From Peter Colt
Paterson [New Jersey] 7th. Novr. 1793
Since the dismission of Mr. Pearce from the Service of the Society, it appears that many articles which were under his care are missing; & there is good ground to believe that he has sent from hence to Willmington many articles of Machinery that are the property of the Society.1 The Board of Directors at their late meeting have directed General Cumming to go to Willmington in order to Serch after & recover any property which may have been taken away clandestinly from the Factory here.2 As you have in Some Measure, heretofore, countenanced & patronised both Hall & Pearce,3 I thought it a duty in point of delicacy to inform you of these unfavourable appearances respecting those persons; & also in behalf of the Society to request your advice to Genl. Cumming how to proceed with them in case our Suspicions should prove to be well founded.4
I am Sir Your most obet & very huml Servt
Honl. Alex. Hamilton
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. After leaving the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, Pearce was employed by Jacob Broome of Delaware, who planned to establish a cotton mill on Brandywine Creek.
2. An entry in the minutes of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures for November 5, 1793, reads as follows: “From various circumstances laid before the board it is rendered highly probable that Messrs. William Hall & William Pearce, have taken away various articles of Machinery belonging to the Society; and it being the duty of the Director to take effectual Measures to discover the same Resolved, That General [John N.] Cummings a member of this board be authorized to go to Wilmington in Delaware State, or any other place where he may find or suspect such property to be conveyed, and make search for them, and if discovered take every necessary step to obtain Justise of the said delinquents, and that this board will pay every expence attended thereon” (“Minutes of the S.U.M.,” description begins MS minutes of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, City of Paterson, New Jersey, Plant Management Commission, Successors to the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures. description ends 92–93). The society’s suspicions were well founded, and the missing machinery was eventually recovered (Davis, Essays description begins Joseph Stancliffe Davis, Essays in the Earlier History of American Corporations (“Harvard Economic Studies,” XVI [Cambridge, 1917]). description ends , I, 481).
3. Hall and Pearce had been among the first artisans hired by H for the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures. See “Contract with William Hall,” August 20, 1791; H to the Directors of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, December 7, 1791.
4. The envelope accompanying this letter is addressed to H “favr Genl Cumming.”