WKT I25^^§TREEX "f- MtW y^KK CITY.
WITH CORRESPONDENCE PRECEDING
/ SAME, ETC.
Compiled from Files of the N'ew York Herald of
July 13th, i6th, igth, 23d, and August 4th,
Copyright 1889, by Irving C. Gaylord.
[New York Herald, July 16th, 1804.]
Letter No. 1.
[burr to HAMILTON.]
New York, June 18th, 1804.
Sir: — I send for your perusal a letter
signed Charles D. Cooper,* which, though
apparently published some time ago has but
very recently come to my knowledge. Mr.
Van Ness, who does me the favor to deliver
this, will point out to you that clause of the
letter to which I particularly request your
You must perceive, sir, the necessity of a
prompt and unqualified acknowledgment or
denial of the use of any expression which
would warrant the assertions of Dr. Cooper.
I have the honor to be.
Your obedient servant,
* See appendix.
Letter No. 2.
[hamilton to burr.]
New York, June 20th, 1804.
Sir: — I have maturely reflected on the
subject of your letter of the 18th inst., and
the more I have reflected the more I have
become convinced that I could not with-
out manifest impropriety make the avowal
or disavowal which you seem to think
necessary. The clause pointed out by
Mr. Van Ness is in these terms: ^^ I could
detail to you a still more despicable opinion
which Hamilton has expressed of Mr. Burr''
To endeavor to discover the meaning of this
declaration I was obliged to seek in the ante-
cedent part of this letter for the opinion to
which it referred as having been already dis-
closed. I found it in these words: ^^ General
Hamilton and Judge Kent have declared in
substance that they looked upon Mr. Burr to be
a dangerous man and one who ought not to be
trusted with the reins of government ^
The language of Doctor Cooper plainly
implies that he considered this opinion of
you, which he attributes to me, as a despic-
able one, but he affirms that I have expressed
some other still more despicable, without
however mentioning to whom, when or where.
'Tis evident that the phrase " still more des-
picable" 2idiTa.\\.s oi infinite shades from very
light to very dark. How am I to judge of
the degree intended or how shall I annex
any precise idea to language so indefinite ?
Between gentlemen, despicable and more
despicable are not worth the pains of a dis-
tinction: when, therefore, you do not inter-
rogate me as to the opinion which is specifi-
cally ascribed to me, I must conclude that
you view it as within the limits to which the
animadversions of political opponents upon
each other may justifiably extend, and conse-
quently as not warranting the idea of it
which Doctor Cooper appears to entertain.
If so, what precise inference could you draw
as a guide for your conduct were I to ac-
knowledge that I had expressed an opinion
of you still more despicable than the one
which is particularized ? How could you be
sure that even this opinion had exceeded the
bounds which you would yourself deem
admissible between political opponents ?
But I forbear further comment on the em-
barrassment, to which the requisition you
have made naturally leads. The occasion
forbids a more ample illustration, though
nothing could be more easy than to pursue it.
Repeating that I cannot reconcile it with
propriety to make the acknowledgment or
denial you desire, I will add that I deem it
inadmissible on principle to consent to be
interrogated as to the justness of the infer-
ences which may be drawn by others from
whatever I may have said of a political
opponent in the course of a fifteen years'
competition. If there were no other objec-
tion to it this is sufficient, that it would tend
to expose my sincerity and delicacy to injuri-
ous imputations from every person who may
at any time have conceived the import of my
expressions differently from what I may then
have intended or may afterwards recollect. I
stand ready to avow or disavow promptly
and explicitly any precise or definite opinion
which I maybe charged with having declared
of any gentleman. More than this cannot
fitly be expected from me; and especially it
cannot be reasonably expected that I shall
enter into an explanation upon a basis so
vague as that which you have adopted. I
trust on more reflection you will see the mat-
ter in the same light with me. If not, I can
only regret the circumstance and must abide
The publication of Doctor Cooper was
never seen by me till after the receipt of
I have the honor to be, etc.,
Letter No. o.
[burr to HAMILTON.]
New York, 21st June, 1804.
