Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Samuel Loudon, 22 May 1789

From Samuel Loudon1

New York, the 22d May 89


Tho’ you may have no predilection to serve one printer more than another, as all of them, may have been obliging to you—yet, give me leave to mention a few Arguments, which I shall offer to convince you that my claims are better founded than some others, now candidates for the public printing.2

1. I have one of the best offices in this City—consequently, having good hands, can do Printing work, as well, and as expeditiously as any other Printer.

2. I lost much during the War, took a decided part in behalf of the Country.3 Did some of the Competition so—nay the reverse—lost nothing—but gained.

3. I have a large Family of Children to support—some of them none.

4. I have lost the State printing, tho’ but of little advantage, yet it was worth a little—4 for the sole reason, because I took sides with the Federalists. I had been told during last summer, that I would have the printing business for that very reason. I mention this circumstance to you to excite your friendship and exertion in my behalf. I was often told during the summer that for Printing Publius in my Paper5 I wou’d loose the S. Printing. M.S.6 offered to lay me £10.5. I would loose it.

The Committee of Congress have met, received the Proposals of the Printers—the cheapest, or those best liked and recommended will get the Work.7 Monday morning the Committee will meet again on the business, after which a report will be made to the Houses, and the Printer fixed on. I beg the favour that you may speak to some of the Members. Mr. Lawrence8 will befriend me I expect little assistance from any other Members. I’m unacquainted with most of them, and have not the talent of fawning.

Give me leave to mention one circumstance here which perhaps (as well as Mr. Troup)9 you was made to believe, that we could not have printed Publius as well as Mc.Lean.10 Mr. T. told me so. It is true he McL. had the profit of printing it—the preference was given to him—but be assured, we could have printed it as well, and as expediciously as he did.

I have made free to write you a few lines on the head of my Printing for the Public, and told you as the matter now stands with the Committee, and request you will befriend me a little. If I obtain the Work, it may be permanent. I need it—my Family is large and losses many. I want to live in the World an honest Man. I am,   sir Your most Obt. servt

Saml Loudon

A. Hamilton Esqr.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Loudon, a native of Ireland who had come to America before the Revolution, established The New-York Packet, and the American Advertiser, in January, 1776. During the British occupation of New York City he published his paper at Fishkill, New York; he returned to New York City soon after the British evacuation.

2The rivalry for the public printing contract of the newly formed United States government was keen. In May, 1789, all the leading New York printers—Archibald McLean, Francis Childs, Thomas Greenleaf, Samuel Loudon, and John Fenno—applied for the contract.

3See note 1.

4The laws of New York State had been printed in 1789 by Loudon. Francis Childs, editor of The [New York] Daily Advertiser, received the job for the following year.

5The Federalist essays, signed “Publius,” had appeared in New-York Packet.

6Probably Melancton Smith.

7See note 2.

8John Laurance, recently elected congressman from New York City whose campaign had been actively supported by H.

9Robert Troup, a New York lawyer and friend of H, was occasionally associated with H in legal work.

10The Federalist had been published by John McLean, editor of The [New York] Independent Journal: or, the General Advertiser (The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution, As Agreed Upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787. In Two Volumes [New York: Printed and Sold by J. and A. McLean, No. 41, Hanover-Square. MDCCLXXXVIII]).

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