The Camillus Defense - Hamilton Stands By Jay's Treaty

The Camillus Defense - Hamilton Stands By Jay's Treaty

When Jay’s Treaty was signed with Great Britain during the Washington Administration it caused quite a stir.

Seeing the benefits of this agreement, Alexander Hamilton took up his pen and began writing ‘The Defence’ which outlined why Americans should support it.

Today we take a look at the circumstances which led to this extremely important (and much overlooked) piece of Hamiltonian political thought.


Jay’s Treaty

In 1795, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Governor-elect of New York, John Jay, traveled to Great Britain to sign an agreement with the King.

The result was Jay’s Treaty, an important deal between the United States and it’s former government.

Although it kept the nation out of war (temporarily), Jay’s Treaty was widely panned by the Democratic-Republican Party and Jay famously said he could walk from Boston to Philadelphia by the light of his burning effigies. 


A Meeting With The President

Jay’s Treaty was narrowly approved by the US Senate and sent to President Washington for ratification.

Washington contacted his former Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, for his thoughts on the agreement. Hamilton, now in private practice in New York City, wrote a lengthy response to the Commander-in-Chief.

After reviewing Hamilton’s opinion, Washington signed the Treaty and kicked off a wave of fear among the minority party.


The Defense

Seeing his former boss, as well as his good friend Jay, getting slandered in the papers, Hamilton did what he always did...he began to write.

Hamilton wrote ‘The Defense’ and signed it with the pseudonym Camillus.

He worked with fellow Federalist Rufus King and the two men completed 42 articles which were published in local newspapers between July 1795 and January 1796.


Hamilton’s Foreign Policy

Hamilton published two or more times every week for half a year.

Writing these articles six years after completing the Federalist Papers, the similarities between the two are obvious.

The major difference, however, is that Hamilton’s essays in the Federalist Papers outline his domestic policy while The Defence suggests his foreign policy stance.


Legacy

Although a large portion of the nation disagreed with Camillus and The Defence it is still an important document to the understanding of early American political thought.

Furthermore, it is necessary if you are interested in learning the complete life and influence of Alexander Hamilton.

It is curious to reflect on why the Federalist Papers loom so large in American history while The Defence is generally forgotten.

Want to learn about other Founding Writers?

Great, check these out:

Humphrey Plowjogger’s Secret Identity (Spoiler Alert - it’s John Adams)

Use Your Words - Daniel Webster’s Dictionary

Mercy Otis Warren Scribbles Her Way Into History


John Jay was an extremely important Founder.

The Walter Stahr biography is one of my all time favorites, I highly recommend it.

Pick up a copy through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same) .

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