Alexander hamilton manuscripts



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  • Mentions that he is sending a Boston paper of the 23rd with some interesting European news.

  • Says that the recipient asks how he likes the new minister. Feels that “with the help of his secretary he appears qualified to do his master’s business very well”.




    1. HAMILTON, Alexander [unknown location] [February 18, 1784],

    To Egbert Benson, Esq., at Poughkeepsie. 2 pp. and an envelope.

    Microfilm Reel 21: 664-666.



    • Says he is engaged in “trespass law on the side of the defendants”. Writes to recipient on behalf of three of his clients who are “[illegible] merchants” who rented “[(illegible) vestry?] houses” and have paid rent. Says the actions will be brought in Mayor’s court in 5 weeks. Asks recipient if he will be able to come for the court date and says he will let the recipient know exactly when to come. Says the gentlemen who wish to retain the recipient are [illegible] Waddington, Henry Thompson, [illegible] Mr. [Service?]. He states that he expects more to join in later.



    • (No. 13 continued)

    • The envelope was addressed to Egbert Benson, Esq., Poughkeepsie. On the bottom of the envelope, it says “[illegible] by Capt. TenBroeck.

    • [The letter was bound in Lawrence Lewis Jr.’s A History of the Bank of North America, 1882]




    1. HAMILTON, Alexander [location unknown] [August 5, 1785]

    To General Schuyler and Stephen I. Schuyler at Albany. 1 page and 1 envelope.

    Microfilm Reel 21: 667-668.



    • Says he thinks his earlier letter to recipient has gone astray. Says he wrote that Hannah Brewer, or her “assignee John I. Skidmore” from Jamaica, Queens County, a farmer, paid 200 pounds of the purchase money for “the farm in possession of Doctor Perry”, and that the money has been paid, according to recipient’s direction, to Mr. Watts. States that he now needs the deed. Once it is sent, he will “have the mortgage executed to you here”. Says the deed must be “to Skidmore to whom the widow has assigned”. Further states that Skidmore wants the deed as soon as possible.

    • The top of the envelope is addressed to Gen. Schuyler and to Stephen I. Schuyler, Albany. The date is August 5, 1785. The bottom of the envelope is illegible.




    1. HAMILTON, Alexander [New York], [October 30, 1785]

    [Recipient unknown], 2 pages.

    Microfilm Reel 21: 669-670.



    • Says Mr. [illegible, Lowe?] delivered recipient’s letter and has received Hamilton’s opinion on the subject matters. Says that nothing can be done “in the way of attachment”. States that “our attachment act has expired and if in force it would be improper to act upon it since all attachments in this state were for the general benefit of creditors.”

    • Says “how far Mr. Russell will be secure must depend on the validity of Mr. Otis’ assignment to him”, and will depend on the laws of the recipient’s state. States that if Mr. Otis’ bankruptcy did not “by your laws incapacitate him from making the assignment in satisfaction of a bone fide debt, the assignment would be supported here.”[New York?] Hamilton says that his state has no bankruptcy laws, and that all laws of another country are governed by that country’s laws.



    • (No. 15 continued)

    • He continues, “I will therefore thank you to let me know (for my government in case of difficulties) what is the spirit of your bankrupt laws, if you have any.” Says he will do his best for Mr. Russell’s interests.




    1. HAMILTON, Alexander [location unknown] [March 2, 1786],

    To Mr. Francis [Lipton? Illegible]. 3 pp. and an envelope.

    Microfilm Reel 21: 671 – 674.



    • Says he received recipient’s letter and has looked into the situation of the lands claimed by the recipient. States that he found that the tract described was granted to recipient’s father by a patent dated 8 March 1770. Says recipient and his sisters must get title “completed by proper conveyance from the persons in whom the legal state may be vested”. Recipient should get good advice about how “to perfect your title if the lands lay in England”. Notes that “it would be best for all that “the legal state be conveyed in [illegible] conformity to the deed of trust” in order to avoid all “questions of alienism for which the Revolution has laid a foundation”. Say he feels sure that “title will be protected to the owners at the time of the revolution and their heirs and even to their assigns of these last are qualified by our laws to take the estate”.

