Alexander Hamilton

Was Alexander Hamilton in love with his friend, John Laurens? From the letters they exchanged, it certainly is a possibility

In April, 1779, Hamilton writes to him:

Cold in my professions, warm in [my] friendships, I wish, my Dear Laurens, it m[ight] be in my power, by action rather than words, [to] convince you that I love you. I shall only tell you that ’till you bade us Adieu, I hardly knew the value you had taught my heart to set upon you. Indeed, my friend, it was not well done. You know the opinion I entertain of mankind, and how much it is my desire to preserve myself free from particular attachments, and to keep my happiness independent on the caprice of others. You sh[ould] not have taken advantage of my sensibility to ste[al] into my affections without my consent. But as you have done it and as we are generally indulgent to those we love, I shall not scruple to pardon the fraud you have committed, on condition that for my sake, if not for your own, you will always continue to merit the partiality, which you have so artfully instilled into [me].

In other letters, Hamilton wrote about the burden he felt in the need to take a wife, and how much he wished he could get out of that particular responsibility. ¬†Hamilton wrote: “Do I want a wife? No–I have plagues enough without desiring to add to the number that greatest of all.” Hamilton ended that letter to Laurens with these words: “I have gratified my feelings, by lengthening out the only kind of intercourse now in my power with my friend.

On September 11, 1779, Hamilton wrote the following words to Laurens:

I acknowledge but one letter from you, since you left us, of the 14th of July which just arrived in time to appease a violent conflict between my friendship and my pride. I have written you five or six letters since you left Philadelphia and I should have written you more had you made proper return. But like a jealous lover, when I thought you slighted my caresses, my affection was alarmed and my vanity piqued. I had almost resolved to lavish no more of them upon you and to reject you as an inconstant and an ungrateful–

[a space is here left blank in the manuscript, a word identifying Laurens is left unwritten by Hamilton]

While it is nearly impossible to go back and read words written so long ago with today’s eyes, his words certainly do paint a picture that could easily be taken to indicate he was in love with his friend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *