Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Otho H. Williams, Robert Purviance, and George Gale, 23 January 1794

To Otho H. Williams, Robert Purviance,
and George Gale

Treasury Department
January 23rd 1794


Certain charges (of which the Collector is in possession) have been brought by William Thompson, first mate of the Revenue Cutter Active against the commander.1

To enable me to judge what ought to be done in the case, I have concluded to request that the Collector, Naval Officer, and the Supervisor of the Revenue will form a Board, for the purpose of examining into the facts, and report to me the result.

If the Collector’s state of health should occasion his absence the surveyor2 is requested to act in his place.

It is to be ascribed to a press of business that the case of Forbes has been put out of view.3

With great consideration   I am Gentlemen   Your obedient servant

Alexander Hamilton

The Collector, Naval Officer
and the Supervisor of the Revenue

LS, Columbia University Libraries.

1William Thomas, first mate, had made four charges against the commander, David Porter. The board to investigate the charges, which was formed as a result of this letter from H, concluded that three of Thomas’s charges were too vague for precise proof and too dependent upon the opinion of the men aboard the cutter to be substantiated. The third charge, that “the Commander had drawn wages improperly for a Certain Thomas Nash … who the mate affirmed had never been on board the Vessel,” was substantiated by vouchers and admitted by Porter. In its final meeting on March 22, 1794, the board concluded its report as follows: “That there had existed for a length of time past, an unhappy animosity, between the officers of the Cutter, from which Cause, or some defect of execution it was evident, that if the Cutter could not be said to have been misapplied, She Still had been so applied, as to be of little use in promoting the public Service” (D, Columbia University Libraries). See also Williams to H, November 26, 1793.

2Daniel Delozier, who had been appointed surveyor of the District for the port of Baltimore on December 30, 1793, replaced Williams on the board.

3James Forbes was third mate on the Active. For the charges which Porter brought against him, see Porter to H, November 7, 1792; H to Williams, November 21, 1792.

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