Sir : — Your letter of the 20th inst. has been
this day received. Having considered it
attentively I regret to find in it nothing of
that sincerity and delicacy which you profess
Political opposition can never absolve gen-
tlemen from the necessity of a rigid adherence
to the laws of honor, and the rules of decorum.
I neither claim such privilege nor indulge it
The common sense of mankind affixes to
the epithet adopted by Dr. Cooper, the idea
of dishonor. It has been ^publicly applied to
me under the sanction of your name. The
question is not whether he has understood the
meaning of the word, or has used it accord-
ing to syntax, and with.grammatical accuracy ;
but whether you have authorized this applica-
tion, either directly or by uttering expres-
sions or opinions derogatory to my honor.
The time " when " is in your own knowledge,
but no way material to me, as the calumny
has now first been disclosed, so as to become
the subject of my notice, and as the effect is
present and palpable.
Your letter has furnished me with new
reasons for requiring a definite reply.
I have the honor to be, sir.
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 [Pendleton] that in a conversation
with Mr. Van Ness at the time of receiving the last
letter he told Mr. Van Ness that he considered that
letter as rude and offensive, and that it was not
possible for him to give it any other answer than
that Mr. Burr must take such steps as he might
think proper. He said, farther, 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, un-
less 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. Pendle-
ton for an answer, and went to his countr)' house
The next day General Hamilton received, while
there, the following letter :
Letter No. 4.
[van NESS TO HAMILTON.]
June 23, 1804.
Sir: — In the afternoon of yesterday I
reported to Col. Burr the result of my last
interview with you, and appointed the even-
ing to receive his further instructions. Some
private engagements, however, prevented me
from calling on him till this morning. On
my return to the city I found upon enquiry,
both at your office and house, that you had
returned to your residence in the country.
Lest an interview there might be less agree-
able to you than elsewhere, I have taken the
liberty of addressing you this note to enquire
when and where it will be most convenient
to you to receive a communication.
Your most obt. and very humble servt.,
W. P. Van Ness.
Letter No. 5.
[HAMILTON TO BURR.]
New York, June 22, 1804.
Sir: — Your first letter, in a style too per-
emptory, made a demand, in my opinion,
unprecedented and unwarrantable. My
answer, pointing out the embarrassment, gave
you an opportunity to take a less exception-
able course. You have not chosen to do it,
but by your last letter received this day, con-
taining expressions indecorous and improper,
you have increased the difficulties to explana-
tion intrinsically incident to the nature of your
If by a ** definite reply" you mean the
direct avowal or disavowal required in your
first letter, I have no other answer to give
than that which has already been given. If
you mean anything different, admitting of
greater latitude, it is requisite you should
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient
Aaron Burr, Esq.
This letter,although dated on the22d 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
endeavored 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 Col. Burr would write a letter, requesting to
know in substance whether in the conversation to
which Dr. Cooper alluded, any particular instance
of dishonorable conduct was imputed to Col. 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 conver-
sation ; 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
[pendleton to van ness.]
'* General Hamilton says he cannot imagine
to what Dr. Cooper may have alluded unless
it were to a conversation at Mr. Taylor's in
Albany last winter (at which Mr. Taylor, he
and General Hamilton were present.) Gen-
eral 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 Col. 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 the22d, as above
mentioned, in another interview with Mr. Van
Ness, he (Van Ness) desired Mr. Pendleton to give
him in writing the substance of what he had pro-
posed on the part of General Hamilton, which Mr.
Pendleton did in the words following ;
[PENDLETON TO VAN NESS.]
" In answer to a letter properly adapted to
obtain from General Hamilton a declaration
wKether he had charged Col. Burr with any
particular instance of dishonorable conduct,
or had impeached his private character.
either in the conversation alluded to by Dr.
Cooper, or in any other particular instance
to be specified: he (Hamilton) would be able
to answer consistently with his honor, and the
truth, in substance, that the conversation to
which Dr. Cooper alluded, turned wholly on
political topics, and did not attribute to
Colonel Burr any instance of dishonorable
conduct, nor relate to his private character ;
and in relation to any other language or
conversation of General Hamilton which
Col. Burr will specify, a prompt and frank
avowal or denial will be given."
On the 26th of June Mr. Pendleton received the
following letter :
Letter No. 6.
[van NESS TO PENDLETON.]
Sir: — The letter which you yesterday
delivered me (No. 5) and your subsequent
communication, in Col. Burr's opinion,
evince no disposition on the part of Gen.
Hamilton to come to a satisfactory accommo-
dation. The injury complained of and the
reparation expected, are so definitely
expressed in Col. Burr's letter of the 21st
instant that there is not perceived a necessity
for further explanation on his part. The
difficulty that would result from confining the
enquiry to any particular times and occasions
must be manifest. The denial of a specified
conversation only, would leave strong
implications that on other occasions improper
language had been used. When and where
injurious opinions and expressions have been
uttered by General Hamilton must be best
known to him, and of him only will Col.
Burr enquire. No denial or declaration will
be satisfactory, unless it be general ; so as
wholly to exclude the idea that rumours
derogatory to Col. Burr's honor have origin-
ated with General Hamilton, or have been
fairly inferred from anything he has said.
A definite reply to a requisition of this nature
was demanded by Col. Burr's letter of the
21st instant. This being refused invites the
alternative alluded to in Gen. Hamilton's
letter of the 20th.
It was required by the position in which the
controversy was placed by General Hamilton
on Friday last, and I was immediately fur-
nished with a communication demanding a
personal interview. The necessity of this
measure has not, in the opinion of Col. Burr,
been diminished by the General's last letter,
or any communication which has since been
received. I am, consequently, again instruct-
ed to deliver you a message, as soon as it
may be convenient for you to receive it, I
beg, therefore, you will be so good as to in-
form me at what hour I can have the pleasure
of seeing you.
Your most obedient and
very humble servant,
W. P. Van Ness.
Nathaniel Pendleton, Esq.
Letter No. 7.
[pendleton to van ness.]
26th June, 1804.
Sir : — I have communicated the letter
which you did me the honor to write to me
of this date to Gen. Hamilton. The expecta-
tions now disclosed on the part of Col. Burr
appear to him to have greatly extended the
original ground of enquiry, and instead of
presenting a particular and definite case for
explanation seem to aim at nothing less than
an inquisition into his most confidential con-
versations, as well as others, through the whole
period of his acquaintance with Col. Burr.
While he was prepared to meet the particu-
lar case fairly and fully, he thinks it inadmis-
sible that he should be expected to answer at
large as to everything that he may possibly
have said in relation to the character of Col.
Burr at any time or upon any occasion.
Though he is not conscious that any charges
which are in circulation to the prejudice of
Col. Burr have originated with him, except
one which may have been so considered, and
which has long since been fully explained
between Col. Burr and himself, yet he cannot
consent to be questioned generally as to any
rumours which may be afloat derogatory to
the character of Col. Burr without specifica-
tion 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 rela-
tion to Col. 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 honorable,
accommodation. His objection is, the very
indefinite ground, which Col. Burr has assum-
ed, in which he is sorry to be able to discern
nothing short of predetermined hostility. Pre-
suming, 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
I have the honor to be respectfully,
your obedient servant,
William P. Van Ness, Esq.
Letter No. 8,
[van NESS TO PENDLETON.]
Sir: — The letter which I had the honor to
receive from you, under date of yesterday
states among other things that in General
Hamilton's opinion Col. Burr has taken a
very indefinite ground in which he evinces
nothing short of predetermined hostility, and
that General Hamilton thinks it inadmissible
that the enquiry should extend to his confi-
dential as well as other conversations. In
this Col. Burr can only reply that secret
whispers traducing his fame and impeaching
his honor are, at least, equally injurious with
slanders publicly uttered. That Gen. Ham-
ilton had at no time and in no place a right
to use any such injurious expressions; 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
Col. Burr's request was in the first instance
proposed in a form the most simple, in order
that Gen. Hamilton might give to the affair
that course to which he might be induced by
his temper and his knowledge of the facts.
