Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Alexander J. Dallas, [20 September 1794]

From Alexander J. Dallas

[Philadelphia, September 20, 1794]


The engagements of the Governor preventing his immediate attention to some of the details for the western expedition, permit me on his behalf to enquire whether it is understood to be within the Province of the State Executive to appoint a Surgeon General for the State of Pennsylvania. The object is of considerable importance; and I have requested Doctr. Dorsey,1 to do me the favor to wait on you for an answer to this letter. The Militia-acts of the United States and of this state2 leave the matter in some degree doubtful.

I take this opportunity to inform you, that upon the receipt of your letter of the 20th. instant,3 I called on the Master Warden, with instructions to send off an Express to Fort Mifflin for the purpose of stopping and detaining any vessel of the description which you mention.4 The answer of the officer commanding at the Fort5 is enclosed for your perusal.

I am, Sir   Your Most Obed: Serv:

A: J: Dallas,

Secretary’s Office
20th Septr. 1794
To Alexander Hamilton, esquire.

LC, Division of Public Records, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg; copy, Division of Public Records, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg.

1On September 22, 1794, Governor Thomas Mifflin appointed Nathan Dorsey surgeon general of the militia of Pennsylvania.

2Section 3 of “An Act more effectually to provide for the National Defence by establishing an Uniform Militia throughout the United States” reads in part as follows: “That the said militia shall be officered by the respective states, as follows: … That there shall be a regimental staff, to consist of one adjutant and one quartermaster, to rank as lieutenants; one paymaster; one surgeon, and one surgeon’s mate; one sergeant-major; one drum-major, and one fife major” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 272 [May 8, 1792]).

Section 6 of “An Act For the Regulation of the Militia of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” dated April 11, 1793, includes this same provision (Pennsylvania Laws, 1793, Sess., Ch. CLXXVI).

3Letter not found, but H’s letter of September 20, 1794, is described as follows in the “Executive Minutes of Governor Thomas Mifflin”: “It being represented to the Governor, that a French privateer is fitting out of which the Captain is named   Mulinary and the second in Command Palaugay the Master Warden [Nathaniel Falconer] was this day instructed to ascertain the situation of the vessel and to cause a good look out to be kept, and to stop and detain any vessel of the above description which has not a clearance from the Custom House” (Pennsylvania Archives, 9th ser. description begins Pennsylvania Archives, 9th ser., I, II, (n.p., 1931). description ends , II, 869).

On September 20, 1794, Josef de Jaudenes, one of the Spanish commissioners to the United States, wrote to Edmund Randolph that the French were arming Le Petit Republicain on the Delaware and asked that the President issue orders to prevent the ship’s departure (LS, RG 59, Notes from the Spanish Legation in the United States to the Department of State, 1790–1906, Vol. 2, August 22, 1794–October 15, 1798, National Archives).

4Dallas to Nathaniel Falconer, September 20, 1794 (LC, Division of Public Records, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg).

5John Rice.

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