Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Tench Coxe, 28 December 1794

From Tench Coxe

[Philadelphia] Sunday Morning Decr. 28th. 1794


I finished yesterday my letter relative to the Arrangements for procuring the timber from Geora. having commenced the same on Christmas day in Consequence of the receipt of your letter of that date.1 This last communication (which it will require two days to copy) and that made under the date of the 22d. inst. concerning the naval armament2 in consequence of the order of the House of Representatives3 together with the other business for the war department have entirely engrossed my time for the last ten days.

It is in my Judgment indespensibly necessary, that the business committed by law to this office4 & the light House Business should receive my particular attention during the month prior to your resignation.5 Your calls from the Seat of Government which occured in August6 October & November7 & ⟨your occupation in⟩8 the interval between those calls in attention to the Western Insurrection have naturally increased the general reasons for this desire on my part. To these are to be added the weighty considerations enforcing that desire, which result from my great occupation since the 4th. of April by the Business of the War Department,9 and from the disorders in the Business of the Revenue produced by insurrection opposition and the imperfections of the laws, and arrangements. The Resignation of the Secy. at War10 affords many reasons for my wishing to make ⟨a⟩ complete arrangement of all that has been done in 1794, before he shall depart from the Seat of Government. If he should conceive that any thing remains to be done which considering the limitations of my power and your participation in the Business I ought to have effected, it will be my wish to have time & opportunity to perform it before he shall return home, and you shall retire from your public station.

I have therefore from a reflected sense of duty to request that the Business of the Treasury for the War department so far as it has lain with me may be considered as not in my hands after the 31st. of Decemr. instant. This I presume will not appear unreasonable taking the foregoing ideas into view & when it is remembered that it was transferred to me on the 4th. of April upon an hour’s Notice & conference in the afternoon of that day11 and that it was agreed in a conversation between us three Months ago that it should be transfered from my office.12

On due reflexion I have not deemed it adviseable for me to engage Mr. Francis in a general agency for all the States13 without a written Authorization from you, tho with your oral permission. The circumstances which occasion you to wish not ⟨to⟩ appear to do it, and some others drawn from his relationship to me, influence my views of the subject.

I have the honor to be   Sir   Yr. obedt. st.

T. C——

Secy. of Try.

ADfS, Tench Coxe Papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1794–1795, National Archives.

1H’s letter of December 25 has not been found. Presumably Coxe is referring to a letter from H dated December 24, 1794, which has not been found. See Coxe to H, December 25–27, 1794.

2For information on the naval armament, see Henry Knox to H, April 21, 1794.

3For the order of the House of Representatives, see Coxe to H, December 22, 1794, note 2.

4Coxe is referring to “An Act making alterations in the Treasury and War Departments” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 279–81 [May 8, 1792]). See H to Coxe, April 4, 1794.

6Coxe is mistaken, for H was absent from Philadelphia not in August, but for part of July, 1794. See H to Washington, July 11, 23, 1794; Washington to H, July 11, 1794; H to Elizabeth Hamilton, July 31, 1794.

7On September 30 H left Philadelphia with Washington for western Pennsylvania. See H to Washington, September 24, 1794, note 2.

8Material within broken brackets has been taken from the letter book copy in the National Archives.

9This is a reference to the work in the Treasury Department in carrying out the naval armament and the fortifications of ports. See Knox to H, March 29, April 21, 1794.

10On December 28, 1794, Knox wrote to Washington that he would resign as Secretary of War on December 31, 1794 (LS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress).

11See H to Coxe, April 3, 4, 1794.

13Tench Francis. See Coxe to H, December 10, 1794.

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