night, but did not attain the violence of that from the north; yet
it contributed to raise still higher the water, which was the
principal instrument of devastation. The flood was about seven feet
above the height of an ordinary high tide. This has been sufficient to
inundate great part of the coast; to destroy all the rice; to carry
off most of the buildings which were on low lands, and to destroy the
lives of many blacks. The roads are rendered impassable, and scarcely
a boat has been preserved. Thus all intercourse is suspended. The
mail-boat, which ought to have passed northward last Saturday, and by
which it was intended to forward this letter, has not been heard of.
This will go by a man who will attempt to get from Darien to Savannah
on foot, being sent express by the manager of Major Butler; but how,
or whether it will go on from Savannah, is not imagined.
Major Butler has lost nineteen negroes (drowned), and I fear his whole
crop of rice, being about two hundred and sixty acres. Mr. Brailsford,
of Charleston, who cultivates in rice an island at the mouth of the
Alatamaha, has lost, reports say, seventy-four blacks. The banks and
the buildings on the low lands are greatly injured. We have heard
nothing from the southward, nor farther than from Darien northward. I
greatly fear that this hurricane, so it is here called, has extended
to the Waccama.
The illness of Mr. C., which still continues, and the effects of the
storm, have defeated all my plans. To get to Florida seems now
impracticable; nor do any present means occur of getting from this
island in any direction. Young Swartwout, who went ten days ago to
Savannah, has not returned, nor is it possible that he should very
speedily return. I have not received a letter since my arrival from
any person north of Savannah (yes, one from C. Biddle, of 19th
August), nor do I expect one for many days to come.
I had taken up another sheet to say something more, I know not what;
but the appearance of a fine sheep's-head smoking on the table has
attractions not to be resisted. _Laissez moi diner_, "and then," &c.
_Madame j'ais bien diner_, and _j'ai fait mettre mon_ writing-desk
_sur le table a diner_. What a scandalous thing to sit here all alone
drinking Champagne--and yet--(_madame je bois a votre sante et a celle
de monsieur_ votre fils)--and yet, I say, if Champagne be that
exhilarating cordial which (_je bois a la sante de Madame Sumtare_)
songs and rumour ascribe to it (_a la sante de Mademoiselle Sumtare_),
can there be ever an occasion in which its application could be more
appropriate, or its virtues more (_mais buvons a la sante de mon hote
et bon ami_, Major Butler). By-the-by, you have no idea--how should
you have, seeing that you never heard a word about it?--you have no
idea, I was going to say, of the zeal and animation, of the
intrepidity and frankness with which he avowed and maintained--but I
forget that this letter goes to Savannah by a negro, who has to swim
half a dozen creeks, in one of which, _at least_, it is probable he
may drown, and that, if he escape drowning, various other accidents
may bring it to you through the newspapers, and then how many enemies
might my indiscretion create for a man who had the sensibility and the
honour to feel and to judge, and the firmness to avow (_a la sante de
Celeste un_ bumper toast). _La pauvre Celeste_. Adieu.
Frederica, St. Simon's, September 15, 1804.
Having very unexpectedly procured a boat, I left my house yesterday
afternoon, came hither by land, and proceed in a few minutes for St.
Mary's. It is possible that I may extend my tour to St. John's, and
even to St. Augustine's; but, if so, it will be very rapid; a mere
flight, for I propose to be at home (Hampton, St. Simon's) again in
On the 12th I sent by a special messenger, who was to go from Darien
to Savannah on foot, my journal for the ten or fifteen days preceding,
with some account of the hurricane; but a man this day from Darien
says that our express can by no possibility reach Savannah; for that
every bridge and causeway is destroyed, and the road so filled with
fallen trees as to be utterly impassable. I apprehend that the roads
on the whole coast as far north, at least, as Cape Hatteras, are in
the same condition. If on my return I should receive intelligence
confirming those apprehensions, it will compel me to abandon the hope
of seeing you until the last of February. On this, as on all other
occasions, let me find that you exhibit the firmness which I have been
proud to ascribe to you. Let me hear that you are seriously engaged in
some useful pursuit. Let me see the progressive improvement of your
mind, and it will console me for all the evils of life.
