Or at least that's the hope of Seth Kaller, a historical document dealer who is currently offering a collection of original letters, documents and imprints penned by Alexander Hamilton, which Kaller says is valued at $2.7 million. The collection is now online and on display Thursday through Sunday at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair.
One document that may particularly interest fans of the Tony Award-winning show is Hamilton's Aug. 8, 1780, letter to his future wife Eliza — one of the few love letters between the two that survive from this period.
Sparks flew between Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler during the most heated period in U.S. history. As the daughter of Revolutionary War General Philip Schuyler and heir to two of the wealthiest, and most influential families in New York state politics, she was considered one of the most eligible singles. Hamilton, the ultimate social climber, had an in-depth conversation with her in early 1780, in Morristown, N.J. where the army was camped out. (Some say he was so smitten with her that he forgot the password to get back into the encampment.) A month later, they wed.
In the note, he says he can't focus on work: “You are certainly a little sorceress and have bewitched me.” Yet as this sexual tension rose, so did political tensions, as the Culper Spy Ring tipped off General George Washington to a planned attack coming from British General Clinton. At the time, Hamilton was writing an attack plan to recapture Manhattan and Brooklyn from the British, so maybe that was the work he couldn't concentrate on while he was daydreaming about his beloved.
Read the full text of the letter here:
Immediately after dinner, I stole from a crowd of company to a solitary walk to be at leisure to think of you, and I have just returned to tell you by an express this moment going off that I have been doing so. You are certainly a little sorceress and have bewitched me, for you have made me disrelish every thing that used to please me, and have rendered me as restless and unsatisfied with all about me, as if I was the inhabitant of another world, and had nothing in common with this. I must in spite of myself become an inconstant to detach myself from you, for as it now stands I love you more than I ought—more than is consistent with my peace. A new mistress is supposed to be the best cure for an excessive attachment to an old— if I was convinced of the success of the scheme, I would be tempted to try it— for though it is the pride of my heart to love you it is the torment of it to love you so much, separated as we now are. But I am afraid, I should only go in quest of disquiet, that would make me return to you with redoubled tenderness. You gain by every comparison I make and the more I contrast you with others the more amiable you appear. But why do you not write to me oftener? It is again an age since I have heard from you. I write you at least three letters for your one, though I am immersed in public business and you have nothing to do but to think of me. When I come to Albany, I shall find means to take satisfaction for your neglect. You recollect the mode I threatened to punish you in for all your delinquen[c]ies.
I wrote you a long letter by your father. I suppose you will wait his return before you write. If you do I shall chide you severely and if you do not write me a very long and fond one by him, I shall not forgive you at all. I have written you a short letter since that.
We are now at Dobbes ferry.
I would go on but the General summons me to ride. Adieu My Dear lovely amiable girl. Heaven preserve you and shower its choicest blessings upon you. Love me I conjure you.
A Hamilton [Partial Address:] Schuyler / Albany
However, Christian Goodwillie, an expert on colonial-era documents and Director and Curator of Special Collections and Archives at Hamilton College, argues that the most illuminating documents in the collection are more about politics than personal feelings. They include Hamilton's infamous "Reynolds pamphlet"; his first report to Congress as Secretary of the Treasury and his early reports on the public credit, which represent the beginning of his efforts to have the federal government assume states' debts; a 1792 letter to President George Washington in which he accused Thomas Jefferson of subverting the administration; and an 1800 letter in which he undermined John Adams, from his own Federalist Party, during an election campaign. The collection also includes a lock of Hamilton's hair, described as "20 auburn strands, with a few graying or whitening," and an issue of a prominent Federalist newspaper that was printed by Henry Croswell, who was famous for publishing a story about how the political journalist who exposed the Reynolds affair to help Jefferson later turned on Jefferson by revealing his relationship with Sally Hemings. Hamilton defended Croswell before the Supreme Court, arguing that if scandalous material is truthful, then it shouldn't be considered defamatory—an argument that ended up becoming legal precedent.
As a group, they show how the Founding Fathers were "very savvy users of the media to control public perceptions of the parties and their agendas."