The Reynolds Affair, Phase III (Hamilton Musical, 63c)

In which Callender accuses Hamilton of speculation, and Hamilton replies: June to August 1797.

Phase I was Hamilton’s affair with Maria and her husband’s blackmail of Hamilton; see here for the chronology of all three phases and the documents relating to the first phase. Phase II was Reynolds and Clingman’s accusation that Hamilton had been speculating with government funds (here). This is the third and final phase. starting in mid 1797, when a Republican editor published the accusation that Hamilton had been speculating with Reynolds.

34. History of the United States for the Year 1796, Part V, late June or early July 1797

James Callender, a fervent Republican journalist, published a History of the United States for the Year 1796 in separate installments of which no copies survive. In Part V (published separately in late June or early July 1797), he promised that he was going to tell something Very Bad about Hamilton because Hamilton and the Federalists had been  criticizing Monroe’s behavior as minister to France.

Attacks on Mr. Monroe have been frequently repeated from the stock-holding presses. They are cowardly, because he is absent. They are unjust, because his conduct will bear the strictest enquiry. They are ungrateful, because he displayed, on an occasion that will be mentioned immediately, the greatest lenity to Mr. Alexander Hamilton, the prime mover of the federal party. (Quoted here)


When some of the Papers which are now to be laid before the world were submitted to the Secretary; when he was informed that they were to be communicated to President Washington, he entreated in the most anxious tone of deprecation, that the measure might be suspended. Mr Monroe was one of the three Gentlemen who agreed to this delay. They gave their consent to it on his express promise of a guarded behaviour in future, and because he attached to the suppression of these papers a mysterious degree of solicitude which they feeling no personal resentment against the Individual, were unwilling to augment. (Quoted by Hamilton in his 7/5/1797 letter to Monroe)

For Hamilton’s reaction to Part V, see Nos. 35-36.

Although the separate issues of Callender’s History haven’t survived, by the end of the year he published a collected volume. That’s how we can guess what was in Part VI, after the threat of Part V. The section dealing Hamilton is pp. 204-231 in the original edition (pp. 219-246 in the PDF). Here’s the argument. It rambles: not my fault.

A. The Federalists are practiced in the arts of “calumny and detraction,” so they can hardly expect “to meet with that tenderness which they refuse to grant.” Example: they have been attacking James Monroe (see excerpt above).

B. Hamilton admitted that he was guilty of adultery, but the gentlemen to whom he admitted it “held it as an imposition [a lie], and found various reasons for believing that Mrs. Reynolds was, in reality, guiltless.” Callender will print all the relevant documents: “On due reflection, it has been found safer, and more adviseable, to publish the whole, even at the hazard of being tedious. This precludes all pretence of mutilation for unfair purposes.” (p. 206)

C. Hamilton has been snide about the president: “He has often compared his influence over the President to that of the wind upon a weather cock, or of that over an automaton, moved only by the hand which directs it” (pp. 207-8, no source given).

D. Noah Webster, in his paper Minerva, hinted that Hamilton would be a good presidential candidate. A reader wrote to a friend in New York, who informed Hamilton that if one more word in favor of his candidacy were printed in the Minerva, the Reynolds papers would be published. The Minerva printed no more hints. [NOTE: no source given; cf. No. 45 below, Webster’s denial.]

E. Documents proving Hamilton’s collusion with Reynolds:

  • Document I = No. 27 above, Muhlenberg’s statement of 12/13/1792
  • Document II = No. 28 above, Monroe & Venable’s statement after meeting Reynolds in prison, 12/13/1792
  • Document III = No. 29A above, Monroe & Muhlenberg’s statement of their visit to Maria Reynolds, 12/13/1792
  • Document IV = No. 26, Jacob Clingman’s deposition of 12/13/1792
  • Document V = No. 29C (Monroe, Muhlenberg and Venable on a meeting with Clingman, 12/15/1792), plus No. 30 (MM&V on a meeting with Hamilton, 12/15/1792), plus No. 33 (Monroe on a meeting with Clingman, 1/2/1793)
  • Document VI = No. 22B, several unsigned, undated, short notes from Hamilton to Reynolds; and No. 29B, a fragmentary note from Reynolds to Clingman, 12/13/1792. Callender comments on these at length.

On what ground could Reynolds pretend to make such applications to a person so far above his rank? The gentle tone of the refusal, also, deserves notice. It expressly implies a high degree of previous intimacy. The simple assurance of inability was not enough. Mr. Hamilton declares pon his honour, that it is not merely out of his power, but utterly, &c. How generous! How magnanimous this language of the ex-secretary! especially when he wrote to a being who was in the habit of threatening to bring him to disgrace. [p. 219]

So much correspondence [i.e., the three short notes at 22B] could not refer exclusively to wenching. No man of common sense will believe that it did. Hence it must have implicated some connection still more dishonourable, in Mr. Hamilton’s eyes, than that of incontinency. Reynolds and his wife affirm that it respected certificate speculations. The solicitude of Mr. Hamilton to get these people out of the way, is quite contradictory to an amorous attachment for Mrs. Reynolds, and bespeaks her innocence in the clearest stile. [p. 220]

This paragraph is re the fragmentary letter from Reynolds to Clingman of 12/13/1792 (No. 29B above). It must have made Hamilton’s blood boil. Even mine is kind of simmering.

 Here the story comes to a crisis. Reynolds, a man of a bad character, and dependent circumstances, had been cast into jail for an offence of a very deep dye, and which, as it appears, could have been fixed upon him. Instead of comporting himself with that humility suitable to a situation apparently so desperate, he speaks of nothing else but ruining and hanging Mr. Hamilton, who, the President excepted, was the most powerful and dangerous enemy that he could have met with on the whole continent. This was not, certainly, an obvious way to get out of prison. He had been prosecuted by the Comptroller, Mr. Wolcot, with whom he found no blame; but he affirmed, that it was a scheme of the secretary to keep him low, and drive him away.Even admitting that his wife was the favourite of Mr. Hamilton, for which there appears no evidence but the word of the secretary, this conduct would have been eminently foolish. Mr. Hamilton had only to say, that he was sick of his amour, and the influence and hopes of Reynolds at once vanished. Our secretary was far above the reach of his revenge. The accusation of an illicit amour, though sounded in notes louder than the last trumpet, could not have defamed the conjugal fidelity of Mr. Hamilton. It would only have been holding a farthing candle to the sun. On that point, the world had previously fixed its opinion. In the secretary’s bucket of chastity, a drop more or less was not to be perceived … [History, pp. 221-222]

  • Without a document number and without a source: an account of a meeting between Clingman, Hamilton, and Wolcott (No. 29C; History pp. 223-4). “At this meeting, Clingman says that he was strictly examined by Messrs. Wolcot and Hamilton, respecting the persons who were enquiring into the matter, and their object. If every thing was sound at bottom Mr. Hamilton, might have held such persons and such enquiries in defiance.”
  • Without a document number: Hamilton’s request for copies of the documents that Monroe, Muhlenberg and Venable had taken with them (No. 31A, 12/18/1792).

F. Callender notes, “If we consider the magnitude of the object before them, it was highly commendable in the gentlemen concerned in these enquiries [Monroe, Muhlenberg, Venable] to trace the matter as closely as they did” (p. 224). Then, shifting gears abruptly, Callender launches into an attack on the Federalist financial program.

i. Hamilton forced the government to pay eight times as much as the original debt [NOTE: i.e., he insisted on paying arrears of interest rather than just the principal]:

one of the most egregiouis, the most impudent, the most oppressive, and the most provoking bubbles that ever burlesqued the legislative proceedings of any nation. The debt that could have been discharged for ten or fifteen millions of dollars, was funded at forty millions. [History, p. 225]

ii. Callender attacks the assumption of states’ debts, also funded so that arrears of interest would be paid ($22 million rather than $11 million): “When we look straight into its face, fraud, anarchy, and rebellion, are seen indelibly engraved on its forehead” (pp. 225-6).

iii. Callender attacks the Bank of the United States: “another buttress raised to prop the rampart of corruption” (pp. 226-7). And by the way, the city of Washington was “a quietus to the honest credulity of the President” (p. 227). And here’s where this financial corruption has brought us:

The result of all these measures hath been a public debt of eighty millions, instead of thirty; a republican government harnassed in a monarchical faction; a continent overwhelmed with paper money, with jobs, and bankruptcies, of a nature and species of infamy almost unknown in Europe; the price doubled on every article of living; a commerce insulted and within sight of ruin; a public treasury without money, and without credit; and last and worst, a squadron of legislative conspirators, in the fifth Congress, who, by every insidious artifice, and every unblushing effort, pant and toil to bury their country in a British alliance and a French war. (History pp. 227-8)

G. Launching into Chapter VII of his History, Callender returns to Hamilton, declaring that if he wanted to exculpate himself, he should have arranged to have Reynolds and his wife meet Monroe, Muhlenberg, and Venable. [Can you count the flaws in logic?]

Instead of that, he sent Reynolds and his wife out of the way, to prevent any such personal exculpation. That he packed them off, there can be little doubt, since the suddeness of the disappearance of Reynolds can be accounted for upon no other ground. The letter from Reynolds to Clingman mentions a promise of that kind [No. 29B above], and Mrs. Reynolds had previously declared, that this was a scheme in contemplation. Reynolds could not fly from fear. The prosecution against him was closed, and his chief resource for subsistence had been by applying to Mr. Hamilton. That he was removed, to keep him from a meeting with mr. Monroe and his friends, bears the strongest marks of probability … [History ppp. 228-9]

Hamilton, says Callender, knew he’d been suspected of speculation.

Every motive of self-love, and of zeal for the honour of his partizans, should have prompted Mr. Hamilton to tear up the last twig of jealousy. In place of smothering testimony, he should have courted it. In place of burning letters, he should have printed them. [History, pp. 229-30]

And if Hamilton was accused of speculation with Reynolds, who knows how many others he used in a similar fashion? History p. 231:

If he [Reynolds] was one agent for the purchase of certificates, it may well be conceived, though it cannot yet be proved, that our secretary had twenty others!

Callender then goes on to attack the Constitution, for having been written behind closed doors.

35. Oliver Wolcott, Jr., secretary of the Treasury, to Hamilton, 7/3/1797

On July 3, Wolcott sent Part V of Callender’s History to Hamilton. He sees it immediately as a political attack by the Republicans.