My young friend Swartwout is still absent, and I suppose at Savannah.
It is not probable that I shall see him again before my return to
A Mr. Bartram, of Philadelphia, travelled through Georgia and the
Floridas in 1772. His travels are published in one large octavo
volume. Procure and read it, and you will better understand what I may
write you. I promise myself much gratification in this little trip. If
an opportunity should offer for Charleston by water, I shall venture a
letter to you. This will be forwarded before my return; if not, it
will lay here. I am writing to you before sunrise, and am now summoned
to the boat (canoe).
Hampton, St. Simon's, September 26, 1804.
I returned yesterday from my Florida excursion, about which I wrote
you on the 15th inst. The weather prevented me from going farther than
the river St. John's, about thirty miles from St. Augustine. I have
been making out for you a journal of my tour, but I still entertain a
slight hope of seeing you somewhere within a fortnight; if at all, it
will be by the 10th of October. Pray keep yourselves in readiness to
meet me at Columbia, or still more southward if I should require it.
Not a line from you or your husband since those of the 25th of July.
Your letters have either been lost in the hurricane or are now in the
mail-boat, which, by some mistake, has brought down the Darien mail
and carried it on more southward, so that it will not reach Darien
till I am off; yet I entertain a hope of finding letters at Savannah.
A boat has at length been found to take me to Savannah, and thither I
go to-morrow, or rather set out, for I shall not reach it till the
30th instant. What course I shall take thence will be determined by
what I may hear at that city. You will have a line from me as soon as
I arrive there; meaning always that the line will be written, and sent
on by the first mail, to get to you as soon as it can.
It is a fact that the Spanish ladies smoke segars. They say that a
young lady will take a few puffs and hand it to her favoured lover as
a mark of great kindness. This rumour, however, I cannot verify from
personal observation, much less have I to boast of any such favour.
But we will talk of these things if we should meet; if not, we will
write about them.
I was treated with great kindness and respect at St. Mary's, and have
everywhere experienced the utmost hospitality. My health has been
perfect and uninterrupted. God bless thee.
Savannah, October 1, 1804. Ten o'clock A.M., arrived in a storm
(northeast). They had last evening a minor hurricane here, for the
special use of this city. It overset some canoes, drowned a few
negroes, unroofed some houses, and forced in a few windows. It was the
affair of a few minutes, confined to a small space, and did no other
mischief that I learn.
My last letter to you was from St. Simon's, about the 27th ult., the
day previous to my departure. My voyage hither was full of variety,
and not of the most pleasant kind, but no accident to affect health.
My first reflection on landing was that I was one hundred miles nearer
to you; but my inquiries since my arrival afford no prospect of
getting on by land, except by the purchase of horses, to which there
is one insuperable objection. The condition of the roads has not yet
admitted of travelling northward or westward in a carriage. The mail
goes on horseback.
Not a line from any creature north of this place since I left
Philadelphia. I hear, however, that the Darien mail, which I passed at
Frederica, as mentioned with vexation in my last, had letters for me,
doubtless from you.
I was kindly interrupted in these idle regrets by visitors, who
continued in succession till dinner was announced. At the
lodging-house, where rooms were provided for me, were the governor, a
Scotch merchant, and a sea captain. In the evening a band of music
came under the window, which I supposed to be a compliment to the
governor, till one of the gentlemen who accompanied it came in and
said that a number of citizens at the door wished to see the
vice-president. Interrupted again.
Tuesday, October 2.
Firstly, your pardon is craved for this torn sheet; it was entire when
I commenced, but one half went last night to answer a note, there
being no paper in the house, and Peter abroad with my key. You have
not, I think, been introduced to Peter, my _now_ valet. It is a black
boy purchased last fall. An intelligent, good-tempered, willing
fellow, about fifteen; a dirty, careless dog, who, with the best
intentions, is always in trouble by sins of omission or commission.
The latter through inadvertence, and often through excess of zeal.