    • Notes that the term of 1000 years is in the way of disposing of the land properly and that it should be settled or sold “without loss of time”; otherwise, it would be covered with intruders who will not easily be dislodged. Says it will not be easy to find persons in this country willing to settle the land except for “fee simple either by purchase out and out or upon a rent in fee”.

    • Mentions that if Elizabeth is alive, the trustees can raise the annuity for her and that would allow recipient to purchase in behalf of himself and his brother, and they could dispose of the land. Says that by our laws, “all estates [tail? Illegible], the moment they vest, are turned into fee simples”.

    • Tells recipient not to give more for the term than it is worth, for the land is wild. Says the fee of it should not be more than 4 shillings an acre.

    • Says that if Elizabeth is dead, recipient might need to apply to legislature to sell the term. All interested parties should join in making an application. It should include all minors “at years of discretion” so that the application to the legislature would go smoothly.

    • Says he is sending an extract of the boundaries of the land as taken from the patent.



    1. HAMILTON, Alexander, [unknown location, Treasury Department], October 7, 1790.

    To John Cochran, Esq., Commissioner of Loans. 1 page and 1 envelope.

    Microfilm Reel 21: 675-676.



    • Informs recipient that the “late Loan Officers Certificates for interest due on the public debt are to be received only at the new loan office for the state wherein such interest certificates were issued”. Says that he is referring to those that are given “in lieu of indents” signed by M. Hillegas, Jos.[?] [illegible] Hardy, or Henry Kuhl.

    • Warns recipient that forged or altered certificates of the public debt might be presented to him. He asks that recipient examine them closely, and that he transmit all details of forged or altered certificates to the Treasury office.

    • Instructs recipient to send all certificates Hamilton asks for to the Auditor of the Treasury, “under cover to me”.

    • Envelope is addressed to Treasury Department, John Cochran, Esq., Commissioner of Loans for the State of New York.




    1. HAMILTON, Alexander [Philadelphia] [November, 1790]

    To Mrs. E. Hamilton, No. 26 Broad Way, New York. 1 page and 1 envelope.

    Microfilm 21: 677-678.



    • Letter to his wife, whom he calls “Eliza”. Says he is happy to steal a few moments to write to her, and refers to her as “my good genius, of that kind which the ancient philosophers called a familiar”. Says that he has formed a “sweet project” and will tell her about it when he comes to New York. Expects that she will cooperate with him on it. Says that she may “guess and guess and guess again”, but her guessing will be in vain. Feels she will be pleased when she understands his scheme.

    • Signs the letter “Adieu best of wives and best of mothers – Heavens ever bless you and me in you”.

    • The envelope was addressed to Mrs. E. Hamilton, No. 26 Broad Way, New York.




    1. HAMILTON, Alexander [from the Treasury Department] [April 1, 1791]

    To John M. Comb, Junior. 2 pp. and an envelope.

    Microfilm 21:679-681.



    • Says he has sent Richard Harison Esq. copies of the contract for the lighthouse, to be executed by the recipient.



    • (No. 19 continued)

    • Has sent a bond to Mr. Harison to be executed by recipient and Peter Kemble, with sufficient surety, in lieu of Mr. Cruger [?]. Says Mr. Harison will select one out of the persons recipient will offer to him.

    • Says one copy of the contract will be delivered to recipient, and that he may take it to the Bank of New York to receive his first payment.

    • Says he does not approve of placing the oil vault in the lighthouse, or of constructing the lighthouse as proposed by the recipient. Would like the house and kitchen to be under one roof in one square building. Wants the lower floor to consist of a kitchen and a sitting room, and to have a second floor with two chambers.

    • Feels that a square shell is most firm, which is important for such an exposed location. Wants a cellar underneath, and asks recipient what difference that will make in the cost.

    • The envelope is addressed to Mr. John M. Comb, Junior, New York. Treasury Department is written in the upper right corner, and A. Hamilton in the lower left corner. The envelope is marked “Free”.