Col. 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, Gen, Hamilton had used expressions
derogatory to his honor, he would have had
the magnanimity to retract them; and that if,
from his language, injurious inferences had
been improperly drawn, he would have per-
ceived the propriety of correcting errors
which might thus have been widely diffused.
With these impressions Col. Burr was greatly
surprised at receiving a letter which he con-
sidered as evasive, and which in manner he
deemed not altogether decorous. In one
expectation, however, he was not wholly de-
ceived, for the close of Gen. Hamilton's let-
ter contained an intimation that if Col. Burr
should dislike his refusal to acknowledge or
deny, he was ready to meet the consequences.
This Col. 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 con-
cerning 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 Gen.
Hamilton have in Col. Burr's opinion been
constantly in substance the same.
Col. Burr disavows all motives of predeter-
"mined hostility, a charge by which he thinks
insult added to injury. He feels as a gentle-
man should feel when his honor is impeached
or assailed, and without sensations of hos-
tility or wishes of revenge he is determined
to vindicate that honor at such hazard as the
nature of the case demands.
The length to which this correspondence
has extended, only tending to prove that the
satisfactory redress, earnestly desired cannot
be obtained, he deems it useless to offer any
proposition except the simple message which
I shall now have the honor to deliver.
I have the honor to be, with great respect,
Your obedient and very humble
W. P. Van Ness.
Wednesday Morning, June 27th, 1804.
With this letter a message was received by Mr.
Pendleton, such as was to be expected, containing
an invitation, which was accepted, and Mr. Pendle-
ton informed Mr. Van Ness he should hear from
him the next day as to further particulars.
This letter was delivered to Gen. 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 confer-
ence. When he did so. Gen. 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 hand-
writing to be communicated to Mr. Van Ness if the
state of the affair rendered it proper.
In the farther interview with Mr. Van Ness that
day, after explaining the causes which had induced
Gen. Hamilton to suppose that the state of the affair
did not render it improper, he 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 informed Mr. Van Ness of the
inducements mentioned by Gen. Hamilton in those
remarks for the 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
On Friday the 6th of July, the Circuit being
closed, Mr. Pendleton gave this information, and
that Gen. Hamilton would be ready at any time after
the Sunday following. On Monday the particulars
were arranged, and the public are but too well
acquainted with the sad results.
The paper above alluded to is as follows :
[Remarks on the Letter of June 27th,
" 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 Gen. 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 expos-
ing him to unpleasant criticisms from or
unpleasant discussions with any and every
person who may have understood him in an
unfavorable sense. This (admitting that he
could answer in a manner the mt)st satis-
factory to Col. Burr) he should deem inad-
missible 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 circula-
tion. Whether they are openly or in whispers
they have a form and shape, and might be
" 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
afterwards regulated. I should not think it
right in the midst of a Circuit Court, to with-
draw 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 cause. I shall
also want a little time to make some arrange-
ments respecting my own affairs."
[New York Herald, July 19th, 1804, copied from Morning
Chronicle. July 17th, 1804.1
Col. Burr arrived first on the ground, as
had been previously agreed. When General
Hamilton arrived the parties exchanged salu-
tations, and the seconds proceeded to make
their arrangements. They measured the dis-
tance, 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 Gen. Hamilton.
They then proceeded to load the pistols in
each others 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 ex-
pressed, as the seconds do not precisely agree
on that point. The fire of Col. Burr took
effect, and Gen. Hamilton almost instantly
fell. Col. Burr then advanced towards Gen-
eral Hamilton, with a manner and gesture
that appeared to General Hamilton's friend
to be expressive of regret, but without speak-
ing, turned about and withdrew, being urged
from the field by his friend, as has been sub-
sequently stated, with a view to prevent his
being recognized by the surgeon and barge,
men who were then approaching. No fur-
ther communication took place between the
principals, and the barge that carried Col.
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.
\_New York Herald, July 13th, 1804.]
With emotions that we have not a hand to
inscribe, have we to announce the death of
He was suddenly cut off in the forty-eighth
year of his age, in the full vigor of his facul-
ties and in the midst of all his usefulness.