I inclose you the pamphlet. You will see that the subject is but partially represented with a design to establish an opinion that you was concerned in speculations in the public funds. As my name is mentioned I have been repeatedly called on for explanations. What I have said is substantially as follows. That I was informed at the time, of the whole transaction, & that though Munroe Muhlenburgh & Venable at first represented the affair as connected with Speculation in the funds, yet an explanation took place in my presence when each of the Gentlemen acknowledged themselves perfectly satisfied, & that there was nothing in the affair which could or ought to affect your character as a public Officer or impair the public confidence in your integrity. I have also mentioned that no publication could have been made without a breach of confidence pledged in my presence by the Gentlemen above named. Mr. Venable I am told speaks of the publication as false & dishonourable.

I have good reason to believe that Beckley is the real author, though it is attributed to Calender. [See No. 32 above.]

You will judge for yourself, but in my opinion it will be best to write nothing at least for the present.

It is false that Duer had any hand in the transaction—the Lists are in my hands, with a Letter from Clingman & Reynolds, the Clerk who furnished the Lists was notified of the discovery by me & dismissed—his name has been hitherto concealed: I think you may be certain that your character is not affected, in point of integrity & official conduct. The indignation against those who have basely published this scandal, is I believe universal. If you determine to notice the affair, & I can assist you you may command me, but I doubt the expediency.

The faction is organized, public business is at a stand, and a crisis is approaching. (More here)

36. Hamilton to James Monroe, 7/5/1797

Immediately after Hamilton read Part V of Callender’s History, he asked Monroe to repudiate the statement published there [Nos. 30 and 33]. He presumably sent the same letter to Muhlenberg and Venable, since they soon replied. Reynolds Pamphlet, Appendix XXV:

The peculiar nature of this transaction renders it impossible that you should not recollect it in all its parts and that your own declarations to me at the time contradicts absolutely the construction which the Editor of the Pamphlet puts upon the affair.

I think myself entitled to ask from your candour and justice a declaration equivalent to that which was made me at the time in the presence of Mr Wolcott by yourself and the two other Gentlemen, accompanied by a contradiction of the Representations in the comments cited above. And I shall rely upon your delicacy that the manner of doing it will be such as one Gentleman has a right to expect from another—especially as you must be sensible that the present appearance of the Papers is contrary to the course which was understood between us to be proper and includes a dishonourable infidelity somewhere. I am far from attributing it to either of the three Gentlemen; yet the suspicion naturally falls on some Agent made use of by them.

I send you the copy of a memorandum of the substance of your declaration made by me the morning after our Interview. …

P.s. I must beg the favour of expedition in your reply. (More here)

Hamilton writes in the Reynolds Pamphlet (outline below, section III) that “I took the next morning a memorandum of the substance of what was said to me, which will be seen by a copy of it transmitted in a letter to each of the gentlemen.”

Memorandum of Substance of Declaration of Messrs. Monroe, Muhlenberg and Venable concerning the affair of J. Reynolds.
That they regretted the trouble and uneasiness which they had occasioned to me in consequence of the representations made to them – That they were perfectly satisfied with the explanation I had given and that there was nothing in the transaction which ought to affect my characters as a public officer or lessen the public confidence in my integrity.

37. Hamilton to John Fenno, editor of the Gazette of the United States and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser, 7/8/1797

A few days after writing to Monroe, Muhlenberg, and Venable, Hamilton wrote to the editor of a prominent Federalist newspaper. He’s already thinking of publishing a rebuttal, despite Wolcott’s advide not to (No. 35).

As to the papers contained in the pamphlet, from a cursory perusal, I take them to be authentic. But the solution of them is simply this—They were the contrivance of two of the most profligate men in the world to obtain their liberation from imprisonment for a serious crime by the favor of party spirit. For this purpose recourse was had to Messrs James Monroe, Senator, Frederick A. Muhlenbergh, Speaker, and Abraham Venable, a Member of the House of Representatives, two of these gentlemen my known political opponents. A full explanation took place between them and myself in the presence of Oliver Wolcott, jun. Esq. the present Secretary of the Treasury, in which by written documents I convinced them of the falshood of the accusation. They declared themselves perfectly satisfied with the explanation, and expressed their regret at the necessity which had been occasioned to me of making it. It is my intention shortly to place the subject more precisely before the public. [More here]

38. Abraham Venable to Hamilton, 7/9/1797

Venable replied promptly to Hamilton’s letter of 7/5. Reynolds Pamphlet, Appendix XXX:

I had heard of the pamphlet you mentioned some days before, but had not read it. I am intirely ignorant of the Editor, and of the means by which he procured the papers alluded to.

I have had nothing to do with the transaction since the interview with you, I do not possess a copy of the papers at present, nor have I at any time had the possession of any of them, I avoided taking a copy because I feared that the greatest care which I could exercise in keeping them safely, might be defeated by some accident and that some person or other might improperly obtain an inspection of them. I have indeavoured to recollect what passed at the close of the interview which took place with respect to this transaction, it was said I believe by us in general terms, that we were Satisfyed with the explanation that had been given, that we regreted the necessity we had been Subjected to in being obliged to make the enquiry, as well as the trouble and anxiety it had occasioned you, and on your part you admitted in general terms that the business as presented to us bore such a doubtful aspect as to justify the inquiry, and that the manner had been satisfactory to you. (More here)

Venable sent another letter the following day, reiterating that he could not have been Callender’s source, since he’d left the papers with Monroe:

I had no copy of the papers in question, the transaction took place at Mr Monroes, where I left the papers, since which I have not seen them. The paper alluded to as well as I can recollect was in the nature of a memorandum for our own use, to refresh our memories in case we Should ever be called upon, and not intended for any other use, it related I believe chiefly to things which were said to [have] taken place pending the enquiry, and to the explanation. I cannot say whether it is an exact copy or not, tho’ there was some such paper, the original I presume is in the possession of Mr Monroe, as I left them at his house Mr Mughlenberg being present; I do not know any means by which these papers could have got out, unless by the person who copyed them [Founders’ Archives footnote: John Beckley], who had been present during the whole investigation, both before and after my being called on. (More here)

39. Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg to Hamilton, 7/10/1797

Muhlenberg also responded promptly to Hamilton’s 7/5 letter. Reynolds Pamphlet, Appendix XXIX:

Whilst I lament the publication of the papers respecting the Affair of Reynolds (of which I hope I need not assure you that I had neither Knowledge or Agency, for I never saw them since the Affair took place, nor was I ever furnished with a Copy) I do not hesitate to declare that I regretted the Trouble and Uneasiness this Business had occasioned, & that I was perfectly satisfied with the Explanation you gave at the same time permit me to remind You of Your Declaration also made in the presence of Mr. Wolcot that the Information & Letters in our possession justified the Suspicions we entertained before Your Explanation took place, and that our conduct towards You in this Business was satisfactory. (More here)

40. Hamilton to James Monroe, 7/10/1797

Muhlenberg and Venable replied promptly. James Monroe – a protege and close friend of Republican leaders Thomas Jefferson and James Madison – did not. Hamilton followed up on his query brusquely, with a hint that if Monroe wanted to bring a friend (a second!), he was welcome to do so. From an autograph letter by Hamilton:

Mr. Hamilton requests an interview with Mr. Monroe at any hour tomorrow forenoon which may be convenient to him. Particular reasons will induce him to bring with him a friend to be present at what may pass. Mr. Monroe, if he pleases, may have another. (More here)

41. Monroe to Hamilton, 7/10/1797

Monroe replied to that one on the same day.

Mr. Monroe readily consents to an interview with Colo. Hamilton tomorrow at ten in the morning at his lodgings with Mr. Knox in Wall Street. He will bring whom he pleases. (More here)

42. David Gelston’s notes on the interview between Hamilton and Monroe, 7/11/1797

Gelston, a New York City merchant and a Republican politician, accompanied Monroe to the meeting, and wrote out notes about it soon afterward. Angelica’s husband John Barker Church accompanied Hamilton. This is a fascinatingly vivid account, not least because it shows two of the Founding Fathers losing their tempers and threatening a duel.

Colo. H. appeared very much agitated upon his entrance into the room, and observed the cause or motives of this meeting being he presumed pretty well understood, he went into a detail of circumstances at considerable length upon a former meeting at Philada. between Mr Muhlenberg Mr. Venable and Colo. M. after considerable time being spent in the detail Colo. M. asked what all that meant & said if you wish me to tell you any thing relating to the business all this history is unnecessary. Col. H said he should come to the point directly—some warmth appeared in both Gentln & some explanation took place Colo. M then began with declaring it was merely accidental his knowing any thing about the business at first he had been informed that one Reynolds from Virginia was in Gaol, he called merely to aid a man that might be in distress, but found it was a Reynolds from NYork and observed that after the meeting alluded to at Philada he sealed up his copy of the papers mentioned and sent or delivered them to his Friend in Virginia—he had no intention of publishing them & declared upon his honor that he knew nothing of their publication until he arrived in Philada from Europe and was sorry to find they were published. Colo. H. observed that as he had written to Colo. M. Mr Muhlenburgh & Mr. Venable he expected an immediate answer to so important a subject in which his character the peace & reputation of his Family were so deeply interested. Colo. M replied that if he Colo. H would be temperate or quiet for a moment or some such word he would answer him candidly—that he recd his Colo. H.’s letter at 10 oClock at Night, that he had determined to leave Philada next Morng & actually did leave it for NYork, that immediately at a late hour that night after receiving the letter he went to Mr. Venables quarters that it was impossible to meet Mr. Muhlenberg & Mr. V. & that as at the meeting before alluded to they were all present (upon which Mr. C. took out of his pocket two pamphlets in which was a statement signed by Mr Muhlenburgh Mr Venable & Colo Monroe) and all had signed it that he thought it most proper for them all to meet & return a joint answer to Colo. H.s letter which he meant to do on his return from Philada. Colo. M then observed if he Colo. H. wished him to give a relation of the facts & circumstances individually as they appeared to him, he would do it then. Colo H. said he should like to hear it, Colo. M then proceeded upon a history of the business printed in the pamphlets and said that the packet of papers before alluded to he yet believed remained sealed with his friend in Virginia and after getting through Colo. H. said this as your representation is totally false (as nearly as I recollect the expression) upon which the Gentlemen both instantly rose Colo. M. rising first and saying do you say I represented falsely, you are a Scoundrel. Colo. H. said I will meet you like a Gentleman Colo. M Said I am ready get your pistols, both said we shall not or it will not be settled any other way. Mr C & my self rising at the same moment put our selves between them Mr. C. repeating Gentlemen Gentlemen be moderate or some such word to appease them, we all sat down & the two Gentn, Colo. M. & Colo. H. soon got moderate, I observed however very clearly to my mind that Colo. H. appeared extremely agitated & Colo. M. appeared soon to get quite cool and repeated his intire ignorance of the publication & his surprize to find it published, observing to Colo. H. if he would not be so warm & intemperate he would explain everything he Knew of the business & how it appeared to him. …

the Gentlemen all rose Mr. C observing that as there would be an explanation by all three Gentlemen (vizt.) Mr V. Mr M. & Colo M that any warmth or unguarded expressions that had happened during the interview should be buried and considered as tho’ it never had happened. Colo. M. said in that respect I shall be governed by Colo. H’s conduct. Colo H said he thought that any intemperate expressions should be forgotten to which Colo. M. agreed. (More here)

43. Oliver Wolcott’s statement, 7/12/1797

After meeting with Monroe, Hamilton began to collect evidence to support his version of the Reynolds affair. The day after Hamilton’s meeting with Monroe, Wolcott wrote a lengthy statement giving his recollection of the meeting on December 15, 1792, between Hamilton, Muhlenberg, Monroe, and Venable. This is the most detailed account we have of that meeting. Reynolds Pamphlet, Appendix XXIV:

The object of the interview was to remove from the minds of those Gentlemen, certain suspicions which had been excited by suggestions of James Reynolds then in Prison and Jacob Clingman a Clerk to Mr. Muhlenberg, (against both of whom prosecutions had been instituted for frauds against the United States,) that Mr. Hamilton had been concerned in promoting or assisting speculations in the public funds, contrary to Law and his duty as Secretary of the Treasury.

