A letter written by one of America’s Founding Fathers, which was stolen roughly 80 years ago, has been recovered and is now on display for the public to read.
The note from Alexander Hamilton, dated July 21, 1780, was written to the Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat who served as a general in the Continental Army, warning him that British forces were planning to attack Newport, Rhode Island, which put French troops in danger.
Federal law enforcement officials were contacted several years by an auctioneer who came across the letter and determined that it had been stolen after a family tried to sell it.
The letter was stolen from Massachusetts’ state archives by an employee sometime between 1937, and 1945, CNN reported. The employee, who was arrested in 1950, also stole documents from George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere and Benedict Arnold, and sold them to rare book dealers, according to CNN.
The letter is being featured in Massachusetts at the Commonwealth Museum’s annual 4th of July exhibit this year, according to the Secretary of State William Galvin.
“This will be the public’s first opportunity to view the letter on exhibit since it was returned to Massachusetts,” he said in a letter. “In celebration of Independence Day, the Hamilton letter will be featured alongside the Commonwealth’s original copy of the Declaration of Independence, signed by John Hancock.”
The following is the text of Hamilton’s letter:
My Dear Marquis
We have just received advice from New York through different channels that the enemy are making an embarkation with which they menace the French fleet and army. Fifty transports are said to have gone up the Sound to take in troops and proceed directly to Rhode Island.
The General is absent and may not return before evening. Though this may be only a demonstration yet as it may be serious, I think it best to forward it without waiting the Generals return.
We have different accounts from New York of an action in the West Indies in which the English lost several ships. I am inclined to credit them.
I am My Dear Marquis with the truest affection
Yr. Most Obedt, A. Hamilton, Aide de Camp.