Another new discovery that will appear in Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years.
In November 1777, Timothy Pickering decided to step down as adjutant general. To replace him, Pickering recommended twenty-year-old Alexander Hamilton, even though he was not old enough to vote and had only served as Washington’s aide for a mere nine months. Pickering told Congressman Elbridge Gerry, “I do not know how the office would suit Colo. Hamilton, the General’s aid-de-camp. I once asked him why the General did not appoint him instead of sending for me? He replied his youth was a material objection. He is young, tis true; but he possesses all the stability of mature age, genius rarely to be equalled, and a most excellent heart. In a word, he is a great character.”
Alexander Hamilton, however, was deathly ill at this time and away from headquarters after having been sent northward to retrieve troops from Horatio Gates and Israel Putnam. Accordingly, Pickering told Gerry that Hamilton “unfortunately fell sick” after “he was sent by his Excellency to Genl. Gates with orders respecting the march of the northern troops.” As a result, Pickering said, “I cannot possibly quit my present office till someone is ready to take it, & Colo. Hamilton’s absence increases the difficulty. Were he present I could at once commit the business to him.” Had he not fallen ill, Hamilton probably would have become acting adjutant general and may have been appointed to the position. In his absence, Congress “unanimously elected” Alexander Scammell.
Supporting evidence and citations will be found in the endnotes of Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years. Please support the publication of this important work by pre-ordering your copy today.