Boston: Printed at the Repertory Office, 1804. Pamphlet. Wraps, 9 x 6 inches, 15 pp. Contemporary, likely original, plain blue wrappers, sewn, untrimmed; text slightly browned with foxing throughout and some contemporary marginalia. Short inscription on head of front wrapper. Item #42
An uncommon first edition of A Sketch of the Character of Alexander Hamilton, attributed to the influential Massachusetts Federalist and famed orator Fisher Ames, in contemporary (and likely the original) plain blue wrappers, untrimmed and bound with original thread binding. Ames was widely recognized for his oratorical skills and fervent opposition to Jeffersonian democracy. Prior to the election of 1800, Ames urged Hamilton to align with the Federalists and nominate Aaron Burr for President over Thomas Jefferson. Despite Ames’s pleas, Hamilton broke with the Federalists and supported Jefferson, which ultimately resulted in Jefferson’s victory amidst the contentious Electoral College tie. After Hamilton’s death in 1804 following his infamous duel with Aaron Burr, Ames delivered the remarks set forth in this pamphlet to a private following of friends before having them printed by the Repertory Office. Despite their differences, Ames praised Hamilton for his immense political talents and beseeched his contemporaries to maintain Hamilton’s memory and legacy. His eulogy also describes the shock with which the nation received news of Hamilton’s untimely death, and draws upon references to ancient Greek and Roman mythology to convey the gravity of Hamilton’s passing. Unlike other eulogies delivered upon Hamilton’s death, Ames directly addressed Republican rumors of his corruption, defending Hamilton as the victim of his opponents’ own unfounded suspicions and prejudices. A remarkable relic from a tumultuous time, preserved in contemporary sewn wrappers—and an uncommon oration praising the life of one of America’s greatest statesmen.