% * * * *
INew York Herald, August 4th, 1804.]
The Coronor's Inquest, after a very patient
and laborious examination of the facts and
circumstances relating to the late afflicting
event, have pronounced upon their oaths that
" Aaron Burr, Esq., Vice-President of the
United States, was guilty of the murder of
Alexander Hamilton : and that William P.
Van Ness, Esq., Attorney-at-Law, and Nath-
aniel Pendleton, Esq., Counsellor-at-Law,
[New York Herald, July 23d, 1804.)
[letter of CHAS, D. cooper to PHILIP SCHUYLER.]
Sir: — The malignant attack which my
character has sustained in an anonymous
hand-bill, to which your letter of the 21st
inst. directed to the Chairman of the Federal
Electioneering Committee of this city is
annexed, and in which you contradict certain
facts contained in a letter, said to have been
written by me to Andrew Brown, Esq., of
Bern, will be my apology for repelling the
unfounded aspersions which have been thus
dishonorably obtruded on the public.
Admitting the letter published to be an
exact transcript of the one intended for Mr.
Brown, I aver, that the assertions therein
contained are substantially true, and that I
can prove them by the most unquestionable
testimony. I assert that Gen. Hamilton and
Judge Kent have declared, in substance, that
they looked upon Mr. Burr to be a dangerous
man^ and one who ought not to be trusted ivith
the reins of government. If, sir, you attended
a meeting of Federalists, at the City Tavern,
where Gen. Hamilton made a speech on the
pending election, I might appeal to you for
the truth of so much of this assertion as
relates to him. * * * *
Oliver Phelps, when in this city, on his
way to Canandaigua, stated, that Gen. Ham-
ilton, and about one hundred Federalists in
New York, would not vote for Mr. Burr. * *
I beg leave to remark, sir, that the anxiety
you discovered, when his honor the chancellor
was about to be nominated, induced me to
believe, that you entertained a bad opinion
of Mr. Burr, especially when taken in con-
nection with General Hamilton's harangue
at the City Tavern; and although I never sug-
gested that you would act on the one side or
the other in this election ; yet, presuming on
the correctness of your mind, and the repu-
tation you sustain of an upright and exem-
plary character, I could not suppose that you
would support a man whom I had reason to
believe, you held in the lowest estimation.
It is sufficient for me, on this occasion, to
substantiate what I have asserted. I have
made it an invariable rule of my life to be
circumspect in relating what I may have
heard from others; and in this affair, I feel
happy to think, that I have been unusually
cautious — for really, sir, / could detail you a
still more despicable opinion which General
Ha7nilton has expressed of Mr. Burr.
'k % >k ^ H:
I am, sir, with due respect,
Your humble servant,
Charles D. Cooper.
April 23, 1804.
\_Ne%u York Herald, July 16th, 1804.1
The following paper in the handwriting of Gen.
Hamilton was enclosed with his will and some other
papers in a packet addressed to one of his execu-
tors, which was of course not to have been delivered
but in case of the melancholy event that has hap-
pened. As it contains his motives and reflections
on the causes that have led to this fatal catastrophe
it is deemed proper to communicate it to the public.
'' On my expected interview with Col.
Burr, I think it proper to make some remarks
explanatory of my conduct, motives and
" I was certainly desirous of avoiding this
interview for the most cogent reasons.
*' 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 the laws.
''2. My wife and children are extremely
dear to me, and my life is of the utmost im-
portance 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 my-
self at liberty as a man of probity lightly to
expose them to this hazard.
"4. I am conscious of no ill-will to Col.
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
" But it was, as I conceive, impossible for
me to avoid it. There were intrinsick diffi-
culties in the thing and artificial embarrass-
ments from the manner of proceeding on the
part of Col. Burr.
" Intrinsick, because it is not to be denied,
that my animadversions on the political
principles, character and views of Col. Burr
have been extremely severe, and on different
occasions, I, in common with many others,
have made very unfavorable 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
Col. Burr, in a general and indefinite 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 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, Col. 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 the door open to
accommodation. This, I think, will be in-
ferred 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
" I am not sure, whether, under all the cir-
cumstances, I did not go further in the
attempt to accommodate, than 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 conduct of Col. Burr,
in this case. He doubtless has heard of ani-
madversions 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 may have said,
though it is possible that in some particulars,
I may have been influenced by misconstruc-
tion 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 country."
