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HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Observations on Certain Documents . . . in which the Charge of Speculation against Alexander Hamilton . . .is Fully Refuted, Written by Himself. 37, lviii pages. 8vo, later 1/2 morocco, worn, with spine title "Hamilton's Reply to Wood"; front free endpaper detached, minor dampstaining on top edge, moderate foxing and toning; uncut; early signature on title page, later inscription of New York politician Henry M. Sage on flyleaf. [Philadelphia]: Printed for John Fenno, by John Bioren, 1797
first edition. This pamphlet was Hamilton's awkward attempt to clear his name during America's first major political sex scandal. Hamilton was married and serving as Secretary of the Treasury in 1791 when he began a year-long affair with a young married woman named Maria Reynolds. Her husband James soon found out, but rather than challenge Hamilton to a duel, he demanded regular blackmail payments instead. In November 1792, James Reynolds was caught in a different scam (embezzling the pension payments of Revolutionary veterans), and attempted to blackmail Hamilton into protecting him. Hamilton came clean privately to John Adams and James Monroe, and they decided to ignore the sordid affair. However, Hamilton's enemy Thomas Jefferson started to leak the story of the affair in 1797. At this point Hamilton realized that the only way to protect his professional reputation would be to lay it out for public consumption. This pamphlet includes his correspondence with James and Maria Reynolds, as well later correspondence with Adams and Monroe. It demonstrated that Hamilton was innocent of corruption--but also a cheating scoundrel. As one might imagine, Mrs. Hamilton was not a big fan of this "Reynolds Pamphlet"; the family soon bought up as many copies as they could find and destroyed them. It did not appear in the official 1810 Works of Hamilton--but a second edition was brought out in 1800 by his enemies (see below). The Reynolds affair features prominently in the musical Hamilton. Evans 32222; Ford, Hamiltoniana 64; Howes H120; Sabin 29969.
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