About three times a day, sometimes oftener, I get angry enough to
choke him, but his honesty and good-nature prevail. In my will, made
about the 10th of July, I recommend him to you as valet to A.B.A.
I have been this morning scouring the town and the docks in quest of
ways and means to get on. There is a packet which will sail for
Charleston on Saturday; a great way off to one so impatient as the
writer of this. No stage nor a horse to be hired. Finding that the
mail does not close till seven this evening, this letter shall be kept
open till the last moment, and shall not be closed till I have settled
some plan of getting forward, either to Statesburgh or New-York. It
will, I think, be Statesburgh. Six hours hence you shall know. Have
patience, my dear child, for six hours.
Lest I should forget it, let me now tell you that I am received with
the warmest hospitality. Notwithstanding the desolation occasioned by
the hurricane (and it is truly distressing), I have invitations which
it would require weeks to satisfy. These attentions are almost
exclusively from republicans.
Four o'clock P. M.
_Io triumphe!_ A letter; two, three letters. Two from you and one from
your husband. Since writing I have had other good luck; _viz_., two
gentlemen have offered me each an excellent horse to go as far as
Statesburgh by any route I may please. Another horse, and I am made.
Note, my young friend Swartwout is with me, and I cannot well part
with him. If another horse shall be found, I shall take the route
through Orangeburgh, as being the most direct to Statesburgh. If the
land route shall for any reason be found impracticable, I shall take
possession of a Charleston packet, and perhaps take it on to
Georgetown. By one way or the other you shall see me within ten or
twelve days. Tell Mari that his letter being received this afternoon,
and the postmaster having just now sent me word that the mail is about
to close, I can only answer him thus.
You are now to keep your ground and expect me at the hills. Pray let
A.B.A. know that _gamp_ is a black man, otherwise he may be shocked at
the appearance of A.B., who is now about the colour of Peter Yates.
Not brown, but a true quadroon yellow; whether from the effects of
climate, or travelling four hundred miles in a canoe, is no matter.
Fayetteville, October 23, 1804. I get on as usual; arrived here this
forenoon, but detained all day by some trifling repairs to the
carriage. I promised you a journal in the manner of modern travels, to
show you how such books could be made without facts or ideas. My first
four days, to wit, from Statesburgh to this place, would, I find, from
notes which I have actually taken, make about one hundred pages, and
two hundred in the manner of Rochefoucault d'Liancourt; but the labour
of so much writing has alarmed and almost discouraged me.
No more pauses, not even for weather, till Richmond, distant two
hundred miles, and proposed to be travelled in five days. I know no
person in this place but Mr. Grove, late member of Congress, who has
not called on me. Tell your husband that I have heard nothing worthy
of being communicated. Since I began to write it has begun to rain, as
if to test my determination not to be stopped by weather. Adieu, chere
Warrenton, October 27, 1804.
We parted at Fayetteville. The morning following I started one hour
before day, the moon showing us the way, and, at about seven or eight
in the evening, was at Raleigh, being full fifty miles. It was a hard
day's journey, and greater than will be made again on this trip. The
fatigues of the day were in some measure compensated by the very
hospitable reception which I met from the _negroes_ of the capital of
North Carolina. I reposed till nine the next morning, and came the
next day only to Louisburgh (twenty-nine miles), where I slept in the
little up-stairs room which you once occupied; but there is a new
landlord. The Jew is broke up. The wind had been two days strong at
northeast, threatening a storm, and raining a little from time to
time. Last night it came on in earnest, raining and blowing
vehemently. So I lay abed again till nine, and, after breakfasting for
two hours, set off at eleven in all the storm. At twelve it began to
snow, and continued to snow most plentifully till night. The ground
looked like the depth of winter in Albany. Poor Andrew was almost
perished; and _gamp's_ hands were nearly frozen; still we kept on, and
got here about five, being twenty-five miles. It will take me full
three days more to reach Richmond, and perhaps longer, for the roads
are so gullied as to be barely passable. This afternoon, stopping at a
tavern and calling for the hostler, the man told me that, _foreseeing_
the storm, he had sent him for a load of wood.