    1. HAMILTON, Alexander [from the Treasury Department], [August 18, 1791]

    To Jabez Bower, Esq. Commissioner of Loans, Rhode Island. 1 page and 1 envelope.

    Microfilm 21: 682-683.



    • Says he has directed the Treasurer to send recipient a draft of $8,000 for payment of the quarter’s interest, ending the last of September next. Says the blanks on the drafts can be filled in with the name of the collector of New Port or Providence, or of the cashier of either of the banks of New York or North America.

    • Says recipient can determine what sums to calculate on from the two collectors and that recipient can dispose of bills for the residue to either of the two banks, as a demand may occur.

    • Says that the recipient is to let him know immediately if the sum mentioned is “adequate to the object”, and is to report weekly the amount of the sales made.

    • The envelope is addressed to Jabez Bower, Esquire, Commissioner of Loans, Providence, Rhode Island. The name Robt. Patton is in the lower left corner, and in the upper left corner is “letter from Alexander Hamilton, Esq., August 18, 1791. No. 53”.



    1. HAMILTON, Alexander [from the Treasury Department], [August 18, 1791]

    To Jabez Bower, Esq. Commissioner of Loans, Rhode Island. 1 page.

    Microfilm 21: 684.



    • The letter is marked “Duplicate”, and is a copy of the letter on Microfilm 21:682-683, outlined in Item 20 above.




    1. HAMILTON, Alexander, [from the Treasury Department], [September 28, 1791].

    To His Excellency, Thomas Miffles [? Illegible] Esq. 2 pp.

    Microfilm 21: 685-686.



    • Says that the adjustment of a purchase, the subject of the recipient’s letter to Hamilton, cannot be completed now because the Comptroller of the Treasury is absent, due to ill health. Says that the Comptroller should return in about ten days, and the business will be attended to at that time.

    • Says he is pleased that the Attorney General of Pennsylvania has cleared up part of the question that has existed between the Comptroller of the Treasury of the United State and the Comptroller General of Pennsylvania, and that he trusts that when the Comptroller of the Treasury returns, the issue will be resolved.




    1. HAMILTON, Alexander, [from the Treasury Department] [December 22, 1792].

    To Jonathon Burrall, Esq., Cashier of the Office of Discount and Deposit, New York. 1 page and 1 envelope.

    Microfilm 21: 687-688.



    • Asks recipient to invest a further sum, not to exceed $40,000 in the funded debt of the United States, with a present interest of 6%, as mentioned in Hamilton’s previous letter of the 14th. Says the Office of Discount and Deposit would furnish the recipient with the sum, upon the enclosed letter.

    • The envelope says “Alexander Hamilton, Esq., Dec. 22, 1792”.




    1. HAMILTON, Alexander, [from the Treasury Department] [June 20, 1793]. To the President of the Bank of the United States. 1 page and 1 envelope.

    Microfilm 21: 689-690.

    • Tells recipient that he is sending the President’s ratification of the contract made with the Bank of the United States for $800,000.

    • The envelope is inscribed “Treasury Department, 20th June 1793, Alexander Hamilton.



    1. HAMILTON, Alexander [from the Treasury Department] [September 2, 1794].

    To the President of the United States [George Washington] 16 pages.

    Microfilm 21: 691-706.



    • States that his poor health prevented his reply to the letter sent to him by the President from Gov. Mifflin, written on August 22.

    • States his understanding of the term “official influence” and declares that it “is derived from official situation, whether exerted directly in the line of office, or collaterally and indirectly in other ways”.

    • Refers to a situation in which officers of Pennsylvania demonstrated opposition to the laws by holding meetings and making their feelings known. [The Whiskey Rebellion] They exhibited disobedience to the laws, and fostered hatred and contempt for those who had authority to enforce the laws. [Throughout the letter, Hamilton refers to reports of these instances that he has already sent on to President Washington.]

