In Hamilton's absence, the Convention came up with a first draft of the Constitution

 

 

Originally, I was just going to have George write simply “Get your whiny ass back here right now.” I loved it. It broke my heart to change it, but I went with this version instead, which is closer to the real letter, and more dad-like.

For those who can’t read my attempts at quill-pen handwriting, here’s what’s in my ersatz letters:

HAMILTON:

Dear Sir,

The delegates are all afraid we’ll go too far (and indeed that’s what the politicians out here are all saying). But the people are afraid we won’t go far enough!

This is a golden opportunity, please don’t waste it. I’d even consider rejoining the convention to help you out, if I wasn’t convinced I’d be wasting my time.

WASHINGTON:

Dear Sir,

To succeed against those narrow-minded politicians, we needed vigorous exertion.

Instead you abandoned us just when we needed you most.

This constitution is about to fail.

I’m not angry. Just… disappointed.

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I didn’t rewrite the real letters because they were too long and gummed up the narrative. But I’d be remiss not to quote them for you here. And anyway who doesn’t love reading this stuff? It makes these guys so much more human.

HAMILTON (from New York, July 3, 1787):

Dr. Sir,

In my passage through the Jerseys and since my arrival here I have taken particular pains to discover the public sentiment and I am more and more convinced that this is the critical opportunity for establishing the prosperity of this country on a solid foundation. I have conversed with men of information not only of this City but from different parts of the state; and they agree that there has been an astonishing revolution for the better in the minds of the people. The prevailing apprehension among thinking men is that the Convention, from a fear of shocking the popular opinion, will not go far enough. They seem to be convinced that a strong well mounted government will better suit the popular palate than one of a different complexion. Men in office are indeed taking all possible pains to give an unfavourable impression of the Convention; but the current seems to be running strongly the other way.

A plain but sensible man, in a conversation I had with him yesterday, expressed himself nearly in this manner. The people begin to be convinced that their “excellent form of government” as they have been used to call it, will not answer their purpose; and that they must substitute something not very remote from that which they have lately quitted.

These appearances though they will not warrant a conclusion that the people are yet ripe for such a plan as I advocate, yet serve to prove that there is no reason to despair of their adopting one equally energetic, if the Convention should think proper to propose it. They serve to prove that we ought not to allow too much weight to objections drawn from the supposed repugnancy of the people to an efficient constitution. I confess I am more and more inclined to believe that former habits of thinking are regaining their influence with more rapidity than is generally imagined.

Not having compared ideas with you, Sir, I cannot judge how far our sentiments agree; but as I persuade myself the genuineness of my representations will receive credit with you, my anxiety for the event of the deliberations of the Convention induces me to make this communication of what appears to be the tendency of the public mind. I own to you Sir that I am seriously and deeply distressed at the aspect of the Councils which prevailed when I left Philadelphia. I fear that we shall let slip the golden opportunity of rescuing the American empire from disunion anarchy and misery. No motley or feeble measure can answer the end or will finally receive the public support. Decision is true wisdom and will be not less reputable to the Convention than salutary to the community.

I shall of necessity remain here ten or twelve days; if I have reason to believe that my attendance at Philadelphia will not be mere waste of time, I shall after that period rejoin the Convention.

I remain with sincere esteem Dr Sir
Yr. Obed serv

A. Hamilton

July 3d. 87
General Washington

WASHINGTON (from Philadelphia, July 10, 1787):

Dear Sir,

I thank you for your communication of the 3d. When I refer you to the State of the Councils which prevailed at the period you left this City—and add, that they are now, if possible, in a worse train than ever; you will find that little ground on which the hope of a good establishment can be formed. In a word, I almost dispair of seeing a favourable issue to the proceedings of the Convention, and do therefore repent having had any agency in the business.

The Men who oppose a strong & energetic government are, in my opinion, narrow minded politicians, or are under the influence of local views. The apprehension expressed by them that the people will not accede to the form proposed is the ostensible, not the real cause of the opposition—but admitting that the present sentiment is as they prognosticate, the question ought nevertheless to be, is it or is it not, the best form? If the former, recommend it, and it will assuredly obtain mauger opposition.

I am sorry you went away. I wish you were back. The crisis is equally important and alarming, and no opposition under such circumstances should discourage exertions till the signature is fixed. I will not, at this time trouble you with more than my best wishes and sincere regards.

I am Dear Sir
Yr Obedt Servt

Go: Washinton

Alexr. Hamilton Esqr

(Hamilton said he’d be back by July 13 or so. He didn’t actually get back until the first week of August. And though he briefly spoke at the convention one day, as we see he didn’t stick around but went right back to New York. This time, it was probably to take care of some law cases he’d taken on. He did come back later, as we’ll see in an upcoming page, but that’s enough for now, no spoilers.)

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PS – The rest stops on the Jersey Turnpike don’t look exactly like this any more…