A gentleman who passed here yesterday says he left Major Butler on the
way, going to Georgia by land. When I sat down to write my head was
full of totally different matters; but, having gone on so far with
road incidents, the other concerns must be omitted.
My landlord has just been telling me that Swartwout passed here eight
days ago. They were three in the stage, all very apprehensive of being
overset, as they were to start at two in the morning. In the excess of
caution, they desired the landlord to give no rum to the driver. The
landlord promised, and gave orders to the barkeeper. When the driver
arrived, he called for a dram; was refused, and told the reason.
Resenting this indignity, he swore he would get drunk; went to a
store, bought rum, and got drunk. Set out at two, and overset the
stage the first hour. The passengers were bruised, but not very
TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
Petersburgh, October 31, 1804.
I came here on the morning of the 29th, intending to stay two hours.
The hospitalities of the place have detained me three days. A party
was prepared for me on the evening of my arrival. There were present
between fifty and sixty, all pure republican. An invitation from the
republican citizens, communicated through the mayor, to a public
dinner, was made in terms and in a manner which could not be declined.
We had the dinner yesterday at the hotel. In the evening I was
attended by some fifteen or twenty to the theatre, where I was greatly
amused, particularly by Mrs. West, whom I think the best female
actress in America, not excepting Mrs. Merry.
I send you a collection of Curran's speeches, compiled, however, only
from newspapers. There is reason to hope for one more perfect, made
under the inspection of the author. Burk's history has agreeably
disappointed me. I speak from the reading of thirty or forty pages. If
it should gain your approbation, you may render him a service by
procuring him subscriptions at the meeting of your legislature. My
horses are at the door to take me to Richmond.
Richmond, October 31 (Evening), 1804.
How faithfully I return you the paper which you _lent_ me at
Statesburgh. This is the last sheet, and I think you will have
received back all but one of them.
My journey hither from Drummond, at which place you left me on
Saturday evening, the 27th, just going to bed, beside a comfortable
fire in a furnished room (what an unconscionable parenthesis), has
been very pleasant; but why and wherefore cannot now be told, because
you know it must be reserved for "The Travels of A. Gamp, Esq., A.M.,
LL.D., V.P.U.S.," &c., &c., &c., which will appear in due time.
Virginia is the last state, and Petersburgh the last town in the state
of Virginia, in which I should have expected any open marks of
hospitality and respect. You will have seen from my note of this
morning to Mr. Alston how illy I have judged.
To think of meeting with such an actress as Mrs. West in such a place.
Her voice is as sweet as Mrs. Merry's (the actress, not the other Mrs.
Merry), her manners superior. In comedy she is unequalled. They say
she excites equally in tragedy. I have no doubt but she is good at
every thing. I could make you laugh at a ridiculous embarrassment, but
I won't; nay, I dare not, for who knows but you may first see this in
the newspaper. Madam, this is Colonel B., V.P.U.S., all out loud. Sir,
this is Mrs.-----. Miss, this is, &c., &c. The players stand, and the
pit stand, and the gallery stand. No, there is no gallery. Indeed, I
don't know when I have been better entertained with a play.
I arrived here about sunset. Am to dine to-morrow with Dr. B., and,
from appearances, might be amused here a week. At the utmost I shall
stay but two days, desiring to be at Washington on Monday. I am most
Young Dr. Rush travels with Major Butler, which I forgot to mention to
your husband. Pray exert yourself to please and amuse Major Butler.
TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
Washington, November 5, 1804.
I arrived last evening. You will have received my two letters of the
30th ult. and 1st instant, communicating, among other things, some
information which I received on the road respecting the feelings in
Bergen county, New-Jersey. Since that a grand jury has been
_empannelled_, who have found an indictment of murder. The witness,
Parson Mason. The presiding judge, Boudinot, one of the most vehement
of vehement federalists. The particulars shall be communicated as soon
as I can find time to write them; they will furnish you with new
materials for reflection. They talk of making a demand here.
My house and furniture have been sold for about twenty-five thousand
dollars. Seven or eight thousand dollars of debts remain unpaid. My
agents have not collected any of my debts, nor sold any of the
detached lots. The library and the wine remain. They will, I think,
become your property.
