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Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens

During the Revolutionary War, Alexander Hamilton was a lieutenant colonel and George Washington's Aide-de-camp. He served with fellow soldier John Laurens directly alongside Washington. In 1779, two years into the war, Hamilton and Laurens parted ways when Laurens headed south to recruit enslaved people to fight for the Continental Army. These letters, written by Hamilton during the time he and Laurens were separated, reveal the deep emotional bonds they shared. Alexander Hamilton became one of the country’s Founding Fathers who helped to promote the Constitution and in 1789 he was appointed the first secretary of the treasury.

To Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens [Middlebrook, New Jersey, April, 1779]

Cold in my professions, warm in [my] friendships, I wish, my Dear Laurens, it m[ight] be in my power, by action rather than words, [to] convince you that I love you. I shall only tell you that ’till you bade us Adieu, I hardly knew the value you had taught my heart to set upon you. Indeed, my friend, it was not well done. You know the opinion I entertain of mankind, and how much it is my desire to preserve myself free from particular attachments, and to keep my happiness independent on the caprice of others. You sh[ould] not have taken advantage of my sensibility to ste[al] into my affections without my consent. But as you have done it and as we are generally indulgent to those we love, I shall not scruple to pardon the fraud you have committed, on condition that for my sake, if not for your own, you will always continue to merit the partiality, which you have so artfully instilled into [me].

I
have received your two letters one from Philadelphia the other from Chester. I am pleased with your success, so far, and I hope the favourable omens, that precede your application to the Assembly may have as favourable an issue, provided the situation of affairs sh[ould] require it which I fear will be the case. But both for your country’s sake and for my own I wish the enemy may be gone from Georgia before you arrive and that you may be obliged to return and share the fortunes of your old friends…

Yours. A Hamilton


To Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens [Bergen County, New Jersey, September 16, 1780]


...That you can speak only of your private affairs shall be no excuse for your not writing frequently. Remember that you write to your friends, and that friends have the same interests, pains, pleasures, sympathies; and that all men love egotism.

In spite of Schuylers black eyes, I have still a part for the public and another for you; so your impatience to have me married is misplaced; a strange cure by the way, as if after matrimony I was to be less devoted than I am now... I wish you were at liberty to transgress the bounds of Pensylvania. I would invite you after the fall to Albany to be witness to the final consummation. My Mistress is a good girl, and already loves you because I have told her you are a clever fellow and my friend...

Adieu, be happy, and let friendship between us be more than a name.

A Hamilton The General & all the lads send you their love

Source | Hamilton, Alexander. Alexander Hamilton to Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens. April 1779 and September 1780. In Founders Online. National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Hamilton/01-02-02-0100
Item Type | Diary/Letter
Cite This document | “Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed October 23, 2021, https://shec.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/2632.

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