Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to George Washington, 14 August 1794

To George Washington

Treasy. Dept. August 14. 1794.


The Attorney for the District of Virginia1 has presented to the accounting officers of the Treasury Department, a claim against the United States for his services in attending at Norfolk by direction from the Secy. of State, in order to take depositions respecting a british vessel alledged to have been taken by a french privateer within the limits of the United States; which claim has been accordingly adjusted and the sum of sixty four dollars found due to the said Attorney.2

As I know of no other fund out of which this money can be paid, and as it is highly probable that similar charges for preserving the neutrality of the United States, may be presented at the Treasury, I would beg leave to suggest to the President, whether they ought not to be discharged out of the fund of twenty thousand dollars appropriated the last session of Congress, to defray the contingent charges of Government.3 If the President should be of this opinion, he will be pleased to signify his approbation, as it relates to the Attorney for Virginia, upon the Comptroller’s certificate transmitted herewith.4

I have also further to observe that Mr. Higginson, late Agent for the United States in the british West India Islands5 has in pursuance of his instructions from me, approved by The President, drawn upon the Treasurer of the United States, three bills, amounting to Three thousand nine hundred & fifty Dollars, on account of the expenses attending his mission. It will be necessary therefore, in order to honor these drafts, that the President should also authorize me to pay them out of the said fund of twenty thousand Dollars.6 This will be conformable with the course pursued in regard to the money advanced to him previous to his departure.

With the most perfect respect   I have the honor to be &c.

Alexander Hamilton

LC, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.

1Alexander Campbell.

2On November 11, 1793, Thomas Jefferson had written to the United States district attorneys requesting them to take depositions in cases of foreign vessels captured within United States territorial waters (LC, RG 59, Domestic Letters of the Department of State, Vol. 4, February 4, 1792–December 31, 1793, National Archives). In January, 1794, Campbell had traveled from Richmond to Norfolk, Virginia, to take depositions in the case of the British brig Conyngham. See “Cabinet Meeting. Opinion on Restoring the Brigs Conyngham and Pilgrim to the British,” March 27, 1794, and Edmund Randolph to H, July 2, 1794.

3“An Act making appropriations for certain purposes therein expressed” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 394–95 [June 9, 1794]).

4On August 16, 1794, Washington “Approved the paymt. of 64 dolls. out of the Contingent fund,… as due by an a/c settled at the Treasury, with the Dist: Atty. of Virginia” (JPP description begins “Journal of the Proceedings of the President,” George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 308).

5Nathaniel C. Higginson had died of yellow fever in July, 1794, while he was in the West Indies as a special agent for the United States. For Higginson’s mission to the West Indies, see H to Higginson, April 16, 1794. See also “Cabinet Meeting. Opinion on a Request for a Passport,” April 2, 1794; H to Washington, April 2, 1794; “Conversation with George Hammond,” April 15–16, 1794.

6On September 29, 1794, the President “Authorised the Secy. of the Treasury to pay out of the Contingent fund, the sums of 3950 Dollars, & 1863 dollars, to defray the expenses of mr. Higginson’s mission” (JPP description begins “Journal of the Proceedings of the President,” George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 310).

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