Washington, November 17, 1804.
Shall I write to her to-night, or omit it till to-morrow? Oh!
to-night, dear pappy. Well, then, to-night it shall be--"_Je vous
ecris parceque je n'ai rien a faire_," &c. That's not true; fifty
unanswered letters on my table pronounce it false.
But when I deliberated about writing, it was with a view to write you
sense--grave sense. What a dull thing is sense. How it mars half the
pleasure of life, and yet how contemptible is all that has it not. Too
much sense, by which I mean only a great deal, is very troublesome to
the possessor and to the world. It is like one carrying a huge pack
through a crowd. He is constantly hitting and annoying somebody, and
is, in turn, annoyed and jostled by every one, and he must be a very
powerful man indeed if he can keep upright and force his way. Now
there appears to me to be but two modes of carrying this pack with any
tolerable comfort to the owner.
Interrupted. A very extraordinary visit; you shall hear as soon as
The visitors were a middle-aged gentleman; a man of fortune, of
family; has travelled, and been received in the first circles on both
continents; intelligent and well-informed; prompt, rapid, and
decisive. A high federalist, yet a warm and open friend of _gamp_ on
all occasions. Reputed to be insane, of which this attachment may be
deemed an evidence. Such is Mr. Y. The other, Mr. S., a very handsome,
genteel young man, who never carried a pack. They sat two hours, and
Mr. Y. was not only rational, but amusing. The only evidence of
insanity which I have heard is that he quarrels with his dear _rib_;
and if this be deemed evidence, I fear our madhouses will soon be
filled with married men. I ought to have excepted one incident, which
has been related to me as follows:----
Mr. R., a young lawyer of reputable connexions, but who had committed
some follies, called to visit Mr. Y. After sitting some time, "Mr.
R.," says Y., "it has been reported that you are a little deranged in
mind (there had, in fact, been such a report), and I have heard that
whipping has been found a sovereign remedy; indeed, in the case of the
King of England, its benefit was manifest. Now as I have a very great
regard for you, and doubt whether your friends will take the trouble
of administering this discipline, I will take it on myself to do it."
Two stout negroes were called in. The astonished R. was seized,
stripped, and tied, and most unmercifully whipped. All, however, with
the utmost composure on the part of Y., and mingled with expressions
of kindness. When R. was taken down, bloody, lacerated, and
exhausted--"Pray, sir, walk in and take a dish of tea." "No; d---n
you." "But, as you must be somewhat fatigued with the exercise,
perhaps you would prefer some brandy and water." R. walked sullenly
off, and, as soon as he had recovered, left the neighbourhood, and has
not since been heard of.
But by this digression we have lost sight of the pack. The further
discussion of that subject must be reserved for the "Book of Travels."
The "grave sense" is still further off, and must wait a more fit
occasion. As you are skilled in ancient mythology, I pray you to
inform me whether there was ever a goddess of nonsense. A god won't
serve my purpose. Momus, for instance, is a loud, boisterous, rude,
Leave off the _vice-president_, &c., in the direction of your letters.
Let it be simply A.B. or Colonel B. Tell Mari so.
Washington, December 4, 1804.
You have doubtless heard that there has subsisted for some time a
contention of a very singular nature between the states of New-York
and New-Jersey. To what lengths it may go, or how it may terminate,
cannot be predicted; but, as you will take some interest in the
question, I will state it for your satisfaction and consideration.
The subject in dispute is which shall have the honour of hanging the
vice-president. I have not now the leisure to state the various
pretensions of the parties, with the arguments on either side; nor is
it yet known that the vice-president has made his election, though a
paper received this morning asserts, but without authority, that he
had determined in favour of the New-York tribunals. You shall have due
notice of the time and place. Whenever it may be, you may rely on a
great concourse of company, much gayety, and many rare sights; such as
the lion, the elephant, &c.
