The interview with Alex Horwitz on the latest episode of The Room Where It’s Happening includes this amazing line:
[The Founding Fathers] said ABYSMAL things about each other. There are letters … there’s a letter by Adams about Hamilton that is one of the most R-rated things you can ever read … it’s something like “that brash bastard son of a Scottish pedlar — his drive, his exuberance comes no doubt … from an excess of secretions which he couldn’t find whores enough to absorb.”
I started this post because I wanted to ask the web for the letter in which Hamilton says this. With the aid of a helpful Reddit post, I found the actual quote; it is
Alexander Hamiltons project of raising an Army of fifty thousand Men, ten thousand of them to be Cavalry and his projects of Sedition Laws and Alien Laws and of new Taxes to Support his army, all arose from a superabundance of secretions which he could not find Whores enough to draw off
It comes from a letter from Adams to Benjamin Rush. It’s surely an insult, but I actually think there’s more to it than I have the context to understand. In particular, it’s in the middle of a long explanation of how the four humors manifest in human behavior. So I can’t tell, offhand, how much of Adams’s discussion here is bawdy (yet dry) humor, and how much is earnest hypothesizing about Hamilton’s physiology. I’m sure it’s a hefty amount of both, but I don’t know what the balance is.