Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Tench Coxe, 22 March 1793

From Tench Coxe

Treasury Department
Revenue Office March 22d 1793


A Contract with a person to finish the lighthouse at Bald head being expected from Jedediah Huntington Esqr.1 in a few days for the purpose of submission to the President, it appears necessary that the pleasure of the President be also known in regard to the appointment of a person who shall have such a Supervision or Inspection, as was deemed necessary in the case of the Chesapeak Establishment.2 An enquiry in general terms for a suitable person, and a particular enquiry in regard to the several gentlemen whose pretentions the state of North Carolina had countenanced by appointing them Commissioners for pilotage3 and for this Work, has been made of Mr. Johnston, Mr. Hawkins,4 and Mr. Iredell.5 They all agreed that William Campbell, or George Hooper, two of the late Commissioners may be confided in and they added that they knew no person there more suitable. Mr Campbell and Mr. Hooper are both residents in Wilmington, from whence there is an easy passage by land and Water. The expediency of selecting some one Individual is suggested by the greater responsibility and expedition and by œconomy, as it is probable, that an allowance will be expected. Four dollars per day for expences and services were allowed to Mr Newton and Mr. Alibone6 when they were appointed to visit and inspect in this and the Virginia case. It appears probable that an Allowance not exceeding that Sum would satisfy any Gentleman to whom the proposed duty may be assigned. The Supervisor or Inspector it is presumed need not make more than four or five occasional visits, when only he would be paid such Sum as it may be deemed proper to allow.7

I have the honor to be   with great respect.   Sir, Your Most Obedient Servant

Tench Coxe
Commissioner of the Revenue

The Honble
The Secretary of the Treasury

LS, RG 217, Segregated Documents, “Famous Names,” Hamilton, National Archives.

1Huntington was collector of customs at New London, Connecticut.

The contractor who had started to build the lighthouse at Bald Head on Cape Fear Island at the mouth of the Cape Fear River in North Carolina had died before the building had been completed. On January 10, 1793, Coxe wrote to various collectors of the customs and supervisors of the revenue requesting them to suggest the names of builders qualified to complete the construction of the lighthouse at Bald Head (LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1792–1793, National Archives).

2The contract for the Chesapeake Lighthouse had been assigned to John McComb, Jr., a New York contractor. See “Agreement with John McComb, Junior,” March 31, 1791. Thomas Newton, Jr., inspector of Survey No. 4 in Virginia, was in charge of inspecting McComb’s work, although direct supervision of the construction of the lighthouse was in the hands of Lemuel Cornick. See Coxe to H, October 17, 1792.

4Samuel Johnston and Benjamin Hawkins were United States Senators from North Carolina.

5James Iredell, a resident of North Carolina, was an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.

6William Allibone was superintendent of lighthouses, beacons, buoys, public piers, and stakage for Philadelphia, Cape Henlopen, and Delaware.

7On the back of this letter H wrote the following:

“For Mr. Coxe

“The President authorises the appointment of either of the persons mentioned. From the information which you communicated there are some reasons for preferring Mr. Hooper.

“It is the President’s wish that an indication be given of the number of visits per week or per Month which may probably be found necessary. For this Newton’s case may serve as a guide.

A H.”

Index Entries