On the subject of books, since I shall write to you only by this mail,
tell Mr. Alston to order out from his bookseller the British Critic
and the Edinburgh Review from their commencement, and to be continued
as they shall come out. To form a library is the work of time, and by
having these books you may select and give orders without danger of
imposition; for though I disclaim much reliance on the judgments of
the editors, yet from their extracts and remarks a pretty correct
opinion may be formed. I recommend also that you prohibit the sending
out of any folio or quarto, unless particularly ordered. Octavo is at
about half the price, and much more convenient.
I hope you read Quintilian in the original, and not in translation;
and let me entreat you not to pass a word or sentence without
understanding it. If I hear a very good account of you, Stuart shall
make a picture to please you. God bless thee.
TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
Washington, December 15, 1804.
The trial of Judge Chace will not come on before the middle of
January. He is summoned to appear the 2d January. I regret extremely
that you cannot be present.
Biddle and Dallas have written a joint letter to Governor Bloomfield,
of New-Jersey, urging a nol. pros. in the case of the vice-president.
Dallas has, throughout this business, behaved with an independence,
and open, active zeal which I could not have expected, and to which I
had no personal claim.
The leading republican members of the United States Senate have
addressed a similar joint letter to the governor. Many individuals of
the same _sect_ co-operate in the measure, and have expressed their
opinions by letter and in conversation. Nothing final and favourable
will promptly be done. On the other hand, nothing hostile will be
attempted. I enclose you the articles of impeachment against Judge
Chace, as agreed upon.
Washington, December 31, 1804.
Being the last time I shall write 1804. Now, how much wiser or better
are we than this time last year? Have our enjoyments for that period
been worth the trouble of living? These are inquiries not wholly
congenial with the compliments of the new year, so we will drop them.
You would laugh to know the occupation of my New Year's eve. It cannot
be written, but it shall at some time be told.
I propose to move my quarters to-morrow, and the confusion has already
commenced, and even pervades this letter. Mrs. Merry arrived a few
days ago, and looks extremely well. Madame Turreau is supposed to be
lost or captured. Mr. Chace's trial will not come on till after the
middle of January. Peter Van Ness, the father of General John P., died
on the 23d instant. He has left his sons about forty thousand dollars
Madame, when I enclose you a book or paper, be pleased, at least, to
let me know that you or your husband have read it. Pretty business,
indeed, for me to be spending hours in cutting and folding pamphlets
and papers for people who, perhaps, never open them. Heaven mend you.
1. The statement made by William P. Van Ness, Colonel Burr's second.
Washington, January 15, 1805.
At five in the morning I shall start for Philadelphia. The object of
this journey has been intimated in a former letter. One motive,
however, lays down at the bottom of my heart, and has scarcely, as
yet, been avowed to myself. You will conjecture, and rightly, that I
mean Celeste. That matter shall receive its final decision. Now, to
confess the truth, which, however, I have but just discovered, but for
this matter the journey would not have been taken. How little is this
truth suspected by the hundreds who are at this moment _ascribing to
the movement motives of profound political importance_.
I enclose you a pamphlet written with views the most friendly to A.B.
So greatly do I differ from the author, that I have desired a friend
to buy them up and burn them. I shall return to this city on the 29th.
Washington, January 28, 1805.
Your letter of the 1st of January found me at Philadelphia, and at the
moment of leaving it. Your kind wishes came so warm from the heart,
that, in a journey of eight hundred miles, at this inclement season,
they had not yet cooled.
You treat with too much gravity the New-Jersey affair. It should be
considered as a farce, and you will yet see it terminated so as to
leave only ridicule and contempt to its abettors. The affair of
Celeste is for ever closed, so there is one trouble off hand.
After you get through the book you are now reading, which I think is
Anacharsis, or is it Gibbon? you better suspend history till you have
gone through B. You do wrong to read so slow the first reading of B. I
had rather you went through it like a novel, to get fixed in your mind
a kind of map of the whole; after which, when you come to read
_scientifically_, you would better see the relations and bearings of
one part to another. In all journeys, whether on foot or on horseback,
it is a relief to know not only where you start from, but where you
are going to, and all the intermediate stages. I beg that in every
letter you will give me one line about B., and ask me questions if you
Washington, February 23, 1805.
