There are literally thousands of surviving letters written by Alexander Hamilton, dating from his teenaged years all the way to a few hours before his fateful duel with Aaron Burr. But there's only one letter written to him by his oldest son Philip that is known to survive today, and this is it. I saw the letter this past week; it's currently on display through March 11, 2018 as part of the Treasures from the Vault exhibition at The Morgan Library in New York City.
Philip followed in his father's footsteps, and studied at Columbia College (formerly King's College) in New York. This letter was written when Philip was a fifteen-year-old student at Columbia. Philip begins with a bit of family news related to his grandfather (his namesake, and his mother Eliza's father Gen. Philip Schuyler), and then, like most college students, complains indignantly about one of his professors. But as the Library's placard notes, "Philip, like his father, had a flair for drama - a trait that would lead to a duel and ultimately his own death at the age of nineteen."
I just now [received] the inclosed Letter from Grandpapa In answer to a letter I wrote to him In which he has inclosed to me three receipts for Shares in Tontine tavern amounting to 100£ I have given the receipts to Mama; I Delivered my speech to Dr Johnson to examine, he has no objection to my speaking it, But he has Blotted out that sentence which appears to me to be the best & most animated in it which is you may recollect it, "Americans you have fought the Battles of mankind you have enkindled that sacred fire of freedom, which is now, &c. Dear Papa will be so Good as to give my thanks to Grandpapa for the present he has made me but above all for the Good advice his letter Contains which I am very sensible of its being extremely necessary for me to pay particular attention to, in order to be a Good Man.
Above: Philip Hamilton (1782-1801) Letter to Alexander Hamilton, signed and dated New York, 21 April 1797, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Photograph ©2018 by Susan Holloway Scott.
Read more about Eliza Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton (and their son Philip) in my latest historical novel, I, Eliza Hamilton, now available everywhere.