    • Refers to a meeting held on 23 August 179[illegible, possibly a 1] in the County of Washington. Notes that the following public officers of Pennsylvania were present: James Marshall, Register and Recorder; David Bradford, Deputy to the Attorney General of the State; Henry Taylor and James Edgar, Associate Judges; Thomas Crooks, William Parker, Eli Jenkins, and Thomas Sedgwick, Justices of the Peace; and Peter Kidd, Major of the Militia.

    • Mentions a second meeting held at Pittsburgh on 2 September 1791. Besides James Marshall and David Bradford, mentioned above, were the following: Edward Cooke and Nathaniel Braden, Associate Judges; Nehemiah Stokely and Thomas [illegible], Colonels of a Militia; John Cannon and Albert Gallatine, members of the legislatures of Pennsylvania.

    • Cites a third meeting, held at Pittsburgh on 21 August 1792. Says that besides John Cannon, David Bradford, Albert Gallatine, James Marshall, and Edward Cook, all mentioned before, were the following: John Smilie, member of the State Senate; Thomas Wilson and Samuel Giddes, Colonels of the Militia; William Wallace, then Sheriff, now Colonel of the Militia; John Hamilton, Sheriff and Colonel of the Militia; and Basil Bowel, Captain of Militia.

    • Notes that the offices ascribed to the above names might not have been held at the time of the meetings, but felt that was unimportant. Says that John Cannon was appointed a Justice of the Peace by the Governor last May, and that he does not know when William Wallace was appointed as a Colonel in the Militia.



    • (No. 25 continued)

    • Says that the identity of the persons at the aforesaid meetings, as well as the proceedings of the meetings were made public in the public Gazette of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and that the Governor can easily obtain more legal evidence, if he so desires.

    • Notes other cases of opposition to the laws by officers of Pennsylvania. John Hamilton, Sheriff of a County, and Colonel of a Militia, was said to be one of a party that seized Robert Johnston, Collector of Revenue, while Johnston was performing his duty. The party tarred and feathered Johnston. This was verified by Johnston and also by Jacob Forwood.

    • Says that Caleb Mount, a Captain of Militia, broke into the house of the Collector in April, 1793. He was charged before Assistant Judges Isaac Meason and James Finley, by information from Benjamin Mills, a Collector of Revenue.

    • Andrew Robb, a Justice of the Peace, was charged with offering a reward of ten pounds for the killing of Wells, a Collector, or Excise Man. He was charged before Jacob Beason, a Justice of the Peace, upon information given by Wells, the said Collector.

    • James McFarlane, a Major in the Militia, was in command of the rioters in the second attack on the house of the Inspector of the Revenue. Prior to that attack, David Hamilton, a Justice of the Peace, went to that house with a summons to surrender.

    • William Steethinks, Gabriel Blakney, a Colonel of the Militia, Absolom Beard, an Inspector of the Brigade, were part of a committee from the rioters assembled on Braddock’s field to demand of the inhabitants of Pittsburgh that they expel Kirkpatrick, Brison and Day as friends of the law. Edward Cooke, the Associate Judge already mentioned, was Chairman of a committee that ordered the expulsion of John Gibson and Presley Neville for the same cause.

    • States that confirmation of the above facts can be gotten from Abraham Kirkpatrick and Presley Neville, both well known to the Governor.

    • Mentions other instances of “conduct in office denoting an unfriendly temper towards the laws”.

    • Notes that James Wells, a Justice of the Peace, heard about an assault on John Webster, Collector of the Revenue, while Mr. Webster was attempting to seize illegally distilled whiskey. Wells said that “he had never read so worthless a law as the Revenue Law of Congress”.



    • (No. 25 continued)

    • Wells further said that “if the whiskey had been seized he would have thrown it into the road, and he was sorry the person who made the assault had not knocked down the Collector”.

    • Says that Jacob Steward and William Boyd, Justices of the Peace, declined to press charges against Jacob Snyder, a distiller, accused of threatening another distiller, a Stoffer, with burning of his house or other injury if Stoffer should enter his still at an Office of Inspection. Benjamin Wells, the Collector, received the information from Stoffer.