I regret the unprofitable employment of your time, and sincerely hope
such long visitations will not be repeated; but you are something to
blame to have taken no books with you, and again for not finding one
at Clifton, where I know there are many. Still I believe in your good
intentions and in their execution. It will add greatly to my happiness
to know that the cultivation of your mind is not neglected; because I
know that without it you will become unfit for the duties, as well as
the enjoyments of life. Perhaps, also, my vanity may be something
Your last letters are written with more correctness, and apparently
with more attention than is your habit. They have amused and pleased
me much. By pleased, I mean gratified my pride. Your critical remarks
are quite interesting. I advise you, as soon as you have finished a
play, novel, pamphlet, or book, immediately to write an account and
criticism of it. You can form no idea how much such a work will amuse
you on perusal a few years hence. When A.B.A. has got so far as to
read stories of the most simple kind, the least pleasing part of his
intellectual education is finished. I might, perhaps, have added with
truth, the most laborious part.
The last public duty of any importance performed by Colonel Burr was
to preside in the case of Judge Samuel Chace, who was impeached before
the Senate of the United States for high crimes and misdemeanours.
Colonel Burr evinced his accustomed promptitude, energy, and dignity.
His impartiality and fairness won for him the applause of opponents as
well as friends; and it may be confidently asserted, that never did
president judge, in this or any other country, more justly merit
applause than did the vice-president on this occasion.
The Senate Chamber, under his immediate direction, was fitted up in
handsome style as a court, and laid out into apartments for the
senators, the House of Representatives, the managers, the accused and
counsel, the members of the executive departments, besides a
semicircular gallery constructed within the area of the chamber, which
formed from its front an amphitheatre contiguous with the fixed
gallery of the Senate Chamber.
On the right and left of the president of the Senate, and in a right
line with his chair, there were two rows of benches, with desks in
front, and the whole front and seats covered with crimson cloth, so
that the senators fronted the auditory.
The secretary of the Senate retained his usual station in front of the
president's chair; on the left of the secretary was placed the
sergeant-at-arms of the Senate, and on his right the sergeant-at-arms
of the House of Representatives.
A temporary semicircular gallery, which consisted of three ranges of
benches, was elevated on pillars, and the whole front and seats
thereof covered with green cloth. At the angles or points of this
gallery there were two boxes, which projected into the area about
three feet from the line of the front, which saved the abruptness of a
square termination, and added considerably to the effect of the coup
d'oeil. In this gallery ladies were accommodated, and they assembled
On the floor beneath this temporary gallery three benches were
provided, rising from front to rear, and also covered with green
cloth; these benches were occupied by the members of the House of
Representatives; on the right there was a spacious box, appropriated
for the members of the executive departments, foreign ministers, &c.
A passage was opened in front from the president's chair to the door;
on the right and left hand of the president, and in front of the
members of the House of Representatives, were two boxes of two rows of
seats; that facing the president's right was occupied by the managers,
that on the other side of the bar for the accused and his counsel.
These boxes were covered with blue cloth. The marshal of the District
of Columbia and a number of his officers were stationed in the avenues
of the court and in the galleries.
On the 3d of January, 1805, the senators were sworn as judges, and
Monday, the 4th of February ensuing, was fixed as "the day for
receiving the answer and proceeding on the trial of the impeachment of
Samuel Chace." Accordingly, on the day appointed, the senate convened,
After proclamation was made that Samuel Chace should appear
conformable to the summons, or that his default should be recorded,
Mr. Chace appeared. The president of the senate (Mr. Burr) then stated
to him, that, having been summoned to answer the articles of
impeachment exhibited against him by the House of Representatives, the
Senate were ready to hear any answer which he had to make; whereupon
Mr. Chace addressed the court.
The trial continued until Friday, the first day of March, 1805, when,
at half past twelve o'clock, the court took their seats; and the
president, having directed the secretary to read the first article of
impeachment, observed, that the question would be put to each member,
on each article separately, as his name occurred in alphabetical
order. The first article was then read. When the question was hereupon