Guest Essayist: Nathaniel Stewart, attorney in Washington, D.C.

Before ever penning his share of The Federalist Papers, before championing the Constitution for a new nation, before laying the foundations of American fiscal policy, Alexander Hamilton was a vocal and “passionate critic” of the practice of slavery.[1]

In March 1779, in the throes of the American War for Independence, Hamilton wrote to his friend and fellow New Yorker, John Jay, to endorse an effort proposed by Colonel John Laurens of South Carolina to recruit and employ black slaves in the Continental Army.  Jay was sympathetic to Hamilton’s abolitionism,
Read more

Hamilton, a founder of the New York Manumission Society, writes to John Jay, a co-founder of the Society and then-president of the Continental Congress, arguing that slaves should be allowed to fight for the American cause in the War for Independence, earning their “freedom with their muskets.” Eventually, some 5,000 blacks served as soldiers in the war.

March 14, 1779

Dear Sir:

Colonel Laurens, who will have the honor of delivering you this letter, is on his way to South Carolina, Read more