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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, 

A. Burr. 

General Hamilton. 

* 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 consequences. 

The publication of Doctor Cooper was 
never seen by me till after the receipt of 
your letter. 

I have the honor to be, etc., 

A. Hamilton. 
Col. Burr. 

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 
to value. 

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 
in others. 

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. 

Your obedient 

A. Burr. 
General Hamilton. 

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 
(Hamilton Grange). 

The next day General Hamilton received, while 
there, the following letter : 


Letter No. 4. 


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. 
General Hamilton, 

Letter No. 5. 


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 


Alex. Hamilton. 
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 
follows : 


[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 ; 



" 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. 


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. 
June 26th. 

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 
ten o'clock. 

I have the honor to be respectfully, 

your obedient servant, 
Nathaniel Pendleton. 
William P. Van Ness, Esq. 

Letter No. 8, 


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 
Alexander Hamilton. 

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, 
were accessories." 


[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 
upright motives. 

*' 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 
the subject. 

" 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. 


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- 
beth Hamilton. 

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 
of mothers. 

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. 

Alexander Hamilton. 

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, 
Graham Newell, 
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. 

Haniilton Bank 


278 West 125th Street. 

Capital. $150,000. Surplus, $50,000. 

Authorized Capital, $1,000,000. 


LuciEN C. Warner, 


WiLLi.\M p. St. John, 


Joseph Milbank, 
William C. Brewster, 
(jEorge W. Grossman, 
M.aver Lehman, 

James M. Horton. 
George Taylor. 
Samuel T. Peiers, 
Louis Strasburger, 
Frederick B. Schenck, 
William C. Browning, 
Cyrus Clark. 
Welcome T. Alexander, 
Samuel Shethar, 

Georcje Montague.