Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Samuel Smith, 20 August 1793

From Samuel Smith

Balte. 20th. Augt. 1793


Yours of 17 Inst. I have recd.1 The late proceedings of the Executive2 give satisfaction to every Body. It is only Askd—why was not this done sooner to which I have answerd—that the President had promised lenient Measures & depended on the promise of Mr Genet respectg. the Vessells Commissiond in America being orderd off not to return & that he had pledgd his Honor to grant no New Commissions. This satisfies within the Circle of my Information but the same question will be Ask’d every where for the present proceeding on what all said Ought to be done & places the Business in such Point of View that all may understand—the fear is—is it not too late? The Govr.3 is at the springs. He is right I am Certain but the seat of Government being from the seat of Trade he is not So well Informd as you are. There are Some wrong headed Englishmen here as well as at New York who by meddling (for People do not like anything that has the Appearance of Brittish Interference) make Enemies to their Nation & resist the friendship which is due from America to the French Nation, in doing which People do not always distinguish well between the Minister & the Nation—however, here, we are all right & the Name of Genet begins to be detested. I am amazd that the story of the Rendezvous house should be Continued; there was no foundation for it. An Irishman desirous of Custom hung out the 17 July the National flag but finding he Could not attract the French to his House he pull’d it down. On the Drum beating, my Brother Robert—Capt. Stricker4 & two Magistrates went to the Point & made full inquiry (for It was determin’d to stop it) & they found there was no foundation for the report. The Englishmen here know it & yet they will be foolish enough to repeat the subject still. Mr. Thornton5 has bad Advisers & he is too Apt to believe. There is one Privateer here she arriv’d with the fleett6 & has Clear’d. She was seizd a few Days past by Mr. Kilty7 One of the Govs Council—but on inquiry It was Clearly provd that she had only the same Arms which were on Board on her Arrival.8 The Captain behavd politely & he was dischargd. He is taking off the French that are a burthen to us at present & one solitary Young Irish Man. The Consul9 went on Board the fleet from ship to ship & Such as Chose to Man the ships of War steppd out Volunteers & have been sent off by the Way of Philad. It is Conjectur’d by some they are destined for Providence10—but It never has been declard publickly & there has been no Rendezvous houses. The Captains of the ships were Calld to the Consul’s House & Consult’d before the Application was made to the sailors. I forgot to mention that Mr. Kilty was here five Days, by order of the Council making inquiry relative to Vessells Arming, that he Could recieve none that he went thro the Shipping to satisfy himself—that he then applied to Mr Thornton who Could give him no Information only that he had heard Such things. Mr. Kilty then applied to Mr. Jas. Buchanon (a Violent Scotch Man) who could give him no Information but rather offered Insult. Where there is So large a fleet & So many Sailors there will be many appearances which Men badly Advisd, I mean factiously Advis’d & will take for facts. Be Assurd that this state is right & except half a dozen fools of no Consequence at Chester will Act right. I write in Confidence & am

Dr sir   Your Obedt servt

S. Smith

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Letter not found.

3Thomas Sim Lee.

4Captain George Stricker was the senior officer of the Maryland militia at Baltimore.

5Edward Thornton, British consul for Maryland.

6This is a reference to the French fleet which arrived from Santo Domingo in July, 1793. See Edmond Charles Genet to H, July 19, 1793, note 3.

7William Kilty, a native of England, studied medicine at Annapolis, Maryland, and during the American Revolution served as a surgeon’s mate with a Maryland regiment. After the war he became a lawyer.

8This is a reference to the schooner Industry which put into Baltimore with the French fleet from the West Indies. Although the schooner appeared at first inspection to be armed only for defense, Thornton and George Hammond later submitted information to the United States Government to the effect that the vessel had added armament while in port and had sailed as a privateer. A short time after she had left port she captured the British ship Roehampton and sent her into Baltimore as a prize (Thornton to Lee, September 15, 1793 [copy, RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters, 1790–1799, National Archives]). Thornton’s letter and supporting documents were enclosed in Lee to Henry Knox, September 18, 1793, (LS, RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters, 1790–1799, National Archives). See also Hammond to Thomas Jefferson, November 7, 1793 (ALS, RG 59, Notes from the British Legation in the United States to the Department of State, Vol I, October 26, 1791–August 15, 1794, National Archives).

9F. Moissonnier was the French vice consul at Baltimore.

10New Providence Island is in the Bahamas.

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