Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Presley Neville, 18 November 1794

To Presley Neville1

Pitts Burgh November 18. 1794


I hereby appoint you Agent for procuring supplies in the Western Country for the use of the army with a Compensation of two hundred and fifty dollars per annum in lieu of Commission. The purchase of Whiskey is the first object which will engage your attention concerning which you will receive directions from the Commissioners of the Revenue.2

Permission will be given to the distillers to pay in Whiskey to be deliver’d at certain places. The Officers of inspection are instructed to deliver what they may receive to you. You will cause what is so delivered to be transported to the proper points for the use of the army. I mean to Pittsburgh and such other places in this country at which troops may be stationed in order to their support. And the residue to be forwarded down the Ohio for the Army under General Wayne.3 The forwarding from Pittsburgh to the Western army will belong to the Quarter Master General.4

With great esteem, I am &c

⟨Presley Nevi⟩lle Esq.

Copy, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.

1For background to this letter, see H to Henry Miller, November 17, 1794.

2On December 17, 1794, Tench Coxe wrote to Presley Neville: “I have understood from the Secretary of the Treasury that he had communicated with you in writing upon the subject of the military supply for 1795 of distilled Spirits. A sight of that communication and an opportunity to confer with you concerning it will be agreeable at any moment, that may be convenient to you (LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1794–1795, National Archives). Coxe sent Neville more specific instructions on December 19, 1794: “As I have not yet rec’d. a copy of the letter to you from the Secy. of the Treasy it is not in my power to give more than general Instructions upon the subject of purchase of Whiskey.

“You will be pleased to proceed in the purchase of Whiskey for the military supply of 1795 with all possible dispatch. No purchase to be made but of spirits ascertained to be lawfully distilled. The price to be kept at 3/3 or 3/6 if practicable, but not to exceed 3/9 or 50 cents without a previous communication, yt. purchases may be extended to ten thousd. drs. including all costs & charges on the spirits delivd at Pittsburgh. Monies will be paid to you here on demand, or upon yr. bills as mentioned in your conference on Thursday last.” (LC, RG 75, Letters of Tench Coxe, Commissioner of the Revenue, Relating to the Procurement of Military, Naval, and Indian Supplies, National Archives.) Coxe modified these instructions in the following letter to Neville, dated January 13, 1795: “It appears upon reflection, that it will be inexpedient to give more for Whiskey in actual purchases for Cash, than the price (3/6) limited by the Secretary, as that at which the distillers might deliver whiskey to the officers of the Revenue, for their duties. I make this remark, because in a former letter the ultimatum of 50 cents was mentioned if necessary. It did not appear probable to you that more than 3/6 would be requisite” (LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1794–1795, National Archives).

3Anthony Wayne.

4James O’Hara. See H to O’Hara, November 8, 1794.

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