Letter Written To James Duane

Basic Info

Author: Alexander Hamilton

Recipient: James DuaneJames Duane (1733-1797) American lawyer, jurist, and delegate to the Continental Congress from New York

Date: September 3, 1780


Alexander Hamilton was a fierce advocate for a strong national government, and was by nature very mistrusting of the states. As such, he did not think it wise to leave much responsibility to the states, especially in regards to currency, as well as clothing and paying the army. Hamilton was concerned about how the government would be able to pay for the soldiers who fought during the Revolution, and his solutions involved leaving little responsibility to the states, after seeing the mess created by various state currencies. He expresses these concerns in this letter to James Duane, a New York delegate to the Continental Congress, from 1780.

Original Text

Congress should endeavorendeavor (verb) attempt to achieve a goal, both upon their credit in Europe and by every possible exertion in this country, to provide clothing for their officers, and should abolish the whole system of State supplies. The making good the depreciation of the currency and all other compensations to the army should be immediately taken up by Congress, and not left to the states; if they would have the accounts of depreciation liquidatedliquidate (verb) selling anything of value to pay off creditors following bankruptcy , and governmental certificates given for what is due in specie or an equivalent to speciespecie (noun) money in the form of coin rather than paper, it would give satisfaction; appointing periodical settlements for future depreciation…

The placing the officers on half-pay during life would be a great stroke of policy, and would give Congress a stronger tie upon them than any thing else they can do. No man that reflects a moment but will prefer a permanent provision of this kind to any temporary compensation. Nor is it opposed to economy; the difference between this and between what has already been done will be insignificant.

More Information

Read the full text of the letter here.

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