The conference was commenced on the part of Mr. Monroe by reading certain Notes from Mr. Hamilton and a Narrative of conversations which had been held with the said Reynolds and Clingman. After the grounds upon which the suspicions rested, had been fully stated, Mr. Hamilton entered into an explanation and by a variety of written documents, which were read fully evinced, that there was nothing in the transactions to which Reynolds and Clingman had referred, which had any connection with, or relation to speculations in the Funds, claims upon the United States, or any public or Official transactions or duties whatever. This was rendered so completely evident, that Mr. Venable requested Mr. Hamilton to desist from exhibiting further proofs. As however an explanation had been desired by the Gentlemen before named, Mr. Hamilton insisted upon being allowed to read such documents as he possessed, for the purpose of obviating every shadow of doubt respecting the propriety of his Official conduct.

After Mr. Hamilton’s explanation terminated Messrs. Monroe, Muhlenberg and Venable, severally acknowledged their entire satisfaction, that the affair had no relation to Official duties, and that it ought not to affect or impair the public confidence in Mr. Hamilton’s character; at the same time, they expressed their regrets at the trouble which the explanation had occasioned. During a conversation in the streets of Philadelphia immediately after retiring from Mr. Hamilton’s house, Mr. Venable repeated to me, that the explanation was entirely satisfactory, and expressed his concern, that he had been a party to whom it had been made. Though in the course of the conversation Mr. Venable expressed his discontent with public measures which had been recommended by Mr. Hamilton, yet he manifested a high respect for his Talents, and confidence in the integrity of his character.

When Mr. Reynolds was in Prison, it was reported to me, that he had threatened to make disclosures injurious to the character of some head of a Department. This report I communicated to Mr. Hamilton, who advised me to take no step towards a liberation of Reynolds, while such a report existed and remained unexplained. This was antecedent to the interview between Mr. Hamilton and Messrs. Monroe, Muhlenberg and Venable, or to any knowledge on my part of the circumstances by which it was occasioned.

The Offence for which Reynolds and Clingman were prosecuted by my direction, was for suborning a person to commit perjury for the purpose of obtaining Letters of Administration on the estate of a person who was living. After the prosecution was commenced, Clingman confessed to me, that he and Reynolds were possessed of lists of names and sums due to certain Creditors of the United States, which lists had been obtained from the Treasury. Both Clingman and Reynolds obstinately refused for some time to deliver up the lists or to disclose the name of the person, through whose infidelity they had been obtained. At length on receiving a promise from me, that I would endeavour to effect their liberation from the consequences of the prosecution, they consented to surrender the lists, to restore the balance which had been fraudulently obtained, and to reveal the name of the person, by whom the lists had been furnished.

This was done conformably to the proposition contained in a letter from Clingman dated December 4, 1792, of which a copy is hereunto annexed [NOTE: No. 24???]. The original letter and the lists which were surrendered now remain in my possession. Agreeably to my engagement I informed Jared Ingersol Esqr. Attorney General of Pennsylvania, that an important discovery had been made, and the condition by which it could be rendered useful to the public in preventing future frauds; in consequence of which, the prosecutions against Clingman and Reynolds were dismissed.

In the publication referred to, it is suggested that the lists were furnished by Mr. Duer; this is an injurious mistake—nothing occurred at any time to my knowledge, which could give colour to a suspicion, that Mr. Duer, was in any manner directly or indirectly concerned with or privy to the transaction. The infidelity was committed by a clerk in the office of the Register. Mr. Duer resigned his office in March, 1790, while the Treasury was at New-York—the Clerk who furnished the lists was first employed in Philadelphia in January 1791. The Accounts from which the lists were taken, were all settled at the Treasury subsequent to the time last mentioned; on the discovery above stated the Clerk was dismissed, and has not since been employed in the public offices.

The name of the Clerk who was dismissed has not been publicly mentioned, for a reason which appears in Clingman’s letter; but if the disclosure is found necessary to the vindication of an innocent character, it shall be made. (More here)

44. John B. Church to Hamilton, 7/13/1797

The next day, Hamilton’s brother-in-law wrote to him. Aside from Hamilton’s brief mention of his “unoffending and amiable wife” in the Reynolds Pamphlet, this seems to be the only record of Eliza’s reaction to the scandal.

Eliza is well she Put into my Hand the Newspaper with James Thomsonn Callender’s Letter to you, but it makes not the least Impression on her, only that she considers the whole Knot of those opposed to you to be ⟨Scoundrels⟩, the Postman brought to your House whilst I was there a Letter which as I saw was from Mr Wolcott, I took, the Liberty to open, it contained the inclos’d Certificate [No. 43 above] …

[Andrew G. Fraunces] told me that [William B.] Giles [Republican, former member of the House of Representatives from Virginia], [James] Maddison and [William] Finlay [Republican member of the House of Representatives from Pennsylvania] had frequent Meetings at his Brothers House and that they used a variety of Perswasions to prevail on him to accuse you of being concern’d with Reynolds in Speculation of Certificates altho he repeatedly assur’d them that it was not true, yet they were dispos’d to go every Length for the Purpose of injuring your Character. I suppose Munroe will be at Philadelphia tomorrow, and I think from what I observed Yesterday that he is inclin’d to be very generous and that he is much embarrass’d how to get out of the Scrape in which he has involv’d himself, I told him that Muhlenberg & Venable had both written to you but I did not communicate any part of the Contents of their Letters. …

My Angelica is not very well—she complains that her Throat is a little sore, I hope it will not be of long Duration. … (More here)

45. Noah Webster, statement of 7/13/1797

As a lawyer, Hamilton knows the value of discrediting a witness. Callender asserted in History of the United States that Noah Webster had mentioned Hamilton as a presidential candidate, and that a hint was dropped to Hamilton that if he ran, the Reynolds papers would be made public (No. 34.D above). Suddenly, said Callender, Hamilton’s name was no longer mentioned by Webster. In the document published as Reynolds Pamphlet,  Appendix XLIII (more here), Webster states that he “never uttered, wrote or published a Hint or Suggestion of the kind; nor did I ever receive from Mr. Hamilton or any other person either directly or indirectly, any Hint or Communication to discontinue any notice or Suggestions on that subject.”

46. Monroe and Muhlenberg to Hamilton, 7/17/1797

On 7/16, Monroe sent a note to Hamilton stating that he would be meeting Muhlenberg that day, and they would send a joint reply to Hamilton’s query (Reynolds Pamphlet, Appendix XXXII). Venable had already departed for Virginia. On 7/17, Muhlenberg and Monroe wrote to Hamilton (Appendix XXXIII). The “respectable character in Virginia” is almost certainly Thomas Jefferson, leader of the Republican party.

We nevertheless readily give such explanation upon that point as we are now able to give; the original papers having been deposited in the hands of a respectable character in Virginia soon after the transaction took place, and where they now are.

We think proper to observe that as we had no agency in or knowledge of the publication of these papers till they appeared, so of course we could have none in the comments that were made on them. …

The impression which we left in your mind as stated in that number [of Callender’s History; see No. 34.E above, and No. 30], was that which rested on our own, and which was that the explanation of the nature of your connection with Reynolds which you then gave removed the suspicions we had before entertained of your being connected with him in speculation. Had not this been the case we should certainly not have left that impression on your mind, nor should we have desisted from the plan we had contemplated in the commencement of the inquiry, of laying the papers before the President of the U. States

[A]s the notes contained in No. 5 [of the History of the United States] were intended only as memoranda of the explanation which you gave us in that interview, as likewise the information which was afterwards given us by Mr. Clingham on the same subject, and without a view to any particular use, they were entered concisely and without form …

We feel too very sensibly the injustice of the intimation that any of us were influenced by party spirit, because we well know that such as not the case: nor can we otherwise than be the more surprized that such an intimation should now be given, since we well remember that our conduct upon that occasion excited your sensibility,  and obtained from you an unequivocal acknowledgment of our candour. … [More here]

47. Hamilton to Monroe and Muhlenberg, 7/17/1797

Hamilton clarifies what he meant by “party spirit”: that Reynolds and Clingman sought to gain their freedom with the assistance of Hamilton’s opponents in the Republican party. Reynolds Pamphlet, Appendix XXXIV:

[Clingman and Reynolds] sought by the favor of party spirit to obtain liberation from prison – but tho’ they may have rested their hopes on this ground it is not said, nor in my opinion implied, that you in making the inquiry were actuated by that spirit …

The suggestions to my prejudice were early made, and were connected with the endavour to obtain relief through Mr. Muhlenberg … Reynolds and Clingman, knowing the existence in Congress of a party hostile to my conduct in administration, and that the newspapers devoted to it, frequently contained insinuations of my being concerned in improper speculations, formed upon that basis the plan of conciliating the favour and aid of that party towards getting rid of the prosecution by accusing me of Speculation. … [More here]

48. Hamilton to Monroe and Monroe to Hamilton, 7/16 or 17/1797 to 7/25/1797

Hamilton is not satisfied with Monroe’s reply. On July 16 or 17 he writes to Monroe again. Reynolds Pamphlet, Appendix XXXV:

It appears to me on reflection requisite to have some explanation on the note of January 2, 1793 [No. 33 above], with your signature only. It may be inferred from the attention to record the information of Clingman therein stated after what had passed between us that you meant to give credit and sanction to the suggestion that the defence set up by me was an imposition – You will, I doubt not, be sensible of the propriety of my requesting you to explain yourself on this point also. [More here]

Monroe replies within a day (Appendix XXXVI):

It is impossible for me to trace back at this moment, occupied as I am with other concerns, all the impressions of my mind at the different periods at which the memoranda were made … I neither meant to give or imply any opinion of my own as to its [the memo’s] contents. I simply entered the communication as I received it, reserving to myself the liberty to form an opinion upon it at such future time as I found convenient, paying due regard to all the circumstances connected with it. [More here]

Hamilton replies the following day, 7/18/1797 (Appendix XXXVII):

I am sorry to say, that as I understand it, it is unsatisfactory – it appears to me liable to this inference that the information of Clingman had revived the suspicions which my explanation had removed. This would include the very derogatory suspicion, that I had concerted with Reynolds not only the fabrication of all the letters and documents under his hand but also the forgery of the letters produced as those of Mrs. Reynolds – since these last unequivocally contradict the pretence communicated by Clingman. I therefore request you to say whether this inference be intended. [More here]

Monroe reiterates the same day (Appendix XXXVIII), “I did not convey or mean to convey any opinion of my own, as to the faith which was due to it, but left it to stand on its own merits reserving to myself the right to judge of it …”

In his letter to Monroe of 7/20/1797, Hamilton is still far from satisfied (Appendix XXXIX).

In my last letter to you I proposed a simple and direct question, to which I had hoped an answer equally simple and direct. That which I have received, though amounting, if I understand it, to an answer in the negative, is conceived in such circuitous terms as may leave an obscurity upon the point which ought not to have remained. In this situation, I feel it proper to tell you frankly my impression of the matter.

The having any communication with Clingman, after that with me, receiving from him and recording information depending on the mere veracity of a man undeniably guilty of subornation of perjury, and one whom the very documents which he himself produced to you shewed sufficiently to be the accomplice of a vindictive attempt upon me, [see No. 29B] leaving it in a situation where by possibility, it might rise up at a future and remote day to inculpate me, without the possibility perhaps from the lapse of time of establishing the refutation, and all this without my privity or knowlege, was in my opinion in a high degree indelicate and improper. To have given or intended to give the least sanction or credit after all that was known to you, to the mere assertion of either of the three persons Clingman Reynolds or his wife would have betrayed a disposition towards me which if it appeared to exist would merit epithets the severest that I could apply. [More here]

On the following day (7/21/1797), Monroe again refuses to retract his statement. Not only that, he speaks as of Callender’s accusations are new, and Hamilton has to prove again that he didn’t engage in speculation. Appendix XL:

Your favor of yesterday (to use your own language) gives an indelicate and improper coloring to the topic to which it refers. I will endeavor in a few words to place the points in discussion where they ought to stand.

It was never our intention other than to fulfill our duty to the publick, in our enquiry into your conduct, and with delicacy & propriety to yourself, nor have we done otherwise. …

I shod. have considered myself as highly criminal, advised as I was of your conduct, had I not united in the enquiry into it, for what offense can be more reprehensible in an officer charged with the finances of his country, than to be engaged in speculation? And what other officer who had reason to suspect this could justify himself for failing to examine into the truth of the charge? We did so. Apprized you of what we had done. Heared yr. explanation and were satisfied with it. It is proper to observe that in the expln. you gave, you admitted all the facts upon which our opinion was founded, but yet accounted for them, and for your connection with Reynolds, on another principle. Tis proper also to observe that we admitted your explanation upon the faith of your own statment, and upon the documents you presented, tho’ I do not recollect they were proved or that proof was required of them.

You will remember that in this interview in wh. we acknowledged ourselves satisfied with the explanation you gave, we did not bind ourselves not to hear further information on the subject, or even not to proceed further in case we found it our duty so to do. This wod. have been improper, because subsequent facts might be disclosed which might change our opinion, and in which case it wod. be our duty to proceed further. And with respect to Mr. Clingman we thought it highly proper to hear what he had to say, because we had before heard him on the subject, and because you had acknowledged all his previous information to be true, and because he was a party and had a right to be heard on it. You will observe by the entry that we did not seek him, nor even apprize him of the expln. recd. from you. on the contrary that he sought us and in consequence of information recd. from Mr. Wolcott.

The subject is now before the publick and I repeat to you what I have said before, that I do not wish any opinion of my own to be understood as conveyed in the entry which bears my single signature: because when I entered it I had no opinion upon it, as sufficiently appears by my subsequent conduct, having never acted upon it, and deposited the papers with a friend when I left my country, in whose hands they still are. Whether the imputations against you as to speculation, are well or ill founded, depends upon the facts & circumstances which appear against you & upon yr. defense. If you shew that they are ill founded, I shall be contented, for I have never undertaken to accuse you since our interview, nor do I now give any opinion on it, reserving to myself the liberty to form one, after I see your defense: being resolved however so far as depends on me, not to bar the door to free enquiry as to the merits of the case in either view.

This contains a just state of this affr. so far as I remember it, which I presume will be satisfactory to you; and to which I shall only add that as on the one hand I shall always be ready to do justice to the claims of any one upon me, so I shall always be equally prepared to vindicate my conduct and character against the attacks of any one who may assail them. [More here]

Hamilton is furious. Callender’s accusation rests on Monroe’s note of a meeting with Clingman (No. 33 above), which Monroe has refused to retract. He writes the next day (7/22/1797) that he’s going to publish a piece defending himself from Monroe’s “malignant and dishonest” behavior. Reynolds Pamphlet, Appendix XLVI:

I have maturely considered your letter of yesterday delivered to me at about Nine last and cannot find in it cause of satisfaction.

There appears to me in the first place an attempt to prop the veracity of Clingman by an assertion which is not correct, namely that I had acknowleged all his previous information to be true. This was not & could not be the fact. I acknowleged parts of it to be true but certainly not the whole—on the contrary, I am able to prove that a material part of it, according to its obvious intent, is false, and I know other parts of it to be so. Indeed in one sense I could not have made the acknowlegement alleged without acknowleging myself guilty.

In the second place, there appears a design at all events to drive me to the necessity of a formal defence—while you know that the extreme delicacy of its nature might be very disagreeable to me. It is my opinion that as you have been the cause, no matter how, of the business appearing in a shape which gives it an adventitious importance, and this against the intent of a confidence reposed in you by me, as contrary to what was delicate and proper, you recorded Clingman’s testimony without my privity and thereby gave it countenance, as I had given you an explanation with which you was satisfied and which could leave no doubt upon a candid mind—it was incumbent upon you as a man of honor and sensibility to have come forward in a manner that would have shielded me completely from the unpleasant effects brought upon me by your agency. This you have not done.

On the contrary by the affected reference of the matter to a defence which I am to make, and by which you profess your opinion is to be decided—you imply that your suspicions are still alive. And as nothing appears to have shaken your original conviction but the wretched tale of Clingman, which you have thought fit to record, it follows that you are pleased to attach a degree of weight to that communication which cannot be accounted for on any fair principle. The result in my mind is that you have been and are actuated by motives towards me malignant and dishonorable; nor can I doubt that this will be the universal opinion when the publication of the whole affair which I am about to make shall be seen. [More here]

In his letter to Hamilton of 7/25/1797, Monroe continues to insist he had the right to write down what Clingman said. Appendix XLVII:

I received your Letter of the 22d. instant by Major Jackson and have paid it the attention it merits.

Always anxious to do justice to every one it would afford me pleasure could I answer it in a manner satisfactory to your feelings: but while the respect which I owe to myself forbids my replying in that harsh stile which you have adopted, that same respect with an attention to truth, according to the impressions existing in my mind, will compell me upon all occasions to place this affr. on its true ground.

Why you have adopted this stile I know not. If your object is to render this affair a personal one between us you might have been more explicit, since you well know if that is yr disposition what my determination is, and to which I shall firmly adhere. But if it is to illustrate truth and place the question of its true merits, as I have always been disposed to do, it appears illy calculated to promote that end.

I have constantly said and I repeat again that in making an entry which appears after our interview with you, and which ought to have been signed by the other gentln. as well as myself, I never intended to convey an opinion upon it, nor does it convey any opinion of my own, but merely notes what Clingman stated, leaving it upon his own credit only. But you wish me to state that this communication made no impression on my mind, and this I shall not state because in so doing I shod. be incorrect. On the other hand I do not wish to be understood as intimating that this communication had absolutely changed my opinion, for in that event I shod. have acted on it, whereas the contrary was the case as you well know. … [More here]

The two continued their verbal sparring and threatened to set a date for a duel: see Hamilton to Monroe 7/28/1797 (Appendix XLVIII), Monroe to Hamilton 7/31/1797 (Appendix XLIX), Hamilton to Monroe 8/4/1797  (Appendix L), Monroe to Hamilton 8/6/1797 (Appendix LI), and Hamilton to Monroe 8/9/1797 (Appendix LII). The threat of a duel lingered until early 1798: see Monroe to Hamilton 12/2/1797, and Hamilton to Monroe, January 1798. For more, see here, at “Following the July 11 meeting”.

Meanwhile, beginning in late July, Hamilton gathered information for his defense. Maria Reynolds had divorced James Reynolds in 1793 and married Jacob Clingman; the two of them were living in Virginia by 1798. James Reynolds faded in and out of the record: in 1798, he appeared in a legal case as a grocer in New York. (See Founders’ Archives, introductory note to Wolcott’s 7/3/1797 letter: search “divorce”.) Hamilton surely didn’t keep in touch with Reynoldses, and his Republican enemies didn’t seem able to find them either. (How did anyone find anyone at all in the days before phone books and social media, if their social circles didn’t intersect?)

49. Mary Williams, sworn statement 7/21/1797

Williams confirms that she is familiar with Maria Reynolds’s handwriting, and that the letters in Hamilton’s possession (presumably Nos. 1, 8, 9, 10, and/or 12) were written by Maria. (Reynolds Pamphlet, Appendix XLI, here.)

50. Hamilton to Jeremiah Wadsworth, 7/28/1797

Hamilton also writes to another acquaintance from Philadelphia, asking for confirmation of Maria Reynolds’s handwritingWadsworth’s reply is No. 52 below.

