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Hamilton Fires Back: The Infamous Reynolds Pamphlet
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“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 of the husband and wife with the design to extort money from me.”

ALEXANDER HAMILTON. Pamphlet. Observations on Certain Documents Contained in “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. Philadelphia: [William Duane], “Pro Bono Publico,” 1800. 37 pp. plus appendix (58 pp.). Leaves a2-a4 (pages 3-8) duplicated. In late 19th-century three-quarter morocco and marbled paper boards, spine gilt. Binding rubbed at extremities. Title page lightly foxed. 5 x 8¼ in.

Inventory #24260       Price: $13,500

Hamilton retired as Treasury Secretary in 1795. In 1796, he wrote an essay attacking Jefferson’s personal life and tastes. The Virginian’s “simplicity and humility afford but a flimsy veil to the internal evidences of aristocratic splendor, sensuality, and Epicureanism,” Hamilton claimed. Retribution was swift. Either James Monroe or John Beckley, the Republican clerk of the House of Representatives, had secured copies of Hamilton’s and Reynolds’ letters. Passing through unknown hands, these copies soon made their way to notorious scandalmonger and pro-Jefferson publisher James Callender.

In 1797, to refute the charges of financial malfeasance, Hamilton took the unprecedented step of publishing a pamphlet that would tell his side of the story. He argued that he had been the victim of a blackmail scheme, and his crime had been “irregular and indelicate amour” but not criminal. He published the “Reynolds Pamphlet,” recounting his original meeting with Maria Reynolds, and printing the letters from James and Maria Reynolds for public review. The revelation that Hamilton had carried on the affair in the family home while encouraging Eliza to remain in Albany was especially devastating. Eliza bought every copy of the pamphlet she could and had them burned.

But this second edition was published by Hamilton’s enemies in 1800 in order to discredit him. By extension, they also aimed to destroy Federalist credibility in the hotly contested presidential election between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

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Also Available as part of The Alexander Hamilton Collection

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