    • Notes that Joseph Huston, Sheriff of the County of Fayetteville, stands indicted for refusing the service of warrants issued by Isaac Meason and James Finley in the case of a riot committed at the house of a Collector of the Revenue in 1793.

    • Details a case of a Supervisor of the Revenue sent into the rebellious counties in 1792 to collect details of the riot. When in Pittsburgh, he applied to Alexander Addison, President of the Court of Common Pleas, to ask his assistance in taking depositions from witnesses able “to testify concerning infractions of the laws, and in causing some of the best-informed witnesses to attend a Circuit Court of the United States about to be holden at York Town”. The said judge in his answer “digressed into a censure on the judiciary system of the United States, which he represents as impracticable, unless it be intended to sacrifice to it the essential principles of the liberty of the citizens and the just authority of the State Courts”. The judge said that if he was forced to carry out the request, he would do so with great reluctance. Hamilton felt that his behavior did not befit a judge of Pennsylvania. Hamilton states that the Governor is in possession of the facts of this case.

    • States that Judge Addison admitted in a letter, an extract of which was sent to President Washington by the Governor, that Addison “had endeavored to inculcate constitutional resistance” to the law. Hamilton says he cannot understand the term “constitutional resistance”, since the “theory of every constitution presupposes as a first principle that the laws are to be obeyed”.

    • States that the meaning he finds in the terms “legal resistance” and “legal opposition” used by those opposing the law is that they will use every means to defeat the execution of the law, short of war or breach of peace. Says that those in opposition to the laws are treating those holding offices under those laws in a humiliating manner, and that “every obstacle which was supposed not to amount to an indictable offense should be thrown in the way of the laws”.



    • (No. 25 continued)

    • Declares that Benjamin Wells, Collector, states that Judge Addison was attending a session of the Circuit Court at a public house, and while in the presence of Isaac Meason, an Assistant Judge, expressed himself in “terms of strong approbration of the laws laying duties on spirits distilled within the United States”, saying the money raised was unnecessary. At the same session, Judge Addison was sitting at dinner with a mixed company, and expressed disrespect for the officers of the Inspector and Collectors of the Revenue. At the next session, when Collector Benjamin Wells and his wife went to the same tavern, they were denied entrance by the tavernkeeper, who said that Judge Addison said they were not to be admitted, or that he would leave the house.

    • A Mr. Stokely, “a member of the Pennsylvania Legislature for Washington”, stated that Judge Addison wrote letters in opposition to his election, one of his objections being “his having applied for or having had an intention to obtain an Office in the Excise”.

    • Cites an example of Judge Addison’s opposition to the laws in question, given to Hamilton by General Neville, Inspector of the Revenue. It was frequent for judges to invite within the bar some persons coming into the hall that the judges deemed to be respectable. Judge Addison, since the meeting at Pittsburgh in 1792, issued such invitations, but always omitted General Neville, although he was present. General Neville stated that his son, Colonel Neville, was so invited when he was standing next to General Neville, but that the General himself was omitted.

    • States that the Governor wants particular cases, so Hamilton will not give confirmation “of the prevailing spirit of the officers alluded to from their extensive non-compliance with the laws”, and “from the neglect to bring to justice offenders against them”. Says that he feels the Governor has a different impression than he [Hamilton] has, but that he was unable to discover the punishment of any of the offenders. Admits that there were indictments against some of the persons involved in the violence against the “Maniac Wilson”, and against John Corner, “an old man who had been unknowingly the bearer of the letters containing processes which were sent by the Deputy Marshall”. However, none of those were prosecuted to judgment. States that the only persons punished were those concerned with carrying off witnesses in the case of Wilson, but those punishments were “on a collateral point”.




    • (No. 25 continued)

    • Says he “can find no instance of the conviction and punishment of any person for a violence committed upon Officers or private citizens clearly on account of their agency under or friendly disposition toward the laws”. States that the rioters in Faulkener’s case were said to have passed in open day through the town of Washington, spoken to some of the inhabitants, and been entertained at two or three houses.
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