I know you have seen the late publications, in which the affair of Reynold’s is revived. I should have taken no notice of them had not the names of Mughlenberg Monroe & Venable given them an artificial importance. But I thought under this circumstance, I could not but attend to them. The affair has so turned that I am obliged to publish every thing.

But from the lapse of time I am somewhat embarrassed to prove Mrs. Reynold’s hand writing. Thinking it probable, as she was a great scribbler you must have received some notes from her when she applied to you for assistance, I send you one of her notes to me and if your recollection serves would be much obliged to you to return it with your affidavit annexed—“That you received letters from Mrs. Reynolds, conceived yourself to be acquainted with her hand writing & that you verily believe this letter to be of her hand writing.”

If your memory does not serve you then return the letter alone to me. … Dont neglect me nor lose time. (More here)

51. Mr. Folwell’s statement, 7/30/1797

Edward Jones, in Philadelphia, had promised to interview a Mr. Folwell, a printer, regarding the Reynoldses. The Folwell letter – previously known only from Allan McLane Hamilton’s transcription in Intimate Life of Alexander Hamilton – recently surfaced in a Sotheby’s auction of Hamilton materials and sold for $56,250.

Folwell’s statement of 7/30/1797, sold at Sotheby’s in January 18, 2017. Top half of p. 1.

In a note at the end of the appendices to the Reynolds Pamphlet, Hamilton notes:

It may be proper to observe that in addition to the original letters from Mrs. Reynolds, there are in the hands of the gentleman with whom the papers are deposited, two original letters from her, one addressed to Mr. R. Folwell – the other to a Mrs. Miller, and both of them signed Maria Clingman, in the former of which she mentions the circumstasnce of her being married to Clingman. [Here]

PIC of Folwell letter from Sotheby’s

Having observed, by a Perusal of the History of the United States, that Odium was levelled at the Character of Col. Hamilton, and hearing that he intended to answer the Charges, I thought I possessed the Knowledge of some Traits in the Character of the Persons with whom he seems to be in Company with in that Work, that would in some Measure remove, if known, the Imputations levelled at the public Character of that Gentleman. Wishing, therefore, to see Right prevail, and Innocence protected, I suggested my Knowledge of the most material Incidents that would render improbable, in my Opinion, the Imputations contained in that work. By your Request, I roughly summoned them up; and am sorry, lest some material Point does not strike my Mind, that these Details have never come to the Hand of Col. Hamilton. To remove, however, this Disappointment, I will invoke my Recollection, and enter on the Particulars.

A few days after Mrs. Reynolds’ first appearance in Philadelphia, a Relation of hers requested my Mother to receive her for a few Days, into our House, as she was a Stranger in the City, and had come here to endeavour to reclaim a prodigal Husband, who had deserted her and his Creditors at New York. This was readily consented to when her innocent Countenance appeared to show an innocent Heart. Not more than two Days after she was at our House. She found her Husband was here—had been in Gaol, and was but just liberated. In a Day or two after she said, they had an Interview, but, could not come to Terms of Pacification. Her Mind, at this Time, was far from being tranquil or consistent, for, almost at the same Minute that she would declare her Respect for her Husband, cry, and feel distressed, they would vanish, and Levity would succeed, with bitter Execrations on her Husband. This Inconsistency and Folly was ascribed to a troubled, but innocent and harmless Mind. In one or other of these Paroxysms, she told me, so infamous was the Perfidy of Reynolds, that he had frequently enjoined and insisted that she should insinuate herself on certain high and influential Characters,—endeavour to make Assignations with them, and actually prostitute herself to gull Money from them. About five days after she first came at our House, Mr. Reynolds had an Interview; and we, while she commanded Commiseration, were induced to warn her to depart, that a Character so infamous as her Husband should not enter our House. She moved to a reputable Quaker Lady’s at No. —— North Grant Street; where they lived together; but, so the Family said, did not sleep together.

Lately I have understood that Letters were frequently found in the Entry inviting her Abroad;—and that at Night she would fly off, as was supposed to answer their Contents. This House getting eventually too hot for them, they made their Exit. During the Period of their Residence there, she informed me she had proposed pecuniary Aid should be rendered by her to her Husband in his Speculations, by her placing Money in a certain Gentleman’s Hands, to buy of him whatever public Paper he had to sell, and that she would have that which was purchased given to her,—and, if she could find Confidence in his future Prudence, she would eventually return him what he sold. From this House, if I recollect, they made their Exit for a short Time from Philadelphia; but soon returned; and gave me an Invitation to wait on them at No. —— North Sixth Street. At this Time he wanted me to adventure with him in Turnpike Script,—to subscribe for which he was immediately to embark for Lancaster. The first Deposit for which was but trifling a Share—whether one or ten Dollars I do not recollect. Some considerable Time after (if necessary, Data can be procured) they removed and lived in stile in a large House in Vine Street, next to the Corner of Fifth. Here I had an Invitation, if I recollect, and being disposed to see if possible how People supported Grandeur, without apparently Friends, Money or Industry, I accordingly called. Mrs. Reynolds told me her Husband was in Gaol; and on asking her for what, she said he had got a Man to administer to the Estate of a supposed deceased Soldier and give him a Power of Attorney to recover what was due to him by the Public. That he had accordingly recovered it, but that incautiously and imprudently having given the Heir-Apparent an indemnifying Bond, that when the Soldier came to Life, the administration delivered the indemnifying Bond up to the real Heir, that then he was detected. That she said a Mr. Clingman, his Partner, was in the same Predicament. Before this Conversation was ended, in entered Mr. Clingman, to whom I was introduced. She referred to him for a more correct Narrative. But his Conversation seemed to me as if he wished to darken instead of throwing Light on this Information. He asked her what Luck she had in her Applications for Reynold’s Liberation? She said she had called on the Governor, Mr. [Thomas] Mifflin, and that he felt for her: Referred her to Mr. [Alexander J.] Dallas and that he felt also. She said she called on Mr. Hamilton, and several other Gentlemen; and that they had all felt.

In a few Days after Reynolds was liberated, possibly in consequence of the Coincidence of Sympathy these Gentlemen had in Feeling. Here the Curtain dropt from my View, their Career, till perhaps a Year or two after Mrs. Reynolds wrote me a Letter to call on her at a very reputable and genteel Lodging House in Arch Street, No.  . In this note she apprized me of her Marriage with Mr. Clingman, which is annexed. Her Business she gave me to understand, was with me, to clear up her Character in East Nottingham, Cecil County, Maryland. That she lived there happily with Mr. Clingman, at the House of a Distant Relation of mine, till she had mentioned the knowing of our Family in Philadelphia; and that a Cousin of mine had given out that she must be the same Person who had left with her an infamous Character by the name of Mrs. Reynolds. She wished me to clear it up. I expostulated on the Inconsistency of this, that as it was bad before she had certainly increased it, as her Husband, Reynolds, I understood was alive in N. York. She said she had a Divorce; and that only one Fault she had incurred in her Change,—that she got married to Clingman one half Hour before she obtained the divorce. Since I have heard Nothing from her; only that she wrote me a very pathetic Letter—begging, as she was to return, that I would clear up her Character. This I have mislaid—but it would move any one almost to serve her, that was not perfectly acquainted with her Character, confirmed by actual Observation … (As transcribed in Intimate Life, here)

52. Jeremiah Wadsworth to Hamilton, 8/2/1797

Wadsworth can’t oblige Hamilton by identifying Maria Reynolds’s handwriting, but he gives a description of his meeting with her in December 1792. Maria’s story to Wadsworth agrees with Hamilton’s statement that the two were having an affair. From a draft in Wadsworth’s hand:

I have not the least knowledge of Mrs. Reynolds’s hand writing nor do I remember ever to have recd a line from her if I did they were destroyed but a letter or two for you which by Your request I returned to her or destroyed. The first time I ever saw or heared of her She came to my lodgings one Morning—and stated the Situation of her husband and desired me to apply to You Mr Woolcott & General Mifflin for his Liberation told me she was the Wife of Reynolds the Sister of Col DuBois. I told her I knew her husband. that his Character was bad and no interference of mine would be proper nor could it suceed: at this moment John Vaughn came in on a Visit & supposeing me engaged offered to retire. I told him to stay the Lady was going she then said she wished to say something in private. Mr. V took leave. And she immediately fell into a flood of Tears and told me a long storey about her application to You for Money when in distress in her husbands Absence & that it ended in a amour & was discovered by her husband from a letter she had written to you which fell into his hands. I told her I would see Mr. Woolcott & G Mifflin The next Morning I told Mr. Woolcott what had passed he then related the transaction for which Clingn & Reys had been committed. I then went to Mifflin and told him I came at ye request of Mrs. Reynolds. he imediately told me that she had told him the Story of the amour. I imediately left him went to Mrs Reynolds and told her who I had seen that all interference on my part was at an end that in my Opinion her husband must undergo a trial. She then mention the transaction of Baron Glaubeck would be brot into View [NOTE: see here on Glaubeck,  and Chernow pp. 428-30 on the Fraunces/Clingman fiasco] and be injurious to You. I told her it was fortunate that I knew more about Glaubecks affair than any body and it could not injure you or Any body else. A Mr. Clingman whom I had never seen before and seemed to have been sent for was present part of the time. From this interview I was fully confirmed in my Opinion before formed that the whole business was a combination among them to Swindle you. Mrs Reynolds called on me again and urged me deliver letters to You. You refused to receive them & desired me to return letters for You or destroy them I do not know which. I rec’d several Messages from her and again went to her house told her you would hold no correspondence with her and gave her my Opinion as at first that her husband must undergo a trial. …

I am sorry you have found it necessary to publish any thing for it will be easy to invent new Calumnies & you may be kept continualy employed in answring. be Assured it never will be in the power of your enemies to give the public an opinion that you have Speculated in ye funds, nor do they expect it: I should have replied by this days Post—but the Mail arrives here at nine at night & goes out at Two in the Morning. (More here)

53. Draft of the Reynolds Pamphlet, August 1797

As a writer, I’m fascinated to see other writers work out their thoughts. In the draft, for example, Hamilton writes:

With such cannibals of character, nothing is sacred. The peace even of an innocent and amiable wife is a welcome victim to their greedy insatiate fury against the husband. And the secret irregularities of a father are without scruple to be recorded and handed down for the imitation of his children. (More here)

The published version is actually toned down:

With such men, nothing is sacred. Even the peace of an unoffending and amiable wife is a welcome repast to their insatiate fury against the husband. (More here)

But I’ll leave you to read the draft, if you’re interested. Below is the outline of the printed version of Observations on Certain Documents Contained in No. V & VI of “The History of the United States for the Year 1796,” In Which the Charge of Speculation Against Alexander Hamilton, Late Secretary of the Treasury, is Fully Refuted. Written by Himself, with occasional excerpts. I’ve also given you a few words here and there to help you find your place in the complete text.