''As well because it is possible that I may
have injured Col. 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
Col. Burr to pause and to reflect.
*' It is not, however, my intention to enter
into any explanation on the ground. Apol-
ogy, from principle I hope, rather than pride,
is out of the question.
" To those who, with me, abhorring the
practice of duelling may think that I ought
on no account to have ^dded to the number
of bad examples, I answer that my relative
situation, as well in public as private,
enforcing all the considerations which con-
stitute what men of the world denominate
honor, 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 public prejudice in
this particular. A. H.
[will of ALEXANDER HAMILTON.]
INew York Herald, July 16th, 1804.]
In the name of GOD, Amen. I, ALEX-
ANDER HAMILTON, of the City of New
York, Counsellor-at-Law, do make this my
Last Will and Testament, as follows :
First. I appoint John B. Church, Nicho-
las Fish and Nathaniel Pendleton of the city
aforesaid, Esquires, to be Executors and
Trustees of this my will, and I devise to
them, their heirs and assigns, as joint tenants
and not as tenants in common, all my estate
real and personal whatsoever, and whereso-
ever, upon trust at their discretion, to sell
and dispose of the same, at such time and
times, in such manner, and upon such terms
as they the survivors and survivor shall think
fit, and out of the proceeds to pay all the
debts which I shall owe at the time of my
decease; in whole, if the fund be sufficient,
proportionably if it shall be insufficient, and
the residue, if any there shall be, to pay and
deliver to my excellent and dear wife Eliza-
Though if it should please God to spare
my life, I may look for a considerable sur-
plus out of my present property, yet if He
should speedily call me to the eternal world,
a forced sale, as is usual, may possibly render
it insufficient to satisfy my debt. I pray God
that something may remain for the maintain-
ance and education of my dear wife and
children. But should it on the contrary
happen that there is not enough for the pay-
ment of my debts, I entreat my dear child-
ren, if they, or any of them, should ever be
able, to make up the deficiency. I without
hesitation commit to their delicacy a wish
which is dictated by my own. Though con-
scious that I have too far sacrificed the inter-
ests of my family to public Avocations and
on this account have the less claim to burthen
my children, yet I trust in their magnanimity
to appreciate as they ought this my request.
In so unfavorable an event of things, the
support of their dear mother, with the most
respectful and tender attention, is a duty, all
the sacredness of which they will feel. Prob-
ably her own patrimonial resources will pre-
serve her from indigence. But in all situations
they are charged to bear in mind that she
has been to them the most devoted and best
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto
subscribed my hand the ninth day of July, in
the year of our Lord one thousand eight
hundred and four.
Signed, sealed, published and declared as
and for his last will and testament, in our
presence who have subscribed the same in
his presence, the words '* John B, Church "
being above interlined.
DoMiNiCK F. Blake,
Theo. B. Valleau.
New York, Surrogate's Office, ss.
July 16th, 1804.
I do hereby certify the preceding to be a
true copy of the original Will of Alexander
Hamilton, deceased, now on file in my
Silvanus Miller, Surrogate.
OF NEW YORK CITY.
278 West 125th Street.
Capital. $150,000. Surplus, $50,000.
Authorized Capital, $1,000,000.
LuciEN C. Warner,
Ch.\RLES B. FdSDICK,
WiLLi.\M p. St. John,
lULIUS W. TiKMANN,
William C. Brewster,
(jEorge W. Grossman,
James M. Horton.
Samuel T. Peiers,
Frederick B. Schenck,
William C. Browning,
Welcome T. Alexander,
LUCIEN C. WARNER, CA RROLL ST JOH N , I RVI NG C. GA Y LORD,
PRESIDENT. CASHIER. ASS T CASHIER.
CLEARING HOUSE AGENT : THE MERCANTILE NATIONAL BANK OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK.