Long-lost letter from Alexander Hamilton on public display July 4th

A 1780 letter from Alexander Hamilton, believed to have been stolen from Massachusetts state archives decades ago, is on display again — though not in the exact room where it happened.

The founding father’s letter will be the centerpiece of the Commonwealth Museum’s annual exhibition on July 4, says the office of Commonwealth Secretary William Galvin. It’s the first time the public has been able to see it since it was returned to the state after a long court battle.

It is shown with the original copy of the Massachusetts Declaration of Independence.

Hamilton, the first Treasury Secretary to have garnered renewed attention in recent years for the hit Broadway musical that bears his name, wrote the letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, the French aristocrat who served as a general in the Continental Army.

Dated July 21, 1780, it describes an impending British threat to French forces in Rhode Island.

“We have just received word from New York through various channels that the enemy is embarking and threatening the French fleet and army,” Hamilton wrote. “Fifty transports are said to have gone up the Sound to pick up troops and go straight to Rhode Island.”

Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton’s letter describes an imminent British threat to French forces in Rhode Island.
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It is signed ‘Yr. Most Obedt, A. Hamilton, Aide de Camp.”

The letter was forwarded to state leaders by Massachusetts General William Heath, along with a request for troops to assist French allies, Galvin’s office said.

The letter was believed to have been stolen by a State Archives employee during World War II and then sold privately.

It resurfaced a few years ago when an auctioneer in Virginia received it from a family who wanted to sell it. The auction house determined it had been stolen and contacted the FBI. A federal appeals court ruled in October that it belongs to the state.

The Commonwealth Museum is open on Mondays from 9am to 4pm. Long-lost letter from Alexander Hamilton on public display July 4th


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