Outline of the Reynolds Pamphlet

I. Introduction

A. Jacobins tell lies

The Jacobins lie about many good men. [NOTE: the most radical of the French Revolutionists; hence, by extension, their American supporters, including Jefferson, Madison, and the Republicans. Compare Callender’s opening that the Federalists are practiced in the art of “calumny and detraction,” No. 34.A above.]

[T]he most direct falshoods are invented and propagated, with undaunted effrontery and unrelenting perseverance. Lies often detected and refuted are still revived and repeated, in the hope that the refutation may have been forgotten or that the frequency and boldness of accusation may supply the place of truth and proof.

If, luckily for the conspirators against honest fame, any little foible or folly can be traced out in one, whom they desire to persecute, it becomes at once in their hands a two-edged sword, by which to wound the public character and stab the private felicity of the person. With such men, nothing is sacred. Even the peace of an unoffending and amiable wife is a welcome repast to their insatiate fury against the husband.

I ought to be flattered to be attacked by them!

How then can I, with pretensions every way inferior [to those of George Washington] expect to escape? And if truly this be, as every appearance indicates, a conspiracy of vice against virtue, ought I not rather to be flattered, that I have been so long and so peculiarly an object of persecution? Ought I to regret, if there be any thing about me, so formidable to the Faction as to have made me worthy to be distinguished by the plentytude of its rancour and venom?

B. Attacks on me as secretary of the Treasury

When I took office as secretary of the Treasury,

I dare appeal to my immediate fellow citizens of whatever political party for the truth of the assertion, that no man ever carried into public life a more unblemished pecuniary reputation, than that with which I undertook the office of Secretary of the Treasury; a character marked by an indifference to the acquisition of property rather than an avidity for it.

But I have repeatedly been accused of being a man “who did not scruple to sacrifice the public to his private interest, his duty and honor to the sinister accumulation of wealth.”

  1. I have been accused of costing the U.S. millions of dollars because I insisted on paying all debts in full, including arrears of interest. [Begins: “But on this head”. NOTE: See First Report IV.C and Callender, History, 34.F.i above.
  2. There was a hearing in the House of Representatives about my conduct as secretary of the Treasury: I was exonerated of all charges. [NOTE: The investigation took place from December 1793 to April 1794, at the instigation of William Branch Giles of Virginia: more here.]
  3. I gave notice well before my resignation from Treasury; no one proposed holding an inquiry. [Begins: “Yet unwilling”]
  4. The claims of Andrew G. Fraunces were reviewed by the House of Representatives in 1794 and dismissed. [Begins: “On another occasion a worthless man”. See Chernow pp. 428-30 on Fraunces and his connections to Clingman and Beckley.]

Despite all these vindications, the Jacobins kept attacking me, in hopes that people would finally come to believe that if there’s smoke, there must be fire.

Was it not to have been expected that these repeated demonstrations of the injustice of the accusations hazarded against me would have abashed the enterprise of my calumniators? However natural such an expectation may seem, it would betray an ignorance of the true character of the Jacobin system. It is a maxim deeply ingrafted in that dark system, that no character, however upright, is a match for constantly reiterated attacks, however false. It is well understood by its disciples, that every calumny makes some proselites and even retains some; since justification seldom circulates as rapidly and as widely as slander. The number of those who from doubt proceed to suspicion and thence to belief of imputed guilt is continually augmenting; and the public mind fatigued at length with resistance to the calumnies which eternally assail it, is apt in the end to sit down with the opinion that a person so often accused cannot be entirely innocent.

C. The most recent attack on me, in A History of the United States for 1796

  1. Why don’t I ignore this vile attack? Because three prominent men are mentioned in support of it [i.e., Congressmen James Monroe, Frederick Muhlenberg, and Abraham Venable].

I owe perhaps to my friends an apology for condescending to give a public explanation. A just pride with reluctance stoops to a formal vindication against so despicable a contrivance and is inclined rather to oppose to it the uniform evidence of an upright character. This would be my conduct on the present occasion, did not the tale seem to derive a sanction from the names of three men of some weight and consequence in the society …

2. What the History accuses me of:

The charge against me is a connection with one James Reynolds for purposes of improper pecuniary speculation. My real crime is an amorous connection with his wife, for a considerable time with his privity and connivance, if not originally brought on by a combination between the husband and wife with the design to extort money from me.

3. Telling what really happened will hurt my wife, but she’ll approve because it will save my good name.

This confession is not made without a blush. I cannot be the apologist of any vice because the ardour of passion may have made it mine. I can never cease to condemn myself for the pang, which it may inflict in a bosom eminently intitled to all my gratitude, fidelity and love. But that bosom will approve, that even at so great an expence, I should effectually wipe away a more serious stain from a name, which it cherishes with no less elevation than tenderness. The public too will I trust excuse the confession. The necessity of it to my defence against a more heinous charge could alone have extorted from me so painful an indecorum.

4. An analysis of the documents presented in A History of the United States in 1796 shows why the story there is unlikely. [Begins: “before I proceed to an exhibition”]

a. Reynolds would have been a terrible choice of co-conspirator:

All the documents shew, and it is otherwise matter of notoriety, that Reynolds was an obscure, unimportant and profligate man. Nothing could be more weak, because nothing could be more unsafe than to make use of such an instrument; to use him too without any intermediate agent more worthy of confidence who might keep me out of sight, to write him numerous letters recording the objects of the improper connection (for this is pretended and that the letters were afterwards burnt at my request) to unbosom myself to him with a prodigality of confidence, by very unnecessarily telling him, as he alleges, of a connection in speculation between myself and Mr. Duer. It is very extraordinary, if the head of the money department of a country, being unprincipled enough to sacrifice his trust and his integrity, could not have contrived objects of profit sufficiently large to have engaged the co-operation of men of far greater importance than Reynolds, and with whom there could have been due safety, and should have been driven to the necessity of unkennelling such a reptile to be the instrument of his cupidity.

b. The total paid to Reynolds in the documents cited was about $1,100. It’s a ridiculously small sum if I stole millions. [See I.B.1 above.] However, the amount paid to Reynolds and my correspondence with him make perfect sense if I was poor:

[I]f we suppose this officer [Hamilton] to be living upon an inadequate salary, without any collateral pursuits of gain, the appearances then are simple and intelligible enough, applying to them the true key.

c. Reynolds and Clingman have never specified what speculation I’m supposed to have indulged in.

It is also a remarkable and very instructive fact, that notwithstanding the great confidence and intimacy, which subsisted between Clingman, Reynolds and his wife, and which continued till after the period of the liberation of the two former from the prosecution against them, neither of them has ever specified the objects of the pretended connection in speculation between Reynolds and me. The pretext that the letters which contained the evidence were destroyed is no answer. They could not have been forgotten and might have been disclosed from memory. The total omission of this could only have proceeded from the consideration that detail might have led to detection. The destruction of letters besides is a fiction, which is refuted not only by the general improbability, that I should put myself upon paper with so despicable a person on a subject which might expose me to infamy, but by the evidence of extreme caution on my part in this particular, resulting from the laconic and disguised form of the notes which are produced. They prove incontestibly that there was an unwillingness to trust Reynolds with my hand writing. The true reason was, that I apprehended he might make use of it to impress upon others the belief of some pecuniary connection with me, and besides implicating my character might render it the engine of a false credit, or turn it to some other sinister use. Hence the disguise; for my conduct in admitting at once and without hesitation that the notes were from me proves that it was never my intention by the expedient of disguising my hand to shelter myself from any serious inquiry.

d. Reynolds and Clingman only mentioned this supposed speculation when they were charged with another crime [Nos. 27-28 above]; and Reynolds stated that he wanted revenge on me [No. 29B].

Three important inferences flow from these circumstances—one that the accusation against me was an auxiliary to the efforts of Clingman and Reynolds to get released from a disgraceful prosecution—another that there was a vindicative spirit against me at least on the part of Reynolds—the third, that he confided in Clingman as a coadjutor in the plan of vengeance. These circumstances, according to every estimate of the credit due to accusers, ought to destroy their testimony. To what credit are persons intitled, who in telling a story are governed by the double motive of escaping from disgrace and punishment and of gratifying revenge? As to Mrs. Reynolds, if she was not an accomplice, as it is too probable she was, her situation would naturally subject her to the will of her husband. But enough besides will appear in the sequel to shew that her testimony merits no attention.


e. Reynolds’s letter [No. 29B], produced by Clingman as a key piece of evidence, is missing text at a crucial point.

As it was produced by Clingman, there is a chasm of three lines, which lines are manifestly essential to explain the sense. It may be inferred from the context, that these deficient lines would unfold the cause of the resentment which is expressed. ‘Twas from them that might have been learnt the true nature of the transaction. The expunging of them is a violent presumption that they would have contradicted the purpose for which the letter was produced. A witness offering such a mutilated piece descredits himself. The mutilation is alone satisfactory proof of contrivance and imposition.

f. Let’s look at the testimony of Reynolds and Clingman.

i. Seckel’s deposition [No. 23] shows that Reynolds and Clingman lied [Nos. 28 and 26].

ii. Reynolds says he kept a document [No. 20 above] asking for a loan to buy stock in the Lancaster Turnpike. Why keep such a document for so long unless he had something nefarious in mind?

iii. Fraunces [Andrew G. Fraunces, who had been fired from the Treasury Department] said “something to my prejudice. If my memory serves me aright, it was that he had been my agent in some speculations. When Fraunces was interrogated concerning it, he absolutely denied that he had said any thing of the kind.” And his accusation in the House of Representatives was dismissed [section I.B.4 above].

II. My version of what happened with James & Maria Reynolds [Begins: “I proceed in the next place to offer”]

  • In June or July 1791, Maria Reynolds came to my home in Philadelphia, asking for money so she could return to her friends in New York. I had an affair with her. She reconciled with her husband, and introduced him to me as someone who had been engaged in speculation and could give information on someone in the Treasury Department who was aiding speculators.

Some time in the summer of the year 1791 a woman called at my house in the city of Philadelphia and asked to speak with me in private. I attended her into a room apart from the family. With a seeming air of affliction she informed that she was a daughter of a Mr. Lewis, sister to a Mr. G. Livingston of the State of New-York, and wife to a Mr. Reynolds whose father was in the Commissary Department during the war with Great Britain, that her husband, who for a long time had treated her very cruelly, had lately left her, to live with another woman, and in so destitute a condition, that though desirous of returning to her friends she had not the means—that knowing I was a citizen of New-York, she had taken the liberty to apply to my humanity for assistance.

I replied, that her situation was a very interesting one—that I was disposed to afford her assistance to convey her to her friends, but this at the moment not being convenient to me (which was the fact) I must request the place of her residence, to which I should bring or send a small supply of money. She told me the street and the number of the house where she lodged. In the evening I put a bank-bill in my pocket and went to the house. I inquired for Mrs. Reynolds and was shewn up stairs, at the head of which she met me and conducted me into a bed room. I took the bill out of my pocket and gave it to her. Some conversation ensued from which it was quickly apparent that other than pecuniary consolation would be acceptable.

After this, I had frequent meetings with her, most of them at my own house; Mrs. Hamilton with her children being absent on a visit to her father. In the course of a short time, she mentioned to me that her husband had solicited a reconciliation, and affected to consult me about it. I advised to it, and was soon after informed by her that it had taken place. She told me besides that her husband had been engaged in speculation, and she believed could give information respecting the conduct of some persons in the department which would be useful. I sent for Reynolds who came to me accordingly.

  • Reynolds said he received a list of names for the fraud he was committing [registering false claims from vets for monies due from the government] from William Duer, assistant secretary of the Treasury. Duer had left Treasury in April 1790, over a year earlier. But “in the interest of my passions,” I kept Reynolds talking.
  • Reynolds asked for a job as clerk in the Treasury Department. “It is possible I may have used vague expressions which raised expectation; but the more I learned of the person, the more inadmissible his employment in a public office became.”
  • I continued my affair with Maria Reynolds.

The intercourse with Mrs. Reynolds, in the mean time, continued; and, though various reflections, (in which a further knowledge of Reynolds’ character and the suspicion of some concert between the husband and wife bore a part) induced me to wish a cessation of it; yet her conduct, made it extremely difficult to disentangle myself. All the appearances of violent attachment, and of agonizing distress at the idea of a relinquishment, were played off with a most imposing art. This, though it did not make me entirely the dupe of the plot, yet kept me in a state of irresolution. My sensibility, perhaps my vanity, admitted the possibility of a real fondness; and led me to adopt the plan of a gradual discontinuance rather than of a sudden interruption, as least calculated to give pain, if a real partiality existed.

Mrs. Reynolds, on the other hand, employed every effort to keep up my attention and visits. Her pen was freely employed, and her letters were filled with those tender and pathetic effusions which would have been natural to a woman truly fond and neglected.

  • On 12/15/1791, Maria wrote to me that her husband had found out about the affair. On the same day, I received a letter from Reynolds demanding satisfaction; after a few days, he said “he was willing to take a thousand dollars as the plaister of his wounded honor.” (Cf. Nos. 1-6 above).
  • After asking me never to meet with Maria again, in January 1792, Reynolds invited me to “renew my visits to his wife” and said, “I rely upon your befriending me, if there should any thing offer that should be to my advantage” [No. 7]. I only accepted after several “very importunate” letters from Maria [Nos. 8-10]. James Reynolds had “a persevering scheme to spare no pains to levy contributions upon my passions on the one hand, and upon my apprehensions of discovery on the other” [cf. Nos. 13-16]. He contrived that Jacob Clingman would occasionally see Hamilton visiting the Reynolds home. [Cf. Nos. 17 and 26 above.]
  • James and Maria Reynolds both sent me letters on 3/24/1791 [Nos. 11-12], which suggests an “obliging cooperation of the husband with his wife to aliment and keep alive my connection with her.”
  • I was forbidden to see Maria again (“The interdiction was every way welcome”), and then invited again by Maria in June 1792 [No. 18]. Reynolds then started to ask me for “forced loans” [Nos. 19-22]. My note [No. 22.B.ii] is probably a reply to one of these [No. 19].

These letters collectively, furnish a complete elucidation of the nature of my transactions with Reynolds. They resolve them into an amorous connection with his wife, detected, or pretended to be detected by the husband, imposing on me the necessity of a pecuniary composition with him, and leaving me afterwards under a duress for fear of disclosure, which was the instrument of levying upon me from time to time forced loans.

  • Regarding the fourth note cited in the History [No. 22.B.iv], the terms of the it (“My dear Sir, I expected to have heard the day after I had the pleasure of seeing you”) show no more than “a disposition to be civil to a man, whom, as I said before, it was in the interest of my passions to conciliate.” But I don’t think I wrote in such terms to Reynolds: he probably picked up a letter to someone else.
  • Regarding the fifth note cited in the History [No. 22.B.v], re my waiting for Mr. Reynolds:

Mrs. Reynolds more than once communicated to me, that Reynolds would occasionally relapse into discontent to his situation—would treat her very ill—hint at the assassination of me—and more openly threaten, by way of revenge, to inform Mrs. Hamilton—all this naturally gave some uneasiness. I could not be absolutely certain whether it was artifice or reality. In the workings of human inconsistency, it was very possible, that the same man might be corrupt enough to compound for his wife’s chastity and yet have sensibility enough to be restless in the situation and to hate the cause of it.

Reflections like these induced me for some time to use palliatives with the ill humours which were announced to me. Reynolds had called upon me in one of these discontented moods real or pretended. I was unwilling to provoke him by the appearance of neglect—and having failed to be at home at the hour he had been permitted to call, I wrote her the above note to obviate an ill impression.

III. The meeting with Monroe, Venable, and Muhlenberg [Begins: “It has been seen that an explanation”]

On December 15, 1792, I met with James Monroe, Frederick Muhlenberg, and Abraham Venable [Nos. 27-28]. They stated they they had been shown evidence of “an improper pecuniary connection” between Reynolds and myself. I showed them written documents from James and Maria Reynolds. They pronounced themselves satisfied that I was not engaging in speculation.

I stated in explanation, the circumstances of my affair with Mrs. Reynolds and the consequences of it and in confirmation produced the documents (No. I. b, to XXII [Nos. 1-22A above].) One or more of the gentlemen (Mr. Wolcott’s certificate No. XXIV [No. 43 above], mentions one, Mr. Venable, but I think the same may be said of Mr. Muhlenberg) was struck with so much conviction, before I had gotten through the communication that they delicately urged me to discontinue it as unnecessary. I insisted upon going through the whole and did so. The result was a full and unequivocal acknowlegement on the part of the three gentlemen of perfect satisfaction with the explanation and expressions of regret at the trouble and embarrassment which had been occasioned to me. Mr. Muhlenberg and Mr. Venable, in particular manifested a degree of sensibility on the occasion. Mr. Monroe was more cold but intirely explicit.

One of the gentlemen, I think, expressed a hope that I also was satisfied with their conduct in conducting the inquiry. I answered, that they knew I had been hurt at the opening of the affair—that this excepted, I was satisfied with their conduct and considered myself as having been treated with candor or with fairness and liberality, I do not now pretend to recollect the exact terms. I took the next morning a memorandum of the substance of what was said to me, which will be seen by a copy of it transmitted in a letter to each of the gentlemen. [Memo attached to No. 36 above]

I wrote to Muhlenberg requesting copies of the documents [No. 31A] and received replies from Muhlenberg and Monroe [Nos. 31B, 32]. And so matters rested until 1797, when the History of the United States for 1796, no. V, appeared.

IV. History of the United States for 1796, nos. V-VI

A. Monroe, Muhlenberg, and Venable

When I first saw Part V of the History, I assumed its appearance was “evidence of a base infidelity somewhere,” but I thought that Muhlenberg, Venable and Monroe could be charged with no more than “a want of due care.” I wrote to them immediately asking for clarification. [No. 36: the copies of similar letters to Muhlenberg and Monroe have not been found.]

I was “astonished” when I read in Part VI of the History that Monroe, Muhlenberg and Venable only suggested they were satisfied: “We left him under an impression our suspicions were removed.”

  1. Muhlenberg and Venable said they were satisfied [Nos. 38-39 above].
  2. Monroe dithered about what he said and meant [Nos. 40-42, 46-48].
  3. I decided to publish the letters:

Though extremely disagreeable to me, for very obvious reasons, I at length determined in order that no cloud whatever might be left on the affair, to publish the documents which had been communicated to Messrs. Monroe, Muhlenberg and Venable, all which will be seen in the appendix from No. I, (b) to No. XXII, inclusively [Nos. 1-22A above].

B. Clingman’s statement with Monroe’s signature, including Maria’s denial of the affair

Re Clingman’s statement as reported to Monroe [No. 33]: his statement shows that he’s lying. Maria Reynolds did have an affair with me; her letters confirm it, and her handwriting in those letters has been confirmed by a witness.

Mrs. Reynolds denied her amorous connection with me, and represented the suggestion of it as a mere contrivance between her husband and myself to cover me, alleging that there had been a fabrication of letters and receipts to countenance it. The plain answer is, that Mrs. Reynolds’ own letters contradict absolutely this artful explanation of hers; if indeed she ever made it, of which Clingman’s assertion is no evidence whatever. These letters are proved by the affidavit No. XLI [No. 49 above], though it will easily be conceived that the proof of them was rendered no easy matter by a lapse of near five years. They shew explicitly the connection with her, the discovery of it by her husband and the pains she took to prolong it when I evidently wished to get rid of it. This cuts up, by the root, the pretence of a contrivance between the husband and myself to fabricate the evidences of it.

Maria Reynolds is not the innocent, helpless woman she appears.A source who wished to remain publicly anonymous sent an account of Maria Reynolds’ character. [NOTE: This is probably Folwell, No. 51 above.]

The variety of shapes which this woman could assume was endless. In a conversation between her and a gentleman whom I am not at liberty publicly to name, she made a voluntary confession of her belief and even knowledge, that I was innocent of all that had been laid to my charge by Reynolds or any other person of her acquaintance, spoke of me in exalted terms of esteem and respect, declared in the most solemn manner her extreme unhappiness lest I should suppose her accessary to the trouble which had been given me on that account, and expressed her fear that the resentment of Mr. Reynolds on a particular score, might have urged him to improper lengths of revenge—appearing at the same time extremely agitated and unhappy. With the gentleman who gives this information, I have never been in any relation personal or political that could be supposed to bias him. His name would evince that he is an impartial witness.

