Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Robert Purviance, 22 August 1794

To Robert Purviance

Treasury Department August 22d 1794


I am to acknowledge the Receipt of your Letter of the 19th Instant,1 with the inclosures therein mentioned, excepting the Copy of the letter from the Grand Jury to you.

I am pleased with your compliance with the request of the Grand Jury as to Stationing the Cutter and I shall be so with every other practicable co-operation on the part of the Custom House in a case, in which consideration of public policy and humanity so eminently coincide.2 But as it cannot be forseen how long the occasion for precautions of this sort may continue, and as the establishments connected with the Custom House, cannot durably be diverted from their destination, it will be right to observe to the proper persons, that your cooperation can only be for a moderate period of time and that if there is a probability that the necessity for such precautions may be prolonged, it will be requisite that a substitute should be thought of.

I am with consideration Sir.   Your most obedient Servant

A Hamilton

Robert Purviance Esquire
Collector of Baltimore

LS, Columbia University Libraries.

1Letter not found.

2This is a reference to the fear of the Baltimore authorities that yellow fever might be imported into the city by vessels from the West Indies. As a consequence, a quarantine was established to check ships from the West Indies, and vessels were needed for maintaining the quarantine (The Maryland Journal, and the Baltimore Advertiser, August 15, 29, September 5, 1794). The revenue cutter was used to help enforce the quarantine (Baltimore Daily Intelligencer, August 14, 25, 26, 1794). This was done in accordance with Section 8 of a Maryland statute, passed December 28, 1793, entitled “An Act to appoint a health officer for the port of Baltimore-town in Baltimore county,” which reads: “That the assistance of the custom-house tender or boats is hereby requested to aid the said physician to carry this law into effect, whenever the same can be done consistently with their orders from the United States or their officers” (Maryland Laws, November, 1793, Sess., Ch. LVI).

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