Nicholas P. Trist resided at Monticello the last two or three years of Jefferson's life and kept daily memoranda of conversations with him.
Montpellier, Sept. 27th, 1834.
"Hamilton's Life (the forthcoming volumes) I (N. P. T.) mentioned to Mr. M. [Madison], without telling him the source, what I had heard with regard to the bearing of the work upon him. His report of Hamilton's speech (in the convention which formed the Constitution), of which report I knew Mr. M. had furnished a copy to the son of A. H., was to be proved to be incorrect, and he was to be represented as having deserted Colonel Hamilton. Mr. M., 'I can't believe it.' Thereupon, I (N. P. T.) told him that my information as to the bearing of the forthcoming book upon him, came from the son of Colonel Hamilton himself — the son engaged in writing the life of his father, who had had a conversation on the subject with Professor Tucker of the University of Virginia, who has just returned from a trip to New York. Professor Tucker had mentioned it to Professor Davies, and the latter to me. I added, what I had heard, that there was nothing like unkind feeling towards him (Mr. Madison) manifested by young Mr. Hamilton, but the reverse. Such, however, was to be the complexion of the work as to himself.
"Mr. M., 'Sorry for it.' After a pause: 'I can't conceive on what ground the fidelity of my report of Colonel H.'s speech can be impugned, unless it should proceed from the error of confounding together his first speech and his second. The first, I reported at length. It was a very able and methodical one, containing a lucid expression of his views: views which he made no secret of at the time or subsequently, particularly with persons on a footing of the ordinary confidence among gentlemen thrown into political relations with each other on subjects of great moment. The second speech was little else than a repetition of the other, or parts of the other, with amplifications. That I did not report, for the reason just stated, and because he had told me of his intention to write it out himself, and had promised me a copy. The promised copy he never gave me; whether he ever executed his intention to write it out, even, I don't know. Yates has blended these two speeches together in his account of the proceedings.'
"I (N. P. T.) here reminded Mr. Madison of his having given me, some years ago, an account of these speeches, and those of others (of which I made a memorandum at the time, which is among my papers in Washington), and his having told me that he read to Colonel Hamilton and to Gouverneur Morris his reports of their speeches. That Col. H. acknowledged the accuracy of his, suggesting only one or two verbal alterations, and that G. M. laughed and said 'yes, it is all right.'
"Mr. M., 'Yes, Gouverneur Morris's speech was a very extravagant one. It displayed his usual talent, and also in a striking degree, his usual fondness for saying things and advancing doctrines that no one else would. At the moment, he was not perhaps himself conscious how far he went; and when the thing stared him in the face (this was Mr. M.'s exact expression), as written down by me, it caused him to laugh, while he acknowledged its truth.'
"Mr. M., 'As to the other branch of the subject, I deserted Colonel Hamilton, or rather Colonel H. deserted me; in a word, the divergence between us took place — from his wishing to administration, or rather to administer the Government (these were Mr. M.'s very words), into what he thought it ought to be; while, on my part, I endeavored to make it conform to the Constitution as understood by the Convention that produced and recommended it, and particularly by the State conventions that adopted it.' "