C. A few other comments on A History of the United States in 1796

  1. The editor of the History (James Callender) said the “soft language” of my notes was not that of an innocent man. But we have only Reynolds’s and Clingman’s testimony that my answers were “gentle”: they cannot produce the letters in question. “If they are worthy of credit I am guilty; if they are not, all wire-drawn inferences from parts of their story are mere artifice and nonsense.”
  2. Reynolds and Clingman say that the threat of disclosing an affair was not enough to account for my behavior. The author of the History claims I already had a reputation as an adulterer. I’m not going to argue whether there were such rumors, and whether they were true, but there’s a difference between rumors and evidence of a fact, and I wouldn’t have wanted evidence of an affair made public.

But it is observed [in the History] that the dread of the disclosure of an amorous connection was not a sufficient cause for my humility, and that I had nothing to lose as to my reputation for chastity concerning which the world had fixed a previous opinion.

I shall not enter into the question what was the previous opinion entertained of me in this particular—nor how well founded, if it was indeed such as it is represented to have been. It is sufficient to say that there is a wide difference between vague rumours and suspicions and the evidence of a positive fact—no man not indelicately unprincipled, with the state of manners in this country, would be willing to have a conjugal infidelity fixed upon him with positive certainty. He would know that it would justly injure him with a considerable and respectable portion of the society—and especially no man, tender of the happiness of an excellent wife could without extreme pain look forward to the affliction which she might endure from the disclosure, especially a public disclosure, of the fact. Those best acquainted with the interior of my domestic life will best appreciate the force of such a consideration upon me.

The truth was, that in both relations and especially the last, I dreaded extremely a disclosure—and was willing to make large sacrifices to avoid it.

D. Release of Reynolds and Clingman [Begins: “Strong inferencews are attempted”]

The author of A History of the United States tries to draw conclusions from the fact that Reynolds and Clingman were released, that Reynolds and his wife disappeared after that, and that I didn’t bring them forward to testify (History, no. 34.G above].

  1. They were released by Oliver Wolcott, after they promised to reveal dishonest clerk in the Treasury Department, and after the intervention of Muhlenberg, Burr, and Wadsworth.

As to the disappearance of the parties after the liberation, how am I answerable for it? Is it not presumable, that the instance discovered at the Treasury was not the only offence of the kind of which they were guilty? After one detection, is it not very probable that Reynolds fled to avoid detection in other cases? But exclusive of this, it is known and might easily be proved, that Reynolds was considerably in debt! What more natural for him than to fly from his creditors after having been once exposed by confinement for such a crime? …

[W]hen I knew that I possessed written documents which were decisive, how could I foresee that any twig of jealousy [cf. No. 34G above] would remain? When the proofs I did produce to the gentlemen were admitted by them to be completely satisfactory, and by some of them to be more than sufficient, how could I dream of the expediency of producing more—how could I imagine that every twig of jealousy was not plucked up?

V. Conclusion

I have talked more than necessary in order to lay this slander to rest.

Thus has my desire to destroy this slander, completely, led me to a more copious and particular examination of it, than I am sure was necessary. The bare perusal of the letters from Reynolds and his wife is sufficient to convince my greatest enemy that there is nothing worse in the affair than an irregular and indelicate amour. For this, I bow to the just censure which it merits. I have paid pretty severely for the folly and can never recollect it without disgust and self condemnation. It might seem affectation to say more.

Reynolds Pamphlet appendices

  • I(a): Muhlenberg’s statement, 12/13/1792 [No. 27 above]
  • II(a): Monroe and Venable’s statement, 12/13/1792 [No. 28 above]
  • III(a): Monroe & Muhlenberg’s record of an interview with Maria Reynolds, 12/13/1792 [No. 29A above]
  • IV(a): Clingman’s deposition, 12/13/1792 [No. 26 above]
  • I: Maria Reynolds to Hamilton, 12/15/1791 [No. 1 above]
  • II: James Reynolds to Hamilton, 12/15/1791 [No. 2 above]
  • III: Reynolds to Hamilton, 12/17/1791 [No. 3 above]
  • IV: Reynolds to Hamilton, 12/19/1791 [No. 4 above]
  • V: Receipt from Reynolds to Hamilton, 12/22/1791 [No. 5 above]
  • VI: Receipt from Reynolds to Hamilton, 1/3/1792 [No. 6 above]
  • VII: Reynolds to Hamilton, 1/17/1792 [No. 7 above]
  • VIII: Maria to Hamilton, undated [No. 8 above]
  • IX: Maria to Hamilton, undated [No. 9 above]
  • X: Maria to Hamilton, undated [No. 10 above]
  • XI: Reynolds to Hamilton, 3/24/1792 [No. 11 above]
  • XII: Maria to Hamilton, 3/24/1792 [No. 12 above]
  • XIII: Reynolds to Hamilton, 4/3/1792 [No. 13 above]
  • XIV: Reynolds to Hamilton, 4/7/1792 [No. 14 above]
  • XV: Reynolds to Hamilton, 4/17/1792 [No. 15 above]
  • XVI: Reynolds to Hamilton, 4/23/1792 [No. 16 above]
  • XVII: Reynolds to Hamilton, 5/2/1792 [No. 17 above]
  • [XVIII]: Maria to Hamilton, 6/2/1792 [No. 18 above]
  • XIX: Reynolds to Hamilton, June 1792 [No. 19 above]
  • XXII: Reynolds to Hamilton, 6/23/1792 [No. 20 above]
  • XXI: Reynolds to Hamilton, 8/24/1792 [No. 21 above]
  • XXII: Reynolds to Hamilton, 8/30/1792 [No. 22A above]
  • XXIII: Seckel’s deposition, 11/13/1792 [No. 23 above]
  • XXIV: Oliver Wolcott, Jr.’s statement of 7/12/1797 [No. 43 above]; including Jacob Clingman’s letter to Wolcott of 12/4/1792 [No. 24 above]
  • XXV: Hamilton to James Monroe, 7/5/1797 [No. 36 above]
  • XXVI: Hamilton to Muhlenberg, Monroe, and Venable, December 1792 [No. 31A above]
  • XXVII: Muhlenberg to Hamilton, 12/18/1792 [No. 31B above]
  • XXVIII: Monroe to Hamilton, 12/20/1792 [No. 32 above]
  • XXIX: Muhlenberg to Hamilton, 7/10/1797 [No. 39 above]
  • XXX: Venable to Hamilton, 7/9/1797 [No. 38] NOTE: There is no XXXI.]
  • XXXII: Monroe to Hamitlon, 7/16/1797 [No. 46 above]
  • XXXIII: Monroe and Muhlenberg to Hamilton, 7/17/1797 [No. 46 above]
  • XXXIV: Hamilton to Monroe and Muhlenberg, 7/17/1797 [No. 47 above]
  • XXXV: Hamilton to Monroe, 7/17/1797 [No. 48 above]
  • XXXVI: Monroe to Hamilton, 7/17/1797 [included in No. 48 above]
  • XXXVII: Hamilton to Monroe, 7/18/1797 [included in No. 48 above]
  • XXXVIII: Monroe to Hamilton, 7/18/1797 [included in No. 48 above]
  • XXXIX: Hamilton to Monroe, 7/20/1797 [included in No. 48 above]
  • XL: Monroe to Hamilton, 7/21/1797 [included in No. 48 above]
  • XLI: Mary Williams’ statement, 7/21/797 [No. 49 above]
  • XLII: Reynolds to Wolcott, 12/5/1792 [No. 25 above]
  • XLIII: Noah Webster’s statement, 7/13/1797 [No. 45 above]
  • XLIV and XLV: Thomas Jefferson to an unspecified clerk [Andrew G. Fraunces, according to Hamilton] at the Treasury Department, 6/27/1797: Jefferson has no money and can only offer his good will; and 6/28/1797, Jefferson can’t provide a reference because he wasn’t privy to the interior workings of the Treasury Department. These two were included by Hamilton after he mentioned that all Andrew Fraunces’s charges were dropped. “Would it be believed after all this, that Mr. Jefferson Vice President of the United States would write to this Fraunces friendly letters? Yet such is the fact as will be seen in the Appendix, Nos. XLIV & XLV.”
  • XLVI: Hamilton to Monroe, 7/22/1797 [included in No. 48 above]
  • XLVII: Monroe to Hamilton, 7/25/1797 [included in No. 48 above]
  • XLVIII: Hamilton to Monroe, 7/28/1797 [included in No. 48 above]
  • XLIX: Monroe to Hamilton, 7/31/1797 [included in No. 48 above]
  • L: Hamilton to Monroe, 8/4/1797 [included in No. 48 above]
  • LI: Monroe to Hamilton, 8/6/1797 [included in No. 48 above]
  • LII: Hamilton to Monroe, 8/9/1797 [included in No. 48 above]


  • Joanne Freeman mentions the Hamilton-Monroe near-duel only briefly in Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic, but the whole book is fascinating if you’re interested in the language of honor at this period.
  • In the “I can’t even” department: William Safire’s prologue to Scandalmonger, in which he describes Muhlenberg, Monroe, Hamilton, and the Reynolds affair. I can (if you’re wondering) listen to Hamilton: An American Musical without any problems, because the fact that the whole thing is sung is a constant reminder that it’s art, not history. But Safire strays back and forth from documented statements to fiction. I couldn’t get through the whole thing. Example: Monroe, seeing Maria Reynolds: “The tall young woman’s blue eyes directly engaged him; on first impression, she struck the Virginian as both capable and vulnerable. Dressed in a high-necked maroon dress with a tight bodice that had been the fashion a few years before, the striking young lady held herself proudly.”
  • I occasionally add comments based on these blog posts to the pages on the Hamilton Musical. Follow me @DianneDurante.
  • The usual disclaimer: This is the sixty-second in a series of posts on Hamilton: An American Musical My intro to this series is here. Other posts are available via the tag cloud at lower right. The ongoing “index” to these posts is my Kindle book, Alexander Hamilton: A Brief BiographyBottom line: these are unofficial musings, and you do not need them to enjoy the musical or the soundtrack.
  • Keep in touch! Members of my email list get a weekly message with four recommendations in fields such as sculpture, painting, literature, nonfiction, movies, architecture, and decorative arts. To be added, send your email to You can also sign up for the RSS feed of this blog, follow me on Twitter @NYCsculpture, or friend the Forgotten Delights page on Facebook.

About Dianne L. Durante

I’m an independent scholar and freelance writer /lecturer on art and art history, with forays into food, history, politics, and publishing. My most recent projects are *Innovators in Sculpture¸* a survey of 5,000 years of art in two hours, and *Monuments of Manhattan,* a videoguide app by Guides Who Know that’s